If walls could talk ... about their coverings
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - While that row of identical houses may all look the same on the outside, it's the walls inside that sets them apart. It is the details that make our homes different, and wallcovering are a big part of that. Wallcoverings ha...
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. - While that row of identical houses may all look the same on the outside, it's the walls inside that sets them apart.
It is the details that make our homes different, and wallcovering are a big part of that.
Wallcoverings have moved beyond just simple paint and wallpaper to become more like works of art. The options are limitless: Venetian plaster to American Clay, faux painting to color washing, murals and trompe l'oeil to foils and commercial vinyl.
Decorative wallcoverings are all the rage.
In a way, it's a concept rooted in history. Just look at European palaces from the 18th century and earlier, made famous for their tapestries and frescos.
"Nobility would hire artists to stay in the house and do nothing but decorate the home," says GiGi Miller, owner of Embellish Decorative Paint and Plaster Studio, based out of Antioch. "Today, people want that wow, too. They are starting to design their house for their interests."
It doesn't always work, however.
"I met a guy and his wife who did a castle brick wall - very gothic," Miller says. "It looked like a dungeon, but that was their thing."
Today, green living is in vogue, which is why American Clay has gained in popularity. The clay-based plaster from New Mexico is a natural, earth material that has no chemical additives. Even the pigments are natural.
Orit Yanai, who owns a studio in San Francisco, discovered American Clay in 2003. Now, she has become a leading expert in its application, and offers workshops attended by contractors.
"Faux and artistic finishes are the tricks we would use to get the look of real plaster," Yanai says. "American Clay is the real plaster. There are no more games. And I love that it has no smell or toxic dust, and it's extremely user and environmentally friendly."
American Clay can be applied to look like any plaster finish, from textured adobe to Venetian plaster.
Such versatility of looks is a mark of most wallcovering options. But one theme resonates across all of those choices: European style.
"In Europe, everything is so old and has so much character," says Julie Rogers, who owns Distinctive Accents in American Canyon, Calif. "Somehow, that has carried over to here. People want that look in their homes."
Miller believes the do-it-yourself craze and deluge of television design shows have made owners more aware of their options. So has traveling overseas.
"Plaster over here (in America) - is considered art," Miller says. "In Italy, fresco is their art. I was even at a McDonalds in Verona that had a fresco."
To give customers that authentic European flair, some wallcovering designers and businesses are going to great distances.
Miller visited a family-owned manufacturing plant just south of Verona to learn more about the Italian plaster she uses. (American Clay is the only non-Italian plaster in her stock.)
Keith and Elaine Lelliott of A Cut Above Wallcovering in Pleasanton, Calif., custom order their most popular product, a commercial vinyl called Arte, from an Italian manufacturer.
The product was discontinued for general sales two years ago, but demand for it led the Lelliotts to place bulk custom orders for the seven most popular colors.
"This is pretty much what all my work is now," Keith Lelliott says. "It's a wonderful alternative, and there are a lot of people who want to go different with their walls."