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What happens when you just can't make up your mind on a decorating style? Well, for Barbara, it meant a home of mixed characters -- too many to make any cohesive sense. It was Shabby Chic meets Mexican with a modern twist and some traditional furnishings were thrown into the mix. This jumbled dÈcor was not what she wanted, but she couldn't see any way out.
The major challenge for Barbara's Facelift was to bring a sense of unity to the overall ambiance. We emptied out the living and dining rooms and started from scratch. Every element from floor to ceiling was given proper attention. I chose a serene Asian theme, employing soft colours and earthy textures to create soothing surfaces.
My first decision was to replace the existing parquet with a new bamboo floor. The unique markings and tone of the wood connect and ground the rooms beautifully. The living room walls are now a dusky sage green, the sofas have plain Zen brown slipcovers, and we built a low coffee table that has a touch of bamboo and a timeless, worn finish.
The dining room is bright with many built-in details. Chinese-inspired paneling was built around the lower walls, decorated in an intricate pattern with thin pieces of molding. The upper walls are pale blue, and on one wall, a large chinoiserie design makes a subtle, yet dramatic effect painted in the same white as the paneling.
A chest of drawers was redesigned with modified shelves for holding Barbara and Smily's growing wine collection, and two store-bought cabinets were joined to make a low console with simple lines in keeping with our theme.
For contrast and to add some whimsy, we created a bamboo chandelier painted deep red that hangs over the mahogany dining table. And now, wherever your eye moves throughout the main floor, there is a sense of clarity and purpose to the rooms. Inviting, comfortable and spirited.
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By adding the new Gamma Bamma Boo bamboo floors, we immediately improved the look and cohesive character throughout the main floor. Bamboo is a more quickly renewable resource than other wood and its markings are gorgeous, especially for our Asian theme. Gammapar (see resources) supplies a wide range of strip and plank acrylic impregnated wood flooring; they offer the natural beauty of wood and the strength and durability of acrylic.
The red bamboo lamp is a bright focal element. The bamboo was cut slightly different lengths of between eight and nine inches. A slit was cut up the middle of each piece with a table saw. A flat steel bar 1/8" thick was bent into a circle and riveted together. Two 3/8" steel rods hold the circle in position. The bamboo pieces were spray painted and then slid over the flat steel circle.
To make the table top, we glued and nailed strips of wainscoting onto a sheet of plywood, and framed it with 2" x 2" pine. The top was nailed to a base. The legs were shaped from 4" x 4" pine. Holes were drilled into the legs to fit the bamboo supports. These were secured with expandable glue.
To create a warn paint finish for the table, first apply a coat of stain and let dry. Mix paint with a little Venetian plaster to thicken it a bit. Brush on the paint in uneven, random smears, and use a spatula to smooth it out. You want some wood to show through. Sand back the dried paint and even scrub some areas with a wire brush. Play with the finish until you are satisfied. Add a little more stain and touch up with paint. Finish with a coat of varnish.
Two inexpensive laminate cabinets were joined by mounting them onto a base and then installing four legs. A new top was cut from a sheet of melamine 5/8" larger then the cabinets and the edges routed. Once the console was built, we decorated the surface with rice paper, cut to fit and adhered with spray adhesive. An important last step -- finish with a coat of water-based varnish to seal and protect.
The dining chairs were refinished to fit in with the Asian theme. The wood was sanded, primed and painted white. To highlight the shape and cutouts in the wood, steady-handed Jim drew around them with a black indelible marker. Seat cushions were re-covered with a soft, neutral fabric.
Dining Room Walls
The decorative dining room walls are subtle, yet intricately detailed and beautiful to look at. To make the paneling, begin by marking off a section three feet high (chair rail height). Measure up from the floor and keep your lines parallel. Use a level and chalk line to mark off the pattern. Cut the moulding pieces to fit and apply with glue and brads. Prime and paint the panels white, with a high gloss sheen.
The upper walls are a very pale blue. The painted image is produced by using a projector and a stencil or cut-out of a design. We used a Chinese paper cutout. Project the image onto the wall and trace around the motif with a pencil. Once the design is on the wall, it is easy to paint it in. We used the same white as the panels. (see resources)
The living room's serene palette of natural shades and organic textures invites the family to relax together or entertain in style. Dark sage walls (Smoky Mountain from Para Paints) make a dramatic backdrop for a series of framed Chinese prints. The old sofas have earthy brown slipcovers, and we built a coffee table that's Asian-inspired and casual.
This handy wine cabinet was made from a plain laminate chest of drawers. We left the two small top drawers in place and removed the rest. Shelves were constructed to fit into the space. Wood was cut to make a cradle for the bottles, one nailed near the back of each shelf with large half circles for the bottle bottoms, and one at the front with small half circles for the necks. To paint over laminate, first sand well to rough up the surface and then apply a high adhesion primer.