Ask Alice

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The Independent Online

Q. Dear Alice, I've just bought a Georgian flat in London, and I've been looking for a pale green to paint the walls. Rather than just paint it a flat emulsion, I would like to achieve a slightly aged look. Is there any technique that is easy?
Oliver Adams, Marylebone

Q. Dear Alice, I've just bought a Georgian flat in London, and I've been looking for a pale green to paint the walls. Rather than just paint it a flat emulsion, I would like to achieve a slightly aged look. Is there any technique that is easy?
Oliver Adams, Marylebone

A. The solution, Oliver, is simple. If you tonally vary the paint, you will end up with a more subtle look (though steer well clear of grim Eighties techniques like rag-rolling or marbling). I recommend colourwashing your walls. Use white emulsion for the base coat. Then dilute your top coat, using one part paint to four parts water. Apply the wash in small areas, softening the brush marks with a second, damp brush as you go along. Repeat with a second and possibly a third coat, until you have achieved the effect that you're happy with. If you're looking for a fab ethereal green-grey, I can recommend Silver Birch, by Laura Ashley.

Q. Dear Alice, I have been looking for a blue French-enamelled door number but have only found old examples in antique shops and of course they're never the right number. Does anyone in the UK stock them?
Jo Jones, Kensington

A. These blue and white number plates are one of the features that give French streets their special charm. The numbers used to be issued to French residents, but were hardly ever available in the shops. One UK company, Franco File, specialises in both number and name plates (numbers from £17.50; 01884 253556). The company even sells a vitreous enamelled thermometer for £15.

Q. I have just got rid of a carpet in my conservatory and am looking for a replacement. I don't want it close carpeted, as I also use it as a sitting area, but because the room is quite large, I feel it would echo too much if I tiled it. Any ideas?
Jill Hopkins, by e-mail

A. Cork is set to make a comeback, and would be ideal for a conservatory - it's a good sound insulator, is warm and comes in a variety of finishes. Walls and Floors ( www.wallsandfloors.uk.com) stock cork tiles in colours like nightshade (black), ocean frost (purple-grey) and cool crimson (pinkish orange), for around £44 per sqm. Or try the Siesta Cork Tile Company (020-8683 4055; www.siestacorktiles.co.uk), who have bare tiles from £38 per sqm that are suitable for colouring yourself using wood stain or diluted emulsion. All tiles should then be finished with varnish or wax.

Design dilemma? E-mail askalice@independent.co.uk

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