Lavish and colorful walls, rugs, furniture and fabrics are often the images that arise in people’s minds when considering decorating in their home.

Paging through magazines such as Architectural Digest or Veranda, one enters through a glass wall into abodes of astonishing beauty and elegance.  One begins to recognize that the possibilities of color, texture and line are only limited by the creative capacity of the designer/ decorator.

Computer technology has made resources now so abundant, that one barely needs to leave one’s home to be exposed to a mile long list of artisan creations, decorating ideas, products and “how-to” websites.

There are those who wish to live in a more subtle environment. The use of color is much less pronounced and perhaps takes a back seat to textures, spaciousness and light. Quality and subtlety, however, never have to be at odds with one another, nor should they be. A talented and experienced designer understands how to create a notably excellent environment  without making the decor look like it was purchased directly from the showroom at a furniture store.

Uniqueness may be a consideration for the client, even with their desire for subtlety. This offers one a lot of room for inspiration and creativity. Focus and intention become more streamlined and the designer/ decorator attunes their senses to a particular scope of refinement.

Decorating with artwork, contemporary organic

The Contemporary Organic Collection from Framed Art Decor

Art collection presentation is often the thrust of a particular decor. Rather than the artwork being intended to blend and combine with the decorating choices for the environment, The artwork is the main event, that is, without overshadowing the furniture and living space. There is a harmony created between the artwork and the decor, although sometimes divergent in what each is to express.

An analogy might be of the wife of a couple being the more colorful, flamboyant one, while the husband is the strong, thoughtful, silent type. They can balance one another in ways in which make them interesting and engaging as a couple.

Also possible is that there’s a desire to keep a subtle serenity throughout the entire environment, rather than working with juxtaposing dramatic artwork with subtle surroundings as just mentioned. Well placed accents that sensitively support the other decorative features of the room can be another way. A large painting with subtle values and color can be supported by a room just by it’s spacial  placement among the decor.

When working with artwork, the artwork is featured, but not as in a museum- at least, let’s hope not. It has it’s honored place in the scheme of a living space that is a greater composition.

Sourdough Starter


Part 1, Building a Window Cornice

Crackle glaze without antique finish

Crackle Glaze Can Be a Unique Window Treatment.

Your room is calling out for something a little unusual. You are used to seeing windows with cornices that matches the drapes. What you haven’t seen as often, if at all, are window cornices with painted finishes.

There are a number of glaze effects that would offer a lovely finish to a window cornice. An antique crackle glaze is the application of choice for this project because it is an authentic distressing of paint. It is also a finish that is easy to accomplish.

If you already have cornices that are painted and in good shape then the crackle glaze can be applied over them. If not, here are some simple directions in how to make some for your windows:

Making Window Cornices from Scratch:

Pre-made window cornices can be purchased at Home Depot

For this project, the cornice size will be low profile and slender. Your windows may need another size to suit their casings, the length of the drapes and the height of the windows. It boils down to what you prefer.

The cornice consists of four pieces of flat wood and two different sized decorative moldings. There is a front flat side for the face of the cornice, two 4”side pieces that go back to the wall, and a top cover piece.

The cornice should be the width of your window plus 2” for play on both sides and another ½” on both sides for the 4” long side pieces of the cornice when they are attached to the front panel. So, you will add a total of 5” onto the measurement of the width of your window for the total length of the cornice.

The cornice will be a total of 7” high, which includes the ½” width of the top cover of the cornice. Use ½” birch plywood because it is smooth for paint. The lumber store will cut the wood for you.

There is a top decorative molding that will be applied with an outside miter at both corners where it meets the same molding along the side panels. This molding can be approximately 2” to 2 ½” wide. The bottom will have a molding approximately 1” to 1 ½” wide and will also be mitered at the corners where it meets the same molding at the side panels. These can be the decorative moldings of your choice.

Assembling the cornice:

Drill three 1/8” holes ¼” in from the left and right edges on the good side of the 40” x 6 ½” face of the cornice.

Stand the front panel up along its edge/length and align the 4” long side panels to the back edge of the front panel so they match in height which is 6 ¾”. Remember that there is a ½” thick top cover to the cornice which goes all the way to the face, making the height of the cornice a total of 7”. The depth of the basic rectangle where the decorative moldings will attach will be 4 ½” when completed. This is because of the thickness of the front panel added to the side panels when screwed together.

Drill through the holes at the edge of the face of the cornice into the edge of the 4” long side panels. Apply a thin coat of carpenter’s glue to the edges that will meet before screwing them together. Three #6 x 1 ½” screws can now be screwed into the holes so that the side panels are now tight to the front panel.

