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Pat lives on the main floor of a brownstone triplex that she shares with her loving family. The living and dining rooms badly needed attention as they had not been touched for twenty years, and that meant twenty years of accumulating mismatched furniture, curios and memorabilia. Her family calls Pat the Queen of Clutter -- a name that many of us can relate to. The dark woodwork and furniture made the crowded rooms feel even heavier. It was time to take stock and revamp.
Both rooms were emptied out so that we could start fresh. The only way to truly revitalize the space was to have an open mind and let go of the dreary bits. I painted pearly pink striped walls that are both cheerful and sophisticated, and a glorious tropical blue sky for the ceilings. Then there was an abundance of dark wood doors and trim work that had to go. I am often criticized for painting over old wood furniture and wood trim in houses. But this wood is not always good quality and a fresh coat of white paint will make an amazing positive effect to the overall mood of the rooms.
Solid wood interior doors were replaced with glass-paneled doors that complement the new, airy atmosphere. The woodwork was treated to different finishes, a strie effect for the trim work and an aged paint effect for the gorgeous etched glass doors that Peter created.
The old wood and brick fireplace was just too drab for the bright, spirited living room, so it was refaced with a breezy vine stencil that Jim applied with cement. The mantel, painted to look like the cement with shades of pale gray, and relief leaf pattern have turned this fireplace into a remarkable focal point. Bookshelves flank the stunning fireplace and a special display unit was built for the dining room wall to show off Pat's whimsical collections.
The light fixtures continue the Caribbean theme; we added pineapple sconces and a banana leaf light, and transformed the dining room chandelier with silver paint, glass beads and shades. Slipcovers renew the sofa and dining chairs, and lace and silk curtains are hung at the windows. We used plant hangers to hold the curtain rods out from the wall, a clever way to ensure that the curtains would hang clear of the radiator.
Pat is still surrounded by her favourite things, but the new colours and details in her surroundings provide a relaxed, nostalgic mood that emphasizes her loving and giving lifestyle.
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Dining Room Chandelier
Pat's original chandelier was spray-painted silver, new mini shades were added and glass beads were strung around to add sparkle and style.
Etched Glass Doors
Peter invented this reverse stencil technique to solve the problem of etching cream leaking under the stencil and ruining the clean lines of your pattern. Lay the stencil onto the glass and roll on a coat of oil-based primer. Once dry, remove the stencil, and then apply the etching cream over the entire glass panel. Wait five minutes then scrape off the paint and etching cream with a metal spatula. Wash well with water. Always wear a mask and goggles, as etching cream is extremely corrosive.
Living Room Trellis Table
Caribbean style mixes rich mahogany with painted furniture. This side table was painted white and the trellis pattern was drawn on freehand using a small paintbrush and gray paint. Jim used a metal level as a guide to keep the lines straight and equidistant.
Low Relief Cement Fireplace Surround
To get a flat working surface, I covered the old brick with smooth, fire-resistant cement fiberboard, cut in panels to fit, then glued and screwed into place. I spread a skim coat of cement mortar (the stuff you use to patch exterior walls) over the fiberboard. The embossed pattern of decorative vines and leaves was applied to the dry cement fiberboard sections using stencils and the same cement mortar. I cut out the stencils from acetate (plastic sheets sold at craft stores), and adhered them to the surface with stencil spray. I filled in the stencil using a spatula and cement, and when the stencil was removed the raised pattern remained. Once all the stenciling was finished and dry, any pointy bits and sharp edges were sanded smooth. To highlight the pattern and to give the entire surface depth, two tones of paint were dry brushed over the surface.
The stained wood mantel and mouldings were sanded, primed and painted the same stone gray as the cement so that the entire surface would have a uniform finish.
Memories Of The Caribbean
The cheerful pink shadow stripe walls are easy to paint, but take some careful measuring and taping. The base coat is rose pink with thin and thick stripes in grey/pink and silver glaze. (please see resources) Aqua tropical skies adorn the ceiling. Apply white paint mixed with glaze for the palest background cloud wisps, and white paint alone dabbed on with a sea sponge then softened with a brush for the more pronounced clouds. For best results, use a light touch and stand back to check your work often.
Lighting details add personality and sparkle to these rooms. We bought the banana leaf ceiling light for the living room. To make the pineapple sconces you need thin aluminum metal sheets, scissors, duct tape and 1 1/2" copper pipe. Cut a crown-like pattern of leaves from one of the metal sheets and wrap it around the pipe; secure with duct tape. Cut leaves into 3 or 4 more sheets, each one a little shorter, and wrap and secure. Bend the tips of the metal leaves away from the center as you would see on a real pineapple. Insert the decorated pipes into a store-bought sconce and spray-paint white.
For the trim around the opening to the dining room and the baseboards, a light woody-beige glaze was applied over the white base coat and dragged with the end of the brush to create lines, then soften with a rag. This strie effect should be subtle; tape off the corners where the wood planks meet to make neat, realistic edges. Doorframes were given an aged look by first applying Jacobean-coloured stain to the raw wood and letting dry for 15 minutes. Then creamy white paint was spread on randomly with a block of wood instead of a brush. Once dry, a light brown glaze was brushed over the wood and wiped back with a soft rag.