By Kathryn Weber
Faux past was high contrast and unnatural looking. Faux painting today is more subtle and tends to lean toward classic styles and colors of Venetian plaster, fresco and more natural elements
In the 1980s, painting transformed from simply coloring a wall into a design technique. Techniques such as rag rolling and sponging became wildly popular. In the 1990s, the trend moved toward faux painting as homeowners searched for unique methods to make their walls and trim appear more custom and chic. Murals, faux marble and Venetian plaster became trendy. It was no longer fashionable to just roll a coat of paint on the wall.
But is it time to ask if we're over faux? Well, yes and no.
The trend in recent years has been to make our environments more harmonious, elegant and nature-based. That's led to high-contrast paint colors and painting techniques falling by the wayside. The faux of today is lighter, brighter, and more integrated in both tone and design. Gone are the dark walls with light-colored marbling effects.
Today's look is to create a simple, elegant faux design that mimics a natural element, such as stone. Using a layered approach with shades that are closer in color to each other, creates a more subtle and natural effect.
Loud, bold faux painting has also given way to classic paint and design techniques like Venetian plaster. With its cool, stone-like quality, plastering gives a timeless, elegant look. The problem is, Venetian plaster is labor intensive, and may be more than the average DIY-er wants to tackle.
Ken Wampler, Executive Director of Alpha Workshops, a custom painting design firm specializing in faux painting, based in New York City, says Venetian plaster is best left to experienced professionals. "You can't skimp on this technique or you just won't get the right look," he notes.
Fresco is an option that's easy and doesn't go over-faux. It has a timeless feel and gives your walls depth and dimension. It's also a terrific paint technique if you have imperfect walls. In fact, it's one way to play up those imperfections to look like timelessly imperfect. The fresco technique uses a base coat, then a top coat of glaze with two tints that are close in color applied randomly with a roller. The result is a beautiful classic finish that looks as right today as it did 100 years ago.
Wampler recommends homeowners use sample boards before attempting any new painting technique.
"It's better to get it right on the sample board first before it's wrong on the wall," Wampler says. He also suggests referring to a picture of the effect you want while you're working.
Faux-painted furniture is also trendy.
"Right now, we're working on tables and cabinetry and adding faux ivory and malachite to these pieces," says Wampler. "We recently faux-painted 40 light switches to match wood paneling." Wampler says adding a faux finish to furniture is a good way for homeowners to become acquainted with faux paint finishes.
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