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Painting a mural with wall-paint test pots

By October 30, 2020Knowledge & Tips

Jo has just bought an end of terrace house in need of a bit of love in the Poets’ Corner area of Brighton and Hove. In this series she’s sharing her experience of the purchase and renovation process. In this post – getting creative with wall-paint test pots.

Inspiration out of frustration

When I am doing interior design work for my clients, I am usually pretty patient with the process. It can take a long time from first receiving the brief to being ready to start on site (there are a lot of decisions to make, and our clients renovation works also often require various permissions which can take a long time – see our journal on preparing to start on site here).

Even once work starts on site, the house will look very much like a building site until the last few weeks when the wall colours, joinery, and finishes start to emerge. In short, I know it can take months to get from the point where I have an image in my mind of the finished project, and when that vision becomes reality.

It probably helps that I am not living in the ‘before’ version of the house while I am doing that work.

With my house, I am not feeling quite so patient. We have started making decisions about our interior design choices, and I am itching to make them real. There is no point in scratching that itch with proper redecoration as we have lots of disruptive work coming up… so I came up with a project to keep my visually creative brain satisfied.

Getting creative with test-pots

I am a firm believer in testing paint colours in situ – see our blog on Brave Ground and the importance of testing here. We have been testing a lot of shades of dark blue and dusty pink to find the perfect combination for our ground floor. Add to that the test pots from my student projects nearly 3 years ago that somehow haven’t dried up… and I have a lot of paint at risk of going to waste. Once I had the idea of doing a mural, it quickly took root. Knowing that we will redecorate the room in 2 years gave me a sense of creative freedom and license – it won’t be there forever, so I could do something bold.

From Magnolia to Magnolias – the steps and the colours

Step 1; Design.

I quickly got the floral inspiration from the House of Hackney wallpaper I’ve been gazing at longingly. After a couple of pinterest sessions my design took shape. I made a very rough sketch – knowing I could work through the detail on the wall. If I were designing for a client I would draw the design properly and to scale.

Step 2; Pencil outline.

I drew the design directly onto the wall, using images from my pinterest board to assemble each element. If I were working from a more specific design, I would use a grid to scale up onto the wall.

A big spirit-level ruler, and a compass fashioned from string and a pin, were my tools for the background of geometric shapes.

Step 3; Leaves, branches and flowers.

Time to apply the paint! For the leaves and flowers I blended on the wall – painting light colours over slightly darker, still wet, paint and using a stiff brush to blend like eyeshadow. 

Step 4; Background.

Once the flowers were done, I added the background colours – working slowly with small brushes around the details, and then using bigger brushes to fill in.

Step 5; Outline.

Finally, I used a dark blue to outline the flowers. I wanted to add a slightly sharper edge to the design to keep modern. Black would have worked well here – but as I was working with colours already at my disposal I opted for an inky blue. 

The colours I used were;

The flowers;

Leaves & branches;


If you need help with your renovation in London or Brighton & Hove, contacts us now!

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