And on the other side…

… there may not be grass, but the wall is certainly greener!

Our master bedroom really is a bit of a Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde at the moment. As we had to finish painting the window wall so the radiators could be installed, we carried on with it while I flip-flopped back and forth on what colour to do the rest.

Back in December I was hatched a plan for a dark green master bedroom colour scheme in this post.  Once May rolled around, I still felt the urge to experiment with a rich forest green in the room, (turns out it wasn’t a passing fad influenced by our Christmas tree), but I didn’t quite have the same confidence I had in the living room to paint all four walls. I am somewhat torn between a dark cosy room, and a light breezy airy one, and so have decided to split the difference and paint the wall behind the bed dark green, while keeping the window wall white (Realising of course that now the room will be neither, and instead some sort of potentially odd hybrid).

I know that ‘feature walls’ in a bold colour or wallpaper are perhaps somewhat dated now, but I’ve decided to go for it anyway – but with a slight twist. I’m going to paint one (not both) of the fireplace niches (not the projecting chimney breast as is typical) a dark green too.  Yes, I realise this is a very loose justification to ‘modernise’ the look – but I’m rolling with it.  Our bed has a very low head board – and so the colour on the back wall will give it something strong to sit against. The green will also provide a nice backdrop to our new pendant lights  – one of which sits in the niche I am painting green (sketch here).

So, having decided on the walls, it was down to the colour. I took advantage of Dulux’s fantastic and inexpensive sample pot system (£1 per sample) and ordered a handful of greens to test. Note: Pick up the paint chips from a hardware store first and search online for the name as the colours viewed on screen are NOTHING like what you get. (I learnt that by throwing a few other dark greens into my online basket that looked like they may be appropriate when in fact they were a Kermit the frog green instead!). I then ordered a few posh paint samples too for comparison.

From left to right, and top to bottom:

  1. Hunter Dunn – Paint and Paper Library
  2. Jasmine Leaf – Sanderson
  3. Laurel Leaf – Sanderson
  4. Woodland Fern – Dulux
  5. Highland Green – Dulux
  6. Heathland – Dulux
  7. Tuscan Glade 1 – Dulux
  8. Japanese Maze 1 – Dulux
  9. Buckingham Green – Dulux

Tune in after the weekend when Alex has painted the walls and I’ll tell you the winner!


Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Experiment

So I will admit that I am pretty late to the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint ‘party’.

My sister successfully re-painted an old dresser a pale blue with it last year, and the result was fantastic.  There are countless articles on the internet about how amazing it is and how easy it is to use, and hundreds of pins on Pinterest of chalk paint furniture transformations.  It was time to give it a try.

When we moved in, the previous owners kindly left us some of their unwanted furniture to tie us over until we would buy our own, including a part solid wood, part faux wood laminate dining room table and chairs.  It will be a little while before we buy our ‘forever’ table and chairs as that will come after the extension is built in a few years time – so as we will probably have this one for a little while longer I figured we could give it a little face lift to make it fit better with the decor.

I ordered a tin of the graphite coloured Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, as I thought it would be nice to match the legs to the gunmetal grey radiators nearby. I also purchased the recommended brush as I had read that you need a fine brush to get a smooth finish. No surface preparation is required at all, so off I went. The paint has good coverage, is easy to apply and dries almost instantly (in roughly 15 minutes), to a lovely chalky matt finish. Within an hour all 4 legs had received 2 coats of paint. The brushes can be cleaned with water, and there is very little odour. So far so good.

I decided to wait 24 hours before applying the waxing coat (chalk paint is too fragile to leave as it is, you need the clear wax coat to protect it).  The next day I brushed on a thin coat of the soft wax, and then instantly, as advised in various trouble shooting websites, buffed it off with a lint free cloth.  I was a little nervous about the waxing, but it went on easily and deepened and darkened the colour in a good way.

But here is my issue – I’m not actually that happy with the final finish. Even though the initial surface was entirely smooth, you end up seeing loads of streaky brush marks once the wax is applied – see detailed photo of table leg where I have tried to show the result.   I imagine that perhaps this is less apparent in the lighter colours.  Overall,  I wasn’t after a ‘shabby chic/ distressed’ look here so feel a little disappointed that this isn’t really clarified.

Bottom line – the process is super easy and gives instant no fuss results, but not a smooth crisp finish.


After week 9

Sorry for the delay everyone in posting the progress from last week. I was away for the week at a property conference in Cannes and didn’t quite have time to get this out before I left on Monday afternoon.

