16 days of faux bois wood painting — 40% done

miniature schnauzers helping out16 worker-days of painting all the woodwork in my living room / dining room to look like stained cherry. We are about 40% done. Denise has worked 10 days full time. I have worked about six days. Yes: 16 work-days, altogether. And we are only 40% done. 

I am also frazzled beyond belief.

So you get some adorable dog pictures.

I neeeed some adorable dog pictures.

Meanwhile, I have flown to Kentucky to visit family. Denise has cabinet doors with her at home to work on this weekend.

And I am also working on a big project to rewrite the parking bylaws for my Town. I am on the Planning Board. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned this. I am a publicly-elected official! Ummmm, no one ran against me. But still. I like working on local projects, because you can see the difference your help can make, assuming you are actually successful at being helpful.

I can see the difference the painting is making. I love it! Above: The bookcase does not have the faux bois glaze layer yet. The wainscoting does. Denise is doing all the important glazing. When I try, it’s pretty much a hot mess. It takes serious finesse. She has been doing decorative painting 29 years — she’s awesome and is doing a fantastic job!

Still, I had no idea how time intensive this would be. Ummm, I kinda didn’t ever ask her.  

16 days of work — and only 40% done. This may be the bamboo that broke the camel’s back. xoxo

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  1. Lynn says:

    Wow! It looks great!! After seeing all your work and reading the comments, I feel very lucky. The prior owners of our house replaced ALL the painted trim in the main living area (1700 square feet) with new and stained it to match the original (1965) doors exactly. It is beautiful and so warm. I have always loved stained woodwork so much more than painted. While their replacement is not original to the house (and I like to stay original), I think it is more reflective of the period than the painted would have been. I am very glad I didn’t have to take this huge project on myself! I can spend my resources on my blue bathroom and black and white basement floor!

  2. karin says:

    Faux bois lookin’ good! It looks so warm and inviting in the photos. For some time, I have considered trying my hand at a faux bois finish on my doors. I really love the look of midcentury wood doors.

  3. Mary Elizabeth says:

    I think the project is coming along very well, and it is interesting to hear all the comments and your replies regarding why you chose to go the faux painting route.

    I believe the elaborate woodwork is original to the house (it looks like the midcentury colonial style to me), and it’s hard to know what the original finish was. Sometimes people strip down the wood in their homes and find it was a paint-grade wood that was used for moldings, etc. And pulling out it all and replacing it with stain-grade lumber would be outrageously expensive.

  4. Yes, wow, it looks amazing! Our 1949-vintage house has beautifully rendered book-matched walnut faux bois wood work which mercifully was never painted over in the main rooms. Truly a lost art. And now that we hear how much time it’s taking, it’s easy to see why putting in real cherry would be about revenue neutral if you weren’t doing this work by yourself (with your secret weapon Denise).

    I was wondering when I saw the original pictures of all that dentil moulding on the coffered ceiling if it wouldn’t be much faster, not to mention truer to the time period, to just remove that and add a plain moulding to paint. I can’t even imagine the chiropractic bills that may be required to treat necks and shoulders doing all that over-the-head work. I used to do decorative paint finishes, so I am reliving (which is not quite the same as relishing) many memories of time spent up a ladder working on ceilings.

    Keep up the great work.


    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Elizabeth, a few comments since several readers have mentioned maybe it would have been cheaper to replace all the woodwork and start new.

      I really don’t think so. My woodwork is quite complex, and I have a very difficult time believe its quality could be replicated affordably today. To pull it out would be a major mess — I can’t imagine how you would do it without messing up the ceilings and the walls. In addition, to restain is not easy – a multistep process just as painting is, wood is not cheap, and labor is for sure not cheap – and we would have had to spend for removal, dumping, replacement, staining, etc.g. I have lots of original windows, too, all with beautiful moldings, and even rounded moldings in places. The beams — I counted at least six pieces of different moldings to create them! Oh, and two long rows of bookcases and many cabinets and drawers.

      To recreate our woodwork would be super duper expensive, I think.

  5. denise says:

    I’d just like to say thank you to all the compliments of my talent and skill. Patience is one of my virtues, and I’ve always enjoyed looking at it when done and being so pleased of the success, not only in getting the finish as the client wants it, but also of the change in the room.

    To any one looking to try to do this at home my suggestion is to research woodgrain and techniques. Pile up the faux finish books and read. Then practice, practice, practice. Or, you can practice as you go and know that if it’s not quite right, it’s just paint and you can start an area over. Even as a seasoned painter, I like to start in an inconspicuous area first.

  6. Mick says:

    I love the hard work you both have put into this. I’m curious why you chose faux bois instead of a stainable primer? This is primer that has wood product into it. It allows you to have the wood back from a painted surface.

    1. pam kueber says:

      Hi Mick, I didn’t know about this. I’ll look it up. I will say: There had been several coats of paint on the trim in the past 60 years; there was not any discernable graining left.

      Update: I looked at the product. You still need to work with brushes to get the wood grain. It’s still faux bois in that sense. Not sure it would really have saved us much time or resulted in a look that was better.

  7. RickG says:

    This is laying the foundation & setting the tone for the whole room, it really looks fantastic so far; just take a deep breath & imagine how cool this room will be, it’s getting there; it’s within reach- stay level !!!

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