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2009 - Fall Edition
Interior Design
Interior Wall Surfacing
Article:  Joe Burgess
            Charlotte Tallman
Photos: Bill Faulkner
            Russell Bamert
            Joe Burgess
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A tile or wooden wall structure that enhances a masterpiece in oil by your favorite artist; glass, tile or painted murals; veneers of stone; woven wood panels; finishes with the depth, shine and patterns of marble or malachite; mirrors to add depth to a room or hallway – there are many exciting wall-surface combinations that can merge the identity of your new home or remodel with the unique image you are striving to develop.


Coconut, Palm,
Metal, Woven Wood:
Fine Wood Design

1570 W Picacho Ave
Las Cruces NM 88005

Decorative Tile:
Syzygy Tileworks
106 N Bullard St
Silver City, NM 88061

Faux Finish:
Janice Hartog

Home Products

5529 E Paisano Dr
El Paso, TX 79905

Stone Veneer:
Cole Thomas Homes
404 Pocano Ln
El Paso, TX 79912

Tile Mural:
Lascaux Tile
Los Angeles, CA 90036

Venetian Finish:
Bella Fino Interiors
4170 Mojave Dr.
Las Cruces, NM 88005

Wall Tile:
Classic New
Mexico Homes

2155 Dona Ana Rd
Las Cruces, NM 88007

Woven Wood:
Madrid, Inc.
13905 Maryton Ave
Santa Fe Springs, CA 90670
As with every element in the design process, the best results are obtained by early determination of the end results you are trying to achieve. A rock veneer or a heavy hanging should be known to both the structural designer and the interior designer to insure safety and reduce the likelihood of tearing down and rebuilding a wall.

Quality artwork, whether original oil, watercolor or an enlarged giclée print, should be hung on an appropriately finished surface. The color, texture and reflective qualities of the wall surface can enhance (or detract from) the strength of a piece of art.

Venetian plaster finishes are considered by some to be artwork in themselves and often consist of materials originating in Italy when authenticity is specified. Experienced applicators (the artisans) should always be considered for achieving the best results. The swirls and sheen of marble can be duplicated in plaster as well as the sense of depth – when properly applied and finished. The requirements for supporting heavy rock slabs or even veneers are therefore avoided or at least reduced in the case of combining finish options.

A faux finish can also produce good results when paints are properly applied. As with the Venetian finish, the perceived depth achieved is affected by the quality of materials, coats applied, tools utilized and, of course, the capabilities of the applicator. With several layers of paint, the design and depth of the wall surface appear to change with the angle of observation.

Any finish should compliment the design of the house and the resulting quality will be affected by the workmanship of the previous stages of construction. The evenness of the drywall applications absolutely affects special finishes and especially painted surfaces. It often requires rework by the finish group, but the outcome provides a warmer, more intimate and certainly more elegant space.

Conversations with the Experts

When designing a room what importance do you place on wall surface finishes such as tile, Venetian plaster or wood?

Overall I use neutral finishes and colors on larger wall areas – I usually add accent wall colors and finishes to smaller areas such as: entry ways, powder rooms, kitchen back splashes, nichos and fireplaces. These smaller areas are great with deeper jewel tones and finishes such as mosaic tile, tumbled marble, rough plaster and faux Venetian plasters. These areas also become focal points and create areas of interest. –Bernadette Valdes

Wall surfaces are a very important ingredient in the overall final result. The key to good design is the use of the correct surface treatment for each area. In a dining room, you may want to limit a texture up to a chair rail and then apply coordinated paint colors to create a soothing environment. A library or poolroom on the other hand may require solid wood panels to achieve the masculine appearance you are looking for. Another important consideration is how the surfaces in each room transition to one another. When moving from one space to another, attention should be given to how well the surfaces work together. If the contrast is too drastic, the overall effect will suffer. –Lynda Power

Wall surfaces for a design project need to be chosen to go with the style of the home. For instance, Mediterranean styles need a heavy texture. Venetian plaster works well too, but can be dating. Wallpaper goes in and out of style, but in small amounts it can be a great solution. Faux finishes and washes are also another way to achieve the look you're wanting. –Sherry Franzoy

For me, the walls set the palette for the space. They can completely change the feel of the room by the use of texture and color. –Fran Timbrook

What are a few of your favorite wall surface finishes?

I like to think of the walls as a large canvas. The wall treatment can be used to create the overall character that can be developed and used as the common thread throughout the project. Drywall offers a variety of applications, techniques and custom finishes without destroying a budget. I love to develop character, texture and color, whether I use drywall, various plaster treatments or simply paint to create a look and feel unique to
each project. –Connie Hines

Suede paint, Venetian plaster . . . I love texture, the deeper the paint tone, the more the texture is visible. The new paint technology offers enhanced colors, which are brighter saturated tones and monochromatic colors – new hybrid shades that create a totally new look. –Bernadette Valdes

The simplest technique is "Brushed Suede". It comes premixed under the Ralph Lauren Brand and is applied using a 2 1⁄2 " brush in a crisscross pattern. This finish gives the look and feel of real suede material. If we are trying to achieve a more rustic textured look, "Bellagio Faux" is one of our favorites. It originated off the shore of Lake Como in Bellagio, Italy. This is a multi-step process that requires preparation of the walls, hand trowel application of a mixture of joint compound and paint finished off with accents applied with a semi-dry brush. The most formal and highest on the scale of skill required is "Venetian Plaster." Authentic Venetian Plaster contains aged slaked lime, integral pigments and marble dust. It is applied in thin translucent patches and polished with wax to a bright smooth surface producing a rich visual finish with an illusion of depth and substance. –Lynda Power

What is the best way to make sure you get wall surface finishes right?

Be sure to get a good painter and plasterer. It cannot be stated enough that "you get what you pay for." –Anne Steele

It is fun to create an unexpected design statement through the use of texture and color. The most common mistake we have seen with wall surfaces is "overuse". A client will fall in love with a certain finish and want to use it everywhere. To get the maximum impact, moderation is always a good rule of thumb to follow. We have a close network of trained and very talented artisans that bring years of experience with them to every project. Even though they are extremely talented in what they do, we always work up a test board with the finish we think will work best, holding it up in several locations in the room to make sure it is just right under all the various lighting conditions that occur within the space. –Lynda Power

It is a lot of trial and error. I test colors, use large samples of finishes and lay out all of the elements in the light of the room it is going into. You have to view your colors in all lights to see how they work with one another. I once specified butter yellow for the client based on her wish to have a sunny, bright kitchen. One element she did not take into consideration was the sun through the clerestory windows. During the late afternoon the room glowed and felt 10 degrees warmer than it was. She loved it, but I am sure her guests probably thought I was crazy. –Fran Timbrook ///
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