I know we’re all fixated on window treatments. It’s our industry; it’s our lifeblood. But the one thing we all know is that the largest backdrop in any room is the wall, and how we decorate these walls has a direct effect on how we decorate the windows—and vice versa. How we decorate our walls can fall into two separate categories: treating it as a coordinated backdrop, or treating it as the main feature, when artwork and mirror and other wall art is at a minimum.
Sacha Cohen’s book, The Painted Wall, illustrates a wide range
of techniques for decorating walls—all color coordinated for
easy room scheming—and also takes the reader through the entire
process from preparation to the finished product.
FROM CREAM TO MAHOGANY
The first thing you’ll notice when you pick up the book is the
absolute vibrancy of the first few pages. This isn’t a book for
the color-faint-at-heart. This is a book that celebrates the wonderful
joy color can bring to any room. It trumpets color proudly.
Turn to the Table of Contents and you will find that the book has
been divided into six chapters, based on color. The first chapter,
off-white, cream and stone, explores the concept of smooth and soft
suedes, stone walls and the organic spectrum related to these more
bland colors. But this chapter is anything but bland. It stresses
that this palette particularly suits those parts of the home environment
that have, for instance, an ocean view, a lovely rich green of grass
or forest out of the nearby window. When the walls recede, it is the
draperies, for instance, that provide the pop. Learn how to create
the look of lime plaster, of crackle glazes and fossilstone marble
to add interest to this color palette.
The second chapter, lemon yellow, ocher and orange, is a vibrant palette
best employed in rooms that need a burst of sunlight and color. Learn
how to create wallpaper patterns, multi-toned colorwashes, striped
mosaics and golden hued sponging, washing and aged paint techniques.
Use complementary colors such as terra cottas and deep reds to enhance
your yellow rooms, but also consider deep contrasting hues such as
blue or purple to draw the eye.
Prepare for your eyes to drink in the lovely tones of chapter three:
red, terra cotta and claret. Encompassing some of the warmest tones
on the color wheel, these colors, while deeply lovely, can overpower
a room if used too greatly. Learn how to employ this color in moderation
through the use of painted stripes, one-on-one colorwashes, two-tone
dry brushing and, in the Red Hot Rooms section, learn how to bring
a touch of spice to walls by introducing ambient tones of pink, scarlet
and burgundy through stenciling, chenille effects and paper frottage.
Other chapters, such as blue, navy, violet (including tongue-and-groove
techniques, feathery finishes and polished plaster); turquoise, lime,
dark green (including magic metallics, optical illusion and simple
sponging); and brown, gray, mahogany (including faux finishes, matte
and gloss and earthy tones) fill out the book.
PLAN AND PREP
Perhaps you’re concerned about how to go about actually creating
a new wall effect. Don’t worry—a chapter on initial planning
as well as one on preparation and finishing techniques will get you
started. Plus, terrific color photography and step-by-step instructions
are positively inspirational. A helpful section on the various paint
types on the market and their best uses—much like how a good
fabric chart—tells us which work best for which kinds of application.
Also, tricks, such as using wallpaper paste for a good, cheap binder
when making a color wash, make this book an invaluable one for those
interested in making life easier when trying something new.
If you are more interested in basic ideas for color to show clients
when determining the palette of a room, Cohen’s book will also
accomplish this task. The room-setting photography is breathtaking,
close up, and offers a multitude of lovely inspirations.
The Painted Wall acts as a sourcebook of effects and styles available
within any color choice. The step-by-step guides explain how to recreate
each look without the need for specialist knowledge or equipment,
along with general advice and tips on problems that may occur. And
as Cohen says, there is something for everyone, so be confident, be
bold, roll up your sleeves and get painting!
Kathleen Stoehr is president of Chemistry Creative, based in Minneapolis,
MN. She has more than seven years’ experience covering trends,
window treatments and interior fashions, and is a former editor-in-chief
of Window Fashions magazine. Stoehr can be contacted for comments,
queries and trend information at kstoehr@chemistry