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Archive for January 2012

Painting a High Ceiling? Why Not Give it a Little Panache!

When repainting a room, it makes sense to paint the ceiling at the same time as the walls, since the room is already masked off for the painting project. Most often, the ceiling gets painted a white or off-white color. The theory behind this approach to ceiling color selection is that a darker color has a tendency to make the ceiling appear lower and make the room smaller.

In many cases, the principle stated above has some validity, especially for light-colored walls. However, depending on the mood you want to create in the room, a color, even a darker color may be the right choice in order to create a warm and enveloping feeling. In other cases, when the room has high ceilings and abundant sunlight, a dark ceiling color can bring a room to life and add panache to a space.

Dark Paint Color on a High Tray Ceiling

In the past week, for a client in the Northwest suburbs of Chicago, we repainted a twenty-foot high tray ceiling, dressed with abundant crowns and moldings. The room was large and had five sets of two-story windows. The size of the room, combined with its height, made it appear somewhat cold and uninviting. Additionally, a light color on the ceiling caused the beautiful crowns and moldings to overly blend in. We painted the ceiling dark brown. The whole room came to life!

Making such a bold color choice can be made easier with the guiding eye of a color consultant. When doing interior painting, clients often hold themselves back in their color choices, for fear of making a mistake. A little color consultation goes a long way to embolden clients in making color selections that express their personality and create a nurturing environment for them.

Darkening Already-Finished Woodwork, Without Stripping the Old Finish

This week, we refinished a client’s staircase, taking it from a traditional oak color to a rich brown mahogany color. This client has been upgrading her house for many years and repainting as she went along. The last spaces she redecorated were her 2-story living room, a two-story foyer and upper hall, as well as the basement.

Wood Refinishing - After Wood Toning

Wood Refinishing - Before Wood Toning

During this past summer, she had her front door system replaced with fancy fiberglass doors, which we finished in a brown mahogany color. Upon completing that project, she realized that, when she is ready to redecorate the foyer, she would need to darken the stain color of her staircase, in order to balance off her new doors’ color. Achieving that change in woodwork color is what we call wood toning.

As painting contractors in the Chicago Northwest suburbs, wood toning is one of our specialties. Several years ago, we introduced our client to wood toning when we altered the blond color of her knotty pine ceiling beams, in her study, to a walnut color, in order to match the woodwork color of the adjacent room. So, in the case of her foyer, she knew exactly what to ask for. This is what happens when we educate our customers on the magical possibilities in the field of painting and decorating!

The wood toning process first involves the light sanding and cleaning of surfaces to eliminate any possible contaminants from the surfaces. We then use a gel stain to tome the surfaces with a thin veil of color over the existing stain color. This is the most critical step to achieve a beautiful look. It requires skill and artistry. Once toned, the surfaces are then varnished. Voila!

The History of Paint in America: Transiting from “Ingredient Mixing” to Paint in a Can

When thinking of painting, one automatically thinks of ready-mixed paint in cans. However, the advent of the paint can is a fairly recent phenomenon. For centuries and going back into antiquity, painters were “ingredient mixers”, as well as applicators. There was no such a thing as ready-mixed paints. Painters mixed their paints as they went along. Whoever knew the formulas had a high level of “job security” in those days!

First Spray Painting Machine in America, Chicago, Circa 1892

It was not until 1867 that the first US patent was issued for a read-mixed paint. The ingredients listed in the patent were as follows: oxide of zinc, acetate of lead, sulfate of zinc, silicate of soda diluted in water, lime water and linseed. This list of ingredients may help to explain why, for the better part of the following twenty years, ready-mixed paints had a serious image problem. They were considered to be inferior and undependable.

Then, what is it that caused the balance to tilt in favor of the ready-mixed paints? A few key factors contributed to that outcome. First, the American Industrial Revolution took root during the 1870’s and 1880’s. During that same period, there was also tremendous population growth, fueled by a considerable influx of immigrants. As an example, Chicago’s population grew from 298,000 in 1870 to 1.7 million in 1900. These two forces collided to create the perfect storm for something else to emerge as the painting industry’s driving force: the chemist and paint lab. As the industrial revolution progressed, the needs for painting surfaces became more and more complex and the demand for paints began to outstrip painter’s ability to mix the ingredients. The paint can was born to stay.

As a house painting contractor from the Chicago area, I have always been fascinated by paint memorabilia and the history of the painting industry. I not only have a considerable memorabilia collection, but I also give lectures to interior designers, architects and other interested groups on the History of Paint in America.