Can we fix it? Yes, we can

Turn DIY into shopping heaven and discover London’s online and in-store experts
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We are likely to use about two million litres of white emulsion over Easter, according to B&Q estimates, as we make a determined effort to love DIY — a brief affair for most of us.

Those who know about these things say we’ll spend at least 10 hours on Easter DIY, with painting topping the chart followed by the slightly more skilled wallpapering, very skilled shelf-building and maddening furniture assembly from those kits with a screw missing. Then come the jobs you can do on your own — because by then you won’t be talking to your partner — such as filling in cracks and repainting the finger-dirty dado rails and skirting boards.

As most of us only dabble in DIY but are expert at shopping, the best way through this tricky long weekend is to find stores with professionals who are enthusiastic about the proper way to roller your ceiling white. If the queue is too long at the expert’s counter, pick up the very impressive leaflets at Homebase, or visit B&Q at www.diy.com. There are step-by-step guides on our own website too.

“It’s amazing what you can do in four days,” says builder Stephen Worrall, at www.diyfixit.co.uk (guides/resources for newbies and the nonchalant alike). “Do your homework first. Read the books and leaflets and get prepared. Rent, buy or borrow the right tools and get the materials in so you don’t waste valuable time.”

Here are five jobs that make an instant difference, and which, according to Worrall, anyone can master:

Couple hanging wallpaper
Hanging wallpaper is made easy with a host of helpful guides from Homebase
1. Repaint the front door. “Nothing smartens up a home so much”. Sand down well and use a high-gloss top coat for a great finish.
2. Upgrade your security. It’s not difficult, just get out your screwdriver and replace locks, add a letterbox cover, check the security of the front door and window frames, and while you’re at it clean windows and wash the curtains.
3. Retile the bathroom. “Straight-forward if you tile over the old ones and use a good-quality cutting tool”.
4. Wallpapering. Back in fashion and easy with “paste-the-wall” papers.
5. Paint a piece of furniture. “Very satisfying” — whether cupboard, chair or toybox, bring wood back to life.

Paper for idiots


The big British wallpaper brand Graham & Brown pioneered paste-the-wall papers. You can see the huge choice and buy on line when you visit www.grahambrown.com.

For a moment of joy go to Harrods for inspiration where their Alice In Wonderland windows are full of Sanderson’s glorious new wallpaper/fabrics celebrating its 150 years — with all the books inside, in revamped furnishing departments with great colour coding ideas.

Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s new paint range
Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s new paint range is suitably flamboyant (£16.98 for 2.5 litres)

Trendy and green kits


Superstores have the best instant supplies. Trendiest are Homebase at Kensington and B&Q at Wandsworth and Chiswick, with Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen wallpaper.

For green makeovers it’s got to be B&Q at New Malden and Sutton, both with just-opened “eco shops within shops” for a handy concentration of energy-savers that will help your wallet, too. Indeed, “green” is paint’s new mantra (even mass-market Crown and Dulux are pushing it) but actually, a stringent law in force from January means all paint must be environmentally okay.

Top people’s paint makers


Farrow & Ball
Farrow & Ball showrooms are always inspiring. Their assistants will offer good free colour advice, explain the myriad of paint types to you, let you luxuriate in their colour-chart ideas, and if you make an appointment, a colour consultant will come to your home (for a fee of £150 an hour).

Farrow & Ball wallpaper range
Farrow & Ball, known for its stylish, chalky paints, has an exciting wallpaper range
Battersea now has its own shop at 146 Northcote Road, SW11 (020 7228 6578).They are also in Islington, Marylebone, Hampstead and Richmond.

Mr Paint
London’s Mr Paint — Patrick Baty — will close his Chelsea family paint specialists for Easter but it’s worth a visit when he opens for unrivalled colour-matching and historical colours (www.papers-paints.co.uk).

Take a cruise


Tour London’s shops and showrooms, to collect ideas and advice.

Try John Lewis. Its “furnishing advisers” are in Oxford Street, Peter Jones, Brent Cross and Kingston. For a chat, make an appointment at www.johnlewis.com/ furnishingadvice, or call 0845 604 9049. Marks & Spencerat Marble Arch has fab furnishings. The assistants are helpful and they do wallpapers and curtains to take away. Then, just 10 minutes’ walk away is Liberty (Great Marlborough Street, W1; 020 7734 1234; www.liberty.co.uk), which is stashed with amazing wallpaper books by individual makers you won’t find elsewhere.

Blue Gravel matt emulsion from Crown’s new earthbalance range
Blue Gravel matt emulsion from Crown’s new earthbalance range. Matt emulsion costs £15.98 for 2.5 litres and £27.99 for 5 litres

Tile style, bathroom heaven


Showrooms with stunning displays are worth a special trek because you see sophisticated products in-situ — like the super-thin “eco” tiles in metallic finishes at Surfacein Islington (020 7354 7000) and Battersea (020 7819 2300; www.surfacetiles.com). And CP Hart(020 7902 5250; www.cphart.co.uk) has exciting settings under the arches at Waterloo.

Wander to Westfield


Stroll over to Westfield, W12, to the Laura Ashley Homeroom (0871 230 2301; www.lauraashley.com), with its stash of sample books, swatches and much more.

Also, find Designers at Debenhams (www.debenhams.com) with homewares by Jasper Conran, John Rocha, etc; Linea Home at House of Fraser (www.houseoffraser.co.uk), and lots of good-looking low-cost design exclusives at Zara Home (www.zarahome.com), M&S (www.marksandspencer.com) and Next (www.next.co.uk). Plus, there’s Dwell (dwell.co.uk), The White Company (www.thewhitecompany.com), Descamps (www.descamps.co.uk), and Alessi (www.alessi.co.uk). And a Conran pop-up shop opens today until 6 June for the Well Considered range of brilliant basics (www.wellconsidered.com).

Ideal Home has it all


If a big outing, as traditional as an Easter Egg hunt, is on the cards then there is nothing that cannot be found for DIY at the Ideal Home Exhibition at Earls Court (supported by Homes & Property). Its four “theatres” include the House of the Future, and there will be non-stop advice, workshops and demos from the experts.

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