Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Death of the Faux Finish

I'm not exactly sure when the whole faux finish trend began (sponging on, sponging off, ragging, color washing, etc). Over the years I've seen people run anything from a whicker broom to stinky old rags over their walls to acheive a desired look. I think it originated sometime in the 80s. I remember as a child, getting my own "big boy room" when I was 10- and having the option to paint it any color I wanted. I opted for 3 shades of mint green sponged on top of one another. The look I was going for was a mint-chocolate-chip-ice-cream-motif, and boy, did I ever get it!

So, why did people ever start blending paints and glazes in the first place to achieve such finishes? My theory is this: For hundreds of years, wallpaper was the staple for wall coverings- especially with the rich and stately. As a wider pallette of colors emerged in the 70s/ 80s, and especially with the emergence of water based paints- people began to turn to paint more than wallpapers. Wallpapering was a nightmare to accomplish, especially with the stubborn adhesives that went along with it. Through the magic of faux finishes, folks could switch up the finishes at their own leisure, could replicate similar effects to wallpaper, and could easily paint over it if they didn't like it.
In 2004, Ralph Lauren paint tried to modernize the faux finish by introducing faux glazes and special tools that produced denim, faux linen, and leather finishes. The trend didn't take off as expected, and most consumers were frustrated by the level of difficulty of the execution of the faux finish. In all honesty- I have yet to see a fauw finish executed properly in a home setting. True, it looks marvelous in the brochures, but that's the extent of it.

Ralph Lauren Denim Faux Finish

And now, the trend of wallpapering has come full circle- as many seek to use it as an alternative finish for feature walls- especially with the added ease of removal, and pre-pasted options. Through faux finishes, one sought to replicate the pattern and depth of wallpaper- but, generally failed, as it was very difficult to have any consistency. Thus, wallpaper has made its triumphant return in the decorating world.

The question remains: will faux finishes ever make an evolutionary comeback, or are the days of sponging finally complete?


  1. I was so happy to log in to Google Reader and find 4 new posts :) Glad you're back!

    Also, I'm okay with wallpaper making a come back, especially since a) it's easier now to apply, b) it seems to have come back as a "Feature Wall" thing and not as a COVER THIS WHOLE HOUSE IN PAPER!!! thing and c) it means the death of the faux finish!

  2. I'm digging the wallpaper thing too, just not huge on the application. Just found out that I have to teach a seminar at work on how to wallpaper in a few weeks... which will be fun because I've never done it before...

    Anyways, if you change your mind and want to sponge one of your kids' rooms- let us know and we'll help! We'll make a party out of it!