03 June 2010

Faux no!

This is a master bath in a condominium where I'm working.

The first order of business is to tear it out of course, but before any of that happens, I'd like to pause and reflect for a bit.

I think it's one of the more egregious examples of a perfectly good art form put to waste I've ever seen. It is possible to paint trompe l'oeil murals and faux finishes in a way that isn't offensive and cheap looking but this sure ain't it. The previous owner paid someone a lot of money for that work, more than he paid for the rest of the finishes in the entire bath I'm sure.

What gets into peoples' heads I wonder. I know, I know I'm forever harping about people being free to express themselves but come on. Show some restraint already.


  1. I had a customer once that 'over-l'oeiled' merely because they weren't interested in having anything hanging on the walls.

    It works out for us though, Paul... certainly adds to our customer base.


  2. Whaaaa? But that darling light fixture and honey oak(?) vanity thing so perfectly transports me to wherever the hell I'm supposed to be transported to!

  3. That's no master bath. That's a monster bath. Come out of the bidet, Paul and spread the no faux gospel to restaurants and dentist offices and. Gasp. Spas

  4. Shame they used such talent for evil rather than good.

  5. Paul, to me it is not so much the talent of the Artist (may be a genius at portraiture) as it is the subject matter and composition which is .... unbearably grotesque.


  6. Arrrrrgh.......ouch....my eyes are bleeding.

    I feel an anecdote coming on:

    I actually had a client a few years ago who wanted me to re-design parts of her multi-million$ lakefront estate.
    As she walked me through we saw ivy wallpaper, brass fittings throughout and then we saw pickled maple cabinets(in 2005) on a backdrop of, wait for it, a brick-wall-with-pieces-broken-out-of-it-where-more-ivy-could-grow mural...that covered all kitchen walls.
    And I, silly silly me, suggested we paint great room and kitchen so that they flow together. This is where i was told, no the kitchen is nearly new and we just had the mural done, we want you tie the great room in with it....

    Exits stage left.

    Not every client is your client.

  7. Thanks for commiserating on this one. The guys who just this place are mortified by it, absolutely mortified. I neglected to mention that this is a 2500 square foot condominium on the 15th floor of a pretty chi chi building. The views are not to be believed and this is one very spendy piece of real estate. The previous owner had the entire place decked out in murals similar to this one. It just goes to show that money can't buy you anything but more.

    We will have a blast tearing this room apart, let me tell you.

  8. Too bad. The Tuscany faux could have been truly something to gaze at while in that tub...the right artist and the right lighting and it could have been a 'wow'.

    Excuse me while I mourn. One day I want to work with John Pugh. Have you seen his work?

  9. I have seen John Pugh's work and he's remarkable. It is possible to paint trompe l'oeil and faux beautifully and effectively. I've seen it with my own eyes more than once. I think the good stuff looks better than it would otherwise because there is just so much bad stuff out there.

  10. You know you want it Sharon.

  11. OK, as a decorative artist myself, here's my thoughts: I cannot stand over-faux and weak mural work. LOVE a beautiful mix of paint, wallpaper AND elegant faux (or decorative painting, a term gaining ground) in the right areas. Sometimes it doesn't need faux -- it's best to keep the design true and not try to sell where you shouldn't be. But, the homeowner had to have seen samples, the drawings must have been approved and the colorations chosen. I do think the artist's strength does not lie in trompe l'oeil (and yes, John Pugh and William Cochran are amazing) and was the wrong artist for this job. Heck, it's the wrong finish and I did cringe myself. But sometimes, a client wants what they want. Sorry to have gone on...

  12. Oh you're fine, keep going on. I know that there is great faux work out there and I hope I'm not coming across as damning an entire medium. The fault with this atrocity lies with the person who paid the bill and requested the work. The artist has talent and skill, that much is obvious. It has to be disheartening to see this kind of stuff form your perspective. Great faux work and great trompe l'oeil depends on a perfect marriage between artist, patron and setting. I love seeing the good stuff, really.

  13. P.S. Not that you should give a client all that they want -- it's why an Interior Designer is there to guide their taste. This type of work gives the faux artisans who try to remain current, elegant and streamlined a bad name. OK, I'm done. :) [Sorry, again.]

  14. Don't apologize! If you have a photo or two of some work you're proud of, I'd love it see them. If you're so inclined, send 'em to p.anater@gmail.com.

  15. I put the P.S. right at the same time as your comment. :) Completely agree on that perfect marriage - I personally enjoy working with designers because they guide, bring out strengths, edit and yes, delete. The "I'm Confusing my Bath with an (Insert Italian Restaurant Name Here)" would not happen. Can't wait to see the transformation. Thanks, Paul!


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