Design Tips | My Secrets for Painting a Room Professionally Yourself

March 31, 2017

Painting and decorating tips from an interiors blogger, tips and tricks for new decorators

Image: Design Soda


There’s no doubt about it, it’s the time of the year when we’re all thinking about changes and modifications in the home (or so I reassure my husband so that he doesn’t feel unfairly shackled to an interiors obsessive, not sure how successful I’ve been at duping him on that one) but this is about the time of year that large d.i.y companies start trying to lure us in to their barn like stores with offers for the mammoth bank holiday weekends of decorating and d.i.y. I guess it makes a lot of logical sense as it’s a time of year when you can ventilate rooms properly for painting etc. I always like to make some changes in the home before a new season and this year I’ve painted the bedroom, including the floor which I’m incredibly pleased with and will be posting on Monday.
Paint really is the most accessible and cheapest way of adding quick, easy and cheap impact to a space and transforming your mood within it. But, painting a whole room from scratch including doors, skirting, floors and walls can be a little daunting.  
I love painting rooms, like a child with a new Lego set to construct, give me a blank room with a roller and some paint and I’m happy to go on my merry way changing a space from bland to something I can really love, but my confidence has taken years to develop. I’ve painted more than 30 rooms over the last eight years and along the way I’ve picked up my own set of tried and tested golden rules for good finish and light work so I thought I’d post them up on the blog today. If you don’t have a decorator (I know, just imagine how lovely that luxury would be!) then read on friends, and do let me know in the comments below any tricks and tips that work for you as I’m always keen to pick up new gems.


Light Peach blossom by Litttle Greene in the home of Theobert Pot.

Light Peach blossom by Litttle Greene in the home of Theobert Pot.


Colour is everything

Now before we go any further I just need to mention a few quick words on paint choice. I am not an expert but a lot of people ask me about the colours on my walls, in fact for each shade I’ve used I’m in the top 20 results on Pinterest for searches under that colour (not bragging or anything!), and one thing I have learned over the years is that colour is everything, and true colour means quality over cutting corners people. A lot of people and companies will tell you that what I’m about to say is a fallacy, but in my years of painting houses,  I believe that unless you are painting in dead flat white then it makes all the difference what you use. If you read my blog regularly then you will know that I am all for creating dash with as little cash as possible in my home but when it comes to paint I just won’t budge.  I personally favour Farrow & Ball who I think are pretty faultless for their depth of shade, interest and high street accessibility. I’ve used all of the well known cheaper brands and unless its white I’ve always been disappointed with the results. As I said earlier paint is the cheapest way of changing a space but if you want something really wow investing in a good quality paint, preferably one that uses natural pigments, will give a depth to your scheme and not sit linear or artificial on your walls. I personally favour F&B but I’ve also loved paint I’ve used from Zoffany, Paint & Paper Library & Mylands. I’ve also heard great things about Valspar, Fired Earth, Annie Sloan and Little Greene, take a look at their ranges with the links above.



Farrow & Ball Small Spaces

Image: Farrow & Ball


So, you’ve got the paint, here are my golden rules:

  • The size of your sample really matters, the bigger the better, using an A4 or even A3 sheet of paper allows you to move samples around the room and follow the light, paint will look different in different corners of the room according to the way that light floods or shadows it so it’s a good idea to move your shade around a bit before deciding on your choice.


  • Go bold with the richest, darkest and deepest of your samples if that is where your gut instinct lay when you originally picked them. Small samples of deeper tones can be a little daunting when placed on a light wall but their impact is far less dramatic when all the walls are covered in this tone, fortune and beauty favour the bold my friends.



Inchrya Blue by Farrow & Ball.


  • Use cheap rollers, expensive ones hold more paint and give better coverage but they are heavier and therefore harder work, it’s far easier to paint one area twice with a light roller than once with a really heavy one (esp above head height with arms extended) and the beauty of a cheap roller is, if you just can’t face the clean up job, you can bin it afterwards without feeling too guilty. 


  • Cutting in and painting up to cornicing is a confidence trick, the more confidence you have to be natural the straighter the line and better the result. The quicker you go the better, it’s so counterintuitive and I wish I’d known this years ago.  I’ve spent painstaking time on cutting in, but when a builder complimented my cutting in recently he told me that speed and confidence are the advice given on decorators courses, so have faith in yourself and follow your hand, it works.


Pale Green in the kitchen of Marie from Aiayu, try Green Blue by Farrow & Ball for similar

Pale Green in the kitchen of Marie from Aiayu, try Green Blue by Farrow & Ball for similar.


  • I came across a helpful diagram years ago in Naomi Cleaver’s The Joy Of Home for painting doors which I have found to be faultless. A good finish is all about the order you paint in, essentially you have to start by painting the panel borders, then the panels, then the middle vertical sections, then the horizontal panes top and bottom and finally the vertical edges of the door, trust me friends this works, its the best order for minimal drips and smoothness.


  • Talking of order, this applies to walls too. I undercoat woodwork first as this lays the base for any joins that may not be too straight in old houses, then I paint walls up to the woodwork lines, finally a topcoat on woodwork allows for overlap on walls that you can’t see with naked eye. It also eliminates small roller splats of paint on woodwork and you only have to worry about being super precise with your cutting in lines the once.


farrow ball purbeck stone

Purbeck Stone by Farrow & Ball.


  • All paint sprayers and easy work gadgets are a total fallacy. I’ve used a few, they promise the world and never deliver, each one of these never work and always end up in the attic since there’s no point in handing them on to anyone unless you dislike them (!).


  • Wet wipes are a god send to decorating, I wish I’d known this during the years before having kids, they make light work of slips and spills in a way that a simple cloth and soap can take hours and tends to bleed. 


fired earth top hat

Top Hat by Fired Earth.


  • If you’re buying paint choose the mattest finish you can get away with, in bathrooms or kitchens you may need a bit of sheen for protection but I try to avoid this wherever possible. The more matt the more beautiful the play of natural light.


  • Finally, everything always looks a shade lighter on woodwork, you can happily paint a room all in one shade, it will look lighter and give weight to your scheme.  I’ve only recently come to this myself after painting our bedroom skirting boards black to match the floor, it pays to think about your woodwork past the standard white. White is lovely with many shades and can give a crisp clean feel to the room, however if you want something weightier, something to ground your scheme a complimenting colour on the skirting and picture rails can do wonders for the overall look. I nearly matched the skirting board in the cocktail room to the walls and now regret not doing it, at the moment I’m planning a shade for the skirting in the living room, i’ll let you know how I get on, but I have high hopes.

There you go, those are my top tips. How about you? If you have any tricks or secrets please do share.


3 thoughts on “Design Tips | My Secrets for Painting a Room Professionally Yourself

  1. Lins @ Boo & Maddie

    This is SO helpful, I agree that over time it definitely gets easier but you’ve mentioned things I hadn’t thought of before. I remember the first room I painted was our kitchen and I painted everything using the same white, radiators, doors, walls the lot. I now want to paint our bedroom as a next step, I’ve realised that I can’t wait for everything to be perfect because it will never happen so giving the whole house a temporary facelift is better than nothing Xx

    1. Design_Soda_Ruthie Post author

      Aww, thank you so much Lins. Yes it’s definitely a learning curve when you start decorating, I once painted a floor without really sanding it – total disaster, but you live and learn. Go for it, paint is such a transformer but when you’re planning a space xxx

  2. Pingback: Annie Sloan Oxford workshop - Paint Everything, papier mache pineapples, shibori

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