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Dulux creative director solves your decorating dilemmas

On 4th April 2013, we held our first live Facebook Q&A session with Dulux Creative Director Marianne Shillingford. Marianne was live on our Facebook page answering your decorating questions. Here’s what you missed:

Q: Just about to have a new kitchen - dark grey gloss units and black and white quartz. The challenge is the adjacent dining room which can be seen from the kitchen and is going to have an amazing feature wall. I've fallen in love with 'Malabar' from Cole & Son in gold and turquoise - I really need to find a paint colour that will fit the whole scheme together – can you help?

A: I would use stripe cards to match up colours from the design to use on the walls, soft furnishings and accessories. If you have an iPhone, download the Dulux colour scheming app and you will be able to take a picture of it and it will match the colours up for you - and suggest complementary schemes that work perfectly too. If you haven’t got an iPhone don’t worry, the app is on the way for android phones too. And failing all that, spend a happy half hour in your local DIY store choosing stripe cards.

Q: What is the best way to hand painting kitchen units using eggshell?

A: The key to getting a great finish with any eggshell is always the horrible bit – preparation - it’s well worth the effort though. Clean the surface with a sugar soap solution to remove dirt and grease then sand down lightly with fine surface sandpaper. Remove any dust and apply a coat of undercoat before one or two coats of the topcoat eggshell. Use a really good synthetic brush and make sure the dog and kids are out of the way and the doors are shut so there is no breeze to blow dust onto the wet surface.

Q: I have a pine cupboard which seems to have some sort of vanish on it. I want to paint it a shocking pink. What is the best paint to use and do I need to prime the cupboard first?

A: Dulux Super Grip primer sticks to anything and will give you a great surface to work on. Try and get rid of any loose varnish by sanding down first then apply a couple of coats of that amazing pink in Diamond Eggshell - a quick drying super tough water based finish. Get it from your local Dulux Decorator Centre as both are trade paints. You will only need one coat of the Super Grip primer and that's water based too.

Q: What is the best way to ensure good paint adhesion to new plaster when using emulsion? I have thinned emulsion paint according to the manufacturer's instructions, when applying a base of white prior to using the colour coats, however, I still find that the paint will, on occasion, lift when peeling off low tack masking tape.

A: Normally a coat of really thinned down emulsion seals the new plaster beautifully but if you want a really brilliant rock solid finish try a proper Plaster Sealer. It’s ideal for priming bare plaster, plaster board and powdery surfaces because it penetrates deep into the surface, sealing it ready for painting. Its water based, easy to use and a little goes a long way. You will find it at your local DIY store.

Q: I would love to create a feature wall in my bedroom and I want it to be bold but not overwhelm the small space. What colours would you suggest? The rest of the room is quite neutral with white furniture. There is a picture rail too so would I need to do the same colour above and below or can I use two complimenting shades?

A: How about trying something a bit different like a painted 'ombre' effect. its a very simple blending technique that looks amazing. I suggest that you use two gutsier neutrals like Chic Shadow and Polished Pebble. Have a look at the 'How to' video and let me know what you think. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2liEpOuURdQ

Q: To spray or not to spray? We have a whole house to paint which will have been recently rendered and plastered. What should we consider?

A: Crikey! Spraying is a great way of getting a single colour done very quickly but it only works really well if you have a proper empty shell and no carpets , curtains etc. to work around. If this is what you decide to do, make sure that you mask everything up really well and get one of those very flattering all in one suits to wear- hat and mask too. Have you tried using the Paint Pod? that's quick, fun, really clean and you can put different colours on the walls.

Q: I need a new bedroom colour scheme to go with modern oak furniture and plain white bedding. What's on trend and what would work if I keep furniture and bedding?

A: Oak and white are such beautiful combinations that will work with anything but if you want something bang on trend have a look at the gorgeous sherbet pastel shades from our Colour Futures Collective Passion trend. Try painting three harmonious shades like Rock Candy 6, Frayed Hessian 3 and Fruit Fool 6 side by side on a wall as an alternative to a solid colour and buy some dip dyed bedding to match. http://www.dulux.co.uk/inspiration/latest_trends/index.jsp

Q: I really want to update, brighten up the hall and landing of my home, the walls and ceiling are all currently cream coloured.

A: Try painting the same colour on the walls, woodwork and skirting for a seamless look that will make the space appear bigger and more contemporary. Think about your lighting too, you may need to bump up the levels and be a bit more creative with the areas you illuminate. Treat yourself to a copy of The Lighting Bible by Lucy Martin

Q: I have a feature wall in my bedroom that is a perfect colour match for Dulux Perfectly Taupe paint. All the furniture in the room is dark wood, with bright red accents. Do you have any suggestions as to what colour I could use on the other walls? Needs to be something warm but preferably not as dark as the Perfectly Taupe colour. Any help greatly appreciated as I am currently knee deep in your colour samples, none of which are quite right!

A: Try a delicate warm olive green to balance the red. My suggestion would be Jurrassic Stone.

Q: I have just had a modest ordinary 1970s dingy corridor/entrance hall re plastered.Is there a special product for new plaster? Should I use matt or silk emulsion? Is there really any alternative to white for such a situation?

A: There's nothing ordinary or dingy about the 70's...you can try a plaster sealer but a thinned down coat of emulsion to seal the powdery surface works well too. If its dingy lighten it up with some paint that reflects light. Try anything from the Light & Space range. All the colours reflect 40% more light than standard emulsions and make the walls go 'ping'. Put Light & Space paint into Google images and have a look - you can order a tester to try out too.

Q: We're planning to paint an exterior wall of our garage as it's a really ugly concrete construction that fronts onto the back garden. Do we need to prepare the surface first, or can we paint straight on top of the concrete blocks? Also, are there any particular colours that would work well?

A: Make sure the blocks are clean first. I would suggest a pressure washer first to get rid of any mould or moss etc and once its dry, apply a couple of coats of Weathershield masonry paint. You can have it mixed to your favourite colour but if you want to make it disappear and become a great backdrop to plants I suggest that you try Black. You will love the transformation it makes to the garden.

Q: I want to paint a wall in my hallway with a chalkboard paint but in the past the results have been very poor. What should I do to improve the finish effect?

A: Chalkboard paint can be really gloopy and difficult to paint so thin it down a bit and paint a few thin coats rather than one thick one. Use a fine roller and brush in combination too. Roll it on and then gently brush over the top with a decent emulsion brush to remove the bobbly bits before it dries for a perfect finish.

Q: I want to redecorate our living room in the trendy new shades of grey but worried it will look too cold or bland - can you suggest colours for the main walls and one for a feature wall/chimney breast please?

A: Grey doesn't have to be cold, especially if you balance it with warmer shades in your furnishings and accessories. For warm greys on the walls try: Polished Pebble for the main walls and Warm Pewter for the feature wall. If you want extra help with colours you can try some great online advice at Dulux ColourQuest or for a bigger project that will help you find the right furniture, soft furnishings etc, consider calling in one of our Dulux Designers www.duluxdesignservice.co.uk

Do you have a decorating question? Let is know below.