Fix It: Faux finishes

On these cold winter days, most Jerusalem apartments resemble an igloo.

igloo 88 (photo credit: )
igloo 88
(photo credit: )
On these cold winter days, most Jerusalem apartments resemble an igloo. After all, they are made of stone, which makes them cold, and the majority of them are painted white. There are many ways to paint a room, and even though the actual temperature will not rise, the room will have a warmer look. Homeowners often object when I suggest painting a room with a color other than white. They say, "won't a color (especially a dark color) make a room look smaller?" The answer I give them is a resounding no. Contrasting colors make a room seem smaller because your eyes dart all over the room as they try to focus on all the various objects within the space. However, when an entire room is painted in a single color, even using a dark color, it will not make the room seem small, but rather warm and appealing. Most customers stick to pastel colors. However, I recently painted the main floor of a house (this included the living room, dining room and kitchen) a dark shade of purple. This made the adjoining rooms look larger than they did when they were off-white. There was a time when certain colors like black, dark brown and red were taboo. However, these colors can be used effectively in many rooms, particularly in a kitchen or bathroom. Keep in mind when you sit in front of the color palette that any and all colors are acceptable and what you choose should be a color that really appeals to you. There is a tendency among homeowners to have color continuity throughout the home. This does not mean that each room should be painted the same color. If you really want to keep continuity, try changing shades of the same color. Of course, one can always add faux finishes to give a room a special look. Faux (pronounced 'fo') painting can be both practical and extremely striking. Faux painting refers to various types of decorative finishes including sponging (both on and off), ragging (both on and off), color-washing and dragging. I recommend to families with little children to have the stairway and hallway sponge or rag painted. This helps to hide little hand and fingerprints in these high traffic areas. One can create a special look in a formal dining room by using two shades of the same color. Some customers prefer to have the darker shade on top, while others will do just the opposite. I have even had customers who like to have a striped look using two shades of the same color. Adding chair-rail molding adds to the effect - you can paint the lower half of the room in a dark shade and then stripe the top half of the room with two lighter shades of the same color. In a bedroom, one can choose to match the paint job to the linens purchased. For example, if one has a plaid comforter, using the dragging method to create the same look on the walls can be very complementary. I do recommend purchasing linens prior to painting. This will help you choose colors that will complement your linens. If you are interested in a softer look, a simple border can be added to any room or hallway that is painted white. One can find stencils of grapevines or other flowers that will complement your furnishings. There are times when all you need is a little something to cheer up a given space. A word of caution when using faux finishes - be careful not to overdo it (especially when ragging and sponging). Try painting only a single wall in any given room with a faux finish so as not to overwhelm the eye. Nechama R. asks, I live in an apartment building on the entrance level. The door to the building is often left open and during the winter months, leaves and other things are blown into the lobby, not to mention the cold air that enters as well. Is there any way to secure the door so that it will close after a person enters and/or exits? You can have a door closer installed on the inside of the door. This would shut the door after it was opened, yet it would allow for it to be opened for an extended period of time if someone is moving into the building and has a need for the door to remain open. These closures also have an adjustment for speed to allow the door to be closed at a slower or faster rate. As with most doors that lead to the outside, it is a good idea to apply weather stripping to the bottom of the door. This will keep out that nasty draft. Today's Do-It-Yourself Resource is which has great tips for faux painting. Reader's tips and comments are always welcome! The authors can be reached via (02) 585-9559 and at