Embossed paper makes modern impression

DEAR DEBBIE: My boyfriend and I have just moved into a new condo, and we want it to look modern. We don’t have much furniture yet, but we figure we can do something cool with the walls to give our new home some character. We both love your shows and agree to go along with any ideas you give us. Thanks for your help. — Penny and Patrick.

DEAR PENNY AND PATRICK: Working with a blank canvas can be intimidating — especially when today’s decorating options are limitless. There are so many exciting new products, it’s hard to know where to start.

There’s a new look in wallpaper that you should check out. Paintable embossed wallpaper has raised designs that add instant texture to your walls. These papers come in many designs, from traditional damasks to contemporary geometric patterns. Hanging paper is not difficult, and most come preglued. Once the paper is up, you’ll notice the difference in the way your space looks and feels even before you paint. A solid base coat of paint is necessary to protect and seal the paper. Make sure you get into all the crevices and indentations. Now for more decisions.

You can apply any color of paint, and the effect will be fantastic. Or, why not try metallic or pearlescent paint? They are hot trends right now — I applied silver metallic paint over the embossed circle paper shown in the accompanying photograph. Metallic paints are more expensive, so always start with a regular paint base coat in a color close to the metal paint so that you only require one coat for the effect.

If you choose to highlight the paper’s raised design, apply an ocher-colored glaze over a white base coat and rub it back, leaving the dark glaze behind in the indentations.

Create a simple vignette composed of a few shapely objects that draw the eye, and you will have added tremendous character to your new home.

DEAR DEBBIE: We have a cathedral ceiling upstairs, half in our bedroom and half in the other bedroom. I’d like to paint our room a deep red but don’t want to go all the way to the peak. How can I stop at the normal wall line, which we do have on one wall, all the way around and have it look OK? And what color would I paint the ceiling? Should I put a shelf or border around? Thanks. — Anna.

DEAR ANNA: The top of the wall separating the bedrooms is a natural stopping point. You could put up a 1-inch strip of molding around each room at that height.

Or why not take a cue from the way the Italians traditionally paint their homes? To demarcate their spaces, instead of costly moldings, they apply painted stripes. For example, in your loft bedroom the ceiling would be white, then a 1-inch stripe at the top of the wall height masked off and painted red, then another space left white, then the red walls. You could follow this same pattern in the other bedroom. It’s a unifying technique that allows you to move between contrasting colors on a large, uninterrupted surface.

DEAR DEBBIE: We are moving to Arizona, and every house we look at has textured white walls. Do you have any suggestions on how to warm up the walls and not lose the look of the texture? –Valerie.

DEAR VALERIE: Textured plaster walls typify the Southwest style, and white is a common choice to beat back the heat. You can add warmth with a soft ocher glaze.

First seal the plaster walls with a good paint primer. Then roll the glaze over the plaster, making sure you get full coverage. While the glaze is still wet, rub the surface with a cloth just like you were washing the walls to remove much of the color, but leaving glaze behind in cracks and crevices to highlight the texture.


Debbie Travis is a columnist for King Features Syndicate. E-mail questions to her at house2home@debbietravis.com.

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