If you can’t afford it, fake it

For almost as far back as I can remember, my dad has sold paint and because of that, paint has always had some influence on my life. On road trips, my brothers and sister and I would flip through the paint decks that always lived in the car and laugh at the silly names. My first set of blocks were actually 4″ x 1″ x 1/2″ paint samples that my dad had painted and no longer needed. I thought they were great — there were all different colors! We always got to choose the paint colors for our bedrooms and my parents weren’t afraid to try out new paint techniques in theirs. There are a lot of really cool things you can do with just paint. And, if you don’t like it, it’s just paint! No permanent damage done.

When Mr. Gren and I moved to France, our church, Emmanuel International, was in need of some redecorating help. The main building had been a house and the sanctuary was in an attached carpenter’s workshop. These had been converted into church use decades before, but still weren’t quite as fresh and inviting as they could have been. We spent several of our first days in France with paintbrushes in our hands. Paint dries pretty quickly in 100F weather.

Emmanuel International Church in Rueil-Malmaison

At some point in the church’s history, someone had decided that “emerald isle” (Thank you, Benjamin Moore color deck) would be a fabulous color for the carpet. No matter that that particular shade of green doesn’t really go with anything else. But, that’s what we were stuck with. On the far end of the sanctuary was the baptistry where someone else had done their best to fancy it up with faux columns supporting a gothic-inspired window.

Not bad as far as architectural interest goes

This photo is from a later renovation. At the time that Mr. Gren and I arrived, the ceiling beams and the gothic baptismal window were trimmed in a hideous yellow akin to that ladder in the corner. Now, maybe you like yellow. Maybe you think yellow’s not all that bad. Have you already forgotten the emerald green carpet? It was kind of a stomach-turning color combination. I was fairly certain I could improve the look.

Once upon a time I had seen on TV or read online or in one of my dad’s brochures a faux finish painting technique that mimics the look of marble. If anything needed a faux marble finish it was those sad little faux columns. I did a quick search and this page has a very good step-by-step instructions on how to DIY: How-To Faux Finish. I found a couple different shades of green paint, plus some white and black, and a glazing medium. I won’t explain the whole process since the above website does it better than I will anyway. The only real difference is that I used a feather for painting on the veins.

On the way to marble

Doesn’t look so hot, does it? But now, check it out from a little bit farther away once I had finished the whole process.

Already looking more believable

Touching up the green around the column really made a difference, too.

All done

The green on the trim is unfortunate, but you work with what you’ve got. Just try to ignore that part! My little pseudo columns turned out pretty well. So well, in fact, that people who had attended the church for years didn’t even bat an eye; the marble sold itself! A couple of years later, the sanctuary required extensive renovations, and, in that process, the offensive green carpet was ripped out and replaced with a more palatable beige. All of a sudden, the green trim and marble didn’t make sense anymore. So I repainted it all white and replaced our serpentine with travertine. After all, it’s just paint.





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s