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Faux painting lends flair and color

Sponge on color

By Cindy McNatt

Knight Ridder News Service

Does anybody paint a wall just one color anymore?

Decorative paint techniques easily transform a dull backdrop into something that says style. And there are so many methods to choose from -- marbling, ragging and wood graining for example -- that anyone with a pair of gloves, a couple of sea sponges, and lots of energy might find it addictive.

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Allison Cummins says there is a reason behind her faux-painting madness.

Add some flair

Not only does faux painting add flair and color to her light-filled home, but with four children underfoot, textured wall colors mask fingerprints that would otherwise line her walls.

"The cleanup on faux-painted walls is easy. Everything wipes right off."

Cummins obviously is delighted with the technique. When the family briefly lived in a white-walled rental house during renovation of their Santa Ana, Calif., home, the chalky paint was impossible to clean.

But because faux painting usually involves glaze, glazed walls, whether shiny or matte, are a snap to wipe down.

Practically every room in the Cummins home has been sponged with color. But the painter's palette doesn't stop there. Decorative painter Janet Hoopes of Fullerton, Calif., painted a checkerboard pattern on the guesthouse floor.

"It's only paint," she tells Cummins, exuding confidence in a technique that is easily redone if it doesn't work.

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The parquet floors got new life topped off with a hand-painted throw rug that can be mopped with the rest of the floor. Hoopes finished the walls in cranberry and added a decorative treatment to the top trim.

The common areas of the home like the kitchen, family room and living room were dabbed in neutral colors. Subtle accents can be spotted on the range hood and dining-room wall. But Cummins wanted the children's area to be sunny and fresh.

Just a dab

After a coat of bright white paint on everything paintable, including moldings and walls, Hoopes used large stamps to dab brilliant yellow birds in the bathroom to simulate toile wallpaper.

In fact, the children's bedrooms are where the zany colors come alive. Hoopes gave the walls in each room a three-dimensional effect.

In Caroline's room she sponged ochre glaze over a solid base coat and added small watermelon-colored decorative balls to make the walls pop with personality.

In Colin's room she borrowed the shades of the seaside bedspread and sponged apple-green diamonds between periwinkle dots.

Because Connor wound up with the smallest room, Hoopes went to great lengths to fill the walls with his favorite subject.

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"We found a book about bugs, enlarged the pictures on a color copier, carefully cut them out, and decoupaged the assortment to his neutral walls," Cummins says.

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