Wednesday, September 14, 2011

French Country with a side of patterns.

This is the home of my long time client Jane.  Jane's family is like my own: husband, three dogs, and a busy schedule.  She lives in a lovely home on a golf course that is decorated in what we call French Country Light.
There is the traditional color palette of red and golds with accents of black and cream. And there are roosters-which we both admit add to the look best when used in subtle places. But like most Americans take on a classic style from another country, Jane has added some contemporary and transitional finishes with pattern, and metallics. We are a melting pot after all.

Let's take a tour:

This is the dining room which started out with "baby poop" painted walls.  Lots of our finishes start out with baby poop colors-think a baby that has eaten lots of spinach.

"I yam what I yam"

Over the greenish brown color, we applied Faux Effects Metallic Bronze and Gold Fresco. The key to this product is to thin it with water (25%), brush in small areas, and pop it with a plastic bag. Then we pull it out with a foam brush.  The finish has movement but is flat on the wall.

On the ceiling, we painted it with Bronze Setcoat and lightly applied the gold fresco.  For the ceiling medallion, we applied a Modello from Royal Design Studios. These are custom sized adhesive masking patterns and they make working over your head much much easier.

Since the Modello sticks to the ceiling, you have time to trowel multiple colors of plaster over the pattern without having a traditional stencil falling on your head. We used some Mandarin Red, Brown Suede, Charred Olive, and Weathered Bronze Lusterstones. It is not as expensive as it sounds since we sell 4oz sample sizes of Lusterstone and that is plenty most ceiling Modellos.  You can find out more about Modellos at  We've always found the customer service to be very helpful.

We based the breakfast nook finish on a wallpaper that Jane liked but was not available in the colors she needed.  That is an advantage for a faux finish-custom colors.  We painted the walls first with Black Setcoat and then rolled an even layer of Aquasize.

When the size is tacky, we troweled a layer of Venetian Gem Plaster mixed with Cracklemate.  This is a custom color made with pre-tinted Sand Venetian Plaster mixed with some Ochre Yellow and Italian Sienna for a warm golden beige.  The plaster will crack to show the black background.

The stencil is Royal Design #501 Damask-I call it the Artichoke Damask. French Red Faux Creme Color is applied with a foam roller over the stencil. Varying the pressure of the roller will create the faded look of the pattern.  I mark the stencil with a large arrow pointing up. This way I don't turn the stencil while I am working-nothing worse then realizing you have applied areas of your pattern upside down. When the stencil is dry, the surface is glazed with a mix of Rich Brown Stain & Seal, American Walnut Stain & Seal, and FX Thinner. We just helped a finisher this morning adapt this finish to chocolate, bronze, and gold.

Also in the hearthroom kitchen is a built-in TV cabinet that was a little too gold.  After cleaning and sanding the piece, I painted it with a thin layer of Camel Setcoat. I stippled on some Camel tinted Duraseal for a crackle look without the actual cracks.  Since we wanted a rubbed back look, I brushed a thin layer of Creme Activator over the entire piece. The biggest mistake people make with Creme Activator is applying it too thick.  It dries to a milky film if you put too much on.  I brush or roll my coat, and then roll through with a dry foam roller to really lay it out.  You should barely see it on the surface.  When the Creme Activator is matte, then I applied Black Setcoat. As the Setcoat dried, I just rub through to the under color.

Hey look another primo place for a stencil! I tinted Venetian Gem Base Coat with the Camel and troweled it over another Royal Design studio stencil #2033 Renaissance Door Crown.  This pattern lends itself well to above cabinet and above window applications due to the nice peaked shape. The entire cabinet is then glazed with the same stain mix used on the breakfast nook plaster.  I always seal dark finishes with a gloss topcoat first followed by a final coat of Satin or a Dull/Satin mix.

Our next project is a powder bath. I love it when a client will go with a black background. Don't get stuck on dark. Instead think of the finish as "rich."  The walls are Black Setcoat. We used a favorite Royal Design Stencil #724 Fabric Damask applied in a broken pattern.

Tara used Gold and Silver Stain & Seal for the design. When this was dry, she applied the same Bronze Metallic Fresco used in the dining room over the whole surface. This is an adaption of a finish that we did with Deb Drager in Wichita as part of a design collection project. Her original finish is in eggplant but lends itself to many rich tones including Dark Brown and Leather Red.  This is still a favorite finish many years later.

