Decorative Preparing the Surfaces
To start with, the advice to make your heart sink: begin by preparing the surface for paint. This is a tedious job, but an essential one too, unless you want your glorious paint finishes to peel off.
Grit your teeth, put on your oldest clothes, and collect all the necessary tools. On walls you may have to remove a thick crust of old wallpaper, fill holes, soak off distemper and sand to an acceptable smoothness. If the existing wall is sound, or neatly finished with a smooth paper which can easily be painted over, then just wash down the surface with sugar soap (cautiously over existing paper), rinse and allow to dry. Sand down woodwork and apply undercoat or emulsion for an even finish beneath oil-based paint.
Applying base coats
If you are planning to decorate your walls with any of the techniques in this chapter, you must give the fancy work a good surface. Most of the techniques that follow will cooperate happily with a couple of flat, even coats of matt or silk emulsion. Choose your base colour to harmonize with the scheme you have in mind. A paler shade of whatever is going on top is the safest choice; as you gain confidence with colour, you can experiment with contrasts.
Starting to paint
Start with the ceiling, above the windows. Then work your way down the walls, leaving the woodwork until last. Clean up paint drips before they have dried (except for paint that has run on to the glass from window-frames – this is easiest to remove with a razor edge when the paint is dry). Water-based paints dry quite quickly, so try to keep a wet edge to receive the fresh paint.