January 25, 2016
A stunning metal deco wall was produced using silver transfer foil and a thin coat of plaster

Many of the new or refurbished condos and lofts have high ceilings, some very high. Even though the square footage of these living quarters may be small, the added height creates a welcome feeling of space. Decorating a wall that is 10 to 15 feet high can be daunting, especially if you are used to living in homes where the norm is 8 or 9 feet. A white paint finish appears to be the safest bet, and will enhance the airy atmosphere. However, if you would like to add some interest, whether subtle, dramatic or filled with pizzazz, take a look at what a glint of metal can do.

Today, all the metal shades are mixing it up in the decorating market. Bathroom faucets, handles, and sinks range from bronze and golden hues to brushed chrome and nickel. Furnishings are finished with metal and hammered nail detailing on both wood and upholstery. Stunning floor designs insert slits of metal between tiles, or border wood planks. And not to be left behind, walls shine with a combination of metallic paints, wallpapers and plaster techniques that bring out the luxurious quality of metallic products in any or all shades.

When I first saw the modern condo shown here, I was impressed with the size and clean lines, but the area felt cold. The fireplace was unadorned, but the niches above the fireplace added sleek detail. This oversized wall was the place to create some atmosphere, to inject some character that would make this new home unique. I used a combination of techniques that complemented each other and the outcome was exciting.

The base coat of white paint has a satin finish, which helps to seal the wall. The first decorative layer is produced using silver transfer foil. These foils come in various metallic shades including gold, silver and colours. They are sold in sheets or rolls. Size is an adhesive for the foil. Water-based size rolls on cloudy and dries clear. You know it is ready when the surface feels tacky, not wet. Apply the size to 100% of the surface. When tacky, press sheets of the silver transfer onto the surface, shiny side facing you, and smooth it out with a spatula or any wide tool, rubbing to adhere the transfer foil to the size. Remove the paper leaving the silver behind on the wall.

To complete this metal deco application, I used Venetian plaster to thinly cover the silver foil. (You could use stucco, but Venetian plaster can be shined to a lustrous finish.) The plaster is applied in a thin coat with a spatula. Cross-hatching is the customary application, which means smearing on and taking off the plaster in small v’s and x’s. You want to cover the foil, leaving small patches of silver to shine through in random patches.

The space beside the fireplace is perfect for display shelves, where your own choice of art, books, curios and collections will personalize your room. (The faux gates behind the shelves were hand painted with the help of lots of tape.)