Formal Sitting Room
The choice of paint effects is vast on the one hand, finishes such as fake rust or verdigris ( 280 281) on wood or metal can add texture and ‘weight’, while a simple coat of varnish or beeswax may be applied purely to bring out the natural colour, grain and character of wood. For a subtle colouring effect somewhere in the middle, both varnish and wax come into their own when first mixed with a little powder colour or stain, and paint can produce a superb look when applied as a colourwash.
Built-in furniture – for example, alcove postcases or cupboards is often painted along with the rest of the wood in the room invariably in an unadventurous, light off-white. Try painting such pieces in a different finish, such as a light colourwash or an antiqued finish, for a different effect.
Interesting surface decoration can transform a piece of furniture. A simple, plain chair could be painted in hot terracottas and a wild patterning of bright and bold stencilled borders, or in cool grey – worthy of an eighteenth-century Swedish interior – or in faded cream, russet and gold – befitting a nineteenth-century French salon.
Formal Sitting Room Photo Gallery
Sometimes it is unwise to give single items of furniture, such as tables or chairs, a dramatic colour treatment if it makes them stand out in awkward isolation; you can, for example, achieve a stylish and harmonious look by simply painting a series of pieces in varying shades of cream.
Colourwashing is a wonderfully versatile way of putting paint onto a wood surface. On bare, untreated wood, diluted emulsion paint sinks in, lightly colouring the wood and allowing its natural qualities and grain to show through. The more diluted the paint, the more the character of the wood will come through. Two colours, one over the other, will give a richer finish. Light colours, especially on pale woods such as pine or light oak, can be used to give slight hints of colour, while a strong wash of inky black on a darker, grainier wood can be equally effective but a bit more dramatic. Rough and quite dark oak boards, for example, can take a fairly dark colourwash. The wash needs to be worked into the surface and, after a few minutes, rubbed a little with a cloth. The deep browns of the wood will show through. A pale, chalky-white colour also creates a beautiful finish on more textured wood. The beauty of colourwashing is that the result is immediate and the technique easy.