Fast Lessons in Faux Finishing a Room

Give your rooms a stylish yet inexpensive makeover with decorative paint tricks.
Amy Bickers Mercer

An object in motion tends to stay in motion. An object at rest is just asking to be painted. That's Sharon Moore's philosophy, anyway.

This homeowner frequently uses paint and brush to personalize her sophisticated North Carolina residence. In the house's front two rooms alone there are a variety of decorative paint finishes to inspire a new look. Here's a brief overview.

Marbleizing
The area below the chair rail in the dining room showcases a faux-marble finish that fools the eye. Sharon looked to magazine photos and product samples from a home-improvement store as guides. She layered multiple shades of paint to achieve depth. To complete the appearance, she added a coat of varnish to give it the shine and shimmer of true stone.

While Sharon used flat wall paint, the finish can also be created by layering tinted glazes. There are numerous sources with step-by-step instructions for mastering this illusion.

Streaking
Texture is created on the upper portion of the dining room walls with a stria effect. Sharon streaked a second color on a dry base color with a rag to achieve the subtle stripe. You could also use a dry wallpaper smoothing brush. After rolling a glaze mixture or paint on a section of dry base coat, drag the wallpaper brush down the wall from top to bottom. Work in vertical rows around the room.

 

Aging
Crown molding in the living room has the look of old wood. Sharon first painted it the same blue color that's on the ceiling. Then she applied spots of hunter green paint with a rag. On top of that she sponged on bronze and gold paints, allowing areas of the green and blue to show through. The metallic paints were then wiped off randomly with a rag. A coat of varnish seals the look.

Rag Rolling
This is a good technique for beginners. After a base coat dried completely on the walls, another color was added with a crumpled cloth. Sharon pressed the rag against the wall several times before dipping it again in paint. Re-crumpling the rag varies the pattern.

Do-It-Yourself Basics
You'll need a few supplies:

  • paint trays
  • tack cloths
  • painter's tape
  • gloves

Prepare the surface to be painted by filling nail holes, patching dents, and removing dust and dirt.
Use painter's tape to mark off areas you are painting.

Begin on a wall you won't see first when you enter the room, and work in small sections. You'll get better as you go, and your best effort will be on the focal wall.