Design: The perfect time to try a new palette

Paint is a cheap and effective way to update your home – and boost its value
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We buy more than 400 million litres of paint a year in the UK. Not surprising, really, when you consider that a lick of paint is one of the quickest, cheapest and easiest ways to create a new look. A survey by Abbey found that spending around £1,000 on painting and cosmetic touches can add around £3,000 to the value of your house. Here's how to get it right.

1. Don't throw it away

Around 80 million litres of paint are stored in sheds or simply chucked out. According to the website, that's enough to fill 33 Olympic-size pools. The website helps find a place for your unwanted tins of Wicker Dreams and Celtic Mist. A network of 65 community-based projects, they will donate your leftovers to charities, community and voluntary groups.

2. Switch to Eco-Paints

For every ton of paint produced there are up to 10 tons of waste. Many paints contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) that contribute to global warming. John Dison of says customers should always look for a full list of ingredients. "Some eco-paints use citrus oil as an alternative to petrochemical solvents, but that has been found to be an extreme pollutant," he says.

Earthborn Paints is the only UK brand to have the "EU Eco Label" on its clay-paints range, which certifies that the paints have been independently tested and found to have minimal environmental impact.

3. Paint like a professional

Preparation is everything. Use masking tape around windows, skirtings and doors. Fill gaps with decorators caulk, lightly sand the walls and fill. Start in a corner and do the edges as you go along, to avoid an uneven finish.

4. What type of paint?

Vinyl matte paint is good for bumpy walls, because the flat finish disguises uneven surfaces. It does, however, show marks. Vinyl silk is better for halls and kitchens as you can wipe it down. Gloss is hard to apply well, but eggshell and satinwood are just as tough, easier to use and look more contemporary.

5. What colour?

Louise Smith, a spokesperson from Dulux, says: "Colour is back. Just when we thought the UK was about to disappear into a beige abyss, we are fighting back with bold colours and chalky pastels. Pair a strongly coloured wall with a paler version of the same – rather than cream – for a really great effect."