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Post-lockdown paint job - expert tips for a Covid revamp

Experts share tips for the Covid revamp when restrictions ease

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Grey Wolf and Torc Torc from Colourtrend 2019 Contemporary Collection

Grey Wolf and Torc Torc from Colourtrend 2019 Contemporary Collection

Antoinette chalk paint in Oxford Navy and Napoleonic Blue Lifestyle Portrait by Annie Sloan

Antoinette chalk paint in Oxford Navy and Napoleonic Blue Lifestyle Portrait by Annie Sloan

Interior by Optimise Design photo by Ruth Maria Murphy

Interior by Optimise Design photo by Ruth Maria Murphy

Ruth Maria Murphy

Denise O'Connor

Denise O'Connor

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Grey Wolf and Torc Torc from Colourtrend 2019 Contemporary Collection

Never have so many people desperately wanted to get painting so badly at the same time. Because there's nothing like staring at your own four walls for months to make you realise they really need a lick of paint. And, of course, paint is hard to come by.

On May 18, if everything goes according to plan, the DIY shops will reopen for business and the country's paint will be flow once again. In the meantime, all over Ireland, walls, furniture and anything else that stood still for long enough has been painted in whatever we happened to have had in the shed. The result has given us the lockdown paint job, the decorating version of the lockdown haircut. The public hungers for paint with an appetite formerly reserved only for toilet paper. Those paint shops that remained open for online business have been flooded beyond capacity.

Then, hearing that Colourtrend had reopened for online orders, I click the "Chat with Bronwyn" button on their website. "Yes, we deliver nationwide. Our delivery lead time is currently 3-5 working days," she types.

Colourtrend has paint!

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Denise O'Connor

Denise O'Connor

Denise O'Connor

The paint it has ranges in price from €75 to €82.50 for a five-litre tin, and delivery is free. Paint at last! I experience the kind of head-rush normally associated with success upon arriving at the off-licence at 9.59pm.

Choosing colour is always tricky, especially online. The Colourtrend website offers a diverting pop quiz where they recommend colours on the basis of the photographs you prefer.

"I think that people are going to be a lot braver after lockdown," says Denise O'Connor (below) of Optimise Home, interior designer and architect. "You're less worried about what other people might think when nobody else is allowed in the door."

But realising that choosing paint creates anxiety, she has created a Colour Guide in eBook format that's available on her website for download. O'Connor's approach to design isn't flashy, but it's realistic, informed and carefully researched.

"The first thing that you want to ask yourself is - how do you want to feel in the space," she says. "Paint is the one thing that's going to have the biggest impact on the atmosphere of a room."

Brighter colours can make a kitchen feel fresh and inviting, but would be too stimulating to use on the bedroom walls. Softer colours, she suggests, create the feeling of calm tranquillity, "or you could even consider a dark, moody tone to create a cocoon-like effect."

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Antoinette chalk paint in Oxford Navy and Napoleonic Blue Lifestyle Portrait by Annie Sloan

Antoinette chalk paint in Oxford Navy and Napoleonic Blue Lifestyle Portrait by Annie Sloan

Antoinette chalk paint in Oxford Navy and Napoleonic Blue Lifestyle Portrait by Annie Sloan

Having created her own paint collection for Dulux - a gentle palette laid out in threes and designed to be compatible with Irish light - O'Connor is particularly informed about undertones.

They're the almost-invisible colour that paint companies add to neutrals. Magnolia, for example, has a peachy undertone and the early 2000s were marked by neutrals with a great deal of underlying grey.

But O'Connor's greatest bugbear is yellow, especially the buttery-yellow neutrals that people use on their walls in the mistaken belief that they will brighten up the room. "The amount of yellow I see in people's homes - inside and out!" she exclaims. "People feel that it is a bright cheerful colour, but it really doesn't work on walls."

The roots of this problem lie in our unreasonable expectations of paint. It can't make a room bigger and it can't make a room brighter.

"The paint isn't going to do that for you," O'Connor explains. "Instead, what you should try to do is make the room feel cosy," says O'Connor. "Go for earthier undertones. And avoid yellow like the plague."

You can download O'Connor's Colour Guide from the Resources section of optimise-home.com. Stockists for her Signature Collection for Dulux include mcdonnellpaints.ie and stillorgandecor.ie, which is currently offering free local delivery within three to five working days (€69.95 for a five-litre tin of diamond matt emulsion).

See also colourtrend.ie.

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