paint is very dark. a third or exceptionally a fourth may be needed. To get the best finish. rub down after the first coat with very fine sandpaper.
lfyou are more adventurous, interesting and attractive results can be achieved decorating plaster by varnishing, waxing. hand-stippling or rag-rolling with paint. Marbling is also possible but is difficult to do well and is usually best left to a specialist decorator. Waxing or varnishing can produce a slight sheen on the plaster which can be highlighted with coloured crayons to produce a textured background. It is only suitable on new. untreated (ie not painted plaster). Hand-stippling produces a mottled effect by sponging paint on top of a base colour. It tends to work best with a
light background (preferably not white) and a slightly darker colour applied by hand using a sponge dipped in paint and pressed very lightly on to the surface. Rag-rolling is a similar technique where the top coat is applied with a torn rag tied around a paint roller. A further effect can be achieved through over-painting by hand with a small brush using a third colour. Choose the combination ofcolours carefully to make sure they complement each other— as well as the standard colours, Dulux and Crown offer a very wide range ofshades that can be mixed to order. If you are trying one ofthese techniques. experiment first on a section ofwall that won‘t be visible before attempting to decorate the whole room.
Wall finishes can also be enhanced
by stencilling patterns at cornice level. You can make your own pattern if you are adept with a pair of scissors or a scalpel. otherwise there are ranges ofpre-cut stencils available from retailers such as Pavilion in Howe Street. Edinburgh. WALLPAPER
If you are going to hang a patterned wallpaper, it is best to line the walls first with a light weight lining paper. This should be hung horizontally for the best results ifyou can master the technique. The choice of patterned papers is unlimited. Vinyl papers which are washable are again best in kitchens and bathrooms: other papers can be used in these rooms but they may need to be sealed to prevent damage from steam and water. There are traditional and modern papers to suit any location
and decor. Try retailers such as Laura Ashley, Habitat. Liberty, Next, Osborne & Little and specialist furniture shops like Inhouse.
As with all decoration, preparing the surface first is essential for a good result. You can just slap yet another coat of paint on top of what is already there but it will have a rough untidy finish and the detailed lines of mouldings and facings will be filled in becoming progressively more clumsy. If you are going to try painting on top of existing paint at least give it a good wash first with sugar soap to ensure that the surface is as clean and smooth as possible. To do the job properly, the old paint should be stripped off using a paint
WHERE THE HEARTH IS
An open lire can be a cheering way at heating your home, and will certainly enhance its appearance and atmosphere, whether you lavour ornate Georgian masonry, Victorian wrought iron or modern styles such as brightly coloured Scandinavian stoves or less iashionable stone-cladding hearths. “Fireplaces are delinitely back in vogue,’ says Beverley Brown at Slater
Hogg & Howison Estate Agents in Glasgow, ‘since people have realised they can’t sit round a radiator. It’s lorcing builders to think about chimneys and iireplaces.’
It the lireplaces in your home have been blocked you may decide to open them up. Generally speaking, this should be a simple process which you can do yourseli, but there may be complications, such as cracks in the structure. Under legislation ettective since 1966, you must ensure that the line is properly opened and lined, and a minimum size is set down tor a non-combustible hearth area. Details are explained in the booklet ‘Dpening Up Your Fireplace’, available lrom the Solid Fuel Advisory Service.
Around 70 per cent at Glasgow and 60 per cent at Edinburgh is currently smokeless-zoned; the remainder oi Glasgow is scheduled to iollow by 1993, though no date has yet been set lor Edinburgh. You should therelore be
sure that any new equipment is able to burn smokeless luel.
When a zone is lirst designated smokeless, grants are altered tor conversion at any iireplace regularly in use. The standard grant of approved costs (which will vary from £80 to over £1,000, depending on the work you decide to undertake) is 70 per cent, but it increases according to means up to 100 per cent. You may be permitted to use the grant towards installing central heating or a stove as an alternative, but it is always calculated on the basic cost at converting to smokeless tuel.
It you retuse the grant and tail to convert, you could be liable ior prosecution. ll your house was built alter 1964, your lireplace should already be suitable, and you will not be entitled to any grant. To establish your
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own position, contact the Environmental Health Department Pollution Control ottice in your city.
Help with choosing luels can be supplied by the SFAS, or by the EHD, which tries to ensure that smokeless luels are always available. There is quite a wide range at solid luels with varying properties. One to avoid is petroleum coke, which has been lound to damage grates.
Fire surrounds come in a huge variety oi styles, but provided you meet legal conditions on minimum distance between the grate and any wooden parts, almost anything goes.
Many antique dealers stock tire surrounds, and these may be your best bet lor classical or retrospective styles, although some modern designs are based on Victorian or Georgian models. New tireplaces or surrounds will normally have to be constructed to individual specilications, and will cost £175 upwards, the average price being £500—600. It is possible to lit your own, but you would be well advised to take expert advice, since non-specialists may not be lamilia‘r with what Alan Tomkins at George McAlpine in Glasgow describes as ‘the vagaries ol lines and draws.’ In any case, you can have the lull works installed tor £100—150.
One person who does not lavour open tires is Pete Harvey oi Forest Fires in Edinburgh, who maintains that they
will actually reduce room temperature by sucking warmth out through the chimney. His answer is the tree-standing stove, which can be installed in an ordinary lireplace, and besides heating the room etticiently can provide hot water and central heating. The best (and cheapest) models are Danish, he says, though he also stocks British and other brands. Prices begin at £260 tor a basic stove; £600 tor one which will power central heaﬂng.
Goal-eitect gas tires are another option, which these days can be very convincing, although some models otter as little as 20 per cent eliiciency, as compared with 60 per cent lrom an ordinary gas lire. Local Gas showrooms have lull details, and hold a stock oi coal-ellect heaters in a variety ot styles, priced around £300—400 (including installation and connection), which will normally be compatible with an existing and properly maintained llue, though one model requires the removal ot putt bricks from the back hearth iloor. (Andrew Dumet)
Directory: Solid Fuel Advisory Service, 159 Ingram Street, Glasgow, 552 0801; 39 tauriston Street, Edinburgh, 229 4243; Green Park, Greenend, Edinburgh, 6641461. Environmental Health Department, Pollution Contol Dltice, Glasgow 227 4330; Edinburgh
225 2424 ext 5770.
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