Shine on You Crazy Diamond: star worthy finishes

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Lime Wash . Skipping Stone.  Gives that traditional, relaxed feel.

For the love of the craft.  Jamie and Casey Davis –  brothers, and founders of Portola Paints and Glazes have an eye for architecture and for color.  I think it’s cool that their Dad was a high-end builder, their appreciation for craftsmanship and artistry growing from this exposure.  Each taking it in their own direction – one as a fine artist, the other a photographer, before coming together to start Portola.  Even the name is cool, but I would expect nothing less from a company based in Cali.

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They are so right.  Bedroom, Powder Room, Front Entry – if London’s Sketch can do it – I can too.

Undoubtably these California roots fed their knowledge and respect for sustainability.  Their paints, glazes, clays and washes are almost entirely green.  All the acrylics are zero VOC’s though their enamels do contain low levels,  out of necessity – shhh.

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Roman Clay Finish – the combo of dull and shiny is sexy.

They make them here in the good old USA, they hand mix them (quality control at its finest)  and even hand paint the sample decks before mailing them out to you.  From smooth to textured, pearlescent to trowel finished, they marry old world tradition with sustainable tech and innovation.  Paints that take on the appearance of patinated copper and aged iron, to the weathered lime washed wonder of the Mediterranean.

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Note that slightly textured finish – Sandstone…who knew.

They offer up the look of Venetian plaster in the form of their Roman Clay – though buyer be ware – this is trowel or putty knife applied, so the skill of the craftsman WILL make a difference.  The last thing you want is to pay a lot of loot and have it look like porridge.  Oy vey.  This is for a property yet to be known to me, but it remains a happy visitor in my rich fantasy life where at the end of all this flipping I’ve become flush with cash and fame (not likely) and have the money to buy a home the size of at least three of my tiny flips put together.  That Roman Clay will adorn the walls of the entry, and be the wow I’ve been waiting for.

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Lime Washed Moodiness.

Until then, I am intrigued, though admittedly a little nervous about their semi-gloss and sandstone finish paints.  These have a slightly textured surface.  They show the brushstrokes and give the impression of a silk fabric – albeit a slight one.  It interests me still, particularly when I consider how it might look side-by-side with a high gloss.  They carry a hybrid enamel, which I envision on a ceiling, the moldings, base and/or door, and juxtaposed against this slightly textured sandstone wall.  Too much shine, too many hard surfaces, too much perfection is simply uninteresting.  Appreciation grows when juxtaposed.  I’m so clever with my rhyming today, don’t you think?

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HAND Painted.

Two final things that will have me stepping out on my boyfriend Ben (Moore that is, and not my real boyfriend) support and pride in, and for the small business owner, they really do make our world go round, and the luscious names they have assigned to their pretty little palette….El Mirage, Fountain Stone, Blue Moon, Sweet Water, Gypsy Eyes, Sayulita (a place that I’ve been and loved), Magic Potion, Show time and Simmer Down.

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These guys….hero’s of tradition.

I could just drown in those lovely names.  Happy Sunday.

Painted Into a Corner

Ever feel like that?  Wondering to yourself how it was possible you didn’t see where this thing was going?  Seven minutes, a floor plan no one can, or will verify, an inadequate video, and a few pictures cribbed from the on-line posting.  That’s what I have to go on by way of making my design decisions.  Oh – it’s ill advised to do it this way.  Mistakes will be made, unnecessary expense paid.  Why wasn’t I born with that patience gene?

Option 1:  An asymmetrical built-in in the living room which would house my enormous television or a decorative plaster wall.

These are questions I often ask myself and clearly I am unwilling to change.  I will be designing it before I have the keys and can sit quietly in the middle of the living room and figure out why the space feels so small when it’s got such great volume.  12 foot ceilings are pretty grand.  Is it the size of the windows, the standard doors which are a little too wide and not quite tall enough, or are there simply not enough squares in my corner?  I’ve lived in spaces far smaller than 708 feet.  In my experience these questions get answered in dramatic aha moments when you are finally given time to be in the new home.

Option 2:  Keep it clean and simple.  Left:  Benjamin Moore – Chantilly Lace (cool)  Right:  Benjamin Moore – Swiss Coffee (warm).

These moments are sustaining.  This gal can’t be expected to only experience the type of aha that comes along with an unforeseen conditions report, followed by a change order, a schedule delay, and if you are me, tears of frustration.  Some of it has to be good, and much of it is.  That’s the news I would like to share today.  Remember, paint is cheap.  If you do find yourself in that corner, as I often have, just sit tight.  Let it dry, walk right over that problem, and start again.  It’s not finding yourself in the corner that presents the challenge.  It’s not exercising the muscle that let’s you find your way out.


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Option 3:  Paint and select accent wall for the use of this sophisticated wall covering.

You see what I just did there?  Gave myself permission to make lots of mistakes.  It’s Sunday.  Absolution abounds – if you are prone to similar mishaps, just remember, some corners are cozy.

Authentically Venetian

Having just visited Venice and fallen under its spell, I am not quite ready to move on from this new love.  It’s a magical place, and like any new love it feels steeped in possibility.  As I embark on my next project, I want to incorporate a little of that magic into my new space.  Because as I have said before, magic makes the world go round, or is it love?  I better throw in a little of both for good measure.


I am fascinated by the quality of Venetian Plaster, and not at all fascinated by brick walls.  To be clear, I don’t dislike them altogether.  It’s just that they don’t feel right for a city apartment, inhabited by a gal, with a style that leans toward modern glamour.  Now if we are talking about brick in the home of a ruggedly handsome man or in the Tuscan hills – I”m totally in support of it.

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I think you know where I am going with this.  That brick “accent” wall in the living room of No.4 will be politely asked to fade into the background.  At Milford Street I was assaulted by three floors of brick wall.  It was too expensive for me to board it, so I had to settle for painting it.  If I was the Imelda Marcos of one bedroom condos as my boss so sweetly suggested – I totally am not – I would have hired a master craftsman and had every square meter of that brick lavishly covered in Venetian Plaster.


This age old technique, which can be traced back nearly 9500 years, and long before Venice was founded, is achieved by combining slaked lime putty, marble dust and/or quartz.  There are variations on this of course, but this particular recipe is special in that over time the plaster finish will return to its authentic state, which is lime and marble.  Those are both stone in case you were wondering.  It’s incredibly durable, holds its color, performs wonderfully in wet climates, and won’t allow mold to settle on it.  No wonder the Venetian’s like it so much.


Well I like it too.  It can be brought up to a high shine through increased compression as the material dries.  This is the particular finish I am attracted to, though it can be finished in a matte or a rustic style.  I have even seen it finished to look like clouds of meringue in a little clothing boutique in my neighborhood called Viola Lovely.  Lisa Cancelli Picard’s eye for fashion extends to interior design.  When you visit her shop at 1409 Washington Street . Boston . South End, be sure to make note of the amazing Mid-Century Modern Chandelier she curated for the build-out, and go ahead and touch the walls.  They are delicious.


While I love the idea of a pigmented finish, I am planning on using white with hints of cream, and gilt like the finish seen above.  Absolutely neutral, no?