It’s a wash

Creating and painting panels makes for stunning change in the dining room

January 19, 2013
A colored glaze was used to highlight these elegant dining-room panels.

Q. We are creating panels on our dining-room walls with molding strips, and I want to fill in the panels with a paler shade of the main color, or paint the panels white. Is there a paint technique that would suit these walls? – Annabella

A. This sounds like a great project. Panels make a stunning highlight in a dining room. One way to decorate the inside of the panels is to apply a strie finish. Strie is like dragging, where you pull a stiff bristle brush through a colored glaze to produce a fine pattern that looks like linen. You can apply strie to a whole wall, but it is easier and more effective as a highlight technique. Using two colors that are close together will make a soft, sophisticated finish. If you want a more dramatic look, try a red-colored glaze over black; for a contemporary setting, mix a silver metallic glaze and drag over blocks of white panels.

In the photo shown here, the walls are painted Wedgewood blue and the panels and moldings painted off-white. I mixed a colored glaze – one part water-based glazing liquid and one part blue paint. By adding glaze to paint, it becomes translucent, which allows the base coat color to shine through. Glaze also slows down the drying time so that you can work with the paint. I rolled the blue glaze over the panels, and while still wet, dragged a hard bristle paintbrush through the glaze from top to bottom keeping the lines straight. I repeated the dragging until the effect of soft white and blue lines was achieved.

For a more casual look, try strie on chair rails and trim work. Always drag in the direction of the grain or the length of the molding. This technique also works for furniture. Tape off panels on drawers and on the sides of a dresser, or highlight the center panel of a dining-room or play table.

Q. In my basement, the bottom half of the wall paneling is mid-green. I would like to whitewash over the panels. Can this be done? Thanks. – Betty

A. Whitewashing wood with diluted paint is one way of coloring the wood while allowing the wood’s natural grain markings to show. It is applied to raw wood and wood that has been sanded to open up the pores. However, the same process can be used over wood that has been painted if you want to see some of the color showing through – in your case, the mid-green. Latex paint will not cover oil-based paint, so check first to see what type of paint is on the paneling. Then clean and sand the paneling lightly to prepare it for the wash. The whitewash recipe is equal parts white latex paint and water. Apply the wash with a brush, moving in one direction for a neat finish, as the brush strokes will show.

Q. We painted one bedroom yellow with a bit of an orange hue. The floor is a medium shade of hardwood, the furniture is mahogany. The room looks like a big bright lemon. What would you suggest for curtains and bed linens that would help? I’ve put up gray/blue picture frames, and they seem to work. Thank you. – Elean

A. Yellow can be a difficult color to work with, and the amount of natural light that the room gets also will determine its brightness. Take a cue from your frames – silver or pewter gray is a good way to tone down the yellow. In fact, you can paint the wall trim gray also. Anything white or cream will make the yellow look even brighter.

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