How to paint Exotic Faux-Rattan Walls

This was my most fun and challenging faux project ever

Our hallway bathroom, just off the kitchen, is a builder’s standard full bath, so my design objective was to make it look more like a powder room. IOW, distract from the white tub and commode with faux rattan walls and a funky monkey-patterned shower curtain complete with cornice and tassel fringe.

I adapted this faux treatment from a grasscloth finish in BH&G's "Decorative Paint Techniques," (my favorite faux book) available here from Amazon. I worked with the Sherwin Williams "Blonde" that was already on my walls.

It’s fun to see people touch the walls and insist it’s wallcovering.

Here’s how to recreate this unique finish.

Faux painted rattanYou'll need...

  • Base coat paint (Sherwin Williams Blonde, flat)
  • Clear faux glaze (I use Behr)
  • Floetrol, to extend glaze drying time (optional)
  • A tube of Burnt Umber acrylic colorant
  • Painter's rags
  • 10” Plastic squeegee
  • Exacto knife or paring knife
  • Pencil, ruler
  • Carpenter’s square
  • Level
  • ScotchBlue Painter's Tape for Delicate Surfaces*
  • Roller Lite roller, medium nap covers (3/8” nap)
  • Angled 1 ½” paint brush
  • Foamcore board for practice, optional

Paint & glaze

  • Tape off the ceiling, doors, windows, base moldings.
  • Base coat the walls with the roller, cutting in corners and edges with the brush
  • When dry (24 hours), tape off 27" vertical sections. 27” is similar to wallcovering width and is not too wide for the squeegee step.
  • Remove the handle and notch the squeege blade with v-shaped notches about 1/8" wide and deep. Space notches 1/2" apart. See photo below
  • Tint the clear glaze with burnt umber acrylic colorant. I add an ounce or two of Floetrol. I experimented with what worked for me and then wrote the formula down. You don't need a lot of tinted glaze. My proportion was about 1/2 tsp colorant to a cup of glaze. I prepared up small amounts at a time. Make a sample board to test your results.
    Roller Lite
  • Roll on a 12-15 inch horizontal band of glaze across the 27" section. Drag the squeegee through the glaze, working across the section.
  • Repeat from ceiling to floor until you finish the entire section. Wipe the squeege after each pass
  • Your first squeege pass across will be easy if you use the ceiling or crown as your guide. After that, you’ll need a fairly steady hand, but you can overlap the squeegee as a guide, as I did (don't drink a pot of coffee before you do this)
  • If you make a mistake, quickly wipe off the glaze!
  • Glaze every other section. Remove the painters tape not more than 45 minutes after glazing. Unless you’re an experienced faux-er, toss it. Retape tomorrow with fresh tape.
  • When the glaze is completely dry (24 hours), retape the alternate sections
  • Repeat the above glazing steps on the unfinished sections.

  • Squeegee for rattan faux finishMy Tips

    With a scissors, I cut my squeege into two sections, 6 ½ and 3 1/2 inches wide. The shortie comes in handy for tight spaces and touch ups.

    Imperfections are fine, even uneven lines. See the detail photo above. Don't be too critical of yourself. Stand back to assess your work. Remember that faux finishes are not meant to be viewed with a magnifying glass. The overall effect will be organic as in nature, and that’s what you want. My walls have light orange peel finish (bumpy), so they're blotchier than if you have smooth walls, which would be easier to do.
    *Important: Use ScotchBlue Painter's Tape for Delicate Surfaces. Accept no substitutes. Scotch will never peel your paint off if you remove it within 45 minutes after painting.

    If you like this look, you may also like my Faux Wicker wall finish in my pool bath. Check out these faux finishing essentials before you start this project. Good luck!

    How to turn Drywall into Faux Wood Panels

    Click to enlarge

    My builder's basic breakfast bar is on the left. Before it was nondescript beige drywall with some white woodwork. Very nice corbels, but it was just plain. It didn't go with the rest of the kitchen, or the adjoining great room. The cabinet people wanted over $1,200 for real wood panels. So for less than $50 in paint and trim, I created faux panels in a day. Here's how to do it...


