I have always held in high regard those who defend our country. My respect for them is beyond words. I have extended family members who served in Korea, my bestie’s husband served in the Army, and I know other folks in my circle who are veterans. I can’t imagine what these people experienced while selflessly serving our country.
As an artist, I was always searching for some way to say “Thank You” to our vets. I contacted an organization who helps vets two years ago and a representative called me back. I explained how I could help a veteran family, even if it meant just painting a room. The representative connected me with a family whose family member just returned from serving and was looking for some way to paint something to create a serene atmosphere with an emphasis on family.
I met with the family. I was going to paint a tree that would become a family tree. Photos of the family were going to be framed and displayed on each limb of the tree.
In one day, the family had the beginnings of their family tree in their dining room. Serenity. Family.
Today I was preparing for a ceiling mural project I’m about to begin and I reached for the carpenter’s square so I could make a template. But this wasn’t any carpenter’s square. It was my Grandfather’s. I’m sure it was one of many. “Pop” as we affectionately called him was a Union carpenter. He, along, with tons of other men, worked on the construction of the Verrazano Bridge in the early 1960’s. He showed me the medal he had gotten as being part of the construction crew. This was a man, hard around the edges, who took pride in what he did and worked hard every day. He was a man with a strong work ethic, resiliency and integrity, who persevered through many a hard time in the 20th Century such as The Great Depression, World Wars I and II, the Korean War, Vietnam.
Pop was all about doing things the “right” way. Sometimes his way was the hardest way, but he felt that’s when things were done right. Everything else, in his opinion, was a “Snow Job.” I used to chuckle about that phrase as a little girl. Sometimes I still do. But, that work ethic was ingrained in my head. The driveway had to be topcoated with a brush, the railing needed to be stripped of paint before a new coat could be painted. The chain link fence had to be painted by hand with a brush. Those are just a few examples. Even when he retired from working, he would be involved in making things. I think I was the only little girl who had a square ice skating rink in my back yard. Yep, he built it for me. When he built something, it would last FOREVER. And, you never knew any construction took place. He was that neat.
His basement was a carpenter’s candyland. I remember seeing a planer machine, all kinds of cross cut saws with their decoratively carved handles hanging from nails, sanding belts, recycled baby food jars that held neatly organized wood screws, nails, bolts, nuts. Each jar had differently sized items and the lids were attached to a plank of wood screwed into the basement ceiling beams so that the jars hung overhead. There were labeled storage cabinets with even more tools and gadgets but they were off limits to us grandkids. He knew where everything was at all times.
Because I was a girl, I really wasn’t shown how to make things but I watched and listened. (My Dad, being a dad to all girls (yes, he should have been canonized) taught me how to build things and fix things myself.) My cousins–all boys–were part of Pop’s construction crew whether they wanted to be or not. Two of them went on to continue Pop’s legacy of creating, building, repairing. I’ve had the wonderful opportunity of working with one of them on many a painting project early in my career. All of them have that work ethic, perseverance, integrity . And all of them are about keeping the job area clean. “Marcine,” my cousin would often say, “Keep the space cleaner after than it was before.”
Work ethic– call me old fashioned, but yes:
-Things have to be done the right way; no “Snow Jobs.”
-The job has to be done.
-Say what you’re going to do and do it.
-And, the space has to be cleaner than it was before.
Occasionally, I will get a call from someone who is not sure what to do with a piece of furniture that they have and because of the furniture’s purpose and/or locale, there is no reason to replace it.
This was such a call.
I spoke with the person on the phone and told her I’d be happy to stop by to take a look. The piece of furniture was a bathroom vanity. It was a beautiful piece and structurally, there was nothing wrong with it. The vanity had been custom fitted to fit the plumbing under the sink and the basin was new. Cosmetically, the vanity needed some tlc and an update.
I can do that!
The client was happy that she didn’t have to start over looking for a new vanity. She was also happy that I would be able to do the vanity while she was on vacation.
My client has an antique chair that essentially, she wanted the vanity to resemble. I did a mockup of the piece including the color change and a particular motif that she liked on my computer. I find this so helpful for my clients. The mockup helps clients see how the finished product will look and it is easier for me to make the changes digitally than on location, especially when she wouldn’t be there to check it out.
Furniture in any way shape or form is done in layers and requires patience, patience, patience. In this regard, a piece of furniture takes time to do; every step has to dry before the next step begins. I promised my client I would send her daily texts with photos so she could see the progress.
