Faux And Fabulous

Tobey Renee Sanders has a finish for any room

When Tobey Renee Sanders hired a painter to do more than just paint plain white walls, she wasn’t prepared for the cost. So she styled her four rooms herself. Decorating her new Atlanta home, she brushed an X-pattern over silver paint on her walls, creating a brushed steel effect. The design led to so many compliments and requests for her services, she opened up her own business.

In 2002, Sanders, 32, launched Faux Décor. By then she had learned the basics: sponging, ragging, and striping. But to reach a more exclusive clientele, she’d have to offer more. “I knew I needed to work with Italian plasters and create more graphic walls.”

Sanders has been attending The Finishing School in Atlanta (www.thefinish ingschool.com), completing six intensive courses on product variety, mixing color pigments with glazes, and learning advanced glazing techniques. She has designed walls for luxury homes and fine restaurants in Miami; Detroit; Washington, D.C.; and Atlanta. Sanders emphasizes that faux finishing education is ongoing. “You have to follow the industry,” she says, “and take new courses as they come up.” Here she describes ways to achieve a fabulous faux finish.

Technique 101. To create faux finishes, hundreds of techniques are employed. Sponging, which requires a sponge and rag or porous tool, and lined creations called striping are two of the simplest wall design techniques. It’s the application of plaster, however, that elevates the level of design. Different plasters applied with the same techniques can produce a variety of results. “The artistry is in knowing how to manipulate plaster,” says Sanders.

Among Sanders’ favorite plasters is Lusterstone, which is often described as draping your wall with silk. “It feeds off light; its metallic tones are ideal for sunrooms and living rooms.” Bellisimo Venetian Gem is a marble-based plaster, and Fauxstone is used to replicate the old-world charm of ruins. Sanders applies the plaster with a foam sponge and then randomly taps the wet plaster with crumpled paper towels to achieve varying concentrations of texture.

On the wall. High-end finishes can require multiple applications, Sanders says. “I may be in a bedroom for five days, working one layer per day. High-end jobs range from $6 to $23 per square foot.” It once took Sanders six hours to apply two layers of glazing to a bathroom; she needed six weeks for another job that included a foyer, dining and music rooms, lounge, and master suite.

Sanders says most faux finishes add a “luxury accent. They add value to a home as long as you’re [using] neutral colors that allow for [changing] interior décor.”

Know your faux. Look for a finisher who provides sample boards that show the particular technique you are seeking, suggests Jodie Baldanza, a corporate instructor at Faux Effects Inc. International (www.fauxeffects.com). Essentially, a sample board is “a piece of the wall as it will look [finished]. When a client accepts a sample, the finisher has to come as close as possible to that sample — it’s a contract.”

Baldanza recommends requesting proof of liability insurance, references, photos of

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