EDITOR'S NOTE: Debbie Travis' column "The Painted House" has changed its name to "Debbie Travis' House to Home." The e-mail address has also changed. There is a new shirttail that reflects this change.
Dear Debbie: We live in the country in a small, cozy home and are fixing it up slowly, as we like to do the work ourselves and we don't have a lot of money. We had to replace the old claw-foot bathtub (the inside was cracked and gross), and bought one that has the outside you can paint over. I know it sounds crazy, but I'd like to do some kind of faux finish to make it look old. What do you think? Karl and Karen
Dear Karl and Karen: I think it's a brilliant idea. Old cast-iron tubs are difficult to find and unbelievably heavy. But you can transform your new tub in an hour with an authentic-looking faux-rust finish that's easy and entertaining to do. Apply a coat of heavy-duty primer to the exterior and let dry. Take a can of stencil adhesive and spray thickly in random spots so that you have an uneven, lumpy surface. Let dry 15 minutes. Using an old paintbrush with splayed bristles, apply rust-colored paint densely over the surface. Dab the wet paint with a sea sponge to produce more texture. Now spray black paint sparingly to give the impression of stains seeping through the "rust." Mix a little white and silver paint and gently dab it on with a sea sponge, creating a few dusty clouds. You can go back over your work, playing with the colors until you are satisfied with the effect.
Dear Debbie: For my bedroom ceiling, I like the idea of a sky scene, as long as it looks natural and not overpowering. However, my ceilings are stippled plaster (small bumps). Is it possible to do the faux sky over this type of ceiling? Any help would be appreciated. Trevor C.
Dear Trevor: The first thing to check is the quality of the stippled plaster on your ceiling. If it?s the cheap type that is blown on (a common practice in many of today?s new homes and condos), it is very difficult to paint over, as it is fragile and flakes off. You must begin with an oil-based primer and wear goggles to protect your eyes from falling debris. The sky scene can still be applied effectively if the stipple is not too rough or pointy. Use a deep pile or cut sponge roller that is made to paint over rough surfaces. Pick white and pale-blue paint, and roll each color on with separate rollers, in random lines, overlapping each other. Do not overblend. A nice touch is to add a few streaks of pink to warm it up.
Dear Debbie: I'd like to have the large mirror above my fireplace framed with faux tin ceiling tile. The house was built in the '50s, and I want to update the look. Where would I find a faux tin ceiling material that I could use for this purpose? ?Nancy J.
Dear Nancy: Tin ceiling tiles are enjoying a comeback, not only for replicating traditional decor but also as a handsome decorative material for door panels, backsplashes and even as a wallcovering. You can find real or plastic facsimiles in specialty and renovation stores, lumber stores or restoration product retailers. There is also an embossed wallcovering call Anaglypta, sold as borders, that replicates faux tin panels and would be a less expensive alternative. The Web also has places listed that you can check out. These tiles will make a stunning frame for your mirror. I would mount the mirror on a piece of plywood and glue the tiles down around it. You can age the embossed tin by rubbing it with a wet tea bag or a bit of artist's oil paint.
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Debbie Travis' House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please e-mail your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more ideas, look for Debbie's newest book "Kitchens and Baths."
© 2004 Debbie Travis
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