January 2nd, 2012

2012: A Blank Canvas

Welcome to a brand New Year! It is now time for the annual rite of making new promises to ourselves, setting new goals, attempting to discard bad habits. A fresh year bring a fresh slate; a blank canvas. Of course you don’t need the occasion of needing a new calendar to start afresh. Your future is yet unwritten and so each day or even each moment brings opportunity and possibilities, BUT there is something very powerful about closing the books on the past year and focusing RIGHT NOW on how to improve on the next one.

If I was to focus on just one, simple way to feed my psyche, nurture my soul, and tend to my spirit (all of which helps me, of course, to be better to myself and others) I would have to say that I simply need to paint more. As my decorative painting businesses (Royal Design Studio and Modello Designs) have grown the creative art that inspired them has increasingly given way to Biz running business. There’s no time to get a brush in my hand because it always seems to be filled with a phone or a computer mouse. I have a fabulous painting studio that stares sadly at me every day while I rush past it in to my computer. This. Will. Not. Do. I have decided to  give myself the gift of regular “painting retreats”-in my own studio. It’s time to get back in touch with me…and this is where it starts. Lots of blank canvases. Thrift Store furniture pieces exactly, that are being transformed for the new year with some creative stenciling and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

Here’s to a 2012 that is creative…

…filled with bold strokes…

…and many bright, creative ideas!

What gift are you giving yourself for the new year? Please-be generous!

March 14th, 2011

Lime Love

I am SO in love with this wall finish and blog post by Cat at  The Golden Touch.  NOT just because she used our popular Moorish Trellis stencil, but because she also used one of my favorite decorative mediums, Interno Lime Wash from Sydney Harbour Paints.

Wall stencil-Moorish Trellis

I have actually shown you pictures of some walls that were done in our studio with  the Interno Lime Wash before here, but they are so, so pretty I think they bear repeating….


One of the things I love about Sydney Harbour is that they produce hand painted color fan decks.  You can pick these up from your local distributor (ours here is the local, independent Ben Moore store) or order them online. I think the cost is quite reasonable for what you get! This one above is the interior/exterior fan deck.


Cat took a different approach to her walls by applying the Interno Lime Wash with a roller over a base of thinned, rolled on joint compound-which looks fabulous! We followed the manufacturer’s instructions and applied the Lime Wash in two coats with large “box” brushes over their lime primer.

Lime wash pink and orange

Either way, this is a very fast, easy finish that produces walls that look like they are ALIVE. Actually they are! The natural lime “blooms” through the paint creating subtle, natural color variations. The Lime Wash is a great alternative to lime plasters when you want to add a Mediterranean feel to your walls-and the color selection is simply divine!


I hadn’t been to their website in awhile and was excited to see some new specialty finishes including Colored Chalkboard Paint, some REALLY cool different Rust options, and something called Industrial Lustre. I am inspired to get my hands particularly on the rust finishes. Are you inspired too?? It looks like right now this Australian-based company is limited to stocking in the US in California and New York, but their website indicates an online store coming soon. Let’s hope so!

January 6th, 2011

Things Organized Neatly

Reorganizing your studio or creative space for 2011? Serious OCD?!?!? Things Organized Neatly is a nifty tumblr blog with a lot of super cool photos of…..things organized neatly!!


Paint Brushes


colored pencils

Paint Chips

Hint: Click on “Archive” to view all the past photos.

December 3rd, 2009

Fabulous Cabinet Finishes

I wrote recently about my friend Barb Skivington’s beautiful showroom and space in High Point, NC. Well a couple of weeks ago Barb was in MY house to teach one of her signature cabinet and furniture finishes workshops.


Barb has a wealth of knowledge about cabinet finishing, the product line that she uses, and how to be successful at selling these amazing and elegant surface treatments to high-end clients. Plus, she LOVES to teach!


Here, she demonstrates “tipping” on a raised resin ornament that has been applied to the initial raw wood of a hand-distressed cabinet door.


And now showing off a more contemporary Asian look. The class was called Artisan Cabinet and Furniture Finishes and was such a HUGE hit that we have scheduled a return trip for Barb. She will be coming west again for another amazing class, European Cabinet and Furniture Finishes.


This workshop offers distressed, stained and painted finishes, and multi-layered and textured specialty finishes-finishes inspired by the beautiful towns, cities and regions of France, Italy, Spain, Luxembourg, and Belgium. According to Barb, who frequents the furniture showrooms in High Point, Belgium is BIG for 2010.


