Sunday, March 28, 2010

Small Details, Big Effect

If you've ever remodeled or built a new home, you know that the kitchen is an expensive room to outfit.  Cabinets, appliances and flooring are all major investments.  Thousands of dollars often are spent on granite countertops and artisan tile backsplashes, all to create a kitchen with the "WOW" factor, because not only do we want our kitchen to function, but be attractive as well. 

For me, plain white switch plate covers placed over the new tile detract form the beauty of the room, and they spoil the finished look of the tile.  

So, when I'm called to help paint or plaster a kitchen, I will always suggest that these unslightly covers be painted to blend in with the decor.  It's a small detail that makes a big difference, and I'm happy to do it for the client.

                                         See the difference for yourself in these rooms:

It doesn't take long to paint switch plates  Typically I prime and base coat the plates when they are off the wall, then put them back in place to mottle and paint the grout lines.

This kitchen had wonderful mosaic tile - a lovely combination of irridescent and matte sheens.  Here's the work sequence:
These are plastic switchplate covers that are found in most homes.  Before they can be painted, sand with 80 or 100 grit paper to give some texture, or bite, to the surface.

In this instance I primed with grey because it resembles the final grout color.

Using a selection of acrylic paint, I mottled the surface using the adjacent tile as a guide.  Remove the plate from the wall and spray with clear poly-acrylic for durability and protection.

Re-install the covers and enjoy the change!  Some people might be tempted to paint the face of the plug, but I prefer to leave it -- after all youv'e got to see where to plug in the coffee maker!

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Who said, "You can't take it with you?"

Boys love their sports.  This lucky young fellow has a Mom who wanted his room to reflect her son's passion for any sport with a ball - from baseball to roller hockey.  You can see she did a great job of pulling it all together with a classic color scheme and great accessories.

Then she called on me because she had an idea for the closet door.  Would it be possible to paint a smooth wooden bi-fold door to look like an open locker with stuff inside?


Now boys are content to leave their dirty socks and sporting equpment strewn about, so what I was asked to paint would ocur naturally, given time.  Having painted "clutter" is one thing.  But actually having a messy room is quite another!  This Mom preferred the painted kind.

I offered a quick sketch so that we both understood and agreed what the design would look like, then took the door back to the workshop, leaned it against a wall and began to paint.

Using the sketch as a guide, the first step was to paint the lines indicating the locker's shape.  Next, thin layers of color were washed across the doors for a mottled effect.  

Little by little, details were added and strengthened until it began to look like a locker! 

Painting the sporting equipment was a challenge.  I need to see what things look like in order to paint them.  Our house is a sports-free zone.  We don't have any soccer balls, basketballs, skates, bats or cleats  (tho' I think there's a tennis racket deep in the garage).  So I had to borrow the items I wanted to paint.  Dirty socks, however, I knew well. 

In a matter of a few days, the doors were back in their proper place.  You can see that chrome handles with padlocks were attached to the door as knobs --what a great addition to the design.  Both Mom and son were  pleased with how the new room turned out. 

Several months later, this energetic family had an opporutnity to move into a new home -- and they took the door with them!  Not wanting to leave the door behind for the next family, they replaced it with a plain one, and packed up the painted door and hung it in their son's new bedroom.

Painters' Tip
If painting a closet door isn't something you can do, or want to do, think about installing a wall paper mural in your room.    Have I shared with you ?  It's filled with inspirational ideas for every theme imaginable!  Plus, the designs can be printed to fit your space exactly, which gives your room a polished designer look.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

St-Patrick's Day

Did you know that over 36 million Americans are of Irish descent?
To all of you who celebrate because you're Irish, and to all of you who aren't, but celebrate with them---

Happy St-Patrick's Day

In honor of St-Patrick's Day, I'll share a small project that has an Irish flair, followed by a recipe we'll be enjoying that day.

Several seaons ago, I helped a client personalize her front entrance hall.  The home is a cozy urban bungalow just a few steps from the lake.  She wanted her entry to be like a warm hug for her guests, wishing them well as they came to visit.  Also, she wanted to express her Irish ancestry.

Like many homes of this era, the ceiling was coved with a small plaster molding separating it from the rest of the wall. Decorative painting would higfhllight this detail and we decided that an Irish Blessing would be just the way to charm her friends.

While my client set about finding the perfect verse, I began the walls.

The walls were treated to a stone texture and then they were stained so they looked old and crusty.  This subtle color gave character to the walls.  Because the space is small,  there wasn't a good vantage point for a photo, so not all of the verse is visible.  It is, however, printed below.  


May you always walk in sunshine.
May you never want for more.
May Irish angels rest their wings beside your door.

Let's create in the kitchen!

Mashed potatoes and cabbage combine for a traditional Irish side-dish that is easy to prepare and tasty.  There are as many variations to this recipe, as there are cooks, so experiment.  You may like to add crispy bacon, or sauteed garlic with leek, or green onion.   We like it this way:

(serves 4)
3- large Idaho potatoes, scrubbed well
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 small savoy cabbage, shredded (abt 2 cups)
1/2 to 3/4 cup milk
2 Tbsp butter
1 small onion, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

Don't peel potatoes.  Cut them into cubes.  Place in saucepan and cover with cold water.  Bring water to boil, reduce heat and cook until the potatoes are tender.  Drain

Meanwhile, in small skillet, heat olive oil to  saute cabbage and onion until tender.  In the potato-saucepan  heat milk and butter until the butter is melted.  Return potatoes to saucepan and mash them with the milk and butter.  Fold in the cabbage and onions.  Season to taste.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Powder Rooms

Powder rooms are fun to paint.  Because they are smaller than other rooms in the house, they're less daunting to paint, and easier (read less expensive) to accessorize.

Plus, if you are timid about using color in your home, a powder room is the perfect place to experiment being bold and dramatic.  Your family and guests will applaud your style.

This powder room began with wonderful details  - notably the mirrored wall behind an elegant vanity and deep crown molding.  But the walls were basic builder-beige.  To fulfill this room's potential, the walls needed some color and sparkle.  Bronze metallic fresco change an unassuming room into a glittering jewel box.  And it so suited the owner's feminine, elegant style.

The colors from Botticellis' Birth of Venus became an inspiration -- not only for the powder room but the entire home.  Because the home was built on a lake, the watery blue and green color scheme was just right.  With coral and pale yellow accents, the home had a sunny, peaceful charm even on the bleakest winter day.

My job was to translate the colors in the marble and tile onto the wall and give the doors and trim an aged patina.  Oh, let's not forget to decorate the ceiling.  

I painted the ceiling pale yellow, then dusted the trim with coral and aqua.

Don't be afraid to use bold color in a small space.  The shimmering red walls in this powder room were accented with olive green and purple.  Definitely a bold move, but one that worked perfectly for this modern family.

Not all powder rooms need to be serious.  With classic white fittings the client wanted to add some color and whimsey to her powder room.  The denim jacket hanging on the wall is a sculpture!

The key to a successful powder room is to choose colors that harmonize with the rest of the home - and yes they can be deeper or bolder, but also keep the room true to your own style, be that modern, whimsical, classic or something in between.

 PAINT TIP - don't forget to look up!  Think of the ceiling as a fifth wall that needs attention.  Banish the basic white paint (unless white is an integral part of your color scheme!).  Choose a color that compliments the walls, you'll be surprised how the crown molding pops, and the room feels finished.
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