When we first received the invitation to provide the projects for the regular Craft feature in Country Living magazine we were of course delighted, as it would be the perfect vehicle to promote our gorgeous paint and the latest book, Paint Vintage.

Then, as the weeks went by, the enormity of the task ahead dawned on us as one of the key factors of the brief was to shoot any projects in-situ at our home. Now, given we’re three-quarters through renovating a small coastal cottage in West Dorset and still trying desperately to whittle down our collection of stuff (think big Victorian dairy downsizes to small cottage!) and you’ll see the concern.

However, on balance, we thought it worth the effort and four days before the shoot embarked on what was to be four days from hell, each one more tricky than the last – and this was all to happen between the first two shows of the year.

To achieve the end result, we had to lay a ply-wood plank floor on top of concrete in the conservatory (which had to be totally cleared first) – then seal it, paint it, create the checkerboard design, mask and paint the squares and then varnish it (twice). We also had to remove a very nasty, lino from the en-suite bathroom (the glue of which was so strong that it then ruined the carpet in the bedroom) and then create, paint, seal, stencil, varnish, stick and grout about thirty floor tiles.

Hallway with chair and cupboard

In both cases, we thought the end result was superb but rather sadly found ourselves distressing furniture in almost total darkness, having accidentally broken all the lightbulbs on the lamps we were using on the Sunday night before the shoot and worse, varnishing the tiles just after midnight and then grouting them, just as the Editor (Ben Kendrick) and crew were walking in the door!

Wooden tray

Thankfully, the team were delighted by our efforts and the shoot flowed very smoothly indeed. Penny (Photographer) and Alaina (Assistant Editor) just got on with it, shot by shot, and by 4.30pm the very last chink of natural light disappeared and we had sufficient shots in the bag, which was a relief! – shooting in January is always very difficult due to the lack of natural light.

Printed linen

You can see the fruits of our labour in the April issue of Country Living out on March 7th.