I, for one, am looking forward to learning how to replicate these lovely finishes! European Cabinet and Furniture Finishes Class, March 3-5, 2010

October 3rd, 2008

Through the Looking Glass

I wrapped up my first ever Elegant Reflections class earlier this week. It may be illegal to have that much fun! Of course, not everyone gets their kicks by stripping the paint off the backs of mirrors and pouring stinky sulphury stuff over the them to create wild patination patterns…..but some of us do……

Modello Mirrors

Like Julie Stonehouse…

Modello Mirrors

and Georgia Morrow….

Modello Mirrors

I’m SO sorry I didn’t get a picture of Regina Garay, who was here, and has posted about the class on her Fauxology blog. Regina! What bad bloggers we are to not even get a photo of us together!!! Next time….meantime, I think one of my favorite samples that came out of the class was this one above of Regina’s. But there are many more….

Modello Mirrors

Julie’s 23K Gold Leaf Chrysanthemums and glass etching….

Modello Mirrors

My Art Deco Palm Trees…

Modello Mirrors

The dreaming girl with heavy patination…..

Modello Mirrors

The woven linen look through the removed silver…..

Modello Mirrors

Michelle’s heavy distressed and coppered pattern. Here, you are actually looking at the BACK of the mirror, which gets these crazy colors happening and can then be sealed and used as an art piece….

Modello Mirrors

her WAY cool copper and silver number…

Modello Mirrors

An allover pattern with paint, leaf and stain….

Modello Mirrors

and my gilded delicate lattice over light patination. I’m STILL inspired and have some stinky samples “cooking” as I write.  Gotta go!!!

Psssst! Next Elegant Reflections class is February 9-10, 2009.

August 13th, 2008

Tile with Style

If you ever want to get really excited and inspired about tiled surfaces, check out Walker Zanger. They have a beautiful online catalog to browse through, but I highly recommend ordering the printed one (new one coming out soon!). The interior photos are to die for, and their tile applications are highy varied and always gorgeous.

Walker Zanger.jpg

I especially love the patterned tiles, of course! In the Venezia series they use a waterjet process to carve in designs that are then hand colored….

walker zanger

or stained. You can use Modello patterns to achieve similar, custom effects on limestone and travertine tiles.

Modello Tile

These tile samples were done in my last Floor Focus class, using a combination of Modello Dye Stains and Stain and Seal colors. The patterns can be etched into the surface by mechanical means (sandblasting) or by a chemical etching process.

Modello Tile

They are then colored with the pattern still in place and/or given an allover toning. This pattern is from our Ornamental Tile series. I love how each one turns out completely differently as it takes on the natural characteristics of the individual stone tiles.

July 17th, 2008

Cool Canvases Series 3

Here is the last in the series of new panels I’ve been showing you in the two previous posts. This first one is my favorite of the bunch, I think. I don’t want to make the other patterns jealous, but I just am REALLY in love with this one.

ABC Carpet and Home table

It started with this inspiration-a tabletop photographed at ABC Carpet&Home in NYC, a veritable treasure trove of inspiring things to photograph (and maybe to even buy!)


I did an “embroidery” version of one of our new Architectural Panel patterns to get the look of the lines that seem to be carved into the surface (one of my new little tricks). I am going to add this finish to my Boho Modern Workshop and will be doing some new Modello Master Method instructions for many of these.

Modello for SALI

I can tell you that it is done with Fresco Paint from Safra. This is a paintable and trowelable product that doesn’t have any binders in it, allowing you to easy rub back through top layers to reveal other color layers below. Once it is sealed with wax or water-based varnish, though, it becomes totally durable. I think our Break Room kitchen cabinets are going to be getting treated to this!

Modello Pattern Samples 3

This Fabric Damask pattern is blown way up. Each repeat is about 4′ high. I think everyone is loving the larger-scaled designs right now!

Modello Pattern Samples 3

We used some new metallic plasters on the market and layered HiLite (interference) colors over it. Then, a good healthy layer of stain to patinate it. I’ll be sharing more of this later….

Modello Pattern Samples 3

This one uses one of our new Silhouette patterns along with metallic foils, paints and embedded lace. I’ve never been brave enough to tackle an embedded lace treatment on a whole wall, but limiting it to a smaller design area makes it pretty darn easy.

Modello Pattern Samples 3

I love the little birdhouse detail. Wouldn’t this be sweet in a nursery??

