Creative Illusions: Faux Finishes Offer A Range Of Decorative Options
By Marcia Bradford, Condo Owner Magazine, February 23, 2015
A rounded support beam becomes an elegant marble column. A once cave-like kitchen is reborn as a bright, beachy cooking space when the cabinets get a new look. A plain bathroom is transformed into a soothing spa with wood-grained walls. A master bedroom goes from drab to dramatic with a metallic accent wall. A plain entrance area is turned into an elegant foyer with rustic, textured walls emitting Old World charm.
You may have to see them to believe them, but these and many other applications of a faux finishes can make a stunning difference to condo interiors. Whether you’re seeking to create a unique look for your new condo, plan to update an existing unit or just want to make one spot pop, today’s faux finishes provide almost unlimited design opportunities.
An Evolution of Faux
While the term “faux” comes from the French word for false, the wide variety of techniques and materials now used for this aspect of interior design have evolved to the point that these processes are often better referred to as decorative finishes, according to Jennifer Pagel, owner of Walls With An Attitude, based in Foley, Ala.
Pagel explained that faux finishing started as a form of replicating materials, such as marble and wood, often using glazes and sponges, but now encompasses all types of mediums used to decorate walls, ceilings and furniture. Additionally, it has risen from a do-it-yourself hobby to a level of difficulty and sophistication that requires professional education, certification and training.
Amanda Glickman, owner of Big Finish, LLC in Pensacola, Fla., further asserted that the work can be tricky and difficult. “The materials we use are of professional quality and are often not available to the general public. We work with builders, contractors, decorators, and architects, as well as homeowners and condo owners.”
Benefits of Decorative Finishes
Glickman described a number of benefits to be gained by using decorative finishes.
“Faux or decorative finishes give the home a handcrafted artistic and custom touch,” she explained. “Old furniture can be given new life, accents can be created on walls or ceilings, and bath and powder rooms can become eye popping strokes of personality and individual style.”
Additionally, Pagel pointed out that faux finishes can be used to set a mood, give more ambience to a space or make it look more finished.
“The sky’s the limit when it comes to decorative finishes,” she said. “You can use this approach to create a focal point, but you can also use it to make flaws disappear. It all depends on what you seek. Finishes range from rustic to glamorous, from smooth to highly-textured, and from muted tones to bright mixtures of color and elements that sparkle.”
In some situations, Glickman said, faux finishes offer an economical way to redecorate.
“This approach is usually far less expensive than replacing furniture, cabinets or accessories. It can also breathe new life into an outdated family heirloom and it allows the homeowner to realize their own design ideas,” she explained.
For example, Big Finish recently used a metallic, champagne-colored faux finish to give a cool, contemporary look to kitchen cabinets in a condo at Portofino in Pensacola Beach. This was far less costly than ripping out existing cabinets and installing new ones, Glickman said. (PHOTO ON BLOGSITE)
Also, this process can add value, either through rental income or sales price, because it differentiates your unit from others in the condominium complex, Pagel said.
Two decorative finish projects that Walls With An Attitude has completed in area condominiums exemplify this approach. In a unit at Indigo on Perdido Key, bland, beige walls were transformed with colorful, textured finishes. A penthouse unit at the Beach Club in Fort Morgan, Ala., was given a more sophisticated look by applying a wood-grain finish to the entry doors. (PHOTO OF FOYER ON WEBSITE)
Both Pagel and Glickman cautioned that there is a wide range of prices for decorative finishes, depending on the materials used, the size of the area to be redone and the amount of labor required.
“Some approaches are more labor-intensive than others,” Pagel explained. “The number of layers required and the difficulty of applying certain types of finishes all play a part in the cost.”
Latest Trends in Decorative Finishes
While styles constantly change and personal taste should always be a consideration, there are several leading trends for decorative finishes.
Glickman pointed out that condominium owners along the gulf coast generally want to incorporate the look and feel of their surrounding environment, with the current coastal look being defined by the colors and textures of driftwood, beach glass, the sea and shoreline.
Another look that is now popular is using mixtures of whites, such as combining a metallic white with a flat white, Pagel said.
Also, while focus walls are still quite popular, Pagel said the trend is changing toward decorating ceilings, especially in units with coffered or vaulted ceilings. She has created everything from bedroom ceilings that resemble the sky, to stenciled backdrops for chandeliers to an elegant ostrich feather texture for an entryway.
Glickman said that metallic paints and leafing are in vogue, especially on accent walls and for standout pieces of furniture.
Whether seeking to enhance glamour or insert whimsy, high-end decorative finishes that incorporate glitter, glass beads and even crystals are also growing in popularity, Pagel said. Murals also add a unique look and are especially popular in children’s bedrooms, she added.
Above all, advised both Pagel and Glickman, owners should consider how the decorated space will be used. Durable products should be used in areas where kids play or luggage may bump against walls, while more sensitive finishes can usually be used in master bedrooms and dining areas.
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