Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Picking the Right Paint Finish

I get a lot of questions about paint finishes.  Flat, eggshell, satin, semi-gloss, high-gloss and oil-based finishes can perplex a lot of people.  How do you know what finish to apply to your walls?

Let's go through each finish one at a time.

FlatFlat paint has no enamel in it.  There is no sheen to this finish.  A flat finish is typically what you find on most walls in homes.  It is also best for ceilings.  Flat paint is not scrubbable.  If you have children and pets, you want to stay away from flat paint.  A flat finish is not suitable for baths and kitchens; it can easily water stain.  I used a flat finish on my living room walls and the dark color looks velvety at night.

Eggshell:  Eggshell is a flat paint with a some enamel added to the mixture.  There is a slight sheen to this paint.  Eggshell can be used on all walls in your home.  An eggshell finish would be okay in baths and kitchens because this finish can be scrubbed without damaging the paint.

Satin and Semi-gloss:  For some paint manufacturers, satin and semi-gloss finishes are interchangeable.  A satin or semi-gloss finish has more enamel in it and you can definitely see a sheen in the finish. A satin or semi-gloss finish works well in baths and kitchens.  For a more dramatic look, you can paint a formal dining room and powder bath in satin or semi-gloss.  Using a satin or semi-gloss finish with a dark color brings light to the color. This is a very durable finish and clean be easily cleaned.  My neighbor used the same color of paint in her dining room that I painted my living room in but, she purchased the color in a satin finish.  The color looks totally different in her house than mine.  Because her finish has a sheen, the light bounces off the color.

High-gloss:  A high-gloss finish contains a lot of enamel.  It has a very high sheen.  It can be used on walls, but I do not recommend it for most rooms.  A high-gloss finish can add a lot of drama to a room.  Can you imagine a formal dining room painted in red or eggplant in a high-gloss finish?  A word of caution--your sheet rock needs to be practically perfect to use this finish.  
A high-gloss sheen will show all the imperfections in the sheet rock.  In California, high-gloss is used to paint woodwork instead of an oil-based finish.  Oil-based paints have been banned in California due to the chemicals in it.  Most green builders use high-gloss instead of oil-based paint--its better for the environment.

Oil-basedOil-based paints are typically used to paint woodwork (cabinets and trim).  The paint can come in a low-sheet or high-sheen.  It should never be used on walls.  It is a very sturdy paint.  One word of caution--oil-based paints are not water soluble.  Oil-based paint also has a very strong smell.  If you are going to paint a lot of woodwork in your home, you will want to purchase a respirator.  You will need mineral spirits to clean brushes.

The paint that I like to use is Behr.  Home Depot sells this brand.  It is a California-based paint.  I like Behr paint because it covers well.  Behr offers a paint with primer in it.  This provides ultimate coverage.  I have used this paint to cover dark walls and it works fantastic.  I like Sherwin William colors, but I take the Sherwin Williams paint swatch and let Home Depot mix it in Behr.

When I do a tone-on-tone stripe effect, I use a flat finish and a satin or semi-gloss finish for the stripes.  The result is subtle, but it adds a dimension to the walls.

I hope you find this helpful and will consider this for your next paint job!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Powder Room

My house was not supposed to have a powder room.  It was intended to be a 4 bedroom 2 bath home.  Fortunately I met with my builder before she broke ground on the house and I asked her if a powder bath could be added to the plan.  Thankfully, it could.  My mother lives with me and I didn't want my guests to use her bathroom.  I'm funny about that.  I don't like people using my private spaces.

I knew that I didn't want taupe walls in my powder bath.  I wanted this space to make people want to spend time in this room.  It is very small.  In fact, this space was originally the closet for my study.  In 2005, faux painting was really popular and I had learned to sponge paint and rag paint.  I rag painted my master bath in my previous home and I also did a friend's powder bath and it looks fantastic.  If you are fortunate enough to have a powder bath, you should seriously consider going all out on the decorating and accessories.  So, this is what the space currently looks like now.  I want to redecorate the space.  I have in mind an eggplant color with a tone-on-tone harlequin pattern.  I can envision the space painted in this color.  It would be very dramatic.  I am showing the space in a video.  It is too small to photograph so I thought a video would work better.

Stay tuned for the transformation of this space!

One of My Favorite Rooms

This is the study in my neighbor's house.  This is the only room in her house in which she needed to purchase furniture.


