Name: Sam Knowles
Company name: Sam Knowles Painter and Decorator
How and when did you start decorating?
I first started decorating in the school holidays when I was 14. My dad had his own business and I’d do it to earn extra cash. It was a job I came backwards and forwards from into my early 20’s. I’d always keep my hand in and help my dad out where I could, but I originally trained in bar management. In my early 20’s I grew tired of the silly hours that comes with the bar industry and started back with my dad full time, then I progressed on to having my own business.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Looking at the before and after pics. I love taking a job that’s an absolute wreck and bringing it back to life. Especially if someone else has tried and failed. That’s where the satisfaction comes from for me.
What’s your least favourite part of the job?
I’m not a huge fan of new builds or new work in general. I find them boring, I’d rather be working in a property with some age and character.
What’s your favourite decorating tool / piece of kit?
It has to be my Mirka sander, I’ve only had it about a year. Before then everything was done old school. Occasionally I would try and borrow my brothers when I could. I also still have a collection of blaze brushes that I’ve had for years, they are by far my favourite brush. Shame you cant buy them any more.
Tell us a funny/memorable story about a job:
When I was a young lad and not taking the job too seriously, I’d had a heavy night with the lads and arrived home at about 5 am with a lady friend. I was still wide awake at 7, having not had any sleep due to having company, when my dad was banging on my bedroom door to get up for work. I was still smashed and very tired. We made our way to work and at morning brew time, I was feeling very rough indeed. My dad left mid brew to shoot off and grab some materials. The next thing I knew my dad was waking me up an hour later, id passed out on a pile of dust sheets.my dad hit the roof, just lucky the property was empty.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on a job? The biggest ‘oh sh*t’ moment?
I lined a wall that had some suspect paint on the surface, I only used PVA to seal it. It pulled all the paint underneath and left that dreaded atlas texture. Ever since I’ve sealed them with peelstop.
If you won the lottery tomorrow, what would be the first 3 things you’d do with the money?
I have a son who has a disability and we have to travel to Gdansk for a drug trial treatment, and we spend a fortune on travel and renting accommodation whenever we go, so I’d buy a house in Gdansk. Then for any work I still had on my books I would pay for another decorator to go and do the work for them, free of charge. As a thank your for their loyalty to us. And then I’d take a well deserved break for me and my family somewhere hot.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Invisibility….and I’m not going to lie….because I’m a bit of a perv.
If you weren’t a decorator, what would you be?
Antique dealer, dealing in vintage items.
If you could change one thing about the industry to improve it, what would it be?
There’s a lot of trades that look down on us as just ‘painters’ when in fact we spend our days putting their shit right. So if there was something I could do to change what people thought of our trade it would have to be that.
What do you get up to when you’re not on the brush? Any hobbies?
I’m a bit of a geek and I like aquariums; I have a massive tank that takes up a fair bit of my time. I’m also a bit of a tinkerer and enjoys building things out of old wood. Recently I’ve done my garden furniture out of scaffold boards. I try not to let this take up too much of my time as I like to spend a lot of time with my boys.
If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice to make you a better decorator, what would it be?
Invest in the right tools, don’t be afraid to take the odd risk when trying to progress your business and always treat a customer’s home with the same respect as your own.
Where to find Sam:
Thanks again to Sam for answering my questions. I really enjoyed seeing the different sides of him, from funny to caring to geek!
I am looking to talk to as many decorators as possible over the coming months so we can share knowledge and hopefully raise the profile of the industry as a whole.
If you would like to feature in ‘An interview with a decorator’ please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org , DM me on social media or via the contact page on my website.