I just thought I'd share a few photos of a recent job. Sorry about the quality of the photos!

Some months ago I was approached to refresh a neutral and tired-looking sitting room. I was too busy at the time, but gave a quote which was accepted and the work booked in for autumn half-term while the house was empty. 

The specification was to repair some deep holes in plaster caused by redundant light fittings, general preparation work, repaint ceiling, 3 walls, woodwork and fireplace, and paper the fireplace feature wall. As recommended, my customer chose Little Greene Intelligent Matt - durable British paint in beautiful colours. Portland Stone for the walls and Portland Stone Dark (acrylic eggshell) for the fireplace. I used Glidden Contract Matt in white for the ceiling - a rare example of an inexpensive trade paint with a very high solid content, and very low sheen - perfect for ceilings. I decided on Bedec Multi-Surface Paint in Soft White Satin for the woodwork, which I was also using on a bathroom upstairs. (Little Greene paints are fantastic, but the one stumbling block is their whitest paint 'Shirting' - which does not cover particularly well, quite a shame.) 

For the feature wall, a lovely Laura Ashley paper was chosen by the customer. Now I've always liked Laura Ashley patterns, but not the quality of much of the paper - once it's wet it stretches and tears very easily, and I've had problems with it shrinking on the wall. Once I'd cross-lined the feature wall, I painted ceiling, walls, woodwork and fireplace - ready for the last step, the feature paper.

I've never been too fond of papering, and thought it time to upgrade my skills. So I asked one of the most respected decorators in Warwickshire, Ron Taylor, to come and give me a day's Papering Masterclass. Despite being incredibly busy, he freed up a day to come over. As it was the first time we'd met, I thought it a bit rude to photograph him, so there are no 'process' photos - just a few 'before and after'. 

Ron is the Traditional Painter specialist for Warwickshire. He has been a professional decorator since 1975, but unlike many 'old timers' he has been a pioneer in trying new products and processes, and is one of the country's leading authorities in the application of water-based paints for woodwork. This approach I think is one of the marks of a true expert - always learning, always improving.

Watching Ron was more an education than a revelation. I know how to paper, and have done more complex jobs than this one, but some of the techniques Ron used made me utter (several times) 'ahhh, yes, that's a much better way of doing it'. And I was very grateful he brought his pasting machine (I had never used one) to show how much quicker it can be for pasting, compared to brushing or rolling.

Needless to say, we spent a lot of the day while paper was resting, drinking tea and talking about techniques, paints, brushes, masking, spraying....But I now feel much happier hanging wallpaper (although there will always be room for improvement of course) as I now know a few more of the 'finesse' techniques that Ron uses to get the best results. It reconfirmed my belief that spending a day with someone who really knows his/her stuff is worth any number of books or YouTube videos. I was certain this would be the case because, as many of you know, my better half is Jules Fallon - owner of Sew Me Something. She is a professional fashion designer, pattern cutter and sewing lecturer - a real expert in her field. And every week she teaches people how to sew and how to pattern-cut. I see some of the testimonials from, and speak to many of her students. Even those who have been amateur sewers for many years suddenly 'get' the professional techniques she teaches... those 'ahhh, that's how you do that!' moments.

So a big THANK YOU to Ron for patiently talking through his expert techniques. And of course, my customer was very happy with how the room looked!

PS The final two photos just show a small before and after of part of the En Suite bathroom I did upstairs. The paint was peeling in areas so quite a bit of prep was needed - but the final colour in Little Greene Celestial Blue was lovely!

The first cross-lined piece goes up.

The wall is fully cross-lined, and the room ready to paint.

The room is painted, and the final coat of eggshell goes onto the fireplace. 

The final effect - the colours aren't quite true to life, but they really work. 

Not a bad finish for a water-based acrylic eggshell - but I still want to do better. 

Lots of cracks, a few holes and peeling paint in the en suite bathroom upstairs. 

Little Grene Intelligent Matt in Celestial Blue and Bedec MSP on ceiling and woodwork