The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

Decorating the cottage: update

Photo: Inca tired of the decorating upheaval

As I only have outdoor painting jobs at the moment, the persistent soft Irish misty drizzle has meant that I’m working on our cottage instead. Repairing and decorating the inside.

Danny works from home so we have spent more time together than we have for months. His mini kingdom is the Rat Room. Here he works on his laptop with a diary full of conference calls and deadlines.
“Please make sure that The Contessa doesn’t creep upstairs to nest under the duvet. If she barks when I’m on a call I look/sound like a schmuck.”

The kitchen is almost finished. It looks bright and cottagey. I just need to replace the tiles behind the sink and cooker. The Dulux Light and Space paint works well. It does reflect much more light. Especially at night when the lights can be turned right down.

I had ordered the Absolute White trade version of the paint for the ceiling before Christmas. It’s more expensive but a far greater opacity than the paint available from the ordinary shops so it works out cheaper in the end. So if you are considering using this paint it might be worth going to your local builder’s merchant and ordering the trade version. Few stock it because it’s considered new-fangled!

The paint for the walls was mixed in Homebase where the range is a bit bigger than the premixed paints. The colour is Honey Glaze, which does not appear on the list of Light and Space colours – a very pale primrose yellow. It looks wonderful, but it did take three coats. The cupboards and doors are painted with Dulux Heritage Edwardian Lemon Eggshell. The windows, skirting and door frames are painted with Light and Space quick drying satin (Absolute White) as I was hoping this would reflect more light than ordinary Brilliant White eggshell. It does not have the sort of opacity that I’d expect from a trade paint but the end result is a very pretty room that feels calm and serene. The trick is to undercoat the woodwork with two or three layers of Dulux Trade quick drying primer undercoat and then apply the top coat, rather than one undercoat and three top coats!

I have repainted the bathroom. The walls are completely tiled in white so it was just the ceiling and woodwork (Dulux Light and Space, Absolute White). I’ve also painted the ceiling and the woodwork in The Love Gallery – that leads to the bathroom. We wanted to keep the deep pinkish coral colour on the walls but I’m planning to run over them on Saturday as they look a bit dead now that the woodwork has been buffed up.

I’ve repaired and decorated the stairwell. This is not a conventional hall landing and stairs. The cottage is so old that it’s just a flight of stairs that curve around the central chimney breast, with a little window that overlooks the garden. We used the same colour combination as the kitchen – white ceiling, pale yellow walls and white woodwork. It looks amazing as it was a bit dark and forlorn before.

This is a 360 year old cottage with very low ceilings and small windows. It needs a traditional look. We’ve tried outlandish colours in the past and they just don’t work. Good decorating is all about getting the best out of the space that you have.

A lot of my clients ask me to decorate one room and gradually over the next few months I return to do one more room and eventually decorate the entire house. Once one area is done the rest of the house starts screaming for a makeover. And we’ve experienced that same syndrome.

It will be the sitting room next. Then the bedrooms and finally the exterior. It feels so good to be investing in us for a change. It’s a well known fact that your environment has a fundamental affect on the way that you feel about yourself. Unfortunately we had forgotten this.

But the Min Pins loathe this sojourn. I’m at home but busy and attached to a smelly paint brush. Eventually Inca just sat on the outside edge of the dust cloths on the floor and wept. So I filled the teddy bear hot water bottle that she loves and let her climb into the human dog basket and lie beside the teddy for the afternoon. I know that she has investigated my unusual behaviour and the paint pots. Examine the tips of her ears. Dr Q is also covered with splashes of paint. D’s fleece is streaked back and front.

Only the elegant Contessa has no daubs of paint. She is far too superior to get involved. Holed up in her basket she steps out and stretches when the brushes are finally cleaned and put away for the evening.

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  1. kate (uk)

    Ah yes, once one room is done all the rest follow- I’m about half way through, waiting for windows open weather to complete the big decorating push!Does look better for it though- I’ve found the light and space needs several coats, but gives a lovely finish once they are done.Interested to hear that there are colours that can be mixed- I shall investigate that for my bathroom…I used trade matt white as an undercoat on a particularly dark ceiling then top coated with the light and space-gave an excellent dense white and bright result.
    Andrew just HATES it when the house painting pots come out, but at least he leaves me to it, when I’m doing proper painting he has a habit of jumping up onto my desk , walking across my palette and trying to drink the paint water.

  2. Fiona Nevile

    Hi Nadia

    Cats always seem to get into everything don’t they. When I’m decorating at my sisters house I have to be very cool with her pugs or they’d end up a totally different colour.

