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Nicola Lewis wins Dulux Academy’s ultimate wallpapering challenge

Published: 18 October 2019 - Neil Mead

Dulux Academy has crowned Nicola Lewis of Mrs Lewis’ Decorating Company from Matlock the winner of the third annual Dulux Academy Design and Decorate Challenge.

Acclaimed for her unique craftsmanship, eye for design plus expert wallpapering skills, Nicola will now receive the money-can’t-buy prestige of her wallpaper design made into bespoke rolls by wallpapering specialists Graham & Brown.

Her prize also includes the opportunity to have a guided tour of the Graham & Brown factory in Blackburn; further complemented by a luxury stay the Dunkenhalgh Hotel and Spa with a meal for two. Not to mention, the recognition of being crowned UK champion.

Nicola was shortlisted after standing out from the exceptional competition posed by experienced decorators from across the UK. 

Head judge Mark Rigby, Skills Development Consultant at Dulux Academy praised her outside the box interpretation of the brief: “I was impressed by the time and effort that had obviously gone into Nicola’s design, particularly her clever use of the eyes of friends, relatives and fellow decorators to create a design that represented the watchful eyes of people on social media. 

The Dulux Academy Design and Decorate Challenge was created to celebrate International Wallpaper Week which this year fell on 7th - 13th October 2019.

To take part, entrants were asked to design their own wallpaper inspired by social media and trends and submit along with a description explaining their inspiration, and the functionality of their concept.

Nicola then joined other finalists at the Dulux Academy in Slough on 11th October 2019 for the second part of the challenge, where her wallpapering skills were put to the test. The day-long challenge was designed to test all aspects of wallpapering including cutting, measuring, product application and matching skills. 

The finalists designs and wallpapering skills were assessed by an expert judging panel, with Mark Rigby being joined by Louise Stevenson from Graham & Brown, as well as Matt Gray and Nicola Holmes, Skills Development Consultants at Dulux Academy. 

Mark added: “Nicola backed up her eye for design on the day of the final with fantastic attention to detail and impressive preparation, as well as neat cutting in and positioning of the wallpaper design.”

Nicola sees this achievement as a real springboard for her business. She explained: “I have been in business for two years now so to receive this award is a major achievement. I’ve taken a number of courses to improve my skills, including training at the Dulux Academy, so it’s great to see this pay off. The award will help me to showcase my experience to current and new customers.”

Vickie Mather, Dulux Academy Lead, said: “We initially created this competition to celebrate the amazing talents of the skilled and accomplished professionals in our industry. The unique craftsmanship on show has impressed us every year and this year was no exception. 

“All of our finalists showed expertise and dedication that make them a fantastic example for the next generation of professionals to aspire to. Nicola stood out with her simple but very clever design, as well as her impressive application skills and we are proud that she is our 2019 champion.”

Alan Dunster from Cardiff and Karen Julien from Huddersfield were named runners up. 

Launched in March 2016, Dulux Academy is the UK’s first dedicated training academy for professionals in the domestic and commercial decoration industry. It offers a range of courses designed to help decorators upskill and build their business including wallpapering courses such as Introduction to Wallpaper and Advanced Wallpapering. 

For more information, visit:  


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