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This month I have been mainly painting.

I can assure you that this phase of a renovation project is not to be underestimated.  Of course, I’ve painted many a room given my profession, so did not feel daunted by assuring my builder that we’d take care of the decoration.

This was my first mistake.

It’s by no means a big house and indeed, many of the walls are stone and therefore didn’t count. But, and it’s a big but, all ceilings and all new stud walls needed tackling.

So, lets discuss my new nemesis… ceilings.  I’m sure my fellow style romantics would agree, the dropped false ceilings in two bedrooms needed to come down to expose the beams I knew would be above.

Ripping down the bathroom ceilingThe builders zealously ripped out the bedroom ceiling and I was overjoyed to see old beams and boards revealed. OK, so they were grubby, stained and covered in grim grey paint, but they were old and original and I welcomed the extra height and feeling of space in the room.  The feeling of elation was short lived.

Firstly, the removal of goodness knows how many years of dust and grime with a wire brush…not a job for the faint-hearted!  Then, how to deal with the staining… a recommended lacquer treatment that I was assured would prevent them from coming through the chalk paint I’d chosen for that authentic rustic look.  It was apparent after the second coat of chalk paint this was not going to work.  Back to good old Dulux for two coats which did the trick and left me with the confidence to try the chalk again for a final layer…bingo!

It was only at the end of the painful process that my delightful French neighbour said she used a local artisan who mixed his own chalk paint recipe and would have done the whole job for less than the paint cost me!

My conclusions – unless you are a masochist, taking pleasure in pain and humiliation, pay an expert to do it.  You’ll save the masseurs’ fee to correct the neck and shoulder damage, save hundreds of pounds in wasted paint and avoid the sleepless nights agonising over what to try next.  Oh, but of course, there’s the satisfaction of seeing the end result…hmm, a dubious reward given the effort!

By the time I’d moved on to the varnished, ‘orange’ tongue and groove ceiling in the hall I was definitely up for the quickest, easiest and most cost effective solution so it was back to my new best friends at Leyroy Merlin for Dulux.

However, a few things to come out of my frustrating month with a paintbrush welded to one hand and a roller to the other.

Firstly, if you have the luxury of time and planning, get ahead and order your paint from the UK, you’ll save a fortune. Oh, and by the way, if you are tackling old walls, beams and ceilings, get more than you think you need, the job will undoubtedly be more difficult than you think

Secondly, if you want chalk paint finishes on old beams, and you’re not an expert on how to get the best results, ask around for an artisan near you – local knowledge is king!

Graphite bathroom wallFinally, in search of chalk paint, I came across By Ciara in the Gers who sells Annie Sloan chalk paint. Don’t let my beams experience put you off as the paint really is gorgeous for transforming furniture and accessories and goes over practically anything. The Graphite on a feature bathroom wall went on like a dream and gave a sumptuous rich chalkiness as you can see from the unfinished room.

Restored furnitureCiara works wonders up-cycling and re-upholstering furniture and is on hand with lots of advice on using chalk paints. She also runs a furniture painting course that I for one will be booking myself on to as soon as I have movement back in my neck. Anyone recommend a good masseur?