Monday, September 28, 2015

Hand-painted Floor

In the decorative/faux finish line of work we get to see some amazing properties and stately old mansions on Long Island.

With this project we were in an adorable, original Chauffer's Cottage on one of the largest privately owned properties on Long Island. Truly a Gold Coast gem, its a neighbor of the Old Westbury Gardens. The Chauffer's Cottage is just full of charm, and all original floors and walls. This made finding anything straight very hard. Painting the floor pattern, with its two inch wide border was a challenge! Nothing is perfect and it fits right in with this charming home.

Bella Terra Designs, Inc.'s photo.  

For more photographs of completed hand-painted floor projects check out my website:

Monday, September 21, 2015

Autumn 2015

Can't believe that I haven't posted anything in a long time but life does get in the way ... 

There is so much to write about - our updated website, our newest addition to the services we offer  called, "Cocktails and Canvases," and some terrific projects (personal and professional).  Before I tell you all that has been happening I first want to share two photographs from one of our most recent completed projects at Bella Terra Designs.

This is from a terrace outside a master bedroom in Brooklyn.  

Isn't is amazing how a hand-painted rug can make an ordinary floor look great?

See more floors on my website.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Stars & Stripes

I should just come right out and say it, I am not a good blogger. 

I love blogs, love to read them, wish I could maintain one with daily posts.

But I just must accept the fact that for now, my posts will be every few weeks.
Who am I kidding?? Bi-monthly? Lol! 

I recently acquired two wooden pieces from a client who was parting with old furniture.
I knew immediately that they could be great painted pieces specifically for a boys room.
And if I couldn't sell them, I knew they would someday be in Kyle and Logan's room.

I loved the mid-century modern legs, the straight lines in the drawers, and the simple clean boxy look.

Just cleaned up and waiting to be painted!

I knew right away that the dresser was going to be the distressed version of the American Flag.
For months I have been wanting to paint it, and just waiting for the right shape to come along.
After a good thorough cleaning, I mixed up a custom color using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. This paint covered so well, that it only needed 1 and a half coats. 
I purposely left bits of the wood color coming through, and further sanded down the edges. I also 
beat it up pretty good with lots of tools. The fun part! I knew I wanted it to be an old 13 star flag, and got to taping off my stripes, which were also done sort of messy. I had tape for guidelines, but it didn't matter if that paint didn't touch the tape everywhere.
Besides my lack of blogging skills, I apparently forgot to take pictures for the in-between stages. But you can see above how distressed I made the stripes, I sanded down after they were all painted in.
Stars were next, and lucky for me, we had a few stars laying around that I could sort of trace the shape and then hand paint them in more pointy.

Close up of the stars, very distressed, and waxed with Antique Wax.

After everything was sanded and aged, I put one coat of ASCP clear wax, and then waited till the second day to do the second coat of Antique wax.  The dresser was just done in the coordinating blue.

And you know what, the dresser sold within 3 days, so I am thinking I may need to add some hand painting to the desk as well. Something different.  The thinking wheel is turning!!

Here are a few more shots of the dresser all done.

Besides a boys room, I think this would be very cool in a living room as an accent piece.
I wonder where it is in its new home!?

Horrible lighting on this view. Oh well!

Found this super cool metal stool at a garage sale, though it would be perfect match!

Thanks for reading about my Stars & Stripes dresser, see you in a few weeks, hopefully!

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Kitchen Island Goes Grey

Love the finished piece!
In case you haven't noticed, grey is the new beige and its everywhere.  I have a wonderful young client with 3 young kids, and a newly purchased home. We started off in her home a year ago and did bold pink and white stripes in her girls bedroom above the chair rail and a metallic grey brushed plaster below. The master bedroom has a focal wall of horizontal grey and silver combed strie. And this spring we were called back to check out her kitchen island.   The island is about 5 years old, perfect condition, and stained cherry. It just wasn't what she wanted, and once she got her GORGEOUS table from Restoration Hardware, she knew it had to change.