    • Paint & primer, brushes
    • Dropcloth
    • Miter box and saw
    • Level
    • Straight edge, square or long ruler
    • Molding, amount determined after measuring, below
    • Hammer & finishing nails, or better yet, a nail gun
    • Carpenter's glue
    • Caulk or spackle
    • Clear faux glaze (I use Behr)
    • Acrylic colorant to tint the glaze (I used burnt umber)
    • Rags for removing glaze, old t-shirt pieces work well

    choose your finish & color
    To coordinate with my living area's creamy white cabinetry, I used Sherwin Williams Alabaster gloss latex. (happens to be the color of all my woodwork). Don't worry about too much shine because the glaze takes care of that. I prefer the scrubbable gloss finish in this area because people unconsiously kick your bar (I know because I'm doing it right now as I type).

    Plan your panel widths. I did several different widths because of the corbel placement. Otherwise, you can space them evenly. But I think the different widths add interest.

    For the height, use the same spacing at the top and the bottom of the panels. Using a level and straight edge, pencil your panels on the wall. The level is your best friend in this task. Now you know how much molding to buy (+ some extra for boo boos).

    Faux wood panels miter cut & apply molding

    I used shelf edging from Home Depot for my molding. It looks like 1 1/4" wide mini chair rail and has nice contours that catch the glaze. Make sure you "measure twice - cut once." When all your pieces are cut, apply glue to the back and nail them in place at your pencil lines. You don't need a lot of nails because the glue will do the job. Wipe off excess glue with a damp rag - it drys FAST.

    prime & paint
    You'll need to prime you moldings if they weren't pre-primed. Then paint the entire area with a brush. Paint a second coat 4 hours later if needed. Let dry 4 hours, and get ready for the fun!

    Faux panellingglaze
    Mix a small amount of faux glaze plus a little water, tinted with a very small amount of burnt umber acrylic colorant. You will have to play with it until you get the darkness you like. A little glaze goes a long way. When you have a batch you like, WRITE DOWN THE RECIPE.

    Brush on lightly in and around the crevices of the molding. Remove most of glaze with rags until you have the definition you want. You can always add more. I went for a slightly distressed look because my drywall has orange peel texture and my barstools are very distressed. You'll get the feel of glazing quickly and you can always remove it and start over. After all, it's just paint!

    Click to enlargeyou're done!
    Your finished wall should look something like this. If you're really daring, make it look like stained wood. There are some fairly easy faux techniques for simulating real wood with just paint color and glaze.

    DIY: the ManSpace, Den & Wine Bar

    Jim's dream had always been to have a simple ManCave with a big screen TV, thick green shag carpeting (like Graceland), a Lazy-Z-Boy recliner, and two lowboy refrigerators for end tables.

    I would not be allowed in there to do any decorating. To clean? Maybe.

    Well it's still just a dream, because the den space in our house is just off the foyer, 100% visible from the living area. So we compromised.

    Jim's James Bond 007 photo provided inspiration for a more sophisticated space and the wine bar was his idea too. I gained a second kitchen pantry when the wine moved out.

    How we did it...

    Here are the details of just about everything that went into the space. Scroll down the page for info on how we "built" it.

    Faux Walls & Panelling

    The faux suede walls are the most popular feature of the room with women. Ralph Lauren Suede paint, 2 coats applied exactly according to Ralph's instructions.

    • Pioneer's Mesa (SU82) on the walls
    • Faux panels colors are Plaza Blanca (SU 51) and Cordova Cream (SU 59); one shade as the base and the other as the second coat
    • Anyone, with time and patience, can do this faux finish - one of the simplest I've done

    Other surfaces: Sherwin Williams paint

    • Trim & cabinetry, Alabaster, latex semi gloss (SW 7008)
    • Ceiling and inside of closet painted by builder: Navajo White, flat (SW6126)

    Furnishings & Accessories


    The photo at left shows the layout of the den space during construction, from the foyer. It's 12 1/2' x 14' with a useless 13" bumpout along half of the left wall.

    Before the transformation, two sets of big white doors, at the entry and closet, dominated the space.

    My plan was to use lots of white woodwork to unify the space with the doors, running it around the room. This also allowed me to drop simple rope lighting behind the crown molding for a beautiful effect at night.

    A year before we started this project, we ripped out the original carpeting and installed the wide plank wood floor.

    Construction Zone

    Day 1: After a trip to Home Depot, Jim started building the plywood boxes that form the guts of the cabinetry. This was our second project doing built-ins.

    Day 2: We went granite remnant shopping, just like they do on HGTV. We found this small slab at our second stop, Continental Granite & Marble in Bunnell, FL.

    Their crew came out to make templates and later delivered and installed two countertops for us.

