Category Archives: Inspirations

Veggies and fruits for your walls

I chuckled when I saw this ad for Tollens paint, but it demonstrates a great way to transform your color preferences and ideas into actual colors for your walls. Gather up those photos you’ve been setting aside and take them to the paint store for color matching. Or ask your decorative painter to create a special finish based on the fish you’ve got in your hands!

Tollens paint

I found these veggie images with great color:




and when I saw the recent issue of New York Spaces magazine with the articles on using color in the home, the veggie and fruit colors just leaped out from the paper:


New York Spaces Photo by Brian Park

This is a lime plaster sample I created on textured wallpaper.

Lime plaster on textured wallpaper

These fun peach colors…


certainly made their way into this room!

New York Spaces Photo by Brian Park

Who can resist these luscious colors?



They were my starting point for this sample of paint and water-based waxes.

Paint and water-based waxes

You can find color ideas everywhere, even in the kitchen!


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Filed under color, Faux finishes, Inspirations, paint

Rust Patina

Rust patina, whether it is an applied finish or the actual rusting of iron or steel, is beautiful in its own organic way. It is used in many commercial applications, but is also incorporated into home designs.  The fireplace is created with plates of rusted steel.

House Beautiful

Rust steel fireplace

chemetalco steel backdrop

The following are photos of the first designer gas station in Spain, just outside of Madrid. The curved canopies are made out of corten steel plates and left to rust naturally.

Repsol service station

Repsol service station, aerial view

In order to create a rust patina, there are several items to pay attention to. You must start out with special paints, whether iron, copper or bronze, that are specifically made for this purpose. These water-based, acrylic paints contain a large number of actual metal particles, rather than mica flakes or pigment. The finely ground metal flakes create the look of a true metal surface. One applies a solution that speeds up the natural oxidation of the metal to develop the rust patina.

When applying the rust solution, careful attention needs to be paid to the product’s instructions. Because the solution is usually a mild acid, proper precautions should be taken, such as gloves meant for chemical protection and a face mask.

The next photo is a class sample from the All Aglow: Patinas and Metallics class at my studio.

Rust patina

When I moved into the old warehouse studio, this is one of the doors I needed to finish:

After I filled in the texture of the wonderful “wood”, I primed and then painted two coats of iron paint. Then the fun began! Several rust patina solutions were applied in every which way. I think the door is touched more than any other door I’ve seen! One caveat: because the rust patina is a result of a very organic process, it is not possible to accurately predict a specific shade of rust. The results are based on many conditions, such as temperature, humidity and air quality. Samples are definitely a good idea before beginning the final finish.

And, yes, it is sealed. You should definitely seal a rust patina if it is going to be exposed to extreme weather or if folks will come into contact with the finish.

However, do not seal with a polyurethane. Seal your rust patina with a high quality acrylic or solvent-based sealer.

door before

Finished door


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Filed under Faux finishes, Inspirations, paint

Oversized Damasks

Yes, I do love damasks, especially oversized damasks. They catch my eye every time, especially those incorporated into small, usually glass, tiles. They demand to be admired.
Damask, thought to have originated in Damascus, Syria, is probably the most popular woven pattern with any complexity. It enjoyed enormous favor in Europe from the mid-15th century on and is still favored today.
I am still working on a texture finish of small mosaic tiles with a gold leaf damask pattern. As soon as I get far enough, I’ll post pictures.
In the meantime, enjoy these oversized damasks!
Photography by Marcel Wanders Studio
Photography by Peter Margonelli

San Marco wallpaper Quadrille Fabrics

Bergonzi wallpaper Nina Campbell through Osborne & Little

Eau Spa at Ritz-Carleton Palm Beach

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Filed under Damasks, Inspirations

I want to live here!

I just fell in love with Claire Basler’s studio/home when I opened the March 2010 issue of Elle Décor UK. An old iron works building on the outskirts of Paris houses this wonderfully talented artist. Claire’s love of flowers and her garden are certainly reflected in her work.

Being surrounded by so much natural light and having the subject you love to paint right at your fingertips sounds heavenly.

The colors mixed with the grays, the old and the new, the shiny and the textured… the combinations work.

Here it is! (All photos from Elle Décor UK, photos by Mads Mogensen)

A few of her paintings (courtesy of

I love the silver and gold leaf backgrounds in these photos!

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Filed under Gold leaf gilding, Inspirations, paint, studio

Mariano Fortuny- Did you know he also painted?

When I think of Mariano Fortuny, lush velvets and delicate, pleated silks come to mind.  The “Delphos” dress is a classic. The “Fortuny lampshade” is also. The beautiful damask fabrics, the gorgeous clothes.  His mystique.  What I did not realize is that he was also a very gifted painter. And engraver. And stage and lighting set designer. Some of his inventions set new benchmarks in theater that are still followed today.