The top cover of the cornice will measure the entire length and depth of the cornice side panels. It will go right to the wall when hung over the window and be part of the face of the cornice.

The top cover to the cornice can be applied in the same way the two side panels were applied to the front panel. Apply carpenter’s glue to the where the edges of the panels will meet. Eight to ten # 6x 1 ½” screws can be drilled and screwed through the top cover panel into the top edge of the front and side panels.

What you now have is a long, rectangle shape with the bottom and back side open.

Adding the Decorative Moldings:

The 2” wide decorative molding can now be cut so that it will go all around the top front and side edges of the rectangle. A miter will have to be cut at the corners where the front and side panels meet. Drill holes through the molding before tacking it onto the assembled cornice panels. Spread a thin coat of carpenter’s glue on all the surfaces that will meet when the moldings are nailed onto the panels.

The same steps can be applied to attaching the decorative molding at the bottom of the cornice. All holes and open cracks can be filled with wood putty and sanded smooth when dry.

Preparation for Crackle glaze:

The entire cornice should be gently sanded with 150 grit sandpaper, wiped clean of sanding dust and primed with a latex all purpose primer or wood primer.

‘L’ brackets can be attached to the wall at either end of the window casing. The cornice will be placed on top of the ‘L’ brackets and screwed in from underneath. The two inches of play in the inside length of your cornice will now come in handy.

But wait! We have to crackle glaze your cornice before installing it over the window.

See Part 2 of this article.

Framed Art Decor offers hundreds of museum quality art prints, photographs and posters. Expert framing and matting assistance is offered on their website with just a click. Helpful and informative decorating and fine art articles appear on the website daily.

Leagh Janell is passionate about fine art and decorating. His 30 years as a fine artist and decorative artist for a high profile clientele have afforded him some authority in those fields. At present, Mr. Janell writes for

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Optical illusions delight the eye.

Surprise and drama are decorating elements that delight people when they enter a room. All it takes is a touch of paint magic.

An artistic technique which offers more than a little magic is called trompe l’oeil, which is a French phrase for “fool the eye”.

Trompe l’oeil technique is an application for both fine art and decorative art. There are murals by masters of the Renaissance which are trompe l’oeil illusions but the effect goes back even further to Pompeii, where artisans painted walls to look as if they were made of marble.

Creating a trompe l’oeil illusion has its essentials.

Trompe l’oeil is part of a genre of fine art called surrealism. Illusions are often employed in surrealism but what makes it most effective is the degree to which 3-D realism has been created on a 2 dimensional surface.

For decorative purposes, believability is essential, but masterful technique is optional. The illusion must be drawn out with a fair amount of accuracy and the lighting close enough to reality to create believability. The ability to paint realistically with painstaking subtlety isn’t as important. A little bit of whimsy can be fun and desirable in some decorative applications.

Trompel’oeil illusions show well outside in public places, or inside in homes and offices. What is important is that whatever is created fits into the continuity of the space, lighting and true to the fundamentals of perspective.

The composition must be complete.

A painting with a realistic effect in it is just realism. A trompe l’oeil illusion requires that it is complete in its relationship to its surroundings. It is a 3 dimensional altering of reality on a two dimensional surface. For the mind of the viewer to rest in the illusion, it must be complete.

When colors used to create the illusion fit in with the color scheme of its surroundings, the illusion is that much better. However, what is most essential is that the composition and lighting of the mural are rendered with as much accuracy as possible.

If the illusion is photographic, somehow it loses something in translation from fantasy to reality. Photographic realism can certainly be impressive, but the fine line of what is actual and what is painted seems to work best when the piece can be viewed both ways. The viewer will appreciate being able to somehow crack the illusion. The art of Trompe l’oeil is a painting technique, not a photographic technique.

Humor is inevitable.

From the outlandish to the tongue in cheek, trompe l’oeil illusions are often humorous or satirical. Some murals are so grandiose, even though they are serious and realistic they lighten people’s mood when they see one. Astonished smiles are common among viewers.

Creating a painted illusion.

For the novice, it is best to have at least a little experience with drawing and painting. This is so that there is some familiarity with how paint works [and how it doesn’t], how it feels to use a brush, which ones work well for your project and how to draw out your composition. If you haven’t had such experience, it would be good to take a beginner’s painting class in the use of acrylics, which are the paints most often used for these projects.

Where to paint a mural.

Visibility is most essential when choosing a place to paint any mural. If you choose a hallway, for instance, the walls on either side of the viewer would be so close that it wouldn’t be fun to view it. The illusion needs some distance in order to be psychologically received. However, if you are looking down a hallway and there is a wall at the end of it, providing it is wide enough, it is a good spot for a trompe l’oeil illusion.