    We got a much more exotic granite for 40% less than the standard patterns offered by the home center chains, and we still got the dealer's full service.

    There's a reason people hire TV installers

    Jim hung the TV before the wine bar was anchored permanently in place by the granite installers.

    We never anticipated how hard it would be. It took him half a day to get the TV hung, perfectly centered inside the panel (that one semester of engineering in college must have helped after all.)

    I ran all the cables behind the wall to the cable box hidden in the lower left display cabinet. Wine fridge slides out for cord access.

    The TV works perfectly and I love how it floats over the bar. But then again, I'm a flat panel TV junkie.

    Finishing Touches

    Our custom wine bar consists of a Kitchenaid wine cooler between 2 wine grid bases from Pottery Barn. The granite countertop completes the built-in effect.

    If there was one thing we'd do differently, it would be the way we installed the mirrors. But they look fine now - the one on the right took over an hour just to fit it in the space, due to my slight measuring error. Measure twice, cut once, is especially important when it comes to mirrors.

    Finishing the space after all the construction took much more time than I thought it would. Just touching up white after painting brown was a big job.

    Office in a Closet

    The final area in need of a woman's touch was the closet. We love and did all our closets ourselves using their high quality organizers. I designed the system for the office to be flexible: We can convert the right side to double hanging space in the event we need to use the room for guests.

    When the shelving was in,  I went to work organizing after a trip to Target and Staples. While he was out playing golf, his clutter miraculously came under control, and he has maintained the neatness. Thank you, Mission Organization, for the inspiration.

    The Reveal

    It's fun to see the reactions of friends who saw the room before and now see it finished. Like on HGTV when you can tell the homeowners never peaked. People are pretty amazed.

    I have to say it turned out just as I envisioned it back when I did the drawing. I know we saved a ton of money and got exactly what we wanted. And the satisfaction of doing it ourselves is priceless.

    Do-it-yourself Mirror TV

    Still ROFL after seeing the expensive outdoor TV, above, in Traditional Home. It will only set you back $8,995 to put this 42-inch LCD TV on your porch, patio or lanai.

    If 9K to watch TV outside isn't in your budget, here's what we did on our lanai: We put a nice Westinghouse LCD Flat Panel behind a one-way mirror. I did my first mirror TV in the master bath with a 19" LCD, even before HGTV's Candice Olson.

    It's the perfect solution for a flat panel outside, especially near the ocean where we live. It also provides some security because when the TV's off, it looks like a big mirror.

    I don't know why, but men love this TV. I always thought it was just the sisters who wanted to hide the big screen.

    IMPORTANT CAVEAT: the only downside > you can't watch it in bright daylight.

    Now, see the DIY Mirror TV in action in this brief video (apologies, Brett Favre fans):

    This project cost us about $1,500 for the build-out and $750 for the TV and one-way mirror.

    Here’s how we did it…
    • Carpenter added fireplace wall after house was built
    • Builder had installed electrical and cable outlets on original wall
    • Carpenter built a niche about 20" deep above the no-vent fireplace
    • There are holes in the niche's ceiling to disperse heat buildup
    • I added an MDF shelf in the niche above the TV that holds cable box
    • I painted inside of the niche and shelf black
    • I added 1x4 pine vertical supports inside niche opening for mirror to rest against
    • Had 1/4" one-way mirror cut to just under actual measurements of opening
    • I attached super velcro to the supports and back of mirror
    • Mirror's weight is supported because it sits on floor of niche
    • I velcroed on a removeable “frame” of stained poly trim to hide edges
    • Harmony One Remote
      works thru mirror
    • Audio from TV's speakers comes through mirror perfectly
    • Jim can take mirror down when we need access to TV or DirecTV box
    • Mirror cost: about $200 at local auto glass & mirror dealer
    • Ready-made Mirror TVs sell for thousands

    How to copy my Fabulous Faux Gold Ceiling

    You can do this. Trust me. It's not rocket science.

    Faux-painted gold ceiling
    My dining room has a beautiful double-step tray ceiling, but it didn't stand out. We don't use the space often, but with our open concept floor plan, we see it all the time. So the time and effort to transform it was worth it.

    My ceiling is 12 ft. up. I did this by myself in about 4 days (counting 2 or 3 trips to Home Depot). If you get dizzy or wobbly on ladders, this is not for you. Everyone else, read on.

    You'll need
    • Detail of faux gold tray ceiling
      Ladder, mine is 8 ft. for a 12 ft. ceiling
    • 1-2 