Repainting the walls is the obvious answer, but repainting the interior woodwork can make just as much of a difference, especially if it’s seen better days. If white solvent-based paint has been used on your home’s woodwork, which is usually the case, it will have discoloured over time - sometimes only in a matter of months.
Wood paints were traditionally gloss, but these days lower-sheen satinwood and eggshell are more fashionable finishes - shiny woodwork isn’t the done thing any more.
As well as specific wood (and metal) paints, you can get multi-surface paints, which are really useful because they can be used on walls and ceilings as well as wood and metal, ideal if you’re painting where a skirting board or doorframe joins the wall, for example. These multi-surface paints are becoming increasingly popular - B&Q does a good own-brand one and even Crown Kitchen & Bathroom emulsion comes into this category.
In addition to causing discolouration, solvent-based wood paints have other disadvantages. They often dry slowly so it can take days to do the job, give off fumes, are prone to runs and drips (although non-drip versions are available) and are hard to get off your skin, clothes, carpets and anything else you get them on accidentally - even the paintbrush is hard to clean.
Because of these problems, I would recommend using water-based wood paints. These dry quickly, even at this time of year, and although you need to do quite a few coats, the paint goes on more easily than solvent-based alternatives and becomes easier and quicker to apply the more coats you do.
You rarely get a run with water-based wood paints, and they’re relatively easy to clean off. They also give off fewer fumes and are better for the environment because they contain fewer harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds). Best of all, white water-based wood paint will stay white for years, long after a solvent-based one would have changed colour, so you won’t have to repaint nearly as often.
Filler, sandpaper and paint can work wonders with woodwork that seems beyond repair, but if you do have to replace the wood, make sure you seal the knots (with knotting solution) in the new (bare) wood first to ensure that the resin in them doesn’t bleed through and ruin your paintwork.
It’s also essential to use wood primer - again, a water-based one is your best bet - on bare wood, or wood primer/undercoat, which obviously saves you time compared to using separate products.
It’s a good idea to apply this to previously painted wood, too, because it helps the topcoat to adhere better, so it should last longer.