Morning and welcome to Wednesday’s Ad Break. It’s been a while since we had one of these, but this week I have teamed up with Barclays Mortgages to put together a list of easy things you can do at home during this period. This has come about following research* carried out by Barclays which found that two out of every five of us believe lockdown has improved our DIY skills and half of us are planning to get our homes revalued when this is over to see if the time and effort we’ve invested in our homes will help us out if we decide to sell up at some point in the future.

gold ceiling at
gold ceiling at

Some of us, according to the research, have spent an average of four days doing jobs around the home and garden with many saying they have been using the time to do all those things they have been putting off for months (even years).

Twenty one per cent of those surveyed reckoned the jobs they have been doing could have added up to £2,000 to the value of their property with 11 per cent thinking it might be up to £5,000. Two per cent (apparently mostly male) reckon they’ve added over £200,000! I have no idea what they have been doing but I think it’s definitely true that maintaining the outside of your house, and keeping the interiors in good condition with things like painting and mending can definitely add value – a thousand here, a couple of thousand there and it all mounts up. Although perhaps not to £200,000.

Lee Chiswell, Head of Barclays Mortgages said: “The lockdown has meant people have taken the opportunity to consider how they can increase their property’s value with a bit of DIY. It’s a savvy decision to invest this time improving your property and doing those jobs that have been on your list for a while.”

The most popular jobs include general gardening and maintenance as well as creating veg patches, although some of the more ambitious among us are cutting down trees and painting the outside of our houses as well as trimming hedges and mending fences.

bisque tetro radiator volcanic image by madaboutthehouse
paint the edge of the doors to match the walls and create a gallery wall

One in ten said they had painted their property’s exterior which, given that 35 per cent of buyers make their eventual decision based purely on outward appearances, might be a good use of time. One of my neighbours has been doing just that. He is a painter by trade but the scaffolding arrived two days into lockdown and he has been spending the time since sanding and painting and whistling gently to himself in the sunshine.

There is the fact that that’s his job but this hasn’t, apparently, deterred the rest of us amateurs with 57 per cent of respondents saying they are taking on tasks they would normally leave to the professionals. Indeed, one friend of mine managed to mend her leaking sink when she realised that she couldn’t call either a plumber or her Dad. She managed to unscrew the waste pipe underneath, clean it all out and reattach it. Hey presto no more leak. She has been talking about this a lot mind. I mean a lot.

Now, as regular readers will know, I don’t pretend to know one end of a blade of grass from the other, so I will definitely be leaving those outside jobs to the professionals when they can return. Or The Mad Husband in the short term. But I do know about adding aesthetic value so let’s step inside and consider some DIY you can do there.

Paint your ceilings

gold ceiling at
gold ceiling at

Not for nothing is the ceiling often called the fifth wall. When you have spent so much time agonising over colours for the walls why spoil it by sticking white on the ceiling? You don’t wear a white top with everything in your wardrobe so take time to think about which colour would really compliment the walls. This might be the same in a small room to make it look bigger, perhaps a pale version of the same wall shade or even a soft contrast – a very pale pink with green, blue or chocolate walls. Although you can paint ceilings in matt emulsion, try using an eggshell or even a gloss with a sheen to bounce the light around.

Paint your woodwork to match your walls

paint the door to match the walls image by
walls and woodwork in fallen plum by Atelier Ellis

The Georgians always matched wood and walls so it’s not a new idea, although after years of white woodwork it now looks modern again. This will create a calming effect as lots of white lines distracts the eye and draws attention to the edges of the room. This technique can make the walls look taller and, therefore, the ceiling higher – but make sure you use eggshell or gloss paint to stick to the wood.

Remake some blinds by re-using the old parts

ticking stripe blind made by Penny Tompkins
ticking stripe blind made by Penny Tompkins

Window dressings are often expensive as so many of us have windows that aren’t standard sizes. If you have a blind that you no longer like, or that doesn’t go with the décor, try taking it apart and re-using the mechanisms so that all you have to do is re-make the material part.

