Decorating with Faux Finish Effects

Original room design credit goes to

Last April, Home and Hearth Magazine Online featured a post about using trompe l’oeil art to create a more expressive home decor.  Trompe l’oeil, loosely translated, means “to fool the eye.”  Relative to interior design, trompe l’oeil means to fool the eye into believing that imaginary decorations are truly real.  In the spirit of tromp l’oeil, this post is about home decorating with faux finish effects.

Faux is French for the word “false” therefore faux finishes can have a variety of decorative appearances ranging from 3d wall paper looks to embellished details that mimic blue skies, rugged rock or wood grain.

Most faux finishes are applied to walls, cabinetry and even ceilings.

Many faux finish effects are designed to replicate the look of old world surfaces such as those seen in elaborate 17th century Venetian palazzos and often incorporate ornate stenciling or expansive murals.

Some faux finishes are easy to create with just a few varied layers of colored paint and shellac while others require a bit more elbow grease and technique.

Many faux finishes are great for masking surface flaws, updating aged areas or adding interest to an otherwise dull environment.

There are unlimited faux finish effects that can be created for use in the home.

Do-it-Yourself Challenge:

Get the look of rich maple wood doors without the expense.  Try this do-it-yourself method for converting an average entryway into an elegant entrance by using the following tools:

  • 1-27/32 pints (872 mL) of Benjamin Moore Flat Finish Wall Satin Deep Base 215 3B, color Salmon Stream #2173-30
  • 1 qt (946 mL) of Minwax PolyShades Stain and Polyurethane in 1-Step, color Antique Walnut Satin #340
  • 2  Three inch wide flat stiff bristled paint brushes for use with all paints and stains for  interior and exterior projects

Prepare the door by removing any visible dust or grime.  Place a drop cloth underneath the door to catch any paint or varnish splatters.  Make sure to open the windows for proper ventilation.

First, apply the Benjamin Moore paint color to the door.  Apply two coats allowing time to dry in between applications.

Once the paint is fully dry, apply the Minwax Polyshades product over the Benjamin Moore Paint.  Be sure to stir the Minwax well before using it.  The pigment that creates the wood stain tends settles to the bottom of the paint can.

The benefit of using a 1-step product like Minwax is that in one stroke it applies a wood stain and leaves a lustrous coat to boot.  Apply the Minwax in long, vertical strokes.  This method will create the appearance of a deep wood grain over the flat paint.   Dry time may take up to 6 hours.  For a deeper richer varnish, apply a second coat.

Try this simple faux finish trick on anything from moldings to baseboards, doors to cabinetry.  Also feel free to experiment with a variety of lighter and darker wood toned shades.  When decorating with faux finishes, the possibilities are endless.


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