The before shot. Of course I didn't save my original shot!

Originally my client was thinking to paint it like the rest of kitchen, cream with a brown glaze. I decided I had to show her some more options. I always feel like, if you are going to change it, then make a big change! I gave her a few samples to look at, a black base with layered greys and distressed edges, a simple grey glaze over charcoal base, and a very cool grey driftwood type of faux wood grain. And guess what she chose?? The very cool grey wood grain!!! I was ecstatic, something fun, different, and beautiful.

Becuase of our hectic schedule we finally got in to do the work two weeks ago. She was so patient in waiting for us to get there.  For this project, we began by degreasing the cabinet with TSP, and used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint as our base.  It's a great product and I knew it would bond well with the cabinetry. After two coats, we were ready to start. We began by taping off corners on a mitered angle, just like you would see in real wood finishes. I made a custom glaze of black and white tint, and brushed it on. I used a regular chip brush to pull through the glaze to create the graining.  By holding the brush and pressing down on its bristles in uneven pressure, you are able to get a variety of different types of effects.
First coat of ASCP

Mitered edges, and the grey brushed grain.

See the board leaning on wall, that is my sample door.

Once a section is dried overnight, we tape off the opposite angles and glaze the same way. After this is all dry, we adding a toning layer of dark brown glaze, this warmed up the grey, and added more depth.
On the right side, how the brown over glaze warms up the color.

Two coats of poly were brushed on, and hardware reassembled.  We happened to do this right before Columbus Day, so we were able to let it dry and cure a few days before putting the cabinet back.
The finished shot!

Close up, love the varying lines in graining.

I was so thrilled with how this came out, but more importantly my client loves it!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Time is Flying By

My last post was on May 20th, and its already the end of July. 

Wow. In my head I had a few posts that I wanted to do along the way, but have been completely 
swamped with work. Not too mention it is also summer, so any free time I have is spent in the pool with my boys, and gardening, and bbqing! 

So i figured I would keep this post short, and sweet, and more related to home life. 

Taken ay my clients house, not altered one bit. Can you see the itty bitty spider on upper right side of petals? 

One of my favorite things to do is garden, and take pictures of flowers. As some of you know me well, I have very shaky hands, and it doesn't allow for great photos lately.  But my iPhone has completely changed that.  It must have some built in anti-shake or something, because I can do no wrong! It also captures really great detail in moving shots, like my boys splashing in the pool.  Hope you enjoy the pictures and are enjoying the summer as well!
Kyle and Logan having a splashing great time!
I love Logan's expression in the back.
Following in Mom's footsteps and watering my plants.

My favorite flowers are Dahlias, any kind.
More pretty!
Cosmos flower
Morning Glory opens up early am...
Morning glory in middle of the day, closed up tight.

Monday, May 20, 2013

A Simple Can of Paint

In home renovation, painting is one of the easiest ways to get the most wow for the dollar. Or at least I think so.  But then again I also paint for a anything with a brush I am biased for. For $50 and some manual labor you can easily change your wall color, creating a whole different feel in a room.  It also happens to be a great way to change your kitchen cabinetry for the fraction of the cost of a full kitchen renovation.

A lot of my clients want to update their kitchen look without breaking the bank, and lets face it, the cost of new cabinets is a lot, add on a contractor to install them, someone to demo the old cabinets, and chances are you would need new countertops and maybe even new backsplash.

And before....

In comes paint!  We were recommended to our client by Amanda from Suite Pieces, and Susan and I were introduced.  Before I get into Susan's kitchen project, let me tell you about Susan.  She is a an artist and a huge DIY'er.  She has a wonderful blog Homeroad, and sells a lot of her goodies on Etsy.  When we first met, I could barely concentrate on what we were talking eyes kept drifting to look around at all of her projects.  Her home is what I envision my home to be one day when there aren't little boys running around to break things.  Every where I looked was something so simple, yet stunning and effective, and done without costing a fortune.

