Decorative Painting 1-2-3
This is how our "library" looked in the Fall 2004 Issue of Country Home. The photo is by John Gruen. The styling was done by James Leland Day. Both of these really great guys worked with me four weeks prior to the C.H. shoot on the photography for Kids Embroidery. We were all happy to work together again when the Country Home editors came to photograph our farmhouse.
Before the shoot, my walls were a plain mossy green color - it was cosy and rich but I had always envisioned them in a kind of wallpaper-y looking design - reminiscent of William Morris and the marble floors in Venice. I didn't have enough money for the paper I desired so I took things into my own hands.
One week before the magazine shoot, in the middle of cleaning big time and throwing stuff away, I decided to transform the plain green walls into my vision.
Here's how I did it.
I looked at this book - Auguste Racinet's Full-Color Picture Sourcebook of Historic Ornament: All 120 Plates from "L'Ornement Polychrome," Series II
I made up a pattern I wanted to paint and then sketched it out roughly. I cut up some fedex envelopes to use as templates. I traced around the templates with a regular pencil as the layers of the pattern were built up. The paint covers the pencil lines.
I drew some vertical plumb lines using a level and then centered the cross on the plumb lines working out from one corner of the room. I traced around the cardboard "plus" pieces and then painted them with red latex paint from the paint store.
Next, I added the square with diamond eight pointed blocks in the center of each opening that resulted from the red + motifs. I traced around the template and then I painted these in a peachish shade freehand (that ended up going a little tan when viewed with the other colors). For all the other colors, I mixed small amounts of artists' latex paint - enough to finish each section of the wall as I went. Trust me, I wasn't sure how this all was going to work out. I just went with my instincts and hoped for the best.
Next, I added alternating circles of medium teal and yellow. On top of each circle, I added a x-ish shape in orange.
To finish the whole project off, I used a fine brush and black acrylic paint. I hand lined each shape to make them pop off the wall and make it all look more hand-done and artistic.
It took me two to three days of at least eight to ten hours a day to finish but I love it - as does Mark and Julia. It's vibrant and cozy at the same time. Luckily the ceilings are low and I didn't even need a ladder. Sorry the photos aren't so great. I just found them laying around and thought they might make a fun blog post. Three years ago, I never thought I would have a blog nor did I have a digital camera. My things have changed.
Please don't ask me to help you with your project..... I just don't have time. Just know that it's easy if planned out. Buy this book - Paint Recipes by Liz Wagstaff - it's great for faux finishes (although there isn't a lot about building patterns) - and figure out your own design. If you're nervous, figure it out on paper first and hang your painted sample on the wall. Look at it for a week and then decide if you like it enough to take the time to paint it.
Remember, paint is cheap but the result can be wonderful. And if you're not happy with it, paint over it and try again. Here's what it looks like today. I still like it three years later and have no plans to change it for awhile.