This what the works looked like one week after their estimated completion date – we are almost there!  In the 9th week the following works were undertaken by our builders:

  • Original timber trusses re-installed in study (I like what they look like natural for now!)
  • Tiling around bath tub completed and grouted
  • Plastering completed over bathroom walls and ceiling
  • Plastering complete in hallway
  • Shower mixer installed (but not the shower head, so no showering yet)
  • Flat panel FD30 fire rated doors cut to size
  • Study door installed on its hinges
  • Installed the LED light strips in the hallway
  • Installed the LED light strips in the study on top of the trusses

On the weekend we got to work too and did the following:

  • Painted the primer base coat onto both sides of both doors with Johnstone’s Joncryl Primer Undercoat (yes, the same stuff that we used on the brickwork)
  • Painted the base coat onto the small portion of brickwork in the hallway
  • Painted the base coat on the hallway partitions
  • Painted the base coat on the hallway ceiling and around the hallway rooflight



Bathroom Paint

160110-JohnstonesAcrylicMatt.jpgWe wont have much painted wall surface in our bathroom (as most of it is tiled), but it is still important to get the paint specification right. I am not particularly fond of shiny wall surfaces, which are generally better suited for bathroom and kitchen environments, so did a bit of research to find out what else was out there.

Johnstone’s does an Acrylic Durable Matt paint which is, according to its website, very durable and can be wiped clean. Their technical support line recommends it for bathrooms and kitchens, so I’m giving it a go.


Leaving history exposed

These photos are from the MOMA PS1 gallery in Brooklyn New York. MOMA decided to only very gently refurbish the old school building and leave the layers of paint and history fully intact in the staircases. I don’t intend to leave our staircase this raw, but the visit reminded me that that every surface need not be entirely re-made smooth and new. Sometimes leaving a little bit of the past story exposed is a good thing.

P.S. Isn’t the painting of a mouse in the bottom left in a hole brilliant? It is a piece by Alexis Rockman and was created for the 1997 group show Vertical Paintings. It is part of a series of magical animals rendered in gouache in Staircase B. Maybe we need one of those too!


Sanding… and sanding… and sanding…

The painting is 3 weekends behind schedule because of the sanding that needed to be done to the hallway walls.  The finished paint job is only as good as the prepared surface, so as we aren’t planning on re-painting again any time soon, we wanted to make sure it was done right.

I made quite a few mistakes along the way with this one, so I figured I’d share a few lessons to save you the same pain!

To save money on the re-plastering costs, we opted to omit the skim coat on the hallway walls as they was recently plastered about 5 years ago and the plaster was generally smooth.  Lesson Number One –  Don’t shift away from what your gut is telling you is too difficult or awkward to do yourself. Even if someone tells you otherwise. In the end it will be a false economy.

‘All’ the walls needed, I was told, was a bit of hole filling, which I was assured would be an easy job.  Well, the reality is that it probably is an easy job – if you use the right filler. If however you don’t buy the right product (and to this day I am still kicking myself for not researching this properly like I tend to do with everything else), hours and hours of your life will be lost!   Lesson Number Two – always make sure you research the right product for the job. Instead of interior plaster filler, we accidentally bought interior/ exterior masonry filler. This stuff goes rock solid, and dries to a much harder surface than the plaster walls.

After spending a good 10 hours of sanding one weekend without much success, I opted for a very course grit sandpaper to make more progress. This worked to some extent, but ended up scratching the plaster and making it worse, which unfortunately I didn’t notice as I was working in the evening in a poorly it area until the following day. Lesson number three – always test a new product out in a small area, and if you make a mistake, test our your solution on one patch, rather than repeating throughout.  Lesson number four – don’t work in the dark. I have learnt the hard way that you should never paint in the evening or dark (you’ll just get a patchy job), so should have known better!

In any case, after three weekends of sanding (about 4-5 hours a day), its almost all done now (if you don’t look too closely).  We moved onto the wood work last weekend, and doing the mist coats,  just to have a change of scenery!

We are trying to give a bit more of a focused push now to finish Phase 1 by the first week in March… so stay tuned!

P.S. No, that is not a UFO outside our window, it is the light catching on all the dust in the air (and yes, we were wearing masks).


Mist Coat

As the plaster is new, the first step before painting is to give the walls a mist coat of 50% water- 50% paint.  The new plaster is really absorbent, so apparently if you use the full concentration of paint it sucks all the moisture out of the paint coat and this quick drying can lead to cracking.   You don’t need to use your top coat as a mist coat – we used our economical ceiling paint and the left over paint in our sample pots!.  This them means that the walls aren’t drinking up your expensive coloured top coat.

We haven’t given all the walls their mist coat yet as are still working on sanding down the plaster walls we didn’t get re-skimmed – but more on that later…

P.S Misty photo of Tower Bridge was one I took last year…