The space is not furnished like a traditional study with a desk and book cases.  She likes to read and she wanted a room in her home where she could cozy up on a sofa and read.  This space has french doors so she can close the doors for total privacy. 

She already had the chairs and piano.  I like the chairs--they are a little modern.  Everything else in the room is new.  All of her furniture is very traditional, and I thought it would be fun to mix it up a little and go modern.  The was accomplished by the artwork and rug.  I saw this rug and I loved the colors in it and I wasn't sure if she would like it.  She loved it!!  She surprised me when I found out that she loves color.  Once I knew this, I decided her study would be the perfect place to display color.  I have to tell you that the table and bowl are pieces that she found and thought they would look good in the space.  She spray painted the bowl red.  I had envisioned a red leather ottoman for this space but we could not find one locally.  I love the pops of red in this room.  This is one of my favorite rooms in her house.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Helping a Decorating-Challenged Friend Decorate Her New Home

In August 2011, my former neighbor moved and built a new home.  I was sad to lose a neighbor, but excited about the opportunity to decorate her new home.  My neighbor downsized her home--she went from 2,600 sf to 2,100 sf.  Amazingly, she was able to bring everything from the old home to the new home.  The new home had the same number of rooms, but the secondary bedrooms, formal dining room, and living room were smaller than her previous home.

My neighbor was the best type of client:  she let me have total control over decorating her home!  First of all, she has beautiful furniture.  She purchased new furniture for her study because her old furniture was Victorian.  She also needed new/updated artwork.  Fortunately for me, my neighbor doesn't enjoy shopping for furniture and accessories.  But, I do!  Secondly, her builder constructed a beautiful home with a lot of nice architectural features--coffered ceilings, crown molding, hand scraped hardwood floors, 11 and 12 ft ceilings.  So, having nice furniture and a home with good bones is icing on the cake. 

Here is a photo of what her living room looked like totally empty.  Notice the coffered ceiling.

Now check out what I accomplished by placing her furniture, artwork, and accessories in the room:

The sofa needs a few colorful accessory pillows to make it pop.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Everything Old is New Again

How many of you have furniture in your home that you are tired of looking at, but you don't really want to replace it just yet?  I'm sure that a lot of us have sat back and looked at furniture in our homes and imagined what it would look like with new fabric, or if a new coat of paint would spruce it up.  I faced this dilemma last summer.  The table and chairs in my breakfast nook were purchased in 2002.  The furniture is hand-painted with fruit accents.  It has a french country look to it.  At the time I loved the furniture.  Over the past few years, I was tired of the fruit but I didn't want to purchase new furniture for my breakfast nook.  So, one day while sitting in my kitchen I imagined what the table chairs would look like if I painted them.  I decided that I needed more color in my breakfast nook.  My walls are Latte (taupe) and the furniture has a brownish/dark taupe coloring to it.  It sort of blended into the walls.  Also, the seat covers were off-white.

To paint the chairs, I used a kit designed to refinish cabinets--Rustoleum Cabinet Restoration.  The kit can also be used on furniture.  Below is a picture of one of the dining chairs before the paint and the new seat cover:

This is what the chair looked like after a two and a half day process of prepping the furniture, painting two coats, applying a glaze, then applying a top coat.

Here is a before photo of what the breakfast nook looked like before the chairs were painted and the seat cushions recovered:

Now here is the after with all the chairs painted:

By painting just the chairs and changing the fabric on the seats, I added a nice pop of color to my breakfast nook.  I also changed out the artwork and accessories on the buffet and table.  I decided not to add any paint to the table.  Sometimes it's good to get away from the matchy-matchy look.  I think it adds more interest too a room.

With a little bit of time and effort, you can easily transform a space from boring and dull to wow!!

Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year to everyone!!  It is my hope and prayer that 2012 will be a great year for everyone.  How are those New Year's resolutions going?  I don't call mine resolutions--I call them life changers.  I have implemented several things that I hope will change my life.  I just signed up for an interior design course.  I have wanted to do this for some time but was hesistant to make the comittment.  I am hoping that I will learn lots of great design tips that will make me a better designer and also ideas I can share with my blog readers.  I encourage everyone to make a decorative change to a room or furniture piece(s) in their home for 2012.  And please, share those changes with me through this blog or via e-mail.  I will be happy to answer questions or provide my thoughts on your project.  Here's to a great 2012!