Wherever we see areas where we would like to have an actual 3 dimensional feature or opening like a window or a door- that is a good spot for a trompe l’oeil mural.

A trompe l’oeil door illusion.

Probably one of the best small murals to start with would be something purely architectural, like a door. Windows sometimes require painting landscapes or living things. Life is the most difficult to paint effectively for bridging the gap between the real and the imaginary.

For beginning purposes, a closed door would be easier to paint, because its lighting and linear aspects are less complex. A six panel door has areas of relief which add dimension to its surface, for example.

For those who have a bit more experience, if the door is ajar with another visible architectural feature behind it, that is fine, but you have made a real job for yourself because now you have more complex perspective and lighting to deal with. It is best for beginners to start more simply. The effect will still be delightful.

If you would like to paint an illusionary door, it doesn’t have to match your home’s architecture. It can be as whimsical a design as you wish. What would make its planning and execution much easier is to photograph an actual door or obtain a photograph of one. It should be large enough to be able to see it well, so you can gather enough visual information from it without guessing.

Simple lighting that is just overhead and directly in front of the door would be the best lighting for a mural because it is neutral. You want your door to look like it belongs to the lighting in the room as much as possible, but it isn’t a rigid rule.

Drawing and painting tips for your mural.

An art tracing projector can help if you have access to one. The photo can be projected on the wall and traced in with darker vine charcoal or a harder drawing pencil. Pencil tends to burn through paint eventually but offers a finer line than vine charcoal. Pencil lines should be done very softly. Most of the vine charcoal wipes off and leaves a subtle line. It mixes well with paint.

Drawing your mural without a tracing projector requires planning, mathematics and some simple drafting ability. You can have your photo Xeroxed to make it larger. You can mark on it with pencil or match colors from it if you wish. Your ability to translate the dimensions of the door onto your wall will take some calculating. The simpler the multiplication of your photo’s dimensions are, the easier it will be to get a ratio that blows the image up to the size you desire.

Latex all purpose paint primer would be fine to use as a base coat for a mural. Make sure you have your wall’s touch up paint on hand because you will most likely paint outside the lines.

Acrylic paint is versatile. It can be used indoors or outdoors. It dries quickly, which can sometimes be a hindrance as much as much as it is a help, and cleans up easily. It can be mixed with acrylic retarding liquid or acrylic medium to slow drying time. The more liquid the acrylics are, the easier it will be to paint with them. Water should not be the primary liquefier for the final coats of acrylic paint. A flow medium or a more liquid version of acrylic paint is available.

When mixing up your colors, know that your door will be a focal point if it is painted in bold colors that dominate rather than recede into the room’s color scheme. That is fine if you wish it to be the focal point of the room, but it will probably have a pretty strong presence without being so boldly colored. Paints will almost never be used right out of the tube because their colors are too bright.

Be aware that painting a mural is a grand challenge, but highly addicting and ultimately incredibly satisfying.


Golden Acrylics makes some of the finest acrylic paints and painting mediums on the market. They have excellent customer service and tech support. They can even tell you how their paints hold up in the outdoor climate of almost any state. They will also recommend preparations and finishes for the longevity of your artwork for both indoor and outdoor applications.

Liquitex makes quality paints and mediums as well. These companies offer a lot of information about color and the use of their paints.

Painting Murals: Images, Ideas and Techniques by Patricia Seligman [North Light Books], is an excellent book for the aspiring mural painter. There are many photos of murals and visual instruction on how to accomplish them. offers hundreds of museum quality art prints, photographs and posters. Expert framing and matting assistance is offered on their website with just a click. Decorating and Fine Art articles that help and inform customers can be found on the website.

Leagh Janell is passionate about fine art and decorating. His 30 years as a fine artist and decorative artist for a high profile clientele have afforded him some authority in those fields. At present, Mr. Janell writes for




I walked into the master bedroom and was stunned,” said Joseph, a designer and remodeling contractor, after answering a call for help from a couple in their mid-seventies. He recalls,

“I have seen a lot of mirrored ceilings, mostly in dining rooms, but this was different. It was a deep, rectangular frame with spot lights, mounted on the ceiling in pink formica laminate over wood. It had a mirror inside it that fully reflected the king sized bed. The spotlights had a dimmer switch. That and the long mirrored closet wall made it very clear to me that the former owner of the condominium was athletic.”

Joseph said that his clients wanted the “pink framed mirrored monstrosity off the ceiling.” They felt the mirrored wall was forgivable because it brought natural light into the room and gave it a grand appearance, even though the bedroom was large.

