You might be wondering, “Why would I want to know how to paint a marbled floor.” Good question.
As most of you know, last year we were selected as one of seven designers from the Southeast to design a window display for Behind The Windows, an event at the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center. It was a huge honor and a huge undertaking.
This is what the space looked like the first time that I saw it. Yes, that is a big window! Two sides are all glass and the area is very narrow so arranging it is a challenge.
Each year there is a particular theme and for mine all the designers chosen had a fabric line represented by one of the showrooms at the center so the window had to feature our product used in creative ways.
My daughter, Megan, spent a day in Atlanta with me helping brain storm, which was such a joy for me. She is so stinkin’ creative it’s not even funny. She is the one who came up with the idea of the Kelly Wearstler inspired painted floor because, “Mom, you can’t even consider using that horrible carpet.”
She was right and I was on board but Megan’s ideas ALWAYS involve a LOT of work on my part. haha That’s OK. She is worth it.
In the end I had so many people ask how we did it that I decided to show you the process….just in case you have few months on your hands with nothing to do. Truth.
The first step was to plan the layout which I did by doing a quick paper model.
I found this tile and decided to use the geometric shapes as the featured square.
Home Depot was kind enough to partner with me on this project and they donated the 8 sheets of 4×8 plywood needed to cover the floor.
Since Benjamin Moore was a national sponsor, New Look Decorating here in Montgomery (my go-to store for over 30 years) provided the paint. I took the fabric that my door was going to be upholstered in and matched the black, white and caramel that appeared in it.
(Rabbit trail) Can I tell you how much I loved these “doors” with the horn handles? I found the horns at B. Barganier and worked with Gowan Iron to fabricate them into handles. I am about to repurpose them again into lamps. Love.
After priming all of the boards, we sectioned each one into equal squares 24″ x 24″ and with a pencil drew the appropriate shapes onto each square. Fortunately some where solids so all we had to do on those was note the color it should be painted.
We first painted all of the background colors and let them try thoroughly. Since we were using oil based paint it took a full day. We choose to use oil base to get a thicker coverage so that you didn’t see the nature of the plywood. We needed the high gloss to help with the impression of marble.
I tried using mini rollers first but in the end we found that the small foam applicators were the fastest and easiest to use for full coverage with a single coat.
After the base coat dried it was time to use painters’ tape to tape off the top design and paint the secondary color. As you can see from this picture, because I found the tile with a shape I liked I was able to use it as a template and just draw around it so I only had to tape off the chevron squares.
This was what Jeff and I did for days on end, squat on the concrete floor of our neighbor’s basement and paint, and paint and paint.
God bless Robin and Carl Calderone. They allowed us to take over the lower level of their home and big time stink it up for over 2 months. That’s friendship y’all.
As boards were finished we would stand them up to dry and start on the next round.
Finally, it was time to start the marbling. We first placed the boards side by side the way that they would appear on the finished floor to be sure that the “veins” made sense.
We then mixed a tiny bit of each color paint with some mineral spirits to make a glaze and with a variety of brush sizes started to paint veins on. You don’t want a lot of paint on your brush for this step. Just barely wet. There is no rhyme or reason to this, you just sort of study a real piece of marble to see how the veins organically appear and do your own thing making sure that they don’t get too predictable or match across seam lines. Nature is not perfect… thankfully.
Paint some lines heavier and some lighter than others then immediately take a second soft, clean brush and quickly brush across the still wet paint going in the opposite direction that you painted it on. This causes the lines to look feathered the way real marble looks.
For the white squares I mixed just a few drops of black paint in with the white before adding the mineral spirits in order to make a soft grey to avoid harsh lines.
After the marbleizing was complete, I felt that the over-all color was a bit too glaring so I brought in the big guns to help me finish. Marilyn Heard has been my decorative painter since we were both mere children so I screamed for help and she came running.
She mixed some grey paint in with the polyurethane top coat and glazed the entire surface of the boards. I came behind her and brushed some of it off.
We were both pleased with the smoky quality it achieved and all of the colors felt more blended. All was well …. until….
As the top glaze began to dry, this happened. Yikes. After fretting a bit we decided that we had just used too much product so I went back over all of the boards AGAIN with the dry brush and everything settled back down.
As you might notice in the previous picture there were a few imperfections where the tape lifted some color when we removed it but remember that this was just for a display that would be thrown away in three months so I decided to put a piece of furniture over it and call it a day.
If you have bruised knees, a sore back and your fingers are permanently curled around a paint brush you are probably finished. haha
Finally we loaded all of the panels into the van, put the doors on top of that and headed to
Hot ‘Lanta for the install.
Sweet Jeff helped Danny Furko install the doors and floor and then they passed the baton to me.
Before we knew it, it was time for The Big Reveal.
The white paper was ceremoniously ripped from the windows and there we were for all the world to see. “Autumn Rain” from Cindy Barganier Textiles was stretched and used as the large art piece. “Glory” was made into lamp shades.
I couldn’t have done it without this amazing man. I am quite sure he had no idea what he was getting into when he married me.
I am love, love, loving those bar stools by McAlpine Home and the cabinet from Century Furniture.
Close ups of how our fabrics were used:
Kellie Guthrie on Re-Invention designed and made this cool ottoman and the pillows using our fabrics.
You are able to see the pillow in the chair from this angle.
The official press shot:
This is the only picture I have of the other end of the room. No idea how that happened.
A HUGE shout out and thank you to my showroom,Travis and Co., for all of their support and manual labor to help pull this off and thank you to Katie, Melissa and the rest of the staff for ADAC for the vote of confidence in allowing us to be a part of Behind The Windows.