To get a professional finish, follow Hall’s tips. “Make sure you do your prep, and fill cracks where necessary first with an appropriate wood filler. Sand when dry, then give the whole surface a quick sand to create a key, so the paint adheres properly. Wash down with sugar soap and a damp sponge, allow to dry, then you’re ready to paint. I always use a water-based eggshell paint for interior woodwork. If you’re going over old water-based eggshell, there’s no need to prime, but if you’re going from dark to light, or just want to do it by the book, use a good primer first, like Zinsser 123. Prime, then go in with two coats of colour, and voila.”
When it comes to colour, interiors writer Kate Watson-Smyth, whose new book, Mad About The House Planner, Your Home Your Story (Pavilion Books, £18.99) was published in March, points out that soft, calming shades have been in demand recently as we have aimed to create soothing spaces at home, but a flash of brightness helps to lift the mood.
“Why not add a touch of vibrant colour on the woodwork or ceilings?” she suggests. “Perhaps soft pink walls with forest green skirting boards, or pale green walls with ochre woodwork and ceilings. Decorating like that will give a calm feeling to the space but the bright details will add a bit of life.”
Try some upholstery
If you can buy some fabric online – or if, perhaps, you have already – try your hand at some basic re-covering. “I reckon I could do a pretty good job of changing the material and making an old chair look like new with a staple gun and some glue,” says Watson-Smyth. If a chair seems a bit much, try re-covering a worn headboard – a more forgiving option as no one will see the back of it. Try Haines Collection for offcut designer fabrics at knockdown prices.
Smarten up your tiles
If tired-looking tiles are getting you down, try painting them instead. Take some time to clean and scour them beforehand, and to remove any limescale or grout from the surface of the tiles for an even finish. Then simply paint over the tiles and the grout. Dulux and Johnstone’s both produce tile paint in a limited range of colours, or try Frenchic’s self-sealing Al Fresco outdoor paint range, which comes in 21 colours and is low in VOCs.