Monday, January 30, 2006

Foux Finishing

In this time between the bitter, bitter cold and snow of December and the warm, wet January we're having, I'm taking the opportunity to do a little painting around the knob and tube palace.

This of course in preparation for the melting of the polar icecaps. I'm only working on upstairs rooms.

Actually, what I am doing is repainting the upstairs hallway, the stair treads and risers and one of the upstairs bedrooms that I use as the Lair of the Bunny (ominous music, sounds of innocent carrots being blithely tossed to their deaths).

The hallway is a follow up to a fall project wherein the original woodwork was semi saved from looking like ground zero of some beaver gang rumble with judicious use of stain and gloss polyurethane. Now I'm painting the walls around the woodwork a more suitable color that the Aztec on Methadone orange they had been. Throw in some new track lighting that shoots illumination down the length of the corridor as opposed to the single incandescent that illuminated pretty much itself and nothing else and you've got a liveable hallway. Nice little easy project.

Too easy.

Oh, I should say that the stairs are another matter but I've divorced those in my mind from the rest of the hallway. The risers were easily enough painted but the treads, which were cut from an ugly veined wood that looked like it should have been of the species bitumen oak are another matter. See, you got to use them. You got to go up and down the stairs since the builders of this palace, in an evil and sinister plot, laid out two primary needs at polar opposite ends of the house.

Yes, these fiends put the fridge downstairs and the bathroom upstairs.

So I painted every other tread at first. A clever trick, completely lost on the cat who decided after watching some Thighmaster infomercial I had left on for her that she wasn't looking too tone and maybe a little indoor stairwork would solve that.

At any rate, stairs and pawprints aside, the rest of the project went so well that I got my gusto up and decided to tackle the spare bedroom.

What is it? Pride and a paint run to the home despot goeth before a fall?

See, the room couldn't simply be painted. The walls had to have color, texture, feel and depth. They had to have a complexity of surface and character that is another way of saying I took too much away from seeing Brokeback Mountain.

They needed to be faux finished.

Faux finishing is a paint trick the French use to disguise the fact that their buildings are in fact, all collapsing around them and they haven't the talent pool to reconstruct. They all moved to Mauritius during the De Gaulle era. Faux finishing involves several layers of color atop one another which is a nice way of saying, yes, I'm an idiot that does the same job twice in a day when once will suffice if my tastes were a little simpler.

After two base coats, I grab my genuine sea sponge (made in Mechanicsburg, PA) and stipple on a light glaze. This is entirely too subtle for me. So I grab a rag and roll on yet another color. Better, but needs to be even. So I go over it with more glaze but now that's too mottled. So I tone it back with some more rag rolling but I've lost the base color. So I dry brush some more base color on and then some more again to punch the wall up. Then another light touch of glaze and some rag rolling to even everything out then a last dry brush of base color.

The room has lost a quarter of its square footage, there's so much paint on the walls. The light switches are recessed, deeply recessed, and one of the cats is missing.

I may have let this get away from me.

No matter. The color on the wall is now pleasing and the paint must be adding some structural rigidity to the cracked plaster, musn't it?

It does look properly aged, distressed and patina'd.

Just what I was after.

Of course, it then occurs to me that, given the age of the old girl, that's what this place already looked like.

Don't look for me on HGTV anytime soon.

Bunny on.

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