Paint and Prejudice

Oh hi, what’s been happening this month? 
Hope you’ve been slaying it..just kidding nobody should use that expression.

This month – or maybe that was June but who’s counting – has been a whirlwind of new designs arriving, thinking up new products for future events and getting pretty real about Christmas already. I know it starts earlier every year?!
Not really though, only when making things for wholesale is the headspace generally somewhere 6 months in the future! 

Today I will chat to you about something that is very close to my heart: Paint!
As you well know I love painting. Ah, but did you know that I equally adore painting on canvas and painting actual walls. Like with rollers and stuff.
Whenever people in a renovation or new flat project groan “Ugh, I hate painting! It’s so boring” I mentally jump up and and down yelling “pick me, pick me I’ll do it for you!” Alas I mostly don’t have the time so I reign myself in.

Here’s a fun fact: once over 10 years ago I moved to Spain. Not speaking the language. How hard could it be though? I’ve taught myself so many other things learning by doing. Turns out it was a bit of a catch-22: can’t get a job to learn the language without meeting the basic requirement of “needs to speak language” to get a job in the first place. Until a friend offered: hey if you can paint canvas, you can paint walls…….and so I became a Painter and Decorator’s apprentice in rural northern Spain (Mitch, if you’re reading this, thanks for teaching me all the tips and tricks and keeping me in line!).

So don’t get me wrong, there were a couple of things i needed to, ahem, “learn to love” in the job. I’m a pretty impatient person at the best of times, so spending perceived ages on pre-paint prep work was not my favourite. I did very much learn the hard way that it saves a lot of clean up time and in some cases can make or break the overall result of a job. Meaning: clean those walls, do take good care applying that masking tape for crisp lines along skirtings etc, fill in imperfection, sand things smooth, and clean again….only then even consider lifting that brush!

The devil’s in the pre-paint prep detail!

Finally on to the most enjoyable part. Paint! What is good paint? Good paint is all about ease of workability and coverage. Coverage depends on how highly the paint is pigmented (and a little bit on the finish…i.e. matt tends to cover better from coat one than a silkier finish. The closer to any primary colour the shade, the more coats it will need……dem’s de rules!).

Primary colours are notoriously bad for coverage and benefit from a specials undercoat

Of course the paint industry has come up with its own world of make belief sexiness and high-end hype for us interior lovers.
The best advice that nobody ever tells you: Never choose your paint by its colour. Wait what, but….No, just don’t. First look at what space you are painting and what you need the paint finish to provide: for example if you love dark walls but it’s a high traffic area, opt for a silk finish that is wipeable rather than a chalky matt one that will show every scratch and fingerprint. Alright, if it has to be chalky matt there are decorative varnishes that dry matt and clear but it’s an extra step and expense. Only after identifying the required paint properties start carefully thinking of colours and shades keeping in mind if you would like to create the illusion of more space, draw the space in for extra cosines or add the odd abstract paint feature for interest. Because yes, paint alone can do all that!

The actual mixing of a shade of paint is the easiest part of the paint purchase process. In my short apprentice time we often did it “analog” even…as in with highly pigmented dyes that went into a paint base. Nowadays with digitally smart means, most suppliers can match a paint colour from a tiny sample, often even photo in seconds. So whenever I hear such and such a company “brought out a new colour” I cringe a bit because it’s most likely a company trying to sell you on a particular shade that is en vogue at the moment. While I understand that a company might want to have a curated selection of products, it also means you are being sold pre-set colours. That can become tricky when taking into consideration that the appearance of a colour changes dramatically depending on ceiling height, what colour light is used, and how much natural light a space has, amongst even more factors. Meaning the colour that looked so chic and sultry in the fancy look book photo shoot, might just look a bit dowdy or garish when paired with a reality of uncoordinated light bulbs (I mean who has the time ffs) and oddly cut living spaces.

A recent space transformation for Black Box Studio. A space that is inspiring and can go from (semi-)serious office to tropical meeting hangout spot in minutes

When I choose paint and decoration for myself it is always very closely related to how I dress. Meaning overall a lot of simple toned down colours (varying shades of greys, all the way to almost blacks) with the occasional spot of mad colour. This was never a conscious choice I just noticed it happening that way. Of course it makes sense: we (ideally) dress the way we feel represents our personality best while also providing comfort and joy. Best concept to bring right back into your home, no?!

Back to paint though. What is the best paint then? Obviously there’s no simple answer. Overall I always opt for a brand used by trade professionals, that can easily be mixed to my requirements. Most paints that are readily available and price wise positioned in the middle of the market are overall “best” in terms of pigmentation/workability to price ratio. High end paint companies do deliver on quality in terms of pigmentation. Workability varies a bit between brands, is usually ok rather than great though. Maybe remember next time you are tempted by that “new hue” that in addition to the paint you are also paying for the cute packaging, someone to come up with that whimsical name, and the flagship store. There is nothing wrong with that – I love a beautiful presentation and clever branding but draw the line when it comes to work materials.

Care to share your biggest DIY painting faux pas or successes? I love that shit, so get in touch! I’ll be back with details and a bit of painterly time lapse madness soon!

Stare At Art Not Walls
Stare at art, not walls

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