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
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
The programme was a look back at the Mad Men-y age of the Sixties and Seventies

Women born in 1950s facing severe financial hardship over pensions could have fates changed by Ros Altmann - should she choose to help

Women born in 1950s facing severe financial hardship over pensions could have fates changed by Ros Altmann - should she choose to help

PPI complaints were down by about a half

Banks face fresh wave of PPI compensation claims after landmark ruling

The PPI scandal has already cost Britain’s banks around £24 billion

Some experts warn that the bond sell-off may continue until the autumn, when the US Federal Reserve is expected to lift interest rates

Is it really that bad in the bond market?

The great sell-off has sparked fears for our pensions as well as bonds. Simon Read asks if you should keep calm or panic
Up and away: rates will rise but your mortgage won't escape its moorings with a long-term fix

Is a 10 year mortgage deal a fix too far?

A cut-price deal for a decade-long home loan - where's the problem? Only, says Simon Read, that circumstances can change and it won't be easy to get out
In a surprise move the Tories have decided against putting a career politician into the job. Instead they’ve handed the responsibility to campaigner Ros Altmann

New pensions minister has massive job on her hands

The Tories have appointed campaigner Ros Altmann to the post

Promises, promises: David Cameron talks to staff at Asda's head office in Leeds today

General Election 2015: How you vote next week could affect your finances

Rival party pledges could shrink your savings or grow your nest egg
Logos for the 'Big Six'; energy companies (top row from left) British Gas, EDF, RWE npower, (bottom row from left) SSE, E.ON and ScottishPower

Winter heating underpayment brings summer pain

One reader’s monthly direct debit charge has been increased by 62 per cent

Almost 15,000 people died last winter through living in cold homes that they couldn’t afford to heat

Social tenants locked into energy tariff for 40 years

Many Londoners who live in social housing estates are not allowed to switch because their landlord has ‘locked’ them in to buying from one supplier

Will your credit card rewards be scrapped following new EU rules on charges?

Providers are unhappy with new EU rules - but ultimately it is customers who will have to foot the bill
There remain more than a million unclaimed Premium Bond prizes worth collectively around £48m

Have you won £1m in the May Premium Bonds draw?

More than £60m was paid out to more than 2 million prizewinners this month

The 0 per cent introductory deals that credit cards offer are one of the most odious tricks

Beware credit card firms’ odious tricks

Why can’t we just have open and honest charges, without all the cross-subsiding?

The pound’s recent strength against the euro could be hit by economic uncertainty under a new government

How planning can make your travel cash go further

With the pound at a high against the euro, it pays to buy now before uncertainty post-election

Put the phone down on the coldcallers who see pension liberation as an opportunity to liberate your pension from you

Pension freedoms: How to deal with cold calls from scammers

Sean O'Grady offers advice on keeping your money safe
Switching to a better bank account is much easier than it used to be

More people are switching current accounts – but what do the figures mean?

Experts disagree about the 7% increase over the past year

The chance of getting what appears to be free money can be hugely attractive, especially to first-time buyers who can be fooled into thinking it’s extra cash to buy the essential new items they need for their dream home.

Beware the boom in cashback mortgage deals

Too many mortgages are being sold with misleading gimmicks

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: Payments Operations Assistant

    £23000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They win lots of awards for the...

    Recruitment Genius: Telephone Debt Negotiator

    £13500 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This nationwide enforcement com...

    Guru Careers: Communications Exec / PR Exec

    £25 - £30K: Guru Careers: We are seeking a highly-motivated and ambitious Comm...

    Guru Careers: Pricing Analyst

    £30 - 35k: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Pricing Analyst to join a leading e-...

    Day In a Page

    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific
    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

    Dame Colette Bowe - interview
    When do the creative juices dry up?

    When do the creative juices dry up?

    David Lodge thinks he knows
    The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

    Fashion's Cher moment

    Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
    Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

    Health fears over school cancer jab

    Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
    Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

    Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

    Weather warning

    Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
    LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

    High hopes for LSD

    Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
    German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

    Saving Private Brandt

    A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral