Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.

Ornamental Plaster Sculpting, Mural Painting, Faux Finishing, and Imaginative Interior Design.
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Monday, November 5, 2012

There's more than one way to skin a fireplace...

Hmmm.  Well, I promised photos of the finished fireplaces tonight, so here are the photos of the fireplaces, as finished as I can make them.  Other contractors still need to finish things in the rooms, including staining hearth faces, painting walls, and installing face plates.  Apparently the urgent need to finish all this before last Wednesday, so carpet could be installed, wasn't that urgent.  Ah well, you can imagine that stuff, right?
Faux Marble face with faux stone sides.  Still awaiting stain on the hearth surround, but otherwise done.
My client on this, Mike, was well into the process of having this place built and choosing colors when I came on board to do the fireplaces.  He showed me a few photos from the Internet of really unusual fireplace faces, and I made him samples of similar things I could achieve with faux finishes.  If you follow this blog, you probably saw (a couple of weeks back) the trowelled marble swirls that never did look good, though in fairness to me, I did show the worst of four attempts (it got worse with every re-do).  The sample was cool, and parts of the actual looked fine, but in the context of the room, it never worked.
Faux stone fireplace face.  Trowelled and glazed plaster over Sheetrock and cement board.
Part of the problem was working in a nearly blank slate, and taking cues off of the few details Mike had chosen, with assistance from the builder's designer.  Nice stuff, and all things he likes, but somehow, in the whole process, nobody had caught the fact that though Mike owns guy furniture (brown marshmallow leather), and his current home is a tasteful blend of deep tones, he happens to really like a warm contemporary version of sleek art deco, quirky eclectic details, and really bright golden spaces. 
Banded metal...or not really.
How did I discover this?  When we finally ditched the first design (after two weeks of work), and started fresh, I did a quick and easy design consultation exercise.  Often, people who don't think about decorating on a daily basis (yes, they exist) know what they like when they see it, but they don't have the vocabulary to describe it.  I made Mike leaf quickly through a couple of decorating books that feature all styles and every room, marking every page that caught his eye. Try this yourself, and you will see certain patterns emerge.  With Mike, it was a thing for Deco and mid-century lines, glowing spaces, and a love of some really formal details, in city loft type architecture. 
Faux metal banded fireplace face, close-up.
The lower level fireplaces were already planned to be a mix of industrial styling with warm metal tones, and though dark, they would be fine.  The upper level fireplaces needed some ruggedness, to go with the slightly Arts and Crafts styling of this home's architecture, and furnishings Mike already owns.  They also needed some formality, to be sure they would look right with the very sophisticated lights and furniture he's likely to choose.  Though it's hard to see in the photos, the russet "marble" faces are finished in a high gloss, and the rough "stone" sides are in a low sheen.  It's a balance that will be easy to coordinate with over the years, and being plaster, rather than stone, it's a finish he can change with no demolition expense, should he ever tire of the look.  So long as he doesn't tell me when it happens, I'm good with that...really, fine.

Questions or comments?  Need more info to do something like this yourself?  Feel free to comment below, or email me at dawnmariedelara@gmail.com

There are a few other fireplaces, and lots of other faux finishes, murals, and custom artistry on my website, theartofthehome.com.

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