I made the necessary repairs such as fixing dings, scrapes, etc. There was a lot of wood putty and sanding, washing, wiping. The surface had to be dust free and clean from greasy residue so that the subsequent primer and paint layers would bond properly. I also swapped out the plastic tarps so that any dust particles would not be an issue.
Using a bonding primer and Benjamin Moore Advance , I began transforming the vanity. Once the layers were dry, I used Modern Masters metallic paint to hand-paint the motifs. Once that layer was dry, it was time to seal the piece. The Benjamin Moore water-based paint is very durable on its own, but I’m always concerned about the amount of traffic and exposure to water, etc., so I’d rather take the time and seal up the piece with a commercial quality sealer.
This is the finished vanity. It was truly a transformation that better fit the client’s space and best of all, nothing had to be installed or replaced.
What do you think of the transformation?
Do you need a transformation in your home or business? I can help you! Murals, wall finishes, etc. Feel free to call me via phone, 908-599-2129 or fill out your contact information here.
I have a client that ordered a desk online for her business. She had someone assemble it and the color was just wrong for the space. It wasn’t what she had expected, through no fault of her own. Sometimes what you see online and what you get in reality are different. It happens. Usually, the company will take items back but since this piece had already been assembled, sending the desk back was not an option.
Quite often I will get asked to make something visually fit into a space. At first, the client wanted the desk to really have contrast. I took photos and superimposed different colors on them using my computer.
The initial results were not on point.
The decorating style of this commercial location is “farm-chic.” The desk had had to be elegant, to stand out and yet fit in.
I figured making the desk look like it was created out of barnwood, but chic barnwood was the way to go. I asked the client if I could use a metallic silver in the finish and she was excited. My stipulation was that I had to keep it light.
Many layers of bonding primer, base paint, glaze. metallic paint, barrier coat, topcoats…
Problem solved. The desk fits into the environment, continues the theme of the space, and the colors are just right.
Need help with your space? I can help you!
Please call me at (908) 599-2129 or fill out the contact form and I will get back to you!
Did you ever go to museum and step into a gallery where there was a large piece of art taking up the whole wall such as a Jackson Pollock or a medieval tapestry?
That’s what accent walls do. They make a statement.
They are an opportunity to create something really unique that is a portrait of you. They also serve to set the “tone” or atmosphere of your space. They are also a great way to make your space unique when you’re on a budget. And, if you’re someone that is more neutral, accent walls are a great way to add a bit of color or texture without going overboard, (unless you want to 🙂 ) If you love imagery, consider doing something such as a mural or a visual graphic. The benefits far outweigh the negatives. Suppose you decide you want to change that wall down the road? In the case of textured applications, just skim coat the wall.
In my experience, accent walls are generally the first wall you see when you walk into a space. It just makes sense to have your statement “heard” as soon as you enter a space. Accent walls can also be part of a wall such as in the case of a fireplace wall. Or, accent walls can hi-light an interesting piece of furniture.
Accent walls can also be a ceiling. Oh, yes they can! (I saw you shaking your head.) Your ceiling is your 5th wall. It will never be obscured by furniture, or hanging artwork, other than a light fixture. Why not use it?
Still not sure? Baby steps. Paint the wall or ceiling a different color and live with it for a bit.
Isn’t it great when there are no rules to creating the space you want? Accent it!
Let me help you create an accent wall by turning it into art! Call me at (908) 599-2129 or send me an email.
Of course my mind drifted that night to creating a feeling of coziness. How was that accomplished in a space?
I did further research, because I’m a bit on the nerdy side. In their youtube video, The Mustards explain how they try to maintain Hygge in their home . Because of their geographic location, Scandinavian countries have long winters. They look for ways to bring in light to those long nights. Candles, warm white lights, light walls, fire crackling in a fireplace all do the job. Of course, a fuzzy throw blanket and fuzzy pillows also help. Simple furnishings creating the least amount of visual clutter, and keeping the space tidy also creates a space to relax in and not feel anxious. Plants bring a bit of life to the space. And, of course there’s always a hot cup of tea and the company of friends to complete this feeling of coziness.
Well here in NJ, our climate is a little different. We have the heat and humidity and a decent growing season. We are also CROWDED and there’s always A LOT going on.
I knew the connection with Hygge was with the lights, and the attempt to make my space less cluttered. But with a 13 year old boy who drops his stuff everywhere, that’s a constant challenge. I wanted more. When it was time to repaint my downstairs, I kept thinking about what made me feel cozy? Besides the lights, summers out on the deck chatting with my Hubs by candlelight, it was also the sight and smell of the Jersey Shore and how relaxed I felt going to the beach early in the morning and drinking my coffee while watching the waves meet the shoreline. It was the colors in driftwood. All of those things funneled into my space.
