Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Year in Review

2013...well that year went fast!
This past year was  busy for Surfaces.  We held 25 classes with over 300 hours of instruction.  And met a lot of new friends and enjoyed seeing many familiar faces.  It is energizing, challenging, inspiring, and maddening-all at the same time.
That's why I didn't post a single thing here in December-I needed a rest.  So as I am catching my breath and getting ready to tackle the 2014 schedule let's trip down memory lane and revisit the year that was.
Class that makes people the most money

Consistently it is the Re-Stain Cabinet Class.  This ended my 3rd year of teaching finishers a system for taking old cabinets (mostly oak) and transforming them. We work on the nastiest doors I can find by digging through the Island of Misfit Wood. We provide recipes for multiple wood tone bases that may be mixed and matched with semi-opaque stains.  Artists from all over have shared with me how much money they have made from a $650 class investment and I've enjoyed seeing so many successful projects posted on web-sites and Facebook.  And it is exciting to hear about finishers that have taken the concept and developed their own colors and cabinet combinations.

Best New Product

The Old World Finishing Paint.  I learned this product myself in December of 2012 and like most new things I had to play with it a lot to get my head around it.  I love my Concentrate Colors for cabinets and furniture and this seemed almost the opposite type of product.  But once I figured out the key to tinting and the best application methods to solve issues( like dust) I was sold.  It has become a favorite and offers a look different then our other cabinetry options.  I appreciate that it is a tint base and can be incorporated with everything that I already love and that my FE product users already have in stock.  Plus custom tinting and a Gold Label mean that not every person can buy it at the local flea market.
I spent 2 months developing this class-the longest I've ever spent on a single class.  A huge part of it was creating custom color recipes with hand-painted cards.
To give our finishers more options, we included patina combinations and stain over-lays.
And put it all together in a nice reference notebook. 
And we added a One Day Stay & Play to create alternate color samples-since this product is all about color stacking.

I painted 4 pieces of furniture, 2 sets of cabinets, and re-did a whole bathroom (walls, cabinet, door, and molding) with it! Then, I felt ready to launch the class the end of February 2013 with 9 door and large molding samples for $650.  I've taught it 4 times since that date and am excited to add more colors/finish combinations this year. These are some of the wall samples where I use OWFP as well.
The Biggest Trend
Remember how wallpaper used to imitate faux?  Then those paper people got smart and created lots of cool printing processes using exotic materials. Damn you Maya and Phillip!  The challenge for us is how to take a process either done by a machine or rendered while laying flat and make it work on a vertical.

It is possible to slow the dry time and alter standard materials by using additives, a little creative chemistry, and fun tools (like the specialty rollers, which Deb Johnson turned us on to 4 years ago-they were made right here in Kansas City).

Best Supporting Cast for the "Faux" Wallpaper Trend
Hands down the Stencil Suppliers!  We have a group that pays attention to trends in both style and scale.  How about that Ceiling Topper idea?  These artists and manufacturers have kept our industry fresh and they help a lot of finishers get a lot of jobs.  Share the love with them in 2014. 
Royal Design Studio Stencil. Our Matahari Sample, Restoration Walls January 2013.
Wallovers Stencil.  Our South Sea Marquetry Sample, Modern Rustic Walls June 2013.
Cutting Edge Stencils. Our Aged Ottoman Sample, Metro Metallics June 2013.

Sheri Zeman, Loft 101. Our Cotillion Sample, Better Then Beige March 2013
A New Take on a Classic
Designer's always love a good skin finish.  Starting at the end of 2012, we played a lot with switching up the traditional skin finish.

A modern take on the Tiger. Bengali Sample. Wild Side August 2013
Could be a shell or a skin? Galapagos Sample. Sue Hon for Surfaces. Wild Side August 2013.
Cheetah without the cartoon spots.  Serengeti Sample Wild Side August 2013.
Fresh colors in a fun pattern. Rock around the Croc Sample. Wild Side August 2013
Zambezi. Wild Side August 2013.
The Color of the Year
Insert your favorite "50 Shades of Grey" quote here.  Years ago you couldn't get a client to use grey-too cold! Too depressing! Too institutional!  Who knew all it took was a little soft core literature and a swing towards more modern walls to bring back grey! Whether warmed with some green or cooled with some blue, it is a restful shade that balances out more saturated shades.  And it's sister metallic, silver made a big splash in 2013.
Cracked Glamor Stone with Edo Crackle door. Cosmopolitan Walls & Cabinets. September 2013.

Station Guild with Weathered Silver. Cosmopolitan Walls & Cabinets. September 2013.
Metropolitan Crackle. New Setcoat Metallics. November 2013.
Silvered Birch with Silverado Wall Finish. Cosmopolitan Walls & Cabinets. September 2013.
Our entire kitchen remodel. It seemed like all year of 2013 (and on-going)
Future Star of 2014
The New Metallic Setcoats. I love these. The colors are great and the coverage is good, especially with the darker shades.  I find they roll, brush, and spray very well and mix nicely with a variety of other products.
We tested our cabinet samples with the Metallic Setcoat in November 2013 and in a few wall classes at the end of the year.
Emerald Green.  Did anyone use this much in faux finishing?  This is a shade good for two things-an Ugly Bridesmaid Dress and Beautiful Jewelry. But don't worry, Pantone has another super saturated color for 2014-Cobalt Blue. Someone must have a lot of dark tint base to get rid of.

Rock-Kote two part high solid epoxy.  While we still have several products in this line, including Stone Décor which is amazing, we say good bye to the high solid.  You could do beautiful things with it, but like all high solid epoxies there were many things that you needed to consider.  This includes precise measurements, limited batch quantities mixed at a time, a level mixing and pour surface, and a hearty dose of courage with a torch.  There are other lines that specialize in epoxies for those that could meet the challenge.  I am happy to stick with Stone Décor and Lusterstone counter tops.

That would be our relationships! The finisher that invested in classes and/or ordered product.  You keep our lights on and a roof over our head.  We've enjoyed having you in our home and studio.
For my local finishers that have been there for 10 years. You are my family. And just like family, even when I want to sit you in the corner for a time out, you are my heart.  The best friendships I enjoy started at Surface's front door.
To those of you I have met from far away and formed friendships with-thank you.  My year (and career) are better for it. For those of you I have yet to meet-I look forward to our paths crossing.  I've enjoyed our on-line correspondence. 
We couldn't have done it without Emily this year. She caught on fast with some big shoes to fill.  Because of her, Bruce and I have a life outside of Surfaces.  She is getting married in 2014 so this will be a big new year for her.
And finally to my better half, who launched his own creative business this year.  It is nice to see Bruce get recognized for his talents.  Being the "behind the scenes" person is not always easy.  Plus working together would strain a lot of marriages.  Thank goodness we like each other-at least 90% of the time.

We wish you a safe and happy New Year. We hope for a lot of joy in 2014.  And please let the Chiefs do well in the playoffs because I feel bad that people keep thinking "this is their year."



  1. Thanks for always keeping us on the cutting edge Rebecca! I love these posts and really enjoyed the classes I took from you. (Just wish you were closer...)

    I'll cheer heartily for your Chiefs if my Seahawks go down. Both teams have had amazing years!

    Happy happy!

    xo Kay

  2. Thanks Kay-Happy New Year to you as well!

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  6. The first picture under the biggest trend is that paint color combination or wallpaper that I can source from you?? I have a small salon studio in Michigan and I would like this to be the colors of my wall