July 16th, 2008

Cool Canvases Series 2

OK, it’s time to introduce round 2 of the new canvases of finishes I created in the last couple of weeks for the SALI show. Barring any Fedex disasters, these will return to hang in the long corridor that separates the two sides of our building. I have always envisioned it as a “gallery” space, so am looking forward to that….

Modello Pattern Samples 2

I call this one “Rusted Renaissance”. I was trying NOT to do old world in favor of more contemporary looks, but I love this pattern and thought it would be good for something “simple”. Simple being relative.

Modello Pattern Samples 2

It IS pretty simple, really. Metallic foils with skip-troweled Ebony Lusterstone in the pattern and a couple of layers of stain on top after the Modello was removed.

Modello Pattern Samples 2

This one IS a bit more modern. I love the effect of putting pattern into shapes and REALLY like the way this turned out.

Modello Pattern Samples 2

It doesn’t photograph too well, due to the subtle color sheme, but it’s very pleasing in real life and I think the idea can translate to many other options.

Modello Pattern Samples 2

Aaah, finally! I have been planning to do a treatment like this in my home office for a LOOOONG time. I am actually writing this from the dining room as the home office has been dismantled for over a year now, just waiting…..

Modello Pattern Samples 2

Now that I know how easy this Kimono Collage look really is (once it’s all worked out on the computer) I think I might actually try to tackle this one here at home. Not that the dining room isn’t lovely…..More to come!

You can find all of our latest designs here on the web and in the new Design Library Binder.

July 15th, 2008

Cool Canvases Series 1

When I started in this “pattern” business years ago (as in 25 years ago) I spent almost all of my time drawing and designing original stencils for Royal Design Studio. As that business evolved into two businesses I now find myself too busy “managing” things to actually have time to sit down and draw so have become more of what I consider to be someone who “designs with patterns” more than someone who “designs patterns”. There are so many gorgeous designs to pull from history and different cultures! Plus, I find so much creativity in combining them with different colors, paints, plasters and metallic mediums! Such was the case the last few weeks in creating these large canvases for a trade show to show off some new ideas and designs we’ve been developing. Most of these will get incorporated into upcoming classes and other educational materials. I LOVE having the ability to spark new ideas for other people.

Modello Pattern Samples 1

This canvas incorporates one of my favorite mediums, Jasmine Portofino with metallic foil and antiqueing stain.

Modello Pattern Samples 1

I was going to to this up very “Hollywood Regency” in a more simple graphic way (black and white, perhaps) but the color bug was just biting too hard.

Modello Pattern Samples 1

Instead, I chose the black and white theme (plus a little silver) for this Art Deco panel.

Modello Pattern Samples 1

The background is actually a really soft, organic plaster, which helps to soften the highly waxed Venetian plaster.

Modello Pattern Samples 1

Inspired by my recent trip to Morocco, I had to indulge myself with a glorious blue and orange color combination.

Modello Pattern Samples 1

I love the symmetry and geometry of Zellij tiles. In Morocco you will see numerous different patterns and colorways all used within the same space-but I chose to keep it simple here for American tastes.

Modello Pattern Samples 1

I really didn’t know where I was going with this arabesque pattern, but like where it landed. I used polishing plasters and wax for this finish and it ended up looking quite Fortuny-ish, so I am looking forward to reworking this technique with a Renaissance damask pattern. More soon….

July 14th, 2008

Some Very Revealing Photos

For the last two weeks I’ve been madly working on creating cool and unique decorative treatments with some of our new designs. You see, the SALI show begins next week. This will be my 15th year in a row exhibiting at the Expo there. Each year lately, I tell myself I’m NOT going to kill myself coming up with newer, grander things for the booth and each year that idea flies right out the window as I scramble, sweat and stress to try and top what I did the year before in a mad, last minute rush of creativity. This year was NO exception, and you know what? I’m really pleased! I ended up created 10 new, 4′ x 7′ canvases to hang in the booth (and afterwards in a long hallway in our new building). Don’t you just love when your efforts can perform double duty?

One of my favorite things about using Modello Masking Patterns, on top of all the cool decorative treatments that can be done with them, is pulling the vinyl off to reveal the design. This is generally produces a lot of ooh and aah moments. Quite frankly, it can get a bit tedious, but each pull reveals a little more, a little more, a little more, and suddenly-there it is! I’d like to relive some of the those moments here.

Modello Designs
Modello Designs
Modello Designs

Wait till you see the full reveal! I had them photographed before I bundled them up to ship off to Charleston, SC. Coming soon…..