Tools of the trade: restoring Mr McEwan's bedroom

Contractors' equipment in the corner of a room

Contractors have been busy in Mr McEwan's bedroom, getting it ready for our autumn offer Beer to Champagne: the rise of a sparkling socialite, when the room will be open to the public for the very first time. Restoring a heritage home has its own unique considerations, from prepping to painting.

Sandpaper: 2 metres

Contractors Alex and Dudley used 2 metres of sandpaper to prepare the space for painting. 'Prepping the room is the most important part,’ explains Alex. ‘If you don’t prep properly, then the painting won’t look as good.'

The two of them painstakingly sanded the walls and ceiling [of the 9x8m room] by hand, as using heat or chemicals could damage the fabric of the building or the collections of priceless pieces. 

Prepping the room
A contractor sanding the ceiling

Filler: 5 tubes

As with all centuries-old houses, Polesden Lacey isn’t in perfect condition. The cracks between the walls and the cornicing and skirting boards were filled using a flexing filler, ‘so when the room moves – the door is closed, for example – it won’t crack, it will give a little bit’. Alex and Dudley used 5 tubes of filler to fix cracks around the room. 

It took hours to fill in all the cracks around the room
A cracked skirting board

Paint: 5 litres

The ceiling of the room has been coated with a fire retardant paint, instead of regular emulsion. ‘That usually gives fire crews about two extra hours to get a fire under control, before the flames spread to the roof,’ says Alex. It took half of a 10 litre can to paint the ceiling. 

After Polesden’s great fire in 1960, and Clandon’s disaster in 2015, this type of protection is a necessity in heritage homes such as Polesden Lacey. 

How long would it take before your arm started to ache?
A contractor paints a ceiling

Brushes and rollers: 3 of each

Each paint colour used in the room will have its own brush and roller. The rich ruby red of Mr McEwan’s bedroom – also known as the Red Bedroom – is distinctive, but difficult to wash from a roller. ‘The brushes can be washed out, but you can’t get that red out of the roller. If we washed it and tried to use it again, everything would have a red tint’.

Imagine rolling the first line of red onto a blank wall
A roller resting in a tray of red paint

You can explore Mr McEwan’s room in the autumn, when it will be opened as part of Beer to Champagne: the rise of a sparkling socialite in September.

Click here to find out more about Beer to Champagne: the rise of a sparkling socialite.

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