Decorating Randomness

Monday 22 June 2015

Harris Mini Emulsion Roller. H&M sweatshirt. H&M Joggy Bots.

Yup that's me. Bobbly paint splattered sweatshirt and baggy saggy joggy bots. I'm a vision of loveliness :)

The Grumps took the boys camping this weekend and left on the Friday night at 5.30pm. I was up a ladder by 6pm. By 9pm I was weeping in to a cup of Earl Grey and on the phone to my friend L questioning my sanity and what I'd done to my big boy's bedroom. I'd painted the first wall and it was the most awful wet cement grey colour. Prison cellblock grey. I also had some reassuring chats with Michelle telling me it will all be alright. Just "wait till the morning" she said, "just wait".

Between then and morning, I spent a frantic hour or two on Pinterest googling grey boys rooms and started to feel a little more reassured and I came up with some little gems to make his room a little cooler. 

In the light of the morning sun, the wall I painted turned out to be a lovely soft shade of pale grey. Phew!

Anyway, would you like me to share some decorating tips? This is random and just what came off the top of my head following this weekend - sorry if it sounds like I'm teaching you to suck eggs but to some people out there, it might be useful.

1. Don't Panic.

It's only paint and you can always paint over paint if you really hate it. Paint never looks like it does in the tin. This is why it took me two years to drag out this tin of paint which I had mixed up and to actually use it. When I opened it the first time, I dabbed the smallest bit on the wall and practically fainted. It was so gloomy. So I shut the tin and put it in the garage. But it's always best to look at paint in natural daylight when it has dried properly. No matter how many patches you paint on a wall, it's still very difficult to get the full picture. Besides, I gave up painting patches on walls years ago, it takes you forever to paint out the patches on walls (pfft) and so I paint on pieces of card and masking tape them to the wall instead.

2. Prep.

Get the fiddly stuff out of the way first like filling in any cracks. Paint does not fill cracks contrary to my previously misguided belief. Filler does. I noticed quite a few cracks in the walls recently and it started me on my mission to freshen up the house. The one tip I got from a builder when filling in the cracks with filler is to use a damp sponge (like the little rectangular washing up sponges you can buy) which smooths and wipes away any excess filler as you go.

3. Make it Easy on Yourself.

Line your paint tray! Makes life easier.

Its a great song that by the Walker Brothers isn't it? Anyway, I hate cleaning up after decorating. I line my paint trays with a little cling film and on top of that, a piece of foil. Then I pour my paint in. When I've finished, I lift out the foil and cling film together. Nice clean paint tray.

Did I say I hate cleaning up after painting? I hate washing brushes and rollers. So I don't. I throw them away instead. That sounds a bit drastic but the hubs got tired of seeing gungey paintbrushes sitting in a pot three weeks after a job and eventually said to me "if you're not going to clean them, throw them away". That was a revelation. I bought myself a multipack of Harris brushes from Costco a few years back for about £15 and have been working my way through them ever since. I don't pay a decorator so this is my indulgence. Same with rollers. 

Did you notice that I rested my roller on a plastic container lid. The kind that you get from a takeaway? As I go round and switch from brush to roller, I rest whichever I'm not using on a plastic lid like this as (1) the paint doesn't really stick to the plastic and (2) I can throw it away when I'm done.

If you're not going to get the job done in one go and you need to leave the paint overnight and can't be bothered to wash out your brushes - I wrap them up in cling film and cover the top of the paint tray with some foil or cling film. I can't decorate without foil or cling film.

Or wet wipes. When I edge the bottom of a wall and it's not perfect, I just wrap my finger in a wet wipe and run my nail along the skirting board and I get a neat edge. 

4. Control.

Edging. Strangely enough, a large brush is better for edging than a small piddly brush. It holds more paint and means you can continue a straight line for longer. That I know from watching the odd decorator who I have had to use for those jobs which I simply can't do - like those walls which are sooooo high and you have to buy new ladders and apparatus and risk life and limb to paint them and it works out cheaper to get a man in to do the job. Pick your fights and work out what will save you time, money and stress. Err ... you're probably thinking, that's a tiny thin brush you're using up there in that pic Sue. Yes, it is ... I've worked through all the big brushes in my multipack and I'm down to the small and skinny ones now. Ah well.

Small Rollers. I use a roller to paint the walls. The small ones. Like in my first picture. Not a big massive thing which is so heavy when it's laden with paint, you will have an over developed muscly right arm by the time you've finished painting the room. I also don't like the back splatter with the big rollers - I don't suit white paint freckles, no sirreee! I also like the control you have getting near the edges and it's much easier to handle a small roller. Might take a fraction longer but I get a better finish and more even paint job, I swear.

