Monday, March 21, 2011

You CAN update those ugly formica countertops without breaking the bank!

I have enjoyed taking many classes over the years, everything from cake decorating to International cooking, tole painting to glass cutting and most of them were great for the moment but did not linger long on my "to do" list.  However, the knowledge that I have gained over the past few years in the world of concrete has been something I am still intrigued with and continue adding more and more information into my brain whenever I have the opportunity. 

I started out making simple concrete leaves and then moving onto giant concrete bird baths.  You can be so creative with this media and can create simply magnificent things.  I have taken several classes in the concrete overlay system and it has been interesting to compare differant products and their unique characteristics.  I will admit, I now use a combination of 4 differant company products to produce my finished pieces but it works and I love the results, as well as my clients loving it too. 

My son has been working on a 102 year old house located on the South Hill in Spokane.  It has so much personality, about as many quirky architectural features as it has major problems due to age and neglect from the past owner.  This big old rambly home has been converted into 4 apartments, all which have quite a personality in themselves.  We have now completed 3 out of the 4 units and I will take you on a little tour of apartment #3 just to show you how, with a little imagination, a little money and a whole lot of elbow grease and downright hard work this project has become the poster child for turning TRASH into TREASURES.

The first sight for sore eyes was the kitchen.  One counter had old vinyl glued on, along with the other one having brocken formica that really dated the entire kitchen.  The great thing about concrete overlay is that it is not like solid poured concrete that weighs so much that the underneath cupboards need to be powered up to endure the weight.  This overlay consists of 3-4 very thin layers of a special polymer concrete mixture and it gives the look of solid concrete without the weight.  With the colorants and then epoxy finish, along with a protective topcoat no one would ever know the differance.  You can apply it directly over formica, MDF, tile, whatever the substrate is that you are working with.  This also saves alot of time and time is money! 

I enjoy working on these older homes as the old world charm can be captured so easily with the interesting architecture.  In less than 3 days I finished these countertops and offered an updated look to this small but adequate kitchen space.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Beautiful Accent Ceiling Makes That Fifth Wall the Focus of the Room

I had the wonderful opportunity to work all last week in a home that is going to be simply magnificent when it is done.  I was asked to do some decorative finishes on the ceilings but was amazed at what type of ceilings these were.  The best way I can describe them is that it was 9 tray ceilings "within" a ceiling and each was outlined with 15 inches of beautiful finished hickory wood frames. The dining room walls are a soft gold so I chose a 5 color glaze consisting of Mannered Gold, Restrained Gold, Fenland, Latte and Jute Brown.

Although I had done 2 differant sample boards for each of the three rooms, the finished look is dependant on what the original surface is like.  I was quite surprised to find out (very quickly) that the white on the ceiling was NOT a coat of paint but just the primer.  Evidently the owner had told the painters that the ceilings were going to have a special finish so the interesting texture had just been sprayed with primer.  If you know anything about working with glazes you will also know that the surface will grab the color VERY fast and get sucked in.  I alway like to put at least one or two coats of eggshell or satin finish on my surface before continuing with the glaze as it just makes for a smoother glide and longer workable time to have fun creating.

Therefore, I spent the first day taping every single inch of that beautiful hickory wood, burnishing it with my credit card so as to not have any paint accidently slip underneath the painters tape and then as an extra precaution, I sealed the entire edge with clear glaze.  Some have commented that if you are a good enough painter you should not have to wrap the entire work area in painter's tape.  I do not agree as I feel like the extra time that it takes, along with the money spent to purchase tape is only showing respect for the expense the homeowner has shelled out for the wood.  Even if there is just glaze being applied, the surface is left dull when wiped off!  I like to be a professional and treat all of my jobs as such.

The following day I was able to start my creative blending with my 5 colors of glaze.  I normally put the dominant color on 40% of the surface, then 25%, 20%, 10% and 5% with the remaining colors.  You need to work in small areas so as to not let the glaze get away from you, possibly dry a little too soon before all the blending is done, yet working the outside edges so that there are no lap lines.  Although the ceilings were not unusually high, I kept getting off my scaffolding and going to the floor to look up at the progress.  It looks differant at the differant angles and I wanted to make sure that before I move on I am very pleased with the finished look.  This is also a fantastic way to get your exercise...with the exception of the leg cramps that wake you at night after going up and down approximately 45 times that day!  I completed the ceiling by the end of that day and was rewarded by the overwhelming compliments of the homeowner.