Window treatments Furniture arrangement Color Displaying accessories Updating styles Decorating in stages
ELEGANT UPDATE. This room's beams, brick, and popcorn ceilings belonged to the 1960s. The mix of traditional and modern elements-paneled wainscoting and walls combined with large fixed windows and a brick fireplace with a raised hearth-captured suburban style in its time, but it didn't keep pace with the trend toward European-inspired design. In an early renovation, French doors replaced the fixed windows, the brick chimney breast was paneled, and a traditional mantel was added. A second, more thorough overhaul results in a fashionably elegant and formal look.
REFACE THE FIREPLACE. Because the fireplace is the natural focal point in a living room, its appearance greatly influences the style. Covering the white brick hearth and firebox surround with marble instantly sets the foundation for a formal feeling. A textured, gessolike faux finish ages the mantel's appearance and makes it stand out from the surrounding paneling. The result: It's a more striking focal point.
REFINISH THE CEILING. Scraping off the popcorn texture on the ceiling is a messy job but it's essential to updating a room's look. After scraping back to drywall between the beams, homeowner and decorative painter Leslie Sinclair applied a textured drywall mud finish, which is less labor intensive and less expensive than floating the mud to a smooth finish. It also renders the look of old plaster and is an ideal base for a stencil pattern applied using paint diluted with a latex paint conditioner (see Resources for more information).
PAINT THE WALLS. A wall mural above the sideboard lends architectural character to an otherwise boxy room. The remaining walls were painted warm white with gray-brown undertones, then stippled lightly to age them without darkening the room.
FIND FURNITURE THAT MAKES A STATEMENT. A massive French birdbath topped with heavy glass serves as the coffee table and the room's centerpiece. Two chairs found at an estate sale were treated to a specialty paint finish and reupholstered. A third upholstered chair came from an antiques shop. The nesting tables were originally bright gold. For a more complex and subtle finish, they were wiped with silver metallic wax finish diluted with paint thinner, using more paint thinner to tone down areas where the silver finish was too thick. Old and new crystals dress up the chandelier.
Because pigments (tints) are mixed with a primer-sealer that adheres to both painted and stained surfaces, the mantel doesn't have to be repainted first.
1. Sand to roughen the surface. Wipe clean to remove sanding dust.
2. Mix pigment into a water-base primer-sealer (see Resources for more information).
3. Using an old (disposable) brush, dip the brush in the tinted primer and apply it to the piece by patting the surface with the flat side of the brush rather than brushing it on. This creates texture. Repeat two or three times to cover the surface completely.
4. After the primer dries, wipe a darker glaze over it. To make the glaze, mix pigment or paint that's a shade darker than the tinted primer with glazing liquid (available at home improvement centers).
5. Let the glaze dry, then seal the mantel with an acrylic polyurethane or wax.
To transfer an original design, enlarge the motif as needed (this one is from an Italian tile) and transfer it to paper. Perforate the paper along the lines, tape the pattern to the ceiling, and pounce powdered chalk through the holes. This leaves tiny dots of chalk outlining the design. Fill in between the lines with paint diluted with a latex paint conditioner for a watercolor effect.