As nights draw in the nesting instinct returns, with many of us wanting to give our home a facelift to remedy the Autumnal gloom. Jamie Hempsall looks at paint options.

For many, a fresh paint job can be the perfect pick me up for making a home look cheery and well loved. Even an existing colour recoat or touching up the odd chip can have dramatic results in the look and feel of a property.

Paint can be a quick way to make a big impact

Paint has the advantage over many other finishes, because it is relatively simple to apply and, with care and attention, most people can get a good finish without too much trouble.

As with any decorating the secret to a successful job is time and preparation. Carefully consider the colours you are going to employ and do not stint on the time involved.

If you are planning on decorating in the same colour, it is important to remember everyday living has an effect on any paint finish.   You can usually guarantee that if your room has been painted for over a year the tone will be slightly different to that in a fresh tin. Therefore, if you are going to refresh a significant patch, prepare to paint the entire wall to ensure the job looks professional.

Take time to prepare your surfaces well, a few extra hours spent now will lead to a better and longer lasting result. Invest in filler and a good sanding block.

Prepare your walls well to get the desired effect

If you are thinking of moving pictures around after you redecorate remove all picture hooks and carefully repair the holes with filler applied with a palate knife. The same should go for any small cracks. Let the filler dry and sand to a smooth finish so that your repair will be invisible once painted.

Seek the services of a professional if you are encountering larger cracks or significant areas of repair that require re-plastering. A bad plaster repair is always noticeable.

Woodwork also needs proper preparation. If you have a relatively good surface gently sand the existing topcoat to a matt finish to allow your new paint to bond to the surface effectively. If your wood has suffered from years of over-painting in heavy gloss chips can be significant. If this is the case, it is time to take action and re-introduce the love and attention your wood deserves. You will either need to use a hot air paint stripper to carefully burn off the paint or a proprietary chemical paint remover (these are very strong so use with caution). It may seem a lot of work, but you will be much happier with the end results.

There is then a preferred order for the entire job. Apply the first coat of emulsion to your walls and, after this has dried, apply an undercoat to any woodwork. Continue the job with a second coat of emulsion and then a topcoat of your chosen woodwork finish. This allows you to achieve far better definition and finish between the two types of paint.

In areas that are prone to knocks or high usage (such as halls or children’s rooms) use a high performance washable emulsion such as Intelligent Matt Emulsion by the Little Greene Paint Company or Dulux Endurance Matt. These finishes cope with the rigours of daily wear and tear and can be washed to give a newly refreshed surface without the need to repaint.

Use washable high performance emulsions in areas prone to knocks

We always use oil eggshell for woodwork. The finish is softer than gloss and seems easier to apply than acrylic eggshell, which can dry very quickly and be more prone to streaking.

Finally, opt for the best paint you can afford. Higher priced paints can seem expensive initially, but frequently have more pigment in them. This means they cover more effectively and could use fewer coats – saving you both time and money.

Use the best paint you can afford. The better the paint, the fewer the coats needed, saving time and money


For the fifth year running the Little Greene Paint Company will be raising funds during Breast Cancer Awareness month, by donating 15p from every tin of paint sold during October directly to The Haven.

The Haven, which receives no Government Funding, is the only national breast care charity that provides one-to-one support to improve the quality of life of anyone affected by breast cancer. The Haven work in partnership with the NHS and have centres in Leeds, London and Hereford.

Little Greene paint is available from 230 UK-wide stockists or can be purchased at

Jamie Hempsall, BIID, SBID is a multi-award winning interior designer.