Paint those tiles you always hated or redo the splashback

painted tiles by Annie Sloan, styled by Marianne Cotterill
painted tiles by Annie Sloan, styled by Marianne Cotterill

Tiles can be expensive and messy to replace and you will probably need a skilled tradesperson to help you. But, you can paint tiles using simple bowls or a ruler to create a new pattern. You will need at least two coats and allow them to dry fully. To fully protect the tiles afterwards you will need to add a layer of lacquer which takes up to 14 days to fully cure.

Paint the edges of the doors to create interest

painted door frame in my old spare room

This is a really good way to add a bit of interest without going overboard. Carefully stick frog tape to the edges of the door on both sides and paint the edge in a bold colour so that you only see it when the door is open. You can match the colour of the room the door opens into or add a bright totally contrasting shade for fun.

Do let me know if you have tried or are planning to try any of these. I can’t promise they will add as much value as painting the outside of your house but they will make it prettier to live in .

*Research conducted by Censuswide in April 2020, surveying 2,000 nationally representative respondents

For further information about Barclays, visit the website



lockdown decorating tips. geometric painted wall with matching pink painted door edge




Tags : barclays mortgagesdecorating in lockdownLockdown diypaint the woodworkpainted ceilingpainted tilesremake blinds
Kate Watson-Smyth

The author Kate Watson-Smyth

I’m a journalist who writes about interiors mainly for The Financial Times but I have also written regularly for The Independent and The Daily Mail. My house has been in Living Etc, HeartHome and featured in The Wall Street Journal & Corriere della Sera. I also run an interior styling consultancy Mad About Your House. Welcome to my Mad House.


  1. Painting tiles is really one of the best decorating tips I’ve read. I would definitely try this tip. Thanks for sharing these awesome tips.

  2. The door edge tip is genius! I’m think you might have mentioned it before -at which time I also thought it was genius- but having promptly forgotten it, thank you for reminding me.

  3. My husband has just painted our bedroom with the ceiling in a veeery pale green (Starling’s Egg from Little Greene) to offset the dark-green walls (Mid Azure Green). It’s lovely to have the soft colour above the picture rail – it looks white against the dark green but is much less stark than actual white would have been. He has also just finished painting the radiators and woodwork in the sitting room to match the walls (Jewel Beetle, also Little Greene). It was the last job to do in there and delayed while we waited for paint. So worth it as the radiators just disappear and the woodwork doesn’t ‘interrupt’ the colour on the walls. So can vouch for two of your tips. We’d love to do the door edges but the doors need dipped and stripped so lockdown is thwarting us on that one. Another very effective lockdown job we did was painting the underside of our bath (a freestander). Makes me smile every day!

  4. I hope that not too much garden tidying is going on, my heart sinks when you mention trees being chopped down. I heard on the radio today that as a nation our gardens are too tidy for wildlife. Think of the bees!

  5. I’ve just moved and my little house needs EVERYTHING doing to it. I’m broke so am just painting over the decay with lovely colours! Today I’m painting radiators to match walls, and Im going to use some leftover mustard paint to paint the edge of my front door (it’s black on the outside and Inchyra on the inside).

  6. The first thing I did in lockdown was to paint my music room ceiling gold – I love it! In normal circumstances I’m a piano teacher and it’s my hope that when I can welcome pupils back into my home again, playing the piano in this room will make them feel really special. If it’s good enough for the Queen…

  7. I’m taking a dive into a bright colour. Slightly chickening it out as it’s in an upstairs cupboard and staying within my comfort zone of blue. Had thought a yellow but this was too much apparently for my daughter. The cupboard houses the washer and dryer that are stacked. I’ve bought new appliances (well overdue) and they are both granite in colour. Not much colour will be seen once I have the additional storage in, but it’ll go on the inside of the door too.

    As well as that I’ve got a shelving project for the weekend, and I’ve decided the hall and sitting room needs an overhaul. Kitchen revamp in flight, the carpenter at the ready to house the new fridge freezer and slim larder I bought from Neptune Outlet (bargain price but door needs changing) , and make a kitchen banquette. I’m normally handing and will try things but know my limits and the finish I want. I do not want to be be snagging my own work constantly.
    Ohh and then the study. Thankful I’m still working so unsure when I’ll expect to finish 🤣🤣😊

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