This section provides a list of techniques, materials, and common references that are frequently used in the design and decorative painting profession.


it is a material similar in appearance to plaster or lime that leaves a very smooth finish to the wall, visually and to the touch. Of course it can be mixed with any shade of pigment, and the final tint looks powdery and washed out. It is beautiful, and natural, yet carries several drawbacks. It takes several coats to apply it, therefore it is costly since it is labor intensive and the products alone are expensive. In addition, if the surface is later on damaged, it needs to be reworked with the gesso. It is not possible to clean a serious mark with a sponge, and in a bathroom, it needs to be protected with protective finish that will somewhat alter the look of the gesso. I do however recommend looking into this wall-surfacing product that gives them the airy beauty of chalk. Amicus, in Kensington, MD, carries this line of products as well as other beautiful and original green building supplies.


It is an art reserved for professionals. You can attempt to gild small projects with a gilding kit, yet only an experienced professional can achieve perfect gilding. Often, a simple mixture of pigments neighboring the color of gold for instance, may repair the damages of time, particularly on old pieces. In Europe, we favor antiques that show a patina, the mark of time, and this preference leads us to perform the least invasive repair. A flamboyant new gold would destroy forever the value of an old frame; you need to concern yourself with the surrounding patina that gives character to the antique. Metal paints are available in paint supplies stores and even though they do not compete with the real thing, achieve satisfactory results where you create a decor that requires gold or another metal. The Modern Master brand for instance is excellent. A slight touch of silver or gold brings light and elegance to an interior without looking too gauche.


This is the magic medium whereby you imitate material or invent patterns or impressions on walls. It contains a medium called megilp that allows an imprint to stay imbedded in the glaze instead of disappearing after few seconds. It is a translucent film made from oil or water-borne paint medium. The oil-based glaze may slightly yellow, but it gives more open time to work with toward achieving the desired pattern. In light of this, when you mix your own glaze, you need to be careful about the amount of oil added to your mixture, especially if you work in a pale color or wish to cut the sheen down to its minimum. A water-based glaze is suitable for smaller projects by reason of its short drying time. It does not yellow, allows you to progress quickly on imitations that require layers and layers of glaze, such as faux wood or faux marble, and it is environment friendly. Glaze is generally faster and easier to apply than gesso. The surface destined to be glazed needs to be painted with a satin or semi-gloss paint, never a flat sheen, and to be free of dust. The room must be clean and preferably with no running air conditioning or forced heat, due to the innumerable debris stationed in the ducts; thisreduces the open time to work the glaze and project everywhere in the room. Glazes dry a little glossy; if you wish to have a dull finish, a dead flat finish applied as topcoat will achieve this goal. The caveat here is that an acrylic varnish, in our case the flat finish, laid on top of an oil-based glaze may grow yellow; this might be barely noticeable if your glaze is in the brown family or dark, however, in the case of a light shade, for instance blue, the glaze will turn green very quickly. Glazes are very resilient once fully cured, and easy to maintain. Once you start using them, it is hard to revert to plain paint that, by comparison, looks dull and outdated.


It refers to the art of reproducing wood grain; it is also called Faux wood. Each tree has a different grain pattern distinguishing one essence from the other, and inside the same tree you find also various patterns. Wood is imitated to recreate its soft warmth, its rusticity (pine grain) or its elegance (oak grain), the delicate patterns of a crotch, the flamboyance of a flame (mahogany grain) or the magic of burl. Many tints exist in wood grain, varying from off-white to brown/black, through violet, cherry, purple, green, or yellow. Similarly, grain can be straight, with curved, or convoluted, twisted, spotted, or smoky, offering contrasts of colors within the grain. Historically, each period favored an essence of wood corresponding to the prevailing taste and design of the time. The Art Deco period privileged mahogany and ebony; walnut was typical of the thirties and forties. The eighteenth century mixed many varieties of noble wood, such as rosewood, pear tree wood, walnut, palisander, satinwood, birch and so forth. The marquetry, or assembly of small wood pieces organized to create an inlaid decor, highly in fashion at this time, demanded a large choice of wood patterns and colors. Nowadays, oak mahogany and pine are the most popular faux woods. They guarantee an untiring classical backdrop that suits modern or classical interiors. As discussed previously, the imitation does not need to be contrived and exact to be satisfactory. A study of wood can inspire a modern simulation; by preserving the main characteristics of a wood, an artist can be more faithful to its true artistic depiction. This works well for pine or oak but not in the case of mahogany graining, where a bad or fantasy rendition is unforgiving. Wood graining is a lengthy process that does not suffer strong colors and thick glazes. When using this technique, it is best to proceed slowly with nuance, and using several layers of glaze.


This refers to a monochromatic painting, typically executed in gray color. These are incredibly decorative and easy to blend into a decor, due to their discreet colors. For instance, they are ideally suited for surmounting doors or passageways, or for fitting within wall or door panels. The eighteenth and nineteenth centuries show spectacular examples of rooms entirely adorned with grisaille murals. Alternatively, you may replace the gray hues by one that is sepia, blue, green or pink.