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The following story appeared in American Painting Contractor, March 2003

Creative Faux Finishing Keeps The Job Growing

Gary Lord Wall Options turns a single decorating job into endless creativity.

The Citirama Home Show overlooked downtown Cincinnati from high on a hilltop in Northern Kentucky, providing an amazing scenic view of both the city and the Ohio River. Eight homes were on show and Gary Lord, owner of Gary Lord Wall Options in Cincinnati, was called on to provide all of the faux finishes for three of these homes. The owners of one of these homes, the Grand Vista, were a real estate agent and a musician, and they wanted a transitional home to showcase their artwork and existing furnishings. Lord explains that the project started with a commitment to complete just the elevator cab. After much deliberation, it was decided to paint the interior of the cab to look as if it had tufted panels of silk on the walls. Lord felt this look offered a softer, more elegant feel than traditional elevator finishes. The painting technique required using an artist's airbrush with acrylic artist paints to aid in a more realistic look.

The homeowners and designer were so happy with the results of the cab that they asked Lord and his crew to also paint a mural in the wine cellar. "They wanted the observer to feel as if he or she were in a winery storage area," said Lord. After a variety of preliminary designs, the owners selected one that had a perspective that took the observer right into the mural. The mural was painted with acrylic artist paints, latex house paints and universal tints to adjust the colors. The mural was first chalked up, then under-painted with warm tones and finally, finished. To soften the mural and to allow it to harmonize with its surrounding area, Lord decided to apply a soft mottle glaze to the adjacent walls and into the hallway. The crew started with an off-white semi-gloss latex base coat, and then used Aquaglaze mixed with latex-bascd paints in soft Tuscany golden tones and scrubbed the colors into the wall for a fresco appearance.

This scheme was further developed by using a raised wood form to help create the illusion of a limestone archway. This same limestone theme was also used on the opening of the room, the baseboards and as a limestone wall coming down the steps into this area. Aquastone was applied to the face of the wood moldings, baseboards and to the bare drywall. Lord explains that this material is made of marble dust impregnated with acrylic polymers and is extremely durable for high traffic areas. On the walls they used a tool to score in the grout line and they painted it in on the moldings. Aquacreme, a glazing medium, was tinted with Aquacolors and scrubbed into the texture they had created, mimicking the balance of lights and darks found in natural limestone.

The clients were now eager for Lord and his crew to continue with more finishes. Lord recommended creating an old, cracked texture that had the feeling of cracked leather on the walls in the study, directly off of the hallway where the mural and limestone work was completed. They used a red base coat on the walls and then applied a crackle size called Aquasize.

Lord explained the process: "We mixed up one part Venetian Plaster Ruby Red with one part Cracklemate and troweled it onto the surface about one-eighth of an inch thick. We left this on overnight in order for the cracks to fully form and dry. Once it cracked, we used a bronzing agent called Bronze Palette Art as a very tight skim coat over the crackled Venetian plaster."

To age the now bronze glow, Lord used a gel stain called Stain and Seal in Van Dyke Brown and hand rubbed this on into all of the cracks for a wonderful aged patina.

The project continued to grow as the crew was asked to work in the master bedroom and bathroom. For the walls, Lord selected a soft linen strie finish in a warm butter yellow to complement the sheers and fabrics being used in the room. In addition, a raised, embossed, hand-cut stencil was chosen to match the design in the curtains. Benjamin Moore latex house paints and Aquaglaze were used for this part of the project. White Palette Art was used for the raised, embossed stencils.

The marble in the bathroom was very striking and the color for the room was taken from the slight rust oxide vein that ran through this marble. In the main area, Lord put a soft suede finish on the walls using a latex low luster base coat and then applied Aquaglaze mixed with a darker version of the base color. They used a more pronounced design in the toilet area where there was not as much marble. Lord picked up on the strie theme from the master bedroom using the same colors as the main bathroom area. While the strie was still wet, they used a large damask stencil and worked a negative removal stencil process. "This is done by using denatured alcohol on your stencil brush to remove the strie wherever the stencil pattern is. The overall look is of a softly aged piece of fabric on your walls," explained Lord.

One of Lord's favorite areas to work on was the dining room. He calls the finish on the walls Abalone. The walls were basecoated in a flat latex color very close to the first skim coat of Venetian plaster called Amethyst. This was applied with stainless steel trowels, along with the next step called the texture coat.

"We then mixed 50 percent Amethyst with 50 percent White Venetian plaster and did another tight skim coat of this, making sure not to bury our colors below," said Lord. "Then we applied another tight skim coat of Amethyst to bring up the richness of the pattern and colors below. To top it off, we applied three layers of iridescent paints in green, violet and blue."

And so this exquisite job finally comes to an end, but not without Gary Lord and his talented crew receiving the praise and recognition they truly deserve. This project is a wonderful example of the near-perfect work created by the TOP JOB Award winners. Congratulations to Gary Lord Wall Options on an awesome accomplishment!

Gary Lord Wall Options crew members include Micah Ballard, Kris Hampton, Shari Henning, Jeff Sutherland, Joe Taylor and Dave Texter.