Home & Garden

Decorate with a little drama

Dear Debbie: In our 12-year-old home, all the doors, moldings and trim upstairs are wood. I prefer white trim but don't want to change everything at once. Can I mix and match? I want to add some color to the walls, but I'm not sure which colors go with wood trim. Thanks. - Jane

Dear Jane: Wood has a handsome character of its own, and I think you will be pleased with how well it complements color on the walls. If your upstairs rooms are bedrooms and perhaps a den, then these are wonderful spaces to decorate with some drama.

Red is a color that can be moody and seductive or modern and cheerful, depending on the shade. A flat brick red has historical overtones, as do the deeper colors of burgundy and rust, any red with blue added.

In an Elizabethan room that I designed, shown here, to replicate the look of old plaster and beams, I painted wood planks onto the walls to match the wood baseboards.

If you prefer a lighter effect, then look at the color combinations found in the Arts and Crafts style. Leave the doors and baseboards in their natural state, then paint the walls in fresh light shades of yellow or green, or look for embossed wallpapers that can be painted. Paint the window trim white.

Dear Debbie: My husband and I loved the vibrant red walls in your recent column. Could you please tell us the step-by-step process of rubbing the paint on the walls to achieve the translucent finish? – Lori

Dear Lori: There are a few techniques that will produce a smoky, translucent paint finish. To replicate the red walls shown here, apply two coats of brick-red latex paint and let dry. Then mix a gray glaze: 1 part medium gray latex paint, 2 parts water-based glazing liquid, and 1 part water. Roll the gray glaze over the red wall quite thickly with a foam roller, working in 3-foot patches. Dab and blend the surface with a rag to create a smoky, washed-out effect.

A second technique is to mix a red glaze and roll that over a gray base coat. The gray will peek through the translucent red coat, adding texture and depth.

Dear Debbie: I was a fan of your rag rolling technique and applied it in a number of rooms using latex paint and latex glaze. I have painted over these walls, returning them to a solid color, again using latex paint. Unfortunately, when I wash the walls or bang them slightly, the paint lifts right off. What causes this and how do I fix it? Shouldn’t all latex products adhere to each other? – Joanne

Dear Joanne: You correctly applied latex over latex, but the problem is with the sheen of the glaze. Even a low-gloss sheen makes the surface slippery. When covering any gloss surface, first apply a high-adhesion paint primer.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. E-mail questions to house2home@debbietravis.com.