The Cottage Smallholder

stumbling self sufficiency in a small space

How to increase the light in your home with a paint that reflects up to twice the light

Photo: Dulux Light and Space matt paint

One of the depressing things about being a decorator is making other peoples’ houses look beautiful and not having time to decorate our cottage.

As a decorator, my eye is instinctively drawn to the necessary repairs and the state of the paintwork as this can contribute significantly to the labour costs and could spell disaster if I don’t spot them on the assessment visit.

I can’t switch this off when I walk through the cottage door and have been longing to decorate our kitchen for over a year. It’s quite a big job because we have painted kitchen cupboards (as opposed to wood effect) and I also want to change the wall tiles over the cooker. I wouldn’t dream of using another decorator as I know exactly the quality of work and attention to detail that would make me happy.

So a couple of weeks ago we decided that I would take a week off and decorate the kitchen and bathroom. I was so excited this morning that I sprang out of bed early and started work well before breakfast.

Our seventeenth century cottage is one room deep and has windows at the front and back of each room, facing south west in the front (afternoon sun) and north east at the back (morning sun). But the windows are very small and the ceilings are low so the cottage is fairly dark even on the brightest day. As yet we have not resorted to miners’ lamps to relieve the gloom in the winter.
Years ago people used to use glossy paint to reflect more light in dark rooms. I hate this as every bump and bobble on the surface of the walls and ceilings are highlighted. On the uneven walls of a very old house it looks even worse, it’s like looking at a choppy sea.

In the past we have just resorted to pale colours but this time I decided to use a new paint that has been developed by Dulux. It’s called Light and Space and reflects up to twice as much light as normal paint. It also has a flat matt finish. This is not glow in the dark florescent paint. It just reflects more light – daylight or artificial light. Initially I was a bit dubious about it.

But then I heard about the progress of paint development on the radio a few months ago and immediately ordered 5 litres of white for our downstairs ceilings back in the autumn. The substantial pot has sat patiently on the floor for a good four months.

With just one coat on the ceiling I could see how effective it was. So I rushed down to Homebase to have the paint mixed for the walls (Ridgeons, my trade paint supplier don’t stock it yet). The range of colours is small and all are light shades but the choice is a bit bigger if you have the paint mixed for you. This paint is a great investment if you live in a dark place. It’s about 30% more expensive that ordinary Dulux matt but the saving on electric light will be significant for us and we will soon be recouping the difference and feeling the benefit.

I’m not sponsored or working for Dulux. I have just discovered that their range of paint is really good and better than everything else that clients might ask me to use. I do use a whole range of expensive ‘boutique’ brands in other people’s houses but would always use Dulux at home.

It’s so good to be working at home for a change although the Min Pins are up in arms and hating the disturbance to their well ordered daily routine. And there isn’t much time for games. It’s the same when major cottage spring cleaning is taking place. They would prefer everything to have been done before they come down for breakfast in the morning. And I can see their point on the cleaning front.

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  1. tina beach

    I am wanting to paint the walls and ceiling in my static caravan which are papered and have a slightly rough finish. The walls are dark cream with brown markings and I just want to lighten the van and make it more modern and bright although it’s only about 4 years old; would this paint be ok.

  2. Hi,Can someone inform me what is the highest and the lowest value of refraction of two different materials of paint that increase or decrease the illumination

  3. hi, I am thinking of painting the walls of are dining room,the walls have a inbost paper on them, can I paint this light reflecting paint onto wallpaper? thank you

  4. Jo @ LittleFfarm Dairy

    Whoa, our bedroom lights are on pull-cords in the middle of the room – less of a thumble, more of a wild-arms flail. And being in an err, secluded spot when it is dark here, it is PROFOUNDLY dark.

    Being a traditional Welsh farmhouse there’s lots of woodwork; including a tongue-&-groove ceiling upstairs. As you can imagine, in places it gets a bit dark at times.

    Spurred on by B&Q’s offer of a half-price Paint Pod I deviated to DIY en route from a busy morning of gelato deliveries. Having stowed the hallowed instrument in my trolley I surveyed the available colours with dismay. I’d assumed said gadget could be used with the full range of Dulux paints: alas, no; & ‘Light & Space’ certainly isn’t available.

