DIY, Houses, Photography

Decorating/DIY Front Bedroom

Over the last year and a bit I have spent a lot of my time decorating 3 bedrooms in my house.  I tried to do as much as I could myself* and documented a lot of it with the intention of blogging about the steps as I went along.  Obviously I didn’t get round to doing this.  Here is a summary of the process of decorating the front bedroom with pictures.

*by this I mean of course with lots of help from friends and family rather than having to get professionals in.

Some of the things that we managed to achieve:

  • Plumbing (removing, replacing and repositioning radiators, replacing broken toilet)
  • Plastering (filling small to medium sized holes and cracks)
  • Woodwork (replacing skirting boards and replacing broken floorboards)
  • Lots and lots of painting (walls, ceilings, woodwork and radiators)

Here’s what the front bedroom looked like when I first saw the house:

Front bedroom 1 Front bedroom 2

A couple of things that you can’t see too well in the above pictures: There is an old gas fire in the party wall behind the wardrobe & the floor is covered with nylon floor tiles.

This is the first room I decided to decorate after I moved in so the before pictures are the ones used to advertise the house with the previous furnishings in.

I wasn’t too good at documenting this one.  We started by removing the carpet tiles and removing the old and strangely shaped skirting boards.  We pulled up some floorboards to look at the plumbing and wiring.  Dad put in an extra pair of sockets to make the room more versatile and raised the existing ones which for some reason were really close to the floor.  We also removed the radiator (again with dad’s help) and patched the holes in the paint and rehung it higher up the wall.  Meanwhile mum had been rubbing down the walls and filling in the cracks in the walls and ceiling.  They also removed the old gas fire (it had already been professionally disconnected from the gas supply) and patched the hole with plasterboard.

So by December 2012 it looked like this:

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The main thing I learnt from this phase is that radiators are a pain in the arse to paint and in terms of the amount of time and effort it takes and the quality of the finish I am able to achieve, it is much more cost effective to buy new ones!

The cracks and holes have been filled with Poylfilla Deep Gap if they were deep enough to warrant it and then finished off with Fine Surface Polyfilla.  The smaller cracks were just filled with fine Surface.  Everything was sanded down with wet sanding blocks and cleaned with sugar soap.

*I’d also like to re-iterate at this point that in terms of doing this myself, I had a lot of help from my parents.  Almost all the progress in the above pictures and description is the result of 2 days of work done by mum and dad while I was at work. Leaving me just the task of painting everything.

Further work continued in January 2013 with basecoats on all the surfaces.  Because the walls are quite uneven and have had lots of coats of paint on before, I used Polycell 3 in 1 Basecoat which is nice and thick and covers small cracks etc. Whilst this paint is pretty good, it definitely doesn’t do what it says on the tin which is cover strong colours and cracks in one coat.  However, if you are going to paint a colour on top (after all it is called basecoat so you should be painting something on top) one coat covers well enough in most cases.  In some rooms I have used 2 coats to get a better surface for the top coats.  We also used the Polycell on the ceiling and coving.

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As you can see in some of the pictures above, we also moved on to the choosing of colours.  This seems to be an incredibly long process when I’m involved and involves painting loads of patches on the walls in different areas to get an idea of what it will look like.  Paint on an area that gets full light and in a more shady area too.

We ended up choosing a neutral colour from Dulux called Natural Calico and this is what it looks like on the walls:

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This paint is pretty thin and definitely required at least 2 coats to give an acceptable finish.  We put it on with rollers, like we did with the base coat as this was much quicker and easier than using a brush.  We did use brushes around the window and to paint around the top and bottom edges of the walls and in the corners to avoid spilling over on to the wood or the cove. With the rollers we had to be careful to avoid ridges in the paint where it built up along the edges of the roller. At least once I had to rub down a section of wall to remove some big ridges I had painted on while I wasn’t paying attention.

I had to make sure that I always had a bucket of water at hand with a cloth and sanding block to help me to clean up any cockups.

You can see that we have put the old floor tiles back down.  We planned to get all 3 rooms carpeted at the same time (more on that in later posts).  The ceiling and coving has also been given a top coat but since it is brilliant white, you can’t really tell the difference!

All the paints that we used on the walls and ceiling are water soluble and we used rollers to put them on.  The woodwork and the radiator paints were all solvent based.  I mention this because the main surprise for me was the huge amount of time that was spent cleaning brushes and rollers.  Although the majority of the paints were water based it still took a very long time to clean out the rollers we used and could easily add an extra couple of hours to the time spent decorating for cleaning.

Typically this would involve rubbing out any extra paint on a spare bit of wall or newspaper, soaking the roller in water for a while, rinsing and squeezing out the roller over and over again then cleaning with fairy liquid, rinsing the soap out, leaving in clean water over night and then drying on the radiator.  Then of course there is the cleaning of the paint tray which is not so complicated but is too big to clean in a bucket.  The process for cleaning brushes used for water based paint was similar but didn’t take so long.  For the brushes used for solvent based paint it was pretty straight forward if you don’t want to use them again for a couple of days; rub out as much paint as possible, leave in white spirit for a few hours, remove from the spirit and squeeze out as much spirit and paint as possible, put into clean white spirit over night and then take out and dry.

This meant that it really wasn’t worth doing any painting in small stages as the accumulated cleaning time makes it inefficient unless you have  a specific day by which you have to get it done and lots of spare brushes and rollers.  The other thing that I hadn’t appreciated was how coordinating the different drying times would affect scheduling.  Often we would paint a relatively small area but then have to stop for 24 hours while the paint dried so we didn’t mess it up while painting anything nearby.

At this point we decided to move our bedroom from the back room to the front and start on stripping the existing decoration out of the back room.  Here are some pictures of how the front bedroom looked in use in April 2013.  For a long while, this was the only usable room upstairs apart from the bathroom.

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And finally, a lot later (September 2013), we had carpet put down:

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Once we had finished both large bedrooms, we decided to use the larger one as a study/crafting room and have the smaller and quieter back room as a bedroom.  So here is how the front room looked in February 2014:

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If you found this interesting, have a look at my post about decorating the second bedroom.  I did a lot more of the work myself on that one and hopefully documented the process much better too!


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