Silk lampshades in Mariano Fortuny 1999 Marsilio Editori

Fortuny velvet

Mariano Fortuny (y Madrazo) was born in Grenada, Spain in 1871. After his painter father’s early death at age 36 of malaria in 1874, his mother moved her two young children to Paris, where Mariano was encouraged to study painting and etching under his uncle’s tuteledge. He was introduced to many of the artists at the time through his family and exposed to many styles of painting.   In 1889, his mother moved the family to Venice. Mariano spent time in both Venice and Paris, before finally settling in the Palazzo Orfei.  Today it is now called the Palazzo Fortuny, as it houses the museum dedicated to Fortuny and his works.

Here are some views of the Palazzo Fortuny:

Palazzo Fortuny exterior in Fortuny by Guillermo de Osma

Palazzo Fortuny exterior in Fortuny by Anne-Marie Deschodt

The Grand Salon in Fortuny by Anne-Marie Deschodt

Palazzo Fortuny in Fortuny by Guillermo de Osma

The library in Fortuny by Anne-Marie Deschodt

Fortuny's studio in Fortuny by Anne-Marie Deschodt

Fortuny worked in oils, gouache and tempera, creating his own color pigments. He favored copper plate etching, which, along with his painting, greatly influenced his later creations in silk and velvet. He learned the subtle use of color and the importance of light to achieve the dramatic effects seen in his textiles.

Here are  some of Fortuny’s paintings:

"Una roccia a pareti verticali sulla riva del mare" 1948

Prove alla Scala di Milano

Ritratto di Henriette Fortuny in costume pompeiano, 1935

Here Fortuny painted his own Palazzo:

Interno dell'atelier del pittore a palazzo Pesaro-Orfei a Venezia

Painted by Fortuny's father, Mariano Fortuny Y Marsal (1835 - 1874)

And last, but not least, my favorite:

Schizzo per la decorazione dell'atelier dell'artista a Venezia


Filed under Fortuny- paintings and fabric, Inspirations

A few of my favorite things

Isn’t this the cutest thing? When I saw this book, I knew I just had to use it as my Blog Book. It is my calendar of  “assignments,” along with topic ideas and potential photos. (I cleaned it up a bit…)

My blog book

Although I don’t remember where I found this photo, I hope to find these candlesticks some day. Anyone know where they are from?

Lately, I’ve been loving color combinations such as these. The door has a wonderful patina which looks like old lime paint. I love the teal and burgundy together.

I saw this ad last year and have been trying to decide where to try this color combo from Ligne Roset. It’s not just the color combo, though. It is the lushness of the velvet in contrast with the aged roughness of the concrete.

Today’s favorite things is going to become Friday’s Favorites. I’d love to see what items and ideas my fellow bloggers love, too!

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Filed under color, Design, Inspirations

An Italian groin vault ceiling… in America

How can one pass up a week in a Tuscan villa? Located just inside of Umbria, an hour from Florence, this to-die-for villa was all you’d expect it to be. (Villa pics coming later.) With the villa serving as our base, we roamed the surrounding areas and just soaked it all in.

While traveling through Arezzo (east of Florence), we fell in love with these groin vaulted ceilings in a non-descript deli. We walked in for lunch, looked up and that was it! So typical of Italy- there is such beauty at every turn.

Arezzo, Italy groin vault ceiling

A few years ago, my SO opened a boutique/cafe that was based on our passion of Italian design. We blew up our video frames of the dome ceiling that we loved in Arezzo to see the pattern and attempted to re-create those designs.

I started out with m-a-n-y sample boards to figure out the finishes; here is one of the final boards- I think I finally figured it out!

Sample board

The groin vault domes (formed by the intersection of two or more barrel vaults) began with a custom engineered metal frame.

Drywall was affixed to the metal frame and the entire ceiling, especially the many seams, was smoothed, filled, sanded, followed by filling and sanding and filling and sanding. The plasterer (Thanks, Dan!) did an AWESOME job.

Almost ready for us...

This is how the ceiling was when we received it. Gulp!

I first primed twice and basecoated twice before even thinking of the finish layers. Then I began applying the three plaster layers, using a custom mix for each layer. The first layer was ochre and lapis blue; the second and third layers were more of what you see- the whites and lapis blues.

Then we painted the designs, some freehand and some with a few specific designs cut in mylar to be consistent on site, trying to stay as close to the original ceiling design as possible.

Once the painting was complete, we added a layer of glaze to “knock back” and age the finish.

We only had 2 weeks to take the ceiling from the raw drywall and seams state to completion.

Still adding! These are the electrical guys for the chandelier installation.

Here we are at work...

The ceiling is 25 feet up there!

Adding details

Here is the beautiful Isola Bella groin vault ceiling, ready for the chandelier to be installed!

We're done! Just waiting for the chandelier

Closeup view of groin vault seam

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Filed under Ceilings, Design, Faux finishes, Inspirations, Plasters