Mad About . . .

Monday Inspiration: Clever Ways with Leftover Paint

20th April 2020
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I don’t know about you but I don’t seem to be half as productive as social media would have us believe everyone else is. I can barely summon up the energy to put the clean laundry away, much less sort out and declutter my wardrobe, or clear up the piles of stuff that have migrated into my office now that the 19yo has returned from university. And my covert plan of using his empty room to dry said laundry and sort that stuff-that-needs-to-go-somehere-before-it-is-filed-into-the-bin pile is over for the foreseeable future. And what about the similar heap that is destined for recycling at the tip, which is currently closed, and which is therefore living in the back of the car.

green matt and eggshell by by @emiliefournetinteriors

green matt and eggshell by by @emiliefournetinteriors

I was also reminded of the sometimes strange interpretation of the DIY rules this week; once on what appeared to be a  police guideline sheet which said that while maintenance was ok, it was not allowed to redecorate your kitchen. That said if you can get materials delivered from online shopping which many paint companies are doing (see the bottom of this post for a list) then who’s to know what you are doing with it? But then The Mad Mother told me that one of her friends had been told, on a trip to the local B&Q, that he could buy the paint sprayer for his garden fence but not the paint to go it in it?!?

So with that in mind, I thought I would show you a few pictures that might inspire you if you have any leftover paint knocking around (and remember this is being inspired by what I say not what I do as I will clearly not be doing this but will be alternatively writing these posts and staring blankly into space wondering if it’s time to eat something again).

pink pillar via @day_true

pink pillar via @day_true

In addition to this pictures, Marianne Shillingford, the creative director of Dulux announced on her instagram page last week that she will be doing a Dulux Facebook and Instagram tutorial not only how to make the most of paint leftovers you have hanging around the house, but also how to “tint colours you don’t like into colours you will love so you can use them for small projects and artwork without having to go out to the shops and spend a fortune”. There will also be a post on the main Dulux website that tells you which tester pot primary colours you might find really useful when mixing small amounts of any colour in the rainbow. I don’t know when it will be but keep an eye out and I will also let you know as soon as I spot it and, if you are on instagram and don’t follow Marianne, then do so. She is so incredibly knowledgeable and helpful.

So, in advance of her incoming advice and ideas, here are some I have noticed. From the top, the ever-talented Emilie Fournet gives another example of using two different paint finishes on the same wall. Here on the wooden panelling and above the same shade in emulsion. This is like the idea I showed you a few weeks ago of using gloss and matt on a flat wall. But one thing to add here is that if you have ever bought eggshell for your woodwork, there’s often lots left over as you end up not using very much if you are just doing skirting boards and door frames. So why not have a rummage and see if you have enough to paint the bottom half of the wall? Or paint an archway or a rectangle in which to hang pictures.

I mentioned this kitchen last week and it struck me that it was perfect for this week’s idea. I love this combination of pink and yellow and why not paint the wall cupboards in a different shade. Or just one of them? Or the insides to give you a lift every time you open them? And if you live in an open plan space and have a supporting pole then make a feature of it. I might have gone even stronger than this subtle pink if I had such a thing.

I am currently trying to persuade The Mad Husband that we should paint the inside of the archway between the sitting room and library (two ends of a knock through sitting room for those unfamiliar with the house) in a soft pink. He did agree but now says he can’t remember doing so and in the meantime I have decided I would rather it was a darker burgundy to tie in with the spotty staircase outside. I’m not there yet and the compromise, which (ssssh) I would take is that it will be in the same chocolate as the walls in the front half and the shelves in the back. Still, we’ve got time to discuss this one so don’t expect a quick resolution. All of you who live with people who don’t seem to care or mind about the decor, just imagine living with someone who has opinions on every.single.thing.

paint job via @liz_kamarul

paint job via @liz_kamarul

I’ll just leave that there and show you this wonderful paint job by Liz Kamarul. All the colours work together and seem to spark from the angles of the mirror. Frog tape is your friend for this and the key is, to remove it – carefully – before the paint is fully dry as that produces a sharper edge. This might be too many colours for you but, as always, take it as inspiration rather than something to copy.

Below is a calmer example and one that makes so much sense of the old feature wall. I have often said that a single painted wall can look a little random and lacks purpose. Here, a block of blue paint has been given meaning within the room by the use of the pink frame. Now it has become a decorative feature that shows off the furniture at the bottom as well as the shelves on the wall. You could do this across two corners to delineate a reading area, or behind a large table for a dining area. Check your leftovers and see what you have.

