December 6th, 2007

Laid to Rest

It’s done! I had nightmares that something would go horribly wrong and my million dollar cork floor would get ruined somehow. Well, it didn’t REALLY cost a million dollars, but it definitely wasn’t cheap and we had another big chunk invested in labor and materials, AND there have been quite a few BIG things going awry lately, BUT I think we are safe. Knock wood.


Once we got the whole assembly line thing down we were cranking out 35 tiles (on a good day). Richard and Michelle from our staff are pulling out the last pieces of the pattern to ready them for the final stenciled layer.


Here the trusty installers are pressing the last tiles into place. Good thing THEY were good as we used all 120 tiles that we made. Phew!


If you’ve never walked on a cork floor, let me tell you it’s heaven. Especially when all your other floors are concrete. It feels like you just put brand new gel inserts in your shoes! I’m so in love, I’ve ordered some more for my home office floor where I think I will do a very large “stained-in-place” meandering cherry blossom branch. Then we will see how it holds up to my greyhound’s toenails.

December 5th, 2007

Ideas are Blossoming

I’ve been shopping for wall art recently and have found to be a treasure trove. You can get everything from very inexpensive (but nice) prints to fine giclee prints, have them frame it as you want it and deliver to your door. I was also noticing this morning that it is a great place for inspiration for beautiful color combos, interesting textures and combinations of motifs. Some assorted blossom prints for your pleasure.

The Van Gogh print above is my personal favorite. Amazing colors!

Mmmm. Mmmm.

Modello Floor-Detail.jpg

We did a SkimStone “carpet” to finish of the Gingko Leaf office, using Modello EasAll104 in the center. I LOVE this trellis pattern. Originally, there was to be an elaborate decorative border overlaid in the raspberry outer border but we liked the relatively simplicity so much as this point we decided to stop here. With everything already going on in the room and yet more just outside the door, I think it was a good call!

Modello Floor-and-Wall.jpg

This shows how it relates in size, scale and color to the wall finish. I custom-tinted the green on the floor to match the paint color on the wall using their French Mint and Yellowstone colors. It’s almost spot on. Just so’s you know, there is all that empty space at the bottom of the wall because it will be filled up with a row of filing cabinets. Sigh.

December 2nd, 2007

Celestial Powder Bath

I thought it was going to be so great having all these new building projects to post on this blog. Problem is, I’m so busy with the projects and dealing with our move-in deadline I can’t seem to find much time to post! With that excuse out of the way, here’s a room that’s almost done that uses the new Celestial Leaf we are carrying. It is WAY cool!


We actually started the first layer back during our Metallic Wall Finishes class. Carol and Cathy are putting the Celestial Leaf on randomly after we troweled on two colors of Lusterstone. The randomness comes from sponging on the gold leaf size. A few weeks later I got back in there and troweled some more layers of Lusterstone on to somewhat “bury” the leaf and then applied the first Modello layers (EasMot 118/119 cut in two layers).


We use three different colors of the Celestial Leaf: Dawn, Moonbeam and Twilight. This new leaf comes from Italy and they have developed a treatment process for the composition gold leaf that creates wonderful, subtle color variations. Shown here are Twilight and Moonbeam.

Modello Celestial-Leaf-3.jpg

The second layer of Modellos is applied right over the first to make it easy to line up, sized again and more leaf applied in a contrasting color. This final design design on the right shows a Moonbeam and Twilight combo. It’s kind of unusual that the first layer of leaf actually blushes through the second a bit. I’ll be toning and sealing with a thin layer of Rich Brown Stain and Seal and then need to figure out something wonderful for the bottom half of the wall to cover up the horrid looking laminate.

November 19th, 2007

Alberto Pinto Love

Just thought I’d post a couple of my favorite rooms by my personal design God, Alberto Pinto. Click for much, much more. Alberto-Pinto-Leather-Walls1.jpg

Check out these faux embossed leather walls.


I am loving lavender lately. Wouldn’t you love to sit down to dinner in this room? Since it’s a fantasy let’s pretend that we even have a cook and a butler!

November 15th, 2007

Marquetry Madness

OK, I’ll admit it. I am totally and irretrievably obsessed with repetitive patterns: How to translate them onto different surfaces, how to apply them with different mediums, how to make them work, and how to make all of this profitable for my customers and, yes, me! I WOULD like to retire someday, preferably to a villa/vineyard in central Italy. SO, I started messing around with this simple and brilliantly efficient Modello Marquetry Masking System for applying pattern to wood and other porous surfaces (see the cork below) and think it’s so slick that I’ve filed a patent on the process.

Modello Marquetry Masking System Samples 2

It’s all still a bit “in the works”, like everything else in my life, but I wanted to share these first samples with you. I was in a rush to find wood and get it cut, so settled on Oak plywood (bleech!). The grain of the wood fights with some of the patterns but you get the idea.