You can feel cozy no matter where you are. It’s up to you to create it. Think about what those things are that makes you feel cozy and happy, and how they appeal to your senses. The hints are there. Happy Hygge!
Choosing colors for your room: it’s fun, trust me!
Many of my clients find this part of the process extremely stressful.
First of all, relax.
I always tell my clients to not look at the “whole picture ” in this case. It is easy to get overwhelmed and stressed out. After all, did you ever see a color deck? Many paint companies have more than one!
There are many ways to figure out a color scheme. The method I use for a single room is the following:
Find a “source of inspiration.” I know, you’re probably saying, “What does she mean?” Basically, this is something you are visually drawn to. It may be a work of art, a photograph, a rug, a favorite sweater, a memento from a trip…anything!!!
Now, in that piece, what colors do you really like? That’s your starting off point. Usually, folks pick 3: a main color and two supporting colors.
Yes, there are “color theory 101 rules.” Primary color scheme, secondary, tertiary, analagous, complementary, tints, shades, blah blah blah……
Guess what? I don’t follow rules, at least , not in this case. If there is one color I like in that inspiration piece, I go with that. Then, I may look for additional colors in the color deck that go with that color nicely. Going horizontally across a color deck usually insures success that the colors will go together. But, you can bump up or go down one color from the horizontal will also work. See? not so hard.
I will also pair up a trim color and a ceiling color. How to do that? Well, let’s talk about trim. Put the color deck colors that you want to use for the trim up to the color you’ve selected for the wall. You cannot just randomly pick a trim color. Why? Simply put: color changes depending on the colors they are next to and what we’re looking for is color compatibility.
Ceiling color. The ceiling is your fifth wall. Convention tells us to go lighter. If you really like that one color that you picked out from your inspiration piece, why not choose a lighter tint of that color? Or, If there’s another color in that piece but your comfort level tells you it is too dark, you can use a tint of that color. For a bolder move, go dark! Why not? My rule is that you should be happy in your space!
Lastly, invest in pint samples of the colors. Paint some pieces of posterboard but make the pieces a decent size, i.e. 9″ x 12″ Or, if the paint store sells “designer chips” get those. They don’t cost that much and are the size of a piece of paper.
I always tell my clients to live with the colors for a little while. Move the larger samples around the room. See how the lighting affects the colors. See how the colors will look against your furniture or kitchen cabinetry.
Small investments of time and the purchase of some samples will give you a stress free start to getting the job done right the first time.
Hope this info was helpful to you. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments, If you’d like to schedule a color consult, or discuss a project, please contact me here . I’m happy to help!
Recently, I visited a potential client who has a tall wall in her entrance hallway. This wall was narrow but tall. She was concerned about choosing a finish that would not only look great but was able to withstand the wear and tear of family traffic.
There are all kinds of products out there in the decorative painting world. Want something to look like suede? Yes, we’ve got that. Want something to look like metal? Yep, we’ve got that. Want something to look like stone? Yep, we’ve got that too.
The right “tool” for the job.
There’s an extremely durable plaster that would fit the bill and, it can be painted. As a matter of fact, this stuff is magic. I can manipulate it into brick, I can make a cracked old wall–all kinds of things. The fact that I can hand paint it to further customize the project is an added bonus. The paints will be wall paints. It can also be top-coated for further protection, but honestly, it will dry to a hard colorful finish that will be washable with mild soap and water.
I provided three samples to the client, all with the same colors and the same materials. They were just executed differently.
Did I ever tell you I love creative problem solving? Well, here’s a story about that.
Last month I finished a project for a restaurant owner. He had these two– for lack of better words–niches in the dining room area of his Italian restaurant. They were probably windows at one time that were removed. The walls were never fully closed up so what remained were two boxes.
What to do with the spaces? I already had an idea, but I wanted to get more info from the owner.
I asked all kinds of questions, i.e. where he was from, etc. I then asked the following, “Being that we are a block from the water, would you like a scene of the Italian Mediterranean?” I can create it so when you look at these two openings, it appears as though you’re looking at the water with a beach and boats.” His eyes lit up. He was from the Naples area of Italy. As he was listening and looking through my portfolio, he really liked the trompe l’oeil mural I did in a niche of the Tuscan landscape for a client. “Can we add columns and grapes?” “Sure, ” I said , ” This is for you . I can add whatever you’d like.” I explained to him what I envisioned. But, as they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” So, I made a quick sketch.
