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Faux Finished?

My trip to the Brimfield Antiques and Collectibles Show last week made me think about the art of decorative painting. Two years ago at Brimfield, I saw a lot of furniture newly painted with a Grisaille finish--a paint Grisaille Chesttreatment done entirely in varying shades of gray. This year, not so much. So is faux finished?

Faux paint finishes were all the rage from the mid-1980s to mid-2000s. I invested heavily in how-to books and magazines, and did my fair share of decorative painting. It certainly was a great way to give walls drama without committing to wallpaper. And for DIYers, it was inexpensive. Poor wallpaper. It suffered during this craze.

Some faux finishes I think are done. At least for now. But others have staying power. They are:

Stencils--This technique has been around for centuries and will remain so. Stencils make it easy to apply repetitive motifs. At the Brimfield Tweetup I attended last week, I fell in love with patterns by Cutting Edge Stencils, a sponsor. Their fabulous patterns make it easy to custom color a motif for any decor. If you read my post on Mother of Pearl, you know I'm in love with inlaid pieces. One of Cutting Edge's stencils makes it possible to reproduce the inlaid pattern. It's an easy way to replicate the look without the price tag.

   

                                                        Some Patterns from Cutting Edge Stencils

                    

        Tables stenciled with Indian Inlay Furniture Stencil by Cutting Edge Stencils; photo (right) by Jessica Delaney

Murals--Like stencils, murals have also been around for centuries (think cave paintings!). One of my favorite muralists is Susan Harter, who has converted her murals to canvas and wallpaper. Susan and I did a show house together years ago and I have loved her work ever since. With a classical technique, Susan creates timeless scenes and landscapes to grace any room.

                

               Custom Mural Wallpaper by Susan Harter; Interior Design by Carter & Company; Photo by Eric Roth

Venetian Plaster--Again a centuries-old technique, Venetian plaster involves troweling on plaster in multiple thin coats which are then burnished with wax. What's great about this technique is that it creates texture and illumination. I have seen applications where mica dust is added to the plaster to create sparkle and other applications where a painted undercoat peeks out to add color and depth.

                

                           Venetian Plaster in a Foyer; Interior Design by Carter & Company; Photo by Eric Roth

Faux Wood Grain--Making things that can't be wood look like wood is still a faux finish that has its place in design. I had clients that had metal radiator covers in their living room. All the millwork in the space (moldings and fireplace mantel) were wood stained. It just wouldn't work with the space to paint these covers the wall color. So I had a decorative painter match the radiator covers to the millwork with a faux wood grain paint technique. My painter, Monica Erickson of M.Designs, did a similar treatment for a front door.

               

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