The After!

Who wouldn't want to open their beverage this way? How cool!

Add caption

Susan gave me a door to try a sample on, she had done her cabinet in grey, and wanted the remaining in a white.  We mixed up a blend of two whites, and came up with a creamy color.  After seeing the sample, Susan loved the color, but wanted to bring the grey into the rest of the kitchen. So the above cabinetry was painted a cream, the lower grey, and a beautiful soft satin varnish applied. The edges were distressed slightly to give an old worn look.  The cabinets were not in the best condition, over 20 years old, but had good bones.  Some TLC gave them a new lease on life.  It was an absolute pleasure working with Susan on her kitchen and I am so excited I was able to help her "blend" her kitchen into the rest of her home.
Up close detail of the simple sanded edges.
The best part about painting the cabinets was seeing Susan's reaction when she came home to a completely finished kitchen.  We painted the doors in the studio, so we wouldn't wreak havoc on her busy home, and then installed them at the very end. She was thrilled! So for your next project, try giving the bathroom vanity, or kitchen cabinets a paint face lift.  Instant gratification!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Even the Professionals Make Mistakes

The title says it all. As I said in my last post about the tin ceiling jobs, I would be sharing my experience working on an order for a Copper Patina Finish for a restaurant in Sweden.  Most of my other jobs that I get are usually not a rush, they have to have the painters come in, prep, sometimes wood work has to be built, etc. There is always a delay. It is never, "You have to start tomorrow."

The orders for Hollister and Sweden came in at the same time. I had about a week and a half to get ready before we would begin, and as I said in the last post, what worried me the most was the shelving. Not once did I ever consider the paint to be an issue. I went online to the paint manufacturers site and was surprised I didn't see the color of the Metallic I needed.  Hmmmm, how odd.  It is a California company, but thankfully someone was there a bit early that day.

CA:  "Harvest Gold has been discontinued."
Me: "WHAAATTT???? When?"
CA: "Two years ago."

Oh my God!! I think I literally had a heart attack. Holy, holy, holy! What was I going to do? And at this time, I did ask the person I was speaking with if they had any left over that they could sell me.  I was told no.

This was the original tile sample I did, but Sweden's order would have no black patina.
I told myself, this has to work out. I had time to find some, I will just call every paint store in NY, NJ, and CT and see what is left.  I found dribs and drabs, 6 oz. here, 18 oz. there. The biggest score I got was at store in Long Island City who had eight 16 oz. jars. I will take them all!! I posted on a few forums such as Faux Forum, MuralsPlus, and Linkedin. But the biggest break I actually got was being given the ok to do Hollister first and then Sweden. This gave me time to look for more paint.  A few artists in CA had bottle unopened and I paid them for the product and to ship it. A fantastic man from Florida told me he had the rep's name for the paint company and to call him.  I spoke to representative, and he called the company direct and told me they had cases of the paint in 6 oz. jars.  The paint was old and I would just have to pay for the shipping since they couldn't tell whether or not the paint would be any good.  It was a chance I was going to have to take.  I actually had to call the woman who told me they had none, who then said, well how much do you need? How much do you have? Oh cases ... (really you had just told me none last week! )  I ordered about 9 gallons worth in 6 oz. jars. I figured I should stock up. LOL!  In the meantime, I had to prep for whether or not this paint would be good.  I had to make a color close enough to the original. I could do that by mixing copper, bronze and a ton of mica gold into it. It could work.

So now I had just finished dropping off Hollister's order, my assistant is back at the studio getting the second set of shelving all done and the tile owner shows me my pallet of tiles.

I looked at it and said, "That's not for me."
Him:  "Yes it is, those are the 1 by 1's, 1 by 2's and 2 by 2's".
Me: "But they aren't flat, these are raised. I have shelving for flat tiles. We never talked about raised tiles!"

