Collette Collier, Interview with a Painter & Decorator

colour schemes decorating painting Nov 07, 2022
painting and decorating guide

Collette Collier is an experienced painter and decorator that started her career by completing her City & Guilds in Painting & Decorating and completed an apprenticeship for her first 3 years. We were so grateful to be able to interview her and ask her some key questions.


1. Do you have any tips or advice on how to choose a colour scheme for a room?

I just say be bold, be brave. Don’t be afraid to go with your own taste. Who cares if everyone hates it, as long as you like it, right? However, look at your furniture, most of us can’t afford to replace everything in the room. So, think about your big pieces and what will work. Download an app or create a mood board in your photos in a separate album. Put different looks together and see what works. Or better still get an actual board, put on wallpaper samples, paint and fabric samples and just experiment.

2. What are the most common mistakes you see people make when painting and decorating?

The biggest mistake is not doing enough preparation. It’s boring as hell but must be done to give you the best results. Sand sand sand.. all the woodwork. Strip off every bit of wallpaper and sand down the walls, never ever paper over old wallpaper. It will look rubbish.!!

There is a great device that you can attach to a roller pole, put in a piece of sandpaper fasten it down with the clips and you’re ready to go. it’s a lot less effort for maximum results. Undercoat your paintwork and sand it down before applying another coat of undercoat or topcoat. It will be worth it. Also fill any holes or cracks and sand down.

3. What essential tools do you always use?

A dust brush is your best friend. When you’ve sanded there will be loads of dust and bits. A dust brush is ideal to sweep all of that away. 

Skirting boards especially where they meet the floor (if the floor doesn’t have carpet) sweep as much away and get right into the corners to remove any debris that your paintbrush is going to pick up. There is nothing worse than bits and hair stuck to your painting. There is also a genius item called a tack rag, it’s a piece of very fine muslin cloth impregnated with a slightly tacky substance that doesn’t leave any residue but picks up any fine bits of dust from sanding down. It’s especially good on panelled doors and dado rails etc.

4. Do you have any stories of jobs that have gone wrong and why?

I can’t really think of any jobs gone wrong but there’s always times when you're matching a pattern and you cut the wallpaper short. And it’s always when using an expensive roll of paper and the mistake means you have to go and buy more. (Unless you're good at patching up)

5. What was your favourite job and why?

I don’t have a favourite individual job, but I did used to love papering ceilings. I don’t really know why as its most people’s idea of a nightmare, but I love doing them. It’s all in the folding and having the right equipment, two pairs of stepladders and a scaffolding plank.

6. Are there any current trends you would avoid or those that you like at the moment?

I do love the panelling trend at the moment. I have just bought a property that was very outdated and needed every room doing.

I paid a joiner to fit panelling on my hall and stairs and painted the top of the walls plain white then used 3 varying tones of grey on the rail, inside the panel and one on the panelling itself. I also have a beautiful original shelf in the hallway that I painted in the same grey as the rail. I have to say it looks impressive.

7. What do you need from a client when starting a job effectively?

Ideas on what look they are after. Retro, modern, contemporary everyone is different. Most clients will have picked their own colour scheme beforehand but sometimes you get asked for your opinion and what looks best etc. As a decorator I didn’t really get too involved in that side of things. Although I’m always asked by friends and family for advice. I do feel it is more an interior designer’s role.

8. What is your opinion on different brands of paint, and do you have a favourite?

I was always of the opinion to go with a good well-known brand. Dulux or Crown was the go-to brands in my early career. However now I absolutely go for Valspar. It can be expensive but covers well and reduces the need for more coats in the long run.

9. Anything you would like to add that could help someone planning and securing a painter and decorator to ensure a successful job?

The best advice is to ask people who have used the person. I hear all the time “anyone can paint” this is true however there is painting and there is PAINTING.!!! you want someone who is tidy and respectful in your home but also someone who can turn out top notch work. People can post photos of their work on social media however you can’t see fine detail. Whether there are runs in the paintwork or gaps in the papering. Some even use photos of other people’s beware ask as many people as you can and if you’re not sure. Save the money you were going to spend. Buy the right equipment, take the time to prepare the surface and do it yourself. Watching you tube demos is always a great place to start.


Subscribe to get practical tips and tricks each week throughout your home renovation project.