Before applying a paint finish, prepare the surface and give it a suitable undercoat. Then apply the base coat. The decorative effect is then built up by adding one or more shades of top coat in either emulsion or oil- based paint. It is normally necessary to thin the top coats, and you may need to add an oil- based scumble glaze (rather like paint without any pigment - available from specialist stores) to make the top coats workable and translucent. The glaze doesn't dryas quickly as ordinary oil-based paints, giving you more time to move the paint around.
Mixing top coats enables you to create your own tones and shades of colour - the colour may come from household paint or you can add extra pigment. Add powder colour or artist's acrylic paints to water-based paints, and artist's oil colours to oil-based paints.
Always experiment with the paint to try out the effect and test it before you start. The brand of paint you use, the porosity of the surface, even the weather can affect the result, so there are no hard and fast rules for the proportion of paint.
You will need special tools for some of the effects shown on pages 62-65. For example, natural sea sponges are essential for applying a sponged finish, and you can experiment with rag, paper or even plastic bags for a ragged or rag-rolled effect.
For the trompe l'oeil effects which imitate natural materials such as marble or tortoise- shell, you will need a selection of soft artist's brushes, and there are special comb-like grain- ing tools for creating wood effects. Have a selection of old jam jars and paint kettles or clean tins to mix the various stages. Always mix sufficient glaze to cover the whole of the area to be painted.
Described below are some of the most frequently used techniques for decorative pain t effects.
Suggested proportions for a mixed glaze are: 1-2 parts eggshell paint, tinted with artist's oil colour if necessary, mixed with 5 parts oil- based glaze, thinned with 3-4 parts white spirit or turpentine.
First prepare a tint by blending artist's oil colour into white or coloured oil-based eggshell paint. If you need several batches of glaze in graduated tones, mix all the tints at the same time to ensure evenly graded colours. Add the transparent, oil-based glaze, stirring in just a little to start with, then adding more. A large metal spoon is useful for ladling out the glaze. You will need at least twice as much glaze as paint. Finally thin the paint with white spirit, adding it gradually and testing the consistency until you get a creamy texture.


This effect is quick and easy to create using ordinary emulsion paint. Choose closely related colours for a subtle effect, or contrasting colours for a more mottled look. Tryout several combinations, mixing small quantities of colour to start with, until you are happy with the balance of colours.

Prepare the wall in the usual way (page 209) and apply a base coat of matt or silk-finish emulsion with a brush, roller or pad. Choose a pale colour for the base coat, and do not be too meticulous in getting an even finish. A slightly uneven base will not shawanee the final finish is applied. Leave the wall to dry completely.
Take the first of your chosen top coat colours and thin with a little water. A paint roller tray makes an ideal paint kettle for mixing and holding the paint while you work. Dip the flattest side of a damp, natural sponge in the paint and dab it on the ribbed part of the paint tray to remove excess paint. Then dab the sponge lightly over a test surface (lining paper is ideal for this). This takes any heavy drops of paint off the sponge, and gives you a chance to test the amount of pressure you need to apply.
Apply the paint to the wall, dabbing it on with the sponge until the effect starts to fade. Use a slightly rolling motion each time you dab on the paint and twist your hand to a different angle each time you lift the sponge. This gives an all-over effect without any obvious pattern from the shape of the sponge. Don't twist the sponge while it is in contact with the surface of the wall, as this will give smears and swirls.

Cover the whole wall with the first colour, then repeat the process with a second colour. On a reasonably large wall, you will find that the first colour is dry by the time you get back to the starting point. If required, apply further coats, either of the first colour or of other colours, until the wall is evenly covered.