I already knew that painting this mural on site wasn’t going to work. The dining room space was going to remain open for business. I would make these murals on canvas and install them in the boxes much like wallpaper. I had done this before, so no problem.
There were a few challenges, though. Anytime you apply moisture to a canvas that it unprimed, it is going to shrink a bit, usually 10%. The back of the canvas was unprimed. I had to allot for that shrinkage so when I planned the canvases out, I made them a few inches larger in each direction. The second challenge was that each of the boxes, even though they were two feet away from each other, were a different size and installed at different heights. In order to make the illusion work, I had to plan a common line, a horizon line of sorts between the two canvases.
I made sketches using a grid. I made sure that the sketches had the horizon line at the same location.
When I transferred the sketches onto the canvases, I lined up the canvases next to each other, used a level, plotted out grid lines. The drawing began.
Anytime you create trompe l’oeil art, things have to make sense and be level. Everything. Otherwise, your illusion won’t work. I used one point perspective primarily. There are some objects that I had to use two point perspective for.
When both canvases were lined up next to each other, I had about 10 feet of imagery. I used a 2 x 4 to draw perspective lines from my focus point to the objects. Sometimes you have to use whatever is around.
Once the murals were complete, it was time to install. I brought levels with me, a ruler, wallpaper scraper, wallpaper paste, razor blades, etc. Plus, I brought paint with me. This way, if I needed to touch up the mural, I could easily do that.
The niches were already primed and ready to go. The mural install was going to be permanent, so I did not use cheesecloth as a floater between the surfaces.
And, as I surmised, the canvases did shrink. Because I had this horizon line to worry about, I had to cut off some of the grape leaves at the top of the one canvas. I had to make the illusion work. On the other canvas, I had to lower it slightly, so I painted additional grape leaves on site.
The finished product solved the problem of the two unused niches.
Interested in seeing the murals in person?
Visit Lisa’s Italian Restaurant on Rt. 35 in Laurence Harbor, NJ.
A decorator friend of mine asked if I could help her out on a powder room project. This particular project was located in a new upscale lashbar business here in New Jersey.
I love this decorator friend. She gives me carte blanche to do whatever as long as I stay within budget and adheres to a theme. (Debi, you ROCK!!!)
Gold, black, sparkle, glam. Those were my parameters.
The powder room size was quite small, 4×6. There was going to be a mirrored vanity and the toilet. That’s it. The walls were going to be the canvas. I suggested a metallic paint for the walls and then a random placement of stencils using glitter and stones.
I showed Debi the ideas I had and she showed them to the client. The client was excited. It was going to be a spin on the retro 50’s glam.
I used Modern Master’s Metallic paint in a matte finish. I did a matte so the walls wouldn’t overpower or fight with the glittery stencils I was going to install. I went for a champagne instead of a gold. I wanted the space to really read elegance. Metallic walls look best sprayed. I don’t know how to use a sprayer–yet–so I used the traditional roller method. For those of you planning to do a metallic finish, I would highly recommend that you base coat the walls in a color extremely close to the metallic. Metallic paints are expensive and if you can avoid doing multiple coats, all the better. i added Modern Master’s extender to the metallic paint so the paint wouldn’t set up and dry quickly, reducing the chances of lap lines. I would up doing multiple coats because the paint is semi-opaque. Make sure when you roll a section, you back roll the paint in the same direction ceiling to floor. This will point all of the mica particles in one direction for a smoother looking finish.
Once the paint was done, it was time for the fun stuff!!!! I added glitter in both black and champagne. Despite all the sweeping and vacuum cleaning, there was still glitter on the floor. And yes, I used disposable tarps plus covered the vanity and the toilet. Unfortunately, if you remember doing holiday crafts as a kid, I’m sure you have memories of Mom complaining about glitter being everywhere.
It does happen.
Once the glitter was dry, I found stones in my local Hobby Lobby store. I asked Debi if I could use the clear prism stones in addition to the black and gold stones. She loved the idea! Those clear prisms went well with the mirror vanity. Gorilla Glue helped adhere the stones onto the walls. Use the glue sparingly because adding too much will cause the glue to run out from underneath the stones and drip down the wall.
The drop ceiling was painted a flat black. The result is simple glam and elegance.
Don’t be afraid to add materials like glitter or stones to your walls. A little sparkle is a good thing!