Jane wanted to feature the Roman Shower surround but also needed it to blend with the floor tile.  We also needed to bring in the reddish tones of the cabinetry.  The base of our finish is a custom mix of Merlot Lusterstone and French Red Faux Creme Color. This was troweled flat over the surface for maximum shine.  Then we used a sea sponge roller to apply Brown Suede, Silver Taupe, and Champagne Mist Lusterstones. 

The texture is flattened and the colors lightly blended.  The final layer is tightly pulled Champagne Mist and Silver Taupe that bladed on, spritzed with water, and softened with a cloth to remove chatter lines.

Here is a close-up of the finish. We apply most of our Lusterstone this way because the colors may be stacked, it may go over a slight texture, and you can hide flaws and seams in the wall. A flat bladed Lusterstone will only make dry wall lines appear worse!.
My latest project for Jane was this feature wall in the Master Bed Room. She wanted the finish to blend with her wall paint which is Sherwin Williams Restrained Gold #6129. Since I wanted to get this done in a day I showed her samples that included foil and Lusterstone-both dry fast.
The Champagne Foil matches her paint colors really well.  Many times a wall will seem flat but it really has a stipple from the paint application. That was the case here.  I ended up rolling two coats of Wundasize before applying the foil. Since the base color was close to the foil color, I didn't need 100% solid off-load of the foil.
This large wall took less then a single roll of 12" X 100 ft and less then 1 quart of Wundasize.

As soon as the foil is up, I can apply the Lusterstone in Queen Anne's Lace and Champagne Mist.  I butter the blade with a single color and pop it on. Then I do the same with the second color working wet into wet.  Gently blade the colors pulling across and then down to soften and blend.  It helps to stand back and view the finish as you work. That way you can see how much of the foil is going to flash. Remember this has a stencil going on top and the pattern will also soften areas of the foil. I used less then a quart of each color and it dried in an hour.

This stencil is Cutting Edge's Trellis.  I've used this stencil many times including in my own home.  I start the pattern in the middle of the wall and rolled Leo Gold Metal Glow over the pattern.  Alternating side-to-side and up-down gives the pattern time to dry.

And this is the finished project.  The flash to the right is where the sun is hitting that area of the foil and is the beauty of a finish like this-it changes throughout the day.  If your client wants it to look the same all day in every light-get wallpaper.

Lucky for me Jane wanted a decorative finish for the very reason that it has some life. She called the next day (I always hold my breath a little when a client calls) to tell me that she loves it and can't wait for the next project! Whew.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

"Come and knock on our door..."

"Take a class that is new. Where the samples are hers, and hers, and his...Three's Company Too!"

(Three's Company, ABC Television)

I am excited to be teaching with two of the most talented people in faux finishing-Sheri Zeman and Gary Lord-at Sheri's studio in Chicago.  We've been working together for months to pull together a collection of complimentary wall, counter top, and cabinetry samples. This portfolio called The Design Collection will offer you whole room solutions.  Each instructor is teaching 6 different samples over 3-days. 

Here are some class samples:

This is one of Gary's Counter tops, which would look great with...

Sheri's beautiful beaded wall finish. And you could finish the room with...

My Lenox Linen cabinet finish.
This finish has sold well in Kansas City and added bonus-it is a production finish!

Sheri understands that many clients are asking for lighter finishes. This sample's subtle movement would be attractive to clients that want neutral but not boring. Of course with a delicate wall...

You may go a little more dramatic on the flat counter surface.  I created this sample to go with the earth tones in Sheri's stencil and the copper of Gary's finish.

I liked this sample so much I used it to re-do my lake house doors and the plastic shutters.

This is a lovely smooth plaster from Gary that I really liked paired with my Gramercy Park Cabinet.

Gramercy Park would also be pretty with this sample from Sheri.

My Oslo Bronze finish...

paired with Gary's Autum leave counter top would be very rich!

And speaking of rich...

Sheri's sample has a pretty woven texture combined with stencils from her own line.

My final cabinet finish is the Ambered Lotus. This sample is popular with our local designers. It is a super easy finish that really transforms a cabinet.

This is your opportunity to work with plasters, stains, color concentrates, epoxy, new stencils, and new pattern techniques. Several of the products are Gold Label and require a class to purchase. Plus you get three instructors for 3 days.  Wow all that and ...

Joking aside.  It is a tough market out there and it doesn't always bring out the best in competing studios. That's why it is so refreshing to work with Sheri and Gary. This class is about sharing finishes, techniques, and product knowledge in a fun environment. Yes, Three is Company but a full class would be even better.

So, I hope to see you in Chicago
October 12-14th
at Faux Design Studio
Class Fee is $995

For detailed class information or to register, please visit Sheri's Faux Design Studio Web Site.