PANIC!! These tiles sitting in front of me are for a coffered ceiling, meaning they have an indentation of 4 inches. My shelving is for 1 inch. I can't roll these tiles either. What the hell was I going to do? I think after that I didn't hear a word, as I was so upset that I signed up for something and I never even asked to see what it looked like. I had assumed that all the tiles were flat. I was never told otherwise.

Clearly not flat.

I  ended up buying a sprayer, since the tiles couldn't be rolled. The sprayer worked wonders, and the shelving was re-adjusted. We had to remove 3 pieces in-between to make up for the height difference, and this meant that fewer could be drying. It really meant my sons were going to lose their playroom for awhile.

New spacing to accommodate height.
Monday we started spraying. We took turns as holding the gun got tiring, awkward and caused a lot of pain in our forearm. Basically using muscles we normally don't use.  By the end of the day we were doing ok, and started to clean up. And that's when it happened. We had been wearing gloves all day handling the tiles, and had taken them off to put some away. My assistant wasn't carrying any, but happened to turn and her hand hit a tile that was leaning on the chair. She grabbed her hand, and turned as white as a ghost. "I cut my hand. I saw the bone. I have no insurance, you need to do a butterfly stitch."   I told her, "There is no way in hell I am giving you a butterfly stitch, I am taking you to get stitches."  She panicked, she was about to throw up and pass out.  I guided her upstairs, put a cold rag on her head and went to look for bandages.  I remembered the emergency service place around the block, called them, asked if they can do stitches and if it was crowded! It's got to be better then the ER.

Thankfully she was able to move her fingers, she only needed 6 stitches, but my concern was really no nerve or muscle damage. Phew! Sooo scary.  Those tiles can sever your hand, or a finger. Now what was I going to do for help? I called my friend a painter, who had also helped with the Hollister tiles, and he was free that week. He came to spray, and was he a master! He flew threw them, and at times so fast, we were running around like a chicken, trying to copper patina them, dry them, store them, put wax paper between them.  I also didn't account for cleaning the tiles, why would I know that some would be caked in oil, like a bottle of EVOO had tipped over on them.  One set was covered in oil that we lost almost a whole day cleaning them with Mineral Spirits.  Even with cleaning the tiles, and my assistants hand limiting her, we were still ahead of schedule due to the efficiency of the sprayer.

This is great! Then I emailed the owner a picture of the tile to make sure that the patina was a good amount before we varnished.  He was also away on vacation, and I didn't hear back until late Thursday night.  It went something like this "Looks great, but you aren't painting the backs are you, because you don't have to."  I replied, "Noooo, why would I paint the backs?"

The picture I sent him.   
The next day we went about spraying the next round of 1 by 2's, and about 1 pm, I thought about his email again, and said, why would he say that? That's weird.  I spoke to the crew and said, "Weird right?" "Let me call to find out, don't spray any more!"  I called the warehouse and tried to explain. The emails with the photos I was sending them weren't going through, the owner was out of the country and unable to get calls, the man I was speaking to was describing the tile all wrong. I had thought the side I was spraying was the side he said to do when  I picked them up. Apparently I was so overwhelmed that day, I didn't get it right! In fact, all week we sprayed the backs of 700 something plus tiles! I wanted to cry. I was so mad, I just couldn't.  The only saving grace was that we hadn't gotten to putting the copper on the 300 1 by1's.  I looked at the crew and said "What am I going to do?" And very simply they said "Start over. We will work all weekend. We will fix it and make it right."

The correct side! 

I love that each one is individual in its patina pattern.
And we did. We still finished on time, picked up the next set and finished those on time without a hitch.

We even had to build a custom shelf to hold the moldings when being sprayed.

Waiting for the patina and copper.


And this was the only FLAT tile, 2 by 2. 
Never again will I ever take an order without knowing what it looks like, what side is up, down.  This is something totally new to me, and I am learning. That week was the most expensive, painful learning experience of my career. We overcame a discontinued paint, injury, painting the wrong sides, but they came out amazing. I can't wait to see them installed in the restaurant in Sweden. They should fly me in!