Here Simon Tilbrook, Director at Fenwick & Tilbrook Paint, discusses decorating nurseries and children’s rooms.
Paint is normally oil- or water-based. Water-based paints are typically more environmentally- and user-friendly with less odour, quicker drying times and the brushes can be cleaned with water. Oil-based paints provide tough, glossy finishes but have higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), longer drying times and the brushes need cleaning in turpentine or spirits.
Some recommendations suggest leaving at least eight weeks between painting and the new arrival sleeping in the room to allow for ventilation and for paint fumes to dissipate. By choosing a water-based paint, you can have the reassurance of painting the room in a colour which is very low in VOCs and is therefore almost completely odourless.
Walls and ceilings work extremely well in pure matt. These products have a 2% sheen which provides a sumptuous flat finish that makes it ideal for bedrooms in all colours. When choosing a low-sheen finish, some ultra-matt paints can seem dull so it’s important to go for a paint with high levels of chroma or colour intensity. This will really bring out the gorgeous range of tones you’ll see in different lights at different times of day and create a paint effect which ‘pops’.
Interior eggshell is a tougher finish – it’s actually washable which is very handy with young children – but with a soft and delicate sheen. Using a paint such as interior eggshell will provide great coverage on wood and metal. The cot is often the focal point of a nursery, but all bedroom furniture can be painted to match in with your colour scheme too. This is perfect if you have a family piece or preloved item that you’d like to freshen up and use. Lower sheen levels of around 10% mean that, although it’s an eggshell, the paint is perfectly suited to walls as well. This is ideal for a super-coordinated look if you want to paint everything from your radiators to the ceiling, but also ensure a tough, washable surface that is up to the challenge of high traffic and hours of play.
While some higher quality paints are self-priming, it is often advisable to also use a separate primer first. This is particularly worthwhile if you are painting over unpainted surfaces such as new plaster in the nursery which is quite porous and will soak up lots of paint. Primers can help to achieve greater coverage with the topcoat of paint, meaning you need to use less
paint to achieve the perfect colour-rich result. Multi-surface primer can be applied to any surface prior to painting to ensure there is a good bond. This is especially applicable if the previous coating was an oil-based product. Oil and water don’t mix! Primers also help extend the longevity of your paintwork and a good primer will enable you to paint virtually anything – the possibilities become endless.
Pink or blue?
When it comes to colour, go for warm tones rather than opting for the stereotypical pink and blue. Choose colours such as yellows, which are relaxing and soothing – and some believe can help get children ready for sleep. More neutral tones are also likely to last longer as your child is less likely to quickly grow out of these shades rather than some of the brighter colours.
Opting for neutral shades doesn’t mean the room has to be dull – there are so many gorgeous colours available from yellows and greys to greens and whites. Adding in splashes of colour with a feature wall painted in a complementary colour and funky prints, stickers or wall graphics (which are good for stimulating babies too) can also be a great addition. Soft furnishings and accessories are perfect for bringing in other colours. Don’t forget to invest in blackout blinds or curtains – these can all be matched to your paint colour to fit in with your theme.
With paint, you really do get what you pay for. Some paints contain more cheap fillers and are thinner so they will take more coats to cover and are likely to fade and mark more easily. A quality paint will always deliver a better finish. Opt for a paint which is thicker with high levels of chroma and opacity to ensure colours that are rich and intense. A good quality paint should be rich in pigment and, so, require fewer coats and provide better coverage. They are typically easier to apply too by brush, roller or spray. Choosing a superior paint will also help to maintain that freshly-painted, pristine appearance for longer and provide added durability so you can wipe surfaces clean – perfect for a child’s room.
The great thing about choosing a quality paint is that it will last longer. But, in the event of a touch-up being required, a decent paint will blend in perfectly without any trouble – much better, faster and easier than having to redo an entire section of wall.