    We left our kitchen for five years and this was too long. I’m going to try and run over it every couple of years or so.

    Hi Pamela

    Yes paint is really expensive. Even with the discounts that I get we’ve spent quite a lot already on the cottage.

    Someone I know saved hundreds by buying 10 litres of decent quality Brilliant White emulsion and adding acrylic paint to mix her own colours. She was an artist so had plenty of tubes knocking around.

    Hello Lib572

    Yes our Homebase can mix a slightly bigger range of Light and Space paint. I spotted some colour cards in the mixing section, marked Light and Space. Probably a range of about 20 colours max – all very pale.

    I don’t know whether it would work using an ordinary Dulux colour in the Light and Space range.

    Having the colour mixed was more expensive than the range on the shelves. About £2 more.

    Hello S.O.L.

    Yes, I’ll try and do some photographs. It’s more of a spruce up than a makeover!

    Hi KarenO

    Diamond Matt is really good as it is matt and 10 x stronger than ordinary matt. So you can wash it. Great if you have muddy dogs, constricted corridors etc.

    Light and Space flat mat is what I’m using in the cottage. Light and Space Diamond matt would be much more hardwearing – I didn’t know that it was available so thanks for the tip.

  3. oops that was good English I meant ever seen – but you knew that.

  4. Hi Fiona

    Sounds lovely. I love a fresh lemon colour. Your stairway sounds intriguing too – I don’t think I’ve never seen one like you describe. It’s lovely that you have time to decorate at last.

    At about the point where I’ve emptied the room I always wonder why I started! Too late then though. I asked in our local builders merchant the other day about ‘space & light’ & fortunately they also mix colours. Even more fortunate – our son works there at the moment so we can get discount too! They said it was about £38 for flat matt & about £50 for diamond matt for 5L (Can’t remember exact figures & I never know how much discount until I get the bill!) I was wondering what the diference was between flat matt & diamond matt, apart from the price. The girls on the till thought diamond was probably tougher & more washable but didn’t really know. Any ideas?
    Keep up the good work – you’re obviously inspiring us all.

  5. ohhh how exciting, you know I love a make over. Can we expect pictures? If so i cant wait!

  6. Love your site!
    did you get Homebase to mix their Light and Space with a colour that suited you – or is it a normal mixed Dulux you used. I hang on your answer as have gloomy room!!

  7. All this talk of decorating has made me look around my flat and realise it is looking a bit sad too. However, as it was all repainted at the same time, several years ago when it was refurbished, the whole place needs a coat of paint now. So, as I have no spare cash for paint or brushes, I guess I will just have to stop looking at it. Mind you, a good tidy up would not go amiss …

  8. …well, our house needs doing and here it is sunny today! wish you were here! with an old log burning stove in the kitcheh the walls which we painted white just 2 years ago look as if they haven’t been touched for quite a few decades! and we aren’t even smokers, thankfully, or it’d be worse still!
    when i was painting up a huge old chest of drawers which we found the other week one of our cats ended up with a punke white crest along her head – ah the joys of animals helping in diy! our cats seem to be very good at overseeing work is being done properly 🙂
    have fun!

  9. Fiona Nevile

    Hello Wendy

    Thanks for your comment. Just happened to be up, wide awake and answering other comments when you dropped by. I always appreciate your input to the site.

    If you are decorating try and go for trade paint (not cheap paint ever, go for a decent brand like Dulux). This paint handles well (far better than the off the shelf dulux branded paint from your local DIY store) If you buy Dulux Trade paint from a reputable Builder’s merchants it’s so much cheaper than buying them from Homebase/B&Q etc as the trade stuff has greater opacity and needs less coats.

    My heart always sinks when clients have bought paint from the local DIY store as it always needs an extra coat so my quote has to go up by 33% immediately. They might have ‘saved’ 10 pounds on an offer. But they are paying so much more than they need to in labour – and that’s the expensive bit.

    I usually buy my paint for jobs. I don’t mark it up but I charge for my time driving to get it. I know eactly how it will handle. There are never nasty shocks and I can quote rather than estimate so everyone is happy.

  10. I was really interested in all this decorating info having a large house to cope with. The tip about 2 to 3 coats of u/c and then 1 top coat was brilliant – thanks. The description of your cottage made it sound so interesting. You are going to be really pleased when the sun shines in on your newly decorated rooms.
    Loved the bit about Danny trying to sound professional on the phone with a competing Minpin! x

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