And remember, they are all colours that already exist, or have existed in your house so they are all part of your overall colour palette. And if not/no longer, you can at least make them lighter with some white if you don’t want to wait for Marianne’s suggestions.

feature wall via lolaswift_design

feature wall via @lolaswift_design

Finally, this joyous green rainbow stretching across two pieces of furniture is just fabulous. Yes it’s a kid’s room but who’s to say you couldn’t do something similar in an adult room or office. You could take a design from door to wall, wall to ceiling or, like here, across the furniture. It’s so simple and so effective and, while these greens are all slightly different you could take the darkest colour you have and gradually lighten it. Put a layer of decorators varnish over the top and it will be tough too – as let’s not forget that trying to match a mixed colour like this for touch ups will be nigh on impossible.

Anyone got any ideas for little paint jobs around their own homes now? Bannisters is another small area that might work as well as shelves and the odd kitchen stool – something that always works well in a disrupter colour.

painted green rainbow via @lets.stay.at.home

painted green rainbow via @lets.stay.at.home


The importance of the disrupter colour

The Do’s and Don’ts of Painted Furniture

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  • Gerry Rust 20th April 2020 at 4:21 pm

    Best not show him the bit about hitting him over the head with a spade though… x

  • Megan 20th April 2020 at 3:42 pm

    Thanks for all the great ideas, and absolutely yes to resting, slowing down, eating lots of cookies and enjoying the hard work of others!!!

  • Louise C Serrano 20th April 2020 at 2:49 pm

    This post is timely! I did this very thing over Easter bank holiday and opted for a half-wall update in the hallway using left-over eggshell paint. LOVE the result! Although ran out of paint at the top of the stairs **sighs** and now waiting for a new delivery to finish off the space. Also, planning to update the dining area of my lounge and images 4 & 5 have got the creative juices flowing….Thanks Kate, for the much-needed inspo!!

  • Lesley Eddy 20th April 2020 at 2:45 pm

    So glad to hear that I am not the only one who’s ‘get up and go’ has gone. Thought I was the only one. Thank you Kate for keeping up with the posts.

  • Leslie-Anne 20th April 2020 at 12:58 pm

    The rainbow pattern across the furniture is so clever. I would never have thought to do such a thing and am always impressed by people’s creativity. Good post.

  • Gerry Rust 20th April 2020 at 11:03 am

    I am sure the mad husband is an absolutely lovely man, but I might have accidentally hit him over the head with a spade and had to bury him under the patio by now, so you are a much better woman than I am… In my current (and most successful relationship by far) my other half understands that his role is to gently and tactfully point out that my latest scheme is wildly impractical, if not downright impossible, going to cost more money than we earn in a year, or something I may come to regret within months and undoing it will be all of the above. Otherwise he very wisely let’s me do what I like. It’s not that he doesn’t have opinions, and I do consult him especially when I am in a quandary, but we both know who is going to get the casting vote! I hasten to add I am very easy going in every other department, and I can appreciate the fairness in making joint decisions as they have to live with the results too, but I’m afraid decorating just brings out the dictator in me!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 20th April 2020 at 12:53 pm

      I LOVE this comment. I might show him the part about “gently and tactfully”… x

  • usvintagewood 20th April 2020 at 10:41 am

    Thank you for sharing this. Trying one of my old paint to use soon. You have great skills in painting mixed colors. Wow!!

    • Kate Watson-Smyth 20th April 2020 at 11:54 am

      Well I don’t, these are ideas by other very clever people that I am sharing for your inspiration.

  • Jane 20th April 2020 at 9:17 am

    With respect, perhaps in these terrible and parlous times, we have time to consider that less is really more. Very much more. Go safely and keep well, all of you.

  • BlasR 20th April 2020 at 9:09 am

    What about that lovely you trick you showed of painting the edges of a door, those bits you rarely see? (A good red thread idea??)

  • Clare 20th April 2020 at 8:59 am

    When one’s freehand is a little shaky and frog tape doesn’t do curves, any suggestions how one should achieve beautiful curves like the rainbow painted furniture?

    • Gemma Firman 20th April 2020 at 12:51 pm

      Hi Clare,
      It’s Gemma from @lets.stay.at.home – I painted the rainbow. I actually did use frog tape! I used a piece of string and a pencil like a giant compass to draw my lines, then very carefully stuck frog tape along the lines. I did the convex and concave curves separately. For the convex lines I cut frills along the outer edge of the tape to allow it to stretch around the curve, for the concave ones the tape bent just fine. Just be sure to press very firmly along the edge you wish to paint. If painting on a wall or furniture where you have applied the base colour yourself it is a good idea to first paint over the edge of the tape with the base colour, to prevent colour bleeding under the tape.
      I hope this helps!

      • Clare 21st April 2020 at 4:03 am

        Thank you! I’ll give it a go someday 😉

  • Pauline Johnson 20th April 2020 at 8:05 am

    Oh, Kate, your first paragraph resonates so much! I can lose myself for hours in the garden, at the moment, but tidying the bedroom, tackling the ironing (not done any since lockdown started!) – just not happening! Marie Kondo has been nowhere near my cupboards and I’ve not started that digital photo album. So glad I am not alone!

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