Illuminate a room with paint effects!

 

 

Houses often have rooms deprived of natural light, and area lamps will be a poor substitute to this necessity; fabric or wallpaper can enliven walls, give them warmth, and yet still no light.  To make walls glow and give them beauty, there is nothing like painting them with metallic paint patterns.  Choose small or over sized, modern or traditional patterns; however, stay with light colors such as white, pastels, pale gold or silver, with a goal to bring as much luminosity as possible.  Also, remember that metallic paint absorbs shade twice as much as regular paint, such as color applied on ceilings looks twice darker than on walls.  Moreover, where natural light is lacking, metallic paint will look even darker, hence the choice of a pastel tone.  In India, there is a wonderful tradition to treat walls  by embedding small pieces of mirrors in plaster, designing patterns.

Tree and birds with inlaid mirrors.

Tree and birds with inlaid mirrors.

IMG_4120

Indian inlay of tiny mirrors on wall.

Indian inlay of tiny mirrors on wall.

They make rooms glow as if plated with silver, and one never tires of contemplating the infinitely surprising effects of these designs, which change depending on the angle from which you contemplate them.

Geometric design formed with mirrors

Geometric design formed with mirrors

In a more modest attempt to bring light to a dark dining room.

Sideboard HL before peonies.

Sideboard HL before peonies.

 DR peonies

DR peonies

I painted over-sized peonies on an English-pink wall.  I started with a diluted off-white paint to create the transparent shapes of the petals, and then I emphasized more on the heart of the flowers, and started adding silver and mother of pearl white.

DR pearlescent peonies I finished with touches of gold and a few birds.

Sideboard with new painted decor.

Sideboard with new painted decor.

Mirror and flowers

Mirror and flowers

It made the walls glow differently at night and in the daytime.  The sad and dark room became fresh and luxurious with happy walls that seemed to have come to life.

Peonies and corner cabinet.

Peonies and corner cabinet.

 

Posted in Interior Design, Murals | Leave a comment

Open the space in your home: bring in the sky!

Who does not like looking up at the sky to observe clouds, the intensity of its blue, and its passing birds?  One relaxes thinking of how nice it would be to glide in the atmosphere and follow their track.  This is why, as a change to a traditional white ceiling, it is a wonderful option to introduce a sky.  It brings the outdoors, fantasy, and lightheartedness inside your home, all while adding height and depth to your room.  It can be limited to a space circumscribed around a chandelier

Banana leaves around chandelier

Banana leaves around chandelier

Or, it can be contained in a square, or inside a tray ceiling. P1000737

Banana leaves in the sky

Banana leaves in the sky

A tropical sky with palm or banana tree leaves adds a lot of fun, whereas a pure azure with swallows and shredded clouds accommodates a traditional or contemporary look.

Azure sky with swallows

Azure sky with swallows

Vertical walls provide an excellent canvas for a serene sky as well, accompanied by flying creatures or engines of your imagination: airplanes, balloons, fish, etc.  In a closed space such as an entrance, a painted sky will push back the walls; on slanted ceilings, accompanied by a trellis, it will open the roof to nature.

Bathroom with trellis.

Bathroom with trellis.

Sky with trellis , birds and butterflies.

Sky with trellis , birds and butterflies.

Sky with trellis birds and butterfliesThis is also a wonderful theme for a nursery: against this azure backdrop, trees, birds or flying engines will always look charming and amusing.

Hot air balloons on nursery walls.

Hot air balloons on nursery walls.

Montgolfiere in nursery sky nursery with hot air balloons The key to a convincing sky is to keep it light to save the impression of the infinite expanse it conveys.

Light sky with birds

Light sky with birds

Sky with bird.

Sky with bird.

Posted in Murals | Leave a comment

Modernizing 1950s Bedroom Furniture

A client of mine inherited family furniture and decided to keep them for sentimental and practical reasons. They certainly were functional and of high quality, but their color was the snag: they were painted in a flamboyant 50’s yellow ornate with a garland of red and green flowers.

Giant 1950's Italianate headboard

Giant 1950’s Italianate headboard

One of the pieces was an extra long Italianate “bombe” chest, and the other a matching curvaceous headboard. To suit her new bachelor pad, my customer envisioned something more modern and sleek. Since she had picked a neutral palette for her apartment, we decided to go with a metallic color, “Nickel” from Modern Masters to make the furniture more lively and precious. In order to reach our final faux finish, I lightly sanded the pieces and primed them with an off white finish.

Headboard partly primed in grey

Headboard partly primed in grey

Extra long primed Bombe chest

Extra long primed Bombe chest

I rolled the metallic paint over this base coat and brushed it very delicately to create a “strie” finish. On the headboard, I brushed the paint horizontally to imitate the raw silk characteristics.

Headboard with horizontal "strie" finish

Headboard with horizontal “strie” finish

On the chest, I divided the top surface into three different squares that were framed by a dragging effect in a different direction.

Top of chest divided into 3 sections of framed  "strie" finish.

Top of chest divided into 3 sections of framed “strie” finish.

Detail of "strie" finish on the top

Detail of “strie” finish on the top

It brought a discreet and very sophisticated touch as it broke the monotony of a long surface top.  Because this “nickel” metallic shade is semi-opaque, the off white base coat was still visible underneath and contributed to lightening up the piece and giving it a fresher and cleaner look. The metallic paint is shinier under the light of the camera flash than in real life, where it looks quite subdued, as you can see on the pictures above.

