Jack Barber Design & Technology

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Things I've Learned About Decorating (Part 1)*

Last Friday we got the keys to our new home.  Having initially thought that the first weekend would be spent plotting and planning, we were a little surprised when, within five minutes of opening the door, we were stripping wallpaper in the living room.

Four days later and the renovation is going quite well.  We're yet to find anything too worrying (rats, large damp patches. dodgy wiring or plumbing and the like) and I have to say, much like many of the DIY projects I helped my dad with, despite my lack of DIY skill, experience, knowledge or talent, I'm enjoying every minute of it.

With much appreciated help from family and friends we're working on four bedrooms (well, three bedrooms and one office), the living room and the hall, stairs and landing.

Having roped in a professional decorator friend to help, I'm getting given lots of excellent tips, some of which I thought I'd not down here for future reference and who knows, perhaps they'll help others looking to strip paper, prepare walls, hang new paper and paint a house.  So, here goes...

  1. Tip 1:  75% of decorating is preparation.  Being excellent at DIY is not a trait in my family, but being impatient is, so this is a particularly useful tip.  Spending time getting it right is worth it in the long run.
  2. Tip 2:  Investing in good tools is wise.  The same is true in just about every vocation, buying rubbish may save money in the short term but it'll only result in a poor job or having to re-do something at a later date with the tools you should have bought in the first place.
  3. Tip 3:  When filling holes in walls, it is better to use too little filler and add more later than to over fill and have to sand away all the excess, potentially leaving a bulge which will be visible through the wallpaper.  Less is more.
  4. Tip 4:  Don't attempt to decorate around a radiator.  Laziness doesn't pay, learn how to empty and remove the radiator - you'll appreciate the fact that you can't see the history of the house's decor behind it when you've finished.
  5. Tip 5:  It's much easier to hang wallpaper than to try and fill all the tiny holes and cracks (particularly in ceilings).
  6. Tip 6:  Bare plaster walls need sanding, painting in watered-down PVA and sanding again before hanging wallpaper.  Sounds like a chore, but it makes everything better.

That's about it for now.  Obviously to anyone with any experience these suggestions may be obvious - but I'm about as inexperienced as they come and wouldn't really know where to start if left to my own devices. 

Today I hung my first length of wallpaper - under the watchful eye of a professional - tomorrow I intend to hang some more and by Thursday I may even be painting (something I am particularly bad at).

Here's a work in progress shot - this room will be my new office in a few weeks:

* I've called it Part 1, as I may well have more tips to share later in the week(s).