“It seemed unnecessary to me that the whole structure should come down. We took down the mirror inside it and painted out the pink formica with semi gloss white paint. We draped the outer part of the structure from the ceiling in fluted fabric with an elegant floral design that flowed from the ceiling to the floor behind the bed. We covered the inside part where the mirror had been, in a soft white fabric that fanned out from a central point like a sunburst. The room was transformed from a 1970s bachelor pad into an elegant and modest master bedroom- even with the mirrored wall.”

Mirrors have a psychological association with magic.

The “looking glass” appears to offer us a doorway into another dimension. Much like the technique of trompe l’oeil in fine art, it insists on an illusion that fools the eye.

If mirror is used well in décor, it isn’t recognizable as mirror at first. It is only after taking in the entire room that one realizes that part of the room’s dimensionality is an illusion.

People delight in being pleasantly surprised. Mirror can add an element of surprise to a room, and even though the initial surprise wears off, the illusion is almost believable enough to be taken for granted.

Let there be light.”

One of the most obvious benefits to a décor with a large mirrored area is that it brings more light into the room. Windows, skylights and electrical lights are doubled in a mirror, so ambient light from any source will be enhanced in an office or living environment.

Areas of some rooms might seem to end abruptly or look closed off.

Joseph, the designer, has used mirrors to “open up” areas of a room that look as if they need to be expanded. He said,

“Some galley kitchens or kitchenettes that are open to other rooms seem tight and closed. One way to expand those tighter areas is to mirror the walls underneath the cabinets and behind the sink. It’s a tip that many people are wary of, but I have found that it works every time to open up a small kitchen.”

Is damage more likely to occur to a mirror in a work area like a kitchen?

Joseph comments, “Not really. I don’t remember ever having a problem with damage to a mirror in a kitchen work area. Even the cover plates for the plugs and switches are mirrored. There are different ways to install mirror, but mostly, a channel is put up for the mirror to slide into and a thin clear plastic edging is applied to the outside edges of the mirror. I always have the professional mirror and glass installers do those jobs.”

“I did one job for an American ambassador to a European Country who had a getaway bungalow in New England, recalls Joseph. The house was built in the early 1970s. It had a second story living area with a fireplace which faced the stairway going down to the first floor. The area around the stairway was an open nook. It had no interesting features, but had a strong presence in the room. I mirrored the two walls that made up the nook which reflected the living room seating in front of the Hearth. It was fabulous!”

Art and mirrors are not always well matched lovers.

Your art will love your mirror. How could it not enjoy its own reflection, doubling your visual pleasure as well.

But beware! Your mirror may not love your art in return.

Mirrors create the reverse image of everything, including your artwork. If an oil painting’s composition or structure is not well balanced in line or light effect, particularly a portrait, it will show up in the mirror. What you didn’t notice in the painting might be abundantly evident in its reflection. This is why many artists carry small mirrors in their paint and brush kits.

Can I do it myself?

You can do anything yourself…if you have the time to learn, and the money to cover the possibility of mistakes.

It is important to remember that mirrors are glass. Glass shatters and cuts. In large sizes, it is heavy and cumbersome. It needs to be properly cut to fit into wall areas because, although a room may look square, it can be amazingly off. Wood moldings can make up for some mistakes, but sometimes it looks like a mistake is obviously being covered up.

In more moderate sizes and in areas which aren’t so particular, mirrors can be fairly easy to put up, but first consult your ‘How-to’ book, ask questions at Lowe’s or Home Depot, where glass and mirror is often custom cut, or consult a professional glass and mirror person.

Necessity is the mother of creativity:

Gary lived in an apartment in New York City. He brought home a 4’ x 2 ½’ mirror for a brick wall in his living room. He left it leaning against the wall on a small, thin fabric area rug which was on a glossy finished floor.

The mirror moved and the rug slipped on the floor, causing it to crash into pieces on its back. Gary came up with a creative solution which he recounts,

“At first I was horrified when I first heard the crash! But when I went over to see what to do with the broken glass, I realized that it had broken in a very interesting way. Just the right quadrant of the mirror smashed into pieces which were sent out from the corner onto the floor. The pieces were similarly shaped but graduated from largest to the smallest. It was a graceful composition of breaks, and yet the majority of the mirror was still intact.”

Gary went to work. He bought some thick plexi-glass that was larger than the mirror that had broken and used an epoxy paste to apply the mirror to the plexi-glass in the exact same shape as when it broke.

The project was meant to go one way, but Gary’s bold creativity gave him a mirror that looked as if it was magically fragmenting into the air from one corner after he bolted it to the brick wall.