Modello Marquetry Masking System Samples 1

I’ve had a bunch of unfinished maple flooring laid down at the new building (see what I did at my house here), and some large unfinished birch doors, so will have some really nice surfaces to decorate. Now, to pick out which patterns……

November 14th, 2007


Two down, 118 more to go.

Modello Cork Tiles

One of the projects in our new building that I am most excited about is doing this stained cork floor, because 1) I think it is truly unique, and 2) I think it is going to look really, really cool, and 3) Cork flooring is hot! We had to wait 4 mos. for the unfinished cork tiles to arrive on a slow boat from China (seriously) so now have to get them done pronto so they can be installed before the furniture arrives.

Modello Cork Tile Detail

I saw this pattern in the HUGE, absolutely gorgeous Taschen book, The World of Ornament and was wierdly drawn to it. It’s not my usual design crush and it feels fun to try something completely different. We are using water-based stains with Modellos and stencils to complete the pattern on each tile. Once it’s installed, I’ll add some umber colorant to the sealer to knock it back a bit.  Just a bit. Fun, huh? I’m just not sure I can bear to let people walk on it!

November 13th, 2007


A quick update on how things are going at the new building. It’s-well, um, frustrating. Please notice that I refrained from swearing-barely. We’ve been down the excruciatingly elusive final details and final inspection for over two months and I am at the point of just maybe accepting certain aspects of really poor workmanship and figuring how to camoflauge things with paint while the building inspector is designing ways to separate me from many pennies!

On the brighter side, we did actually finalize the walls in one room. It’s my own fault, what with my AADD condition (Artistic Attention Deficit Disorder). There are many areas “started” at least….


This office has one feature wall that is clustered with gingko leaves, with more shapes scattered selectively around the room. I have been focusing more lately on combining the Modello Decorative Masking Patterns with our traditional stencils from Royal Design Studio. I’m finding that this opens up a lot of fun alternatives for both mediums!


In this case, we placed the Gingko Leaves Modellos (EasSet 112) and trowelled over them with Portofino, a fabulous metallic plaster that covers beautifully and comes in really yummy colors. We used: Jasmine, Brazil Nut, Chinchilla, Amethyst and Red Rock. Another great thing about it is that it comes in smaller sizes and there are also sample kits available.


After that dried I used various stencils from our Kimono Collection and stenciled them first with the same Portofino colors. The “dazzle” comes from selectively shoosing certain elements to go over with Golden’s Glass Bead Gel. This is a gel medium that is loaded with clear glass beads. When it dries, the colors below are reflected through the glass beads. I have found that it dries a bit milky, so you need to put it on as thinly as possible. You can also color it with metallic colors or micas, which helps reduce that.


On some of the patterns I beaded all the designs. On others I just applied it to certain elements and on others I left if off completely. I think a little Glass Bead Gel goes a long way!! The room is looking quite fun and joyful, and will become even more so when we complete the kick-butt floor treatment. We have it “started”…..

November 8th, 2007

Villa Mansi

On one of our free days in Italy we took the bus to the lovely city of Lucca and stopped on the way at one of the famed Villas of Lucca that are nestled in the surrounding rolling hills. “Our” villa was the Villa Mansi, built by a family that made their fortune in the silk trade.


This beautiful building is in a storybook, parklike setting, surrounded by stately trees-all imported from Japan and Asia.


Did you know that the symbol of Tuscany, the cypress tree actually comes from Asia!? Just a little Tuscany trivia.


Inside, all of the rooms were beautifully painted in different styles including Chinoiserie and Grotessca.


The grand dining room was jaw-dropping, however. The bas relief trompe l’oeil painting was so well executed you just wanted to get up their and dust off the carvings.


As you can see from the crack in the wall in this detail, though, that wouldn’t be necessary. Amazing art in a magical place. By the way, they are working on renovating the upstairs to rent out the entire Villa, so gather you friends together for the vacation of your dreams. PS, thanks to Carlo Mori and Eva LaRue for taking better photos than me!

November 7th, 2007

Silk Damask

Our little Florentine Silk Damask room turned out divinely. Interestingly and fortuitously enough, they seem to like to put showers right in the thick of things in their bathrooms in Italy-so you have a toilette, a sink and there in the corner a shower head coming right out of the wall with a drain on the floor. This works GREAT for cleaning big stencils as there is not need to try and squish them into a pesky little sink.


Here’s Debbie and Lori doing one of many repeats of damask around the room, along with a final photo.


And here’s Gary in one of his favorite spots-sandwiched between a bevy of beautiful babes, namely: Becky, Kari, moi, Alison and Jeanine. You lucky, lucky man.