Life As A Decorator: Lessons From Lockdown



In the first episode of the new Dulux Academy Podcast series, Tony Pearson-Young - Skills Development Consultant at the Dulux Academy - talks with three decorators about their unique experiences over the first lockdown period. 

And there’s plenty to discuss, from the shock of lockdown and battling Covid-19 symptoms, to picking up new skills and never being busier. 


The initial lockdown experience


All three decorators on the podcast are owner-operators working primarily in the domestic sector, and lockdown landed with a bump. 

Not least for Darren Whitefield, who had to down tools a week before the official lockdown, seriously ill with what he now believes to be Covid-19. 

“I was only a week into a six week job, but I just had to leave. I explained to the client, and there was nothing else I could do. Thankfully the client was very understanding,” says Darren.

Understanding clients was a common theme noted by all three decorators, as jobs ended suddenly and lockdown began.


Tales of lockdown life 

Morley Lane joined Darren in downing tools completely during lockdown, securing government support - though that took a lot of time and effort. 

Both share stories of cooking food for homeless charities, spending time with their family, getting out on walks, playing ukuleles, drinking gin & tonics, and generally not ticking off anything on their to-do lists. 

There’s lots of open and honest conversation here - as the five star reviews of the podcast point out!  

But for Les Copestake and his six employees, lockdown was a different story. 

Eager to keep work flowing for his team and their young families, Les shares how he rearranged jobs, pulled outdoor work forward, and - thanks to good weather and understanding customers - was able to keep working over lockdown. 

“It’s been the busiest six months we’ve ever had,” says Les. “I’m almost afraid to say it, but ‘business as usual’.”

New skills, new priorities and support from the Dulux Select Decorators Scheme 

All three decorators on the podcast discuss how lockdown has given them a new perspective on their work/life balance, and led to improvements in their outlook on life. 

And they share their experiences with the Dulux Academy and of being Dulux Select Decorators scheme members. 

From improving exteriors to exploring colours, Dulux Academy Live workshops have been very useful to Les and his team. 

As have the printouts on Covid-secure working provided by Dulux Select, which really helped with client communication. 

But it’s the Dulux Select forum that’s been a standout support tool during lockdown for all three, the perfect place for advice, ideas and just somewhere to talk. As Morley points out, if you struggle with mental health (a topic covered in episode two of the podcast) it really is invaluable. 

“Speaking to like-minded decorators about their worries and concerns, it’s really helpful,” says Les. 


The biggest learning from lockdown? 

Two areas stood out. The value of constant communication with clients and, perhaps most importantly, the need to try and worry less. 

If lockdown has taught these guys one thing, it’s to not get stressed about things you can’t control.  

Tony sums up: “It’s all been very different for everyone, but we’ve all changed a little bit to have less stress in our lives.”   

Listen to the full episode for more stories from Darren, Morley and Les, what they might have done differently, and what their essential tools of the trade are. 

Find all the podcast episodes here.