Property: The joys of watching paint dry

A bad choice of colour could affect more than just your sense of taste. By Rosalind Russell

Every day, up to 600 people ring a paint company helpline to ask somebody else what colour they should paint their sitting room. That's more than 30,000 indecisive DIY-ers a year who would like to escape the steel magnolia trap but haven't quite got the nerve. They're not encouraged by scientists who claim some colours - like red, orange and yellow, the colours of McDonald's burger chain - make you eat more. Who wants to paint the dining room scarlet if you're going to end up a fatty? "People think there is a psychology of colour, but it has never been proved," says Dulux colour counsellor Cathy McGowan. "What has been proved is that there are warm and cool colours which can make a room appear to advance or recede. Red and yellow are stimulating colours which is why children respond to them. They are overpowering colours used together, so you may not feel like staying long in the room."

Most paint or wallpaper firms are happy to offer free interior design advice over the telephone, which is useful if you wouldn't know what a scumble was if it bit you. The Dulux colour counselling advice line has only been open six months but has been red hot with callers who have moved into a new house and haven't a clue where to start with redecorating. Trying to match your existing furniture to someone else's carpet and walls is one of the most common problems.

"Most people just want simple advice," says Cathy. "They may feel overwhelmed by the choice. I would always advise they buy tester pots, paint the colour on a piece of cardboard and stick it to the wall for a few weeks. Even if you are having a colour specially made up you can buy a 250ml tester pot. Weather conditions and time of day or night can change how a colour looks."

The current trend is divided into "heritage" colours (sludgy ones with names like String, Smoked Trout and Pigeon, seen on the walls of National Trust type properties) and eye popping tropical limes and blues.

"If you're really worried, use the lime on one wall and do the rest in lemon," advises Cathy, "then when you feel brave enough, work your way round with more lime."

Farrow and Ball are leaders in the historical paint field.

"People are quite adventurous," says director Tom Helme, "but are careful to do their research first. The important thing is to get your choice of paint right. A high or low sheen makes a huge difference".

F&B produce the full 57 National Trust colours in addition to their own archive colours. Their clients include the Royals (they were involved with the renovation of Windsor Castle after the fire, Highgrove and Buckingham Palace) and the BBC (the firm's paints were used for all the interiors in Middlemarch and Pride & Prejudice. They also make the Jane Churchill range of paint colours.

To customers of Farrow & Ball, anything described as a `hint of pink' or ` bluebell white' is as fashionable as a crocheted toilet roll cover. And hardly anyone these days, says Tom Helme, is using gloss paint indoors. It's eggshell only.

Sanderson's director of design, Jaine McCormack predicts colours like Springtime (a limey yellow green) for bedrooms and Fire Pink for living and dining rooms will strengthen the resolve of the insecure decorator.

"But my advice would be to live with the house for a while. If you rush into colour first thing, it's never right and you'll always regret it. See what its character is, try to enhance something rather than covering it up. When people don't know where to start they generally do something bland and then never get round to changing it. If a room is very ordinary, without detailing like cornicing, it can be very effective to paint the walls and the ceiling the same colour. And watch how colours flow from room to room. It's often best to decorate the hall last."

If you're selling a house, it's a waste of time repainting first, according to most estate agents. The buyers will obliterate your efforts as soon as they get in. Better to wash down what you've got and save your money for moving.

And if you're considering giving up making a decision altogether and painting everything white, just remember, Farrow and Ball have got 20 shades of white.

n If you find you've bought two cans of paint with different batch numbers, mix them together in a large container to even out the colour.

n New plaster will need between six to eight weeks to dry before priming and painting.

n Brown stains seeping through paintwork, from old chimney breasts etc, need an alkali resistant primer before painting with emulsion. Leave primer to dry for 36 hours.

Dulux Advice Centre 01753 550555

Sanderson 0171 584 3344

Farrow & Ball helpline 01202 876141.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search

Simon Read: Frozen in time - the expat British pensioners who deserve a better deal

I had dinner with the pensions minister Steve Webb this week. There was a wide-ranging discussion about the new pensions freedoms starting in April, and changes to the state pension. Crucially, I also got to ask Mr Webb whether he had any plans to have another look at the injustice that is frozen pensions.

Number of serially under-performing investment funds has increased by a fifth, survey reveals

The new Spot the Dog survey shows that even famous fund managers, holding billions of pounds of our money, can make mistakes

Mark Dampier: We always bring down Britain. But there's plenty in the tank

While the health of the economy is not insignificant, Mark Dampier finds it incredibly unpredictable in terms of its impact on the stock market

If you haven’t switched supplier or tariff in the last 12 months then you could almost certainly save money by doing so

There are easier ways to save hundreds on your energy bills

A new free app is aimed at the three-fifths of Brits who have never switched supplier

Worse hit are loyal customers with long-standing accounts – their loyalty is rewarded with lower interest rates than more recently-launched accounts

Savers are being let down by banks and building societies, says Financial Conduct Authority

Regulator’s investigation into the market found that around £160bn was held in easy access savings accounts that pay interest lower or equal to BoE base rate

What to do if you're facing repossession: However far you fall, you're not on your own

Helen Fisher had to become a 24-hour carer, and then she faced repossession. But going to the right places for help changed everything, writes Simon Read

Simon Read: Information is power. And it's in the wrong hands when people are cold-called by companies that know they're in debt

In debt? You're likely to be targeted by unscrupulous companies that hope to profit from your misfortune. They may try to pretend to be your friend by offering what they call "help" – but almost certainly that help will come with a cost and leave you worse off than you were before they got in touch.

Mark Dampier: So you've got pension freedom... will it end up as a cold shower?

In less than three months' time radical changes to pensions will take effect, providing investors with more freedom. Yet for those who prefer to make their own investment decisions, the choice of funds available is overwhelming. And an income drawdown account is also not particularly easy to manage.

The move marks the culmination of a long campaign by debt charities and insolvency firms and follows a call for evidence launched by the Minister last August

Bankruptcy rules to change, Business Minister announces

The minimum amount for which you can be forced into bankruptcy is being raised from £750 to £5,000

Three-quarters of parents say being unable to afford to heat their home adequately is hitting the health of their children

Family well-being and health hit by heating costs

A shock report reveals that fuel poverty is affecting desperate families – and their children

Many people have no understanding of pensions

Are you ready for pensions reforms?

Most people are too confused to know how to use their pensions for a secure income

At a rate of 7.5 per cent, the wind is blowing behind ethical investors

A new initiative has financial and ethical virtues, says Simon Read
Ticket to cry: many passengers have been penalised with exorbitant and unnecessary rises

Simon Read: Inflation is riding the slow train. So why have we been given a one-way ticket to travel on the fares express?

I struck a chord with many of you when I wrote a piece earlier this week about rising train fares. It seems there is an army of travellers who feel they've been ripped off by increased transport costs.

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

    £13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

    Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

    £23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

    Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

    £25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

    MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

    Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

    Day In a Page

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
    World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

    Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

    The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
    Why the league system no longer measures up

    League system no longer measures up

    Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system