    Thinking about the many walls I have to paint I reflected on how nigh-on impossible such a ‘useful’ gadget would prove to use. Most walls here are of rough-cast plaster, & bulge & bellow in all directions; not the easiest to smooth over with an automatic roller.

    I put a little more careful, considered thought into what I wanted to achieve. Whilst the Paint Pod would have been ideal for our dark-&-dingy Dining Room, the whole house could do with a brightly-painted smile.

    I stood there, perplexed by the wide array of brightly-coloured paints on offer. Albeit with limitations, the Paint Pod still beckoned. But my fretful mind worried that if it doesn’t prove popular & is withdrawn from the market (which as it’s already being offered at only half-price, seems likely) I was loathe to invest in a ‘fad’.

    So I thought more carefully. Do dining rooms really have to be saturated with dark, oppressive colours….? These days ours is used more as an impromptu study, than a room for intimate ‘tete-a-tete’ meals.

    So the Paint Pod has been shoved back on its DIY store shelf; & I’ve armed myself with a set of best-quality brushes along with a goodly pot of L&S ‘Coastal Glow’ which I know will prove just the tonic for our lovely old hallway.

    And I also invested in a whole host of other ‘Light & Space’ sample pots – the cottage deserves not only a thorough spring clean but also a much-needed makeover. So here we go…!

    But the house is only a suitably modest beginning. As you can imagine, we have loads of outbuildings here on the farm; most walls are whitewashed with doors & windowframes, a dark blood red.

    You’ve inspired me to transform the Ffarm & dip into the light, alluring colours which decorate our ‘Lovespoon’ gelato pots – to brighten up the whole place, inside & out. No doubt not only Tony but a whole host of goats, sheep, ponies & poultry will thank you for it…!

    So if ever you fancy a “busman’s holiday” feel free to take an excursion to Wales – where you can admire the bright & beautiful fruits of our labours, inspired by your ever-welcome advice.

  5. Great post, thanks,for sharing this.I have quite a dark hall, so this would be excellent.

    We have done two rooms in our house, the least expensive ones…!!Now have to replace bathroom, completely gut the front room, and the kitchen, so I don’t think a few pots of paint, are going break the bank..

    At the moment it is like living in a tin of mushroom soup, the people before definetely did not like anything else other than beige ha ha and like S.O.L….Numptys lived in my house before. everything is backwards. You have to go into the room shut the door in the dark and then thumble for the light switch.

  6. Ive always used brilliant matt white mixed with usually a sample pot size of the colour I want.Mix it at home to the shade i want,just make sure ive mixed enough for needs as wont get exact shade again.
    I love this in pale yellow as it brightens any room and does make the room glow with a richness and depth not seen in normal emulsions.

  7. It sounds like it will be lovely when it’s finished. I’ve never been sold on white paint before but my living room never gets to see the sun until late afternoon in the summer…winter never at all. My room is painted lilac and green but I think I finally realise that the room should be painted the way it needs, not the colours I like. Please let us know the end result.

  8. Carol if you have the receipt for the paint and it is untouched take it back and ask for a refund. Or to exchange it. homebase and B&Q are good with this. I havent ever had to take anything back to Wickes before so I dont know what their policy is

  9. Sounds brill. I always use Dulux too as I just like working with it. We have already bought Dulux (‘Timeless’) for our hall – drat! But our office does need a new coat of paint – it’s terracotta at the mo from back in the days when bolder colours were in favour. If I can use up all the ‘Timeless’ in the office I’ll look out for this other for the hall. When we 1st moved in 20 yrs ago we had a corrugated perspex roofed car port outside but with a few storms blowing chunks of it away & a rotten garage roof we redid the whole lot as a flat roof & it has darkened the hall considerably. Keep us up to date with how you get on. Like the idea of before & after pictures too. Enjoy your week!

  10. Love your decorating tips! We need to paint our kitchen/diner ceiling and it’s not a light room so will have to seek some of this out.

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