5. Brushes.

I'm just doing regular wall painting so I just want pretty standard paintbrushes - I'm not glossing or painting wood furniture, but even so, I tend to buy Harris brushes. I find some of the cheaper budget paintbrushes tend to shed bristles which is very annoying when I have to pick a loose bristle off the wall. Pfft.

5. Against The Norm

Ever find yourself putting a hand on wall or leaning or scuffing the paint on that wall you've just painted by accident? That wall is probably to your left (assuming you're painting in a clockwise direction around the room). I now paint a wall and then the next wall I paint is to the left of it. That's because the wall to the left of the left (think about it) of the one I've just painted is dry so I can lean on it all I like. It's a bit weird but it works for me.

5. Decorations

Frames. I don't spend a lot on decorating Ben's room. It's usually a pot of paint and a change of picture on the walls depending on what the latest fad is. I bought some Ikea Ribba frames years back and these instantly give any pictures a more finished contemporary look. I have black ones as there are black accents in his room through the odd piece of furniture and the frames tie everything together. We've had TinTin pics, Superhero pics, Minecraft pics and these are the latest ones. I like the triptych effect and the fact that they are Dr Seuss quotes too.

Prints.  Speaking of which ... those prints above are free downloadables. FREE. A little bit of mad googling and Pinteresting and there are all kinds of free prints available. Check out my two favourite links here and here.

Prints again. Don't like anything you've seen or what you like, you have to pay too much for or it's just not quite right? Make your own. This is how to do a chalkboard effect poster. Add whatever quote you like. 

  • Link to a free chalkboard-background here.
  • Upload or copy the image and paste it in to a blank document. I used the Pages app which I have on the Mac.
  • Choose a suitable font. I found the Chalkduster font works well on this.
  • Make sure the font colour is white!!! 
  • Write what you like.
  • Print out.

Wall Decorations. Ben has a retro coat rack on his wall which he hangs his medals on. It has little plaques which you put your own labels on - he's a boy, he loves techy stuff so I printed lots of little games consoles and cut them to size to decorate it up. It's just finding easy ways to make sure it still feels like his room ... but done your way which is great if you're a control freak (like me).

For a similar coat rack, I found this Etsy seller The Woodworm Shop who does some lovely peg racks. You can keep it natural or paint it (I know there are a lot of Annie Sloan fans out there). Or CoxandCox do this one in a gesso finish.

Girly Things. And I know if I was a mum of girls, I would be printing and making these Hermes handbags as cute little decorations for their room. They'd look fab as a display on a shelf.

I'm not a mum of girls but I did print and make them anyway. I made all these when I had my week off with no wifi in Wales earlier this year. These diy Hermes bags actually came out in 2012 but there are still links here to get the printouts to make your own. Just make sure you use card (paper is too thin) and one that you can "fold" easily and you will need a craft knife for some of the cuts. This is what a printable looks like when you download it and you follow the instructions from there on.

They are are a little finicky to make because these are absolutely tiny but quite satisfying when they are all done and besides, don't they look lovely? And they make lovely gift bags too as I found out when Ben squirrelled one to one side and put some of his own money in it and gave it to me as a birthday present #heartmelt 

Bedlinen. I keep this really simple here. I bought some chambray/denim bedlinen sets from Primark a few years back which are still going strong. They are plain but being chambray, not quite so boring and I like that you can interchange the pillowcases with something like the one below for a bit of interest. I  (personally) don't really like buying specific children's bedding - I think if you choose carefully you can work with adult bedding and make it appropriate. 

For reference, this caught my eye on the M&S site and what a bargain at £15.60 for a single duvet set as there is 20% off today too. This is funky and contemporary and will bring a jolt of colour to any child's room. Works for a girl or a boy. Keep to the pale side for a girl and throw on some fuchsia cushions. Me, I'm going for the bright blue side, I've got a boy after all ... with grey walls in his room.  Let's breathe some colour in to the room - he is still only young.

So I will stop my ramblings there - I've finished the room and Ben loves it (I did do it on a whim and didn't tell him). I was worried that he wouldn't like it as he has always had a blue room given that his favourite colour is blue but the grey has worked a treat. Seems like my boy has taken after me #lovegrey


Last Note :

  • I did Ben's room in Dulux Dusted Moss 2. Goes on a cement colour and dries pale grey and interesting. A lot like Farrow and Ball's Cornforth White from what I can see on my Farrow & Ball paint chart.
  • Any decorating tips you care to share?
  • George's room is up next. Arghghg!


  1. My stairwells are a mess but painting them is a no go as they go all the way to the top of the house and I can't afford a decorator to come in to do them every time. Instead, I use a magic eraser which I use to clean the walls down with. As I am doing it and the walls are a little damp, wipe over with a dry cloth as this stops the walls looking shiny from where you have obviously wiped it down. Learnt from experience that one. And your house sounds like my old cottage - I creamed it all the way through as there was a lot of wood doors and skirting and not that much light. The blue in Ben's room was a break in my usual neutrals for decorating and I think it grated me on for the last 7 years actually so I finally took matters in to my own hands. But I think everyone agrees it looks better than it did before. Now what shall I do about George. He wants red!

  2. Red might work...with lots and lots of stuff on the walls? My friend did one of her downstairs rooms very dark grey - almost black, it makes the pictures on the walls look amazing. Our house needs painting so badly - we have ten years of handprints and doodles to erase.

  3. Oh and Primark have Coke duvet sets now - not as soft and the chambray ones because of the ink for the print but sort of classic looking and very red. My boys like them anyway, what with coke being such a rare treat. And do you know the book Paul Thurlby's Alphabet? Its beautiful and if you can bear to tear out a page they make beautiful prints. I used the whole book here The G page is "G is for Graffiti" and the B one is "B is for Bounce". Great post - with great painting tips, thanks!

    1. They had some nice bedlinen sets round about Christmas time but their range has dwindled a bit or else I would be seeing what I could get my hands on. I've not seen the book you mention but when you said B & G, I thought you meant for my boys Ben and George then. I will have to take a look ... but it does seem almost criminal to take a book apart doesn't it - they're a little sacred I think. I have a beautiful book which you might be interested to take a look at. It's expensive but a little something different.

    2. Thanks, I had a look, its gorgeous!

  4. I'm too scared to go red. However, I'm not too scared to go dark blue for a wall with lots of white frames on it. I have ideas in mind. I'm just waiting my time ... I just need George to go and stay with his auntie for a couple of days ... or on another camping trip with Daddy.

  5. Brilliant post Sue - you could be me, I do all of those things except paint to the left. Still trying to work that one out if I'm a left hander. Anyway it's academic really as I hung up my brushes years ago and get Pete the Decorator in now lol xx

    1. Well you're just lucky - sometimes I think it would be so much easier to get someone in to do the job but I'm also a bit of a painting control freak. In my old house, I think I painted the kitchen about 10 times whilst I was there. The Grumps would go off for a night and come back to a different coloured kitchen. And I made a lot of mistakes picking out the exact right shade ... how many shades of cream can there be? Many it would appear.

  6. Love these tips, especially the one about a larger brush being better at lines, we have always used a small one and the wiggly lines on our toilet ceiling account for the fact it doesn't we will use a big one next. Love the cling film and tin foil idea in the paint tray too - and much to my Dads dismay we always buy cheap brushes and rollers and is too short to be cleaning them! Love this post Sue, you are fab! xx

    1. The brushes I saw the decorators use were huge. I wouldn't have trusted myself with them but a regular 2.5" wide brush seems to do the trick for me. And yes, I bought a few cheap brushes as I knew they would be thrown but they leave brush marks - the bristles are harder and more sparse and the shedding drove me nuts. And a not very fashionable post but I'm glad you enjoyed it Frances.

  7. Superb tips Sue.....I can feel another project coming on once I've finished destuffocating! The prints are a brilliant idea! Gracie's room is long overdue a make-up! Can't believe you've got me all excited about DIY! :0) xx

    1. I'm doing everything the wrong way round but there was a grubby looking wall in Ben's room which was driving me mad and it had to go. Now I have to go through the cupboards in his room. I'm kind of working my way round to culling my stuff by doing his which is not the agreed practice but ... I feel better for it.

  8. Some brilliant tips Sue. I be the prints in Ben's room. And those Hermes bags..! xxx

    1. It's the closest I will ever get to owning a Hermes Liz!

  9. Sue I love all these tips - thanks so much for sharing! We spend so long scrubbing our trays, what a great idea to line them. Now, re the smaller roller, I hear you re arm ache. Do you use the sponge smaller ones or the fluffy one (that is normally what the large come in)? I hope that made sense - I need to hit the sack! Genius ideas re the free pictures as well and Ikea frames are fab, I have loads x

    1. Well I used to expend so much time and energy trying to clean everything that it would drive me nuts and I'm sure the water bill doubled just because of the brush cleaning. I use the small fluffy ones - they are designed for emulsion. The sponge ones are for gloss paint I think. And if you leave the paint in the tray a long time, it's sometimes worth getting rid of the foil and paint and starting a new lot because if the paint dries out a little, it comes off in little clumps on to your roller and that's annoying peeling those bits off your wall too. I noticed this the next day after I'd left the paint tray for the night whereas when I started, there were no problems with anything going on the wall. Hope that helps!

  10. Love this post Sue! You've inspired me to think about re-doing my 6 year olds room. He needs a more grown up decor. Thanks : )

  11. Love the prints Sue - I need to do some for Hugh's room - it's quiet bare! I have an IKEA map that I have been meaning to assemble and hang for him...I bought it 6 months ago and it's still on my 'to do' list! I seem to be spending half of my vacation adding to that list for when I return! x


Susie So So