Originally created 12/03/99

All in the technique

The holiday season usually includes a lot of guests, and for brave homeowners who take holiday decorating seriously, the holiday to-do list may include painting.

From touching up a foyer to re-painting an entire room, different techniques can brighten or soften an area and set a mood.

The first step in this project is to choose a color. Whether to match a favorite comforter or create a brand new color scheme, every color has a mood.

Christopher Lowell, host and producer of the Christopher Lowell Show on cable television's Discovery Channel, encourages the use of color on walls. "A lot of us live with a mishmash of furniture, and one of the few ways to theme a room is with a good, rich paint color."

This may be difficult for someone who traditionally sticks to light, neutral wall shades. "Fear of color is the No. 1 fear among do-it-yourselfers; they're not used to color," he said.

When selecting a color, consider your wardrobe and the color of clothes that you frequently wear. If you want popular style to dictate your choice, 1950s and '60s colors are in vogue, but with a twist: The colors are in muted tones, like orange, which is now more of a terra cotta, he said. Plum and lavender are especially popular.

Mr. Lowell suggests a visit to a paint store during the least-busy time to avoid feeling rushed or pressured while selecting a color.

Take as many paint swatches as you can, and when you return home spread them out on the table. Look at the swatches at least three times and eliminate a few colors each time, he recommends.

Once a color is chosen, a good rule of thumb is to pick the shade with all of the primary colors in it -- right in the middle of the color strip.

Use that shade for the wall color, which will appear about two shades lighter when it's on the wall. Next, use the lightest shade on the strip for the trim.

Mr. Lowell recommends going one shade lighter if your ceiling is 8 to 9 feet tall, one shade darker if you have higher or vaulted ceilings.

Keep that color strip with you whenever you are shopping. "That becomes your bible when you go out shopping for fabrics, upholstery and accessories for that room," Mr. Lowell said.

When you are ready to apply the color to the walls, Mr. Lowell said, brace yourself.

"When you roll that first roll of color, you will absolutely freak out. But wait until every reference of white is out of that room and then go to bed. In the morning you'll love it," he said. "Just know that you're going to freak out, and when you do, you'll be right on schedule."

The next step is to figure how much paint is needed. Measure the perimeter of the room by measuring the width of each wall. Then, multiply the perimeter total by the height of the walls.

There are many options when choosing your paint. In addition to colors, there are different sheens and finishing techniques.

The sheen of a paint is its glossiness. Generally, the higher the gloss, the more durable and washable. High-gloss paints are good for high-wear areas like kitchens, bathrooms, woodwork and trim.

A flat sheen can hide surface flaws in a wall, but it is not as washable. An eggshell finish is one step up from the flat and has a soft sheen at an angle. There are several degrees of sheen to suit all areas of the house.

There also are alternatives to a single color across the wall. Sponging, dragging, antiquing, ragging and faux finishes can add depth or create effects from subtle to striking.

Richard Worth, of Richard Worth Designs in Augusta, has applied these layering techniques to several homes and commercial spaces, including Sweet Basil Grille.

"It seems like more people like a multi-layered treatment because it's much richer, but it's also very subtle," he said.

Rag rolling adds texture and color variation. There are two ways to do it: rag rolling-on and rolling-off. Both involve using a cloth to add or remove from a coat of glaze that is applied over a base coat.

It is always best to test a new technique and color combinations on a piece of poster board before painting a wall. Experiment by varying pressure, using cloths of different materials or adding layers of color.

It's best to work from ceiling to floor, applying glaze in a jigsaw pattern with sections no larger than 2 to 4 feet wide. For larger wall projects, it is necessary to work with a partner.

Dragging will create a fresh, crisp, striped effect with streaks of color in a linear pattern, again by using a base coat and a glaze. After the glaze is applied, drag a dry paint brush downward through the wet paint to reveal stripes of the background color. It is best to wipe the excess glaze from the dragging brush after each downward pass.

The finish can be softened with a softening brush while the glaze is still damp.

Sponging will create a soft, mottled look on flat surfaces. Using different color combinations, different sides of the sponge or changing the way the sponge is worked across the surface can change the final effect.

As with ragging, the sponge can be used to add or take off a top coat of glaze.

A natural sea sponge is recommended because it will create the most random effect. Wash and rinse new sea sponges several times before use to remove any dirt or grit trapped in the sponge.

Reach Lisa Lohr at (706) 823-3351.


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