Bombe chest modernized  with metallic "Strie" finish, in hazelnut color.

Bombe chest modernized with metallic “Strie” finish, in hazelnut color.

Faux finished chest in pale hazelnut "strie" color.

Faux finished chest in pale hazelnut “strie” color.

The sides of the chest were also faux painted with a “strie” done horizontally and framed, following the structure of this piece of furniture. Now these two elements are well integrated in a modern décor.

Posted in Faux Finishes, Furniture, Interior Design | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Living Room Makeover

In many older houses, rooms are small and sometimes partitioned by walls pierced with archways. As I have previously written here on this subject, today we prefer large open spaces that allow us to live, entertain, and work at the same time. In this 1930s house, the dining room and sitting room communicated through an arched opening that had a 22″ high wall above the arch.

View from dining room before

View from dining room before

Clearly, the division reduced the floor space, and the low archway visually lowered the height of the ceiling.

dining room with low archway

Dining room with low archway

When one was standing in either room, only part of the ceiling of the other room was visible because its view was blocked by the top of the opening archway.  So we decided to take down most of the wall, leaving just a narrow partition on one side.

LR with section of wall to be demolished

LR with section of wall to be demolished

We had to first ensure that the wall was neither a bearing wall, nor hiding electrical wires, forced air conducts or plumbing elements. The demolition was not as easy as it would have been with a modern wall because in the 30’s, walls were made of plaster and mesh which is very heavy and more difficult to cut. The repair on the wood floor was also tricky: it is challenging to find the same wood and achieve a stain matching the existing wood floor.

New large living room.

New large living room.

The result was well worth the effort though, yielding a manifold improvement: we have the illusion of a higher ceiling.

new LR seen from ex-sitting room

New LR seen from ex-sitting room

And, more light floods into the new room.

Bright new LR seen from former DR

Bright new LR seen from former DR

It is also easier to circulate.

new LR seen from ex-sitting room

New LR seen from ex-sitting room

To your sledgehammers!

Posted in Home Renovation, Interior Design | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Achieve Distressed Gilding

When one says “gilded”, you envision a glossy shiny gold finish. But this is not always so; it is true that straight gilding is done by 1) applying a base coat, 2) brushing size on the piece (glue size is a liquid adhesive material to adhere gold leaves to a surface that is being gilded), and 3) placing gold transfer leaves.  Or, as explained throughout this post, one may prefer subtle gilding to transform, for instance, new-looking pieces.  In our case, we will turn a console and a wall sconce into old distressed (not destroyed) gilded antiques.

Before starting, you need to know precisely what look you are aiming to achieve – what shade of gold do you desire? What background colors do you want to reveal behind the gold? The chosen colors have to be harmonious to achieve fakery.  Faux finishing is not at all a happy-go-lucky trade.

The consoles I worked with were white and the wall sconces were black.  Here are one of each below:

Original white console

Original white console

Original black sconce

Original black sconce

From the beginning I was targeting a seventeenth- or eighteenth-century look.  I would use a lot of dark grey and some silvery grey, then accompany those colors with a dirty brown simulating dirt accumulated over centuries.  On many gilded furniture, the gold base is blood red, which also yields wonderful results, but I wanted to explore a more discreet and authentic look.

Using Benjamin Moore latex paints, I started by coating the table with a tan-colored primer.  I then covered it by two dark bronze/brown layers of paint, applied next to each other in a patchy pattern. Once they were dried, I brushed the piece with Smoke metallic paint, ragging it off to leave tracks of it only in the recessed parts.  Again, I waited for this coat to dry to randomly apply a layer of iridescent gold that I also partly ragged off, but this time, I left some of it onto recessed as well as raised parts.

Once the base coats were thoroughly dry, I brushed size all over the pieces. Approximately one hour after its application, the size still being tacky, I started applying the gold leaves. Different gold leaves are available in art stores.  Some are regular squares coming in every shade of gold.  The variety I picked was pale gold, with a peculiar consistency that disintegrates as it comes in contact with the size.  As a result, when gluing the entire square to the piece, only fragments of the leaf adhere, leaving irregular tracks of gold that simulate a distressed gold finish.

Beginning the aging and gilding process

Beginning the aging and gilding process

I repeated the application many times until I felt that enough gold had been applied.

Detail of distressed gilding on apron of console

Detail of distressed gilding on apron of console

A certain amount of gold had to be applied to convey a rich and intriguing shine, set out by the various undercoated tones.

Detail of aged gilding on legs

Detail of aged gilding on legs

The next step was to age the gold leaf by rubbing (burnishing) a diluted dark grey brown latex paint on its surface and ragging it off to preserve the gold shine and mute the recessed parts.

Detail of aged gilding on the apron of the console

Detail of aged gilding on the apron of the console

I aimed to demonstrate that the quality of the gilded piece was still dominant despite the defacing it incurred from the passing of time.

At last, the newly faux finished furniture/object received a water-based varnish, with semi gloss sheen, to protect them.  Et voilà, that’s how it’s done!

Finished result of distressed and gilded sconces

Finished result of distressed and gilded sconces

As a final remark, I will add that one should expect the gold metal leaf to yellow a little bit more than its original tone.

One of the distressed.and gilded consoles

One of the distressed and gilded consoles

The consoles can be placed side by side with any valuable collectibles.

Second finished console with its aged gilding

Second finished console with its aged gilding

 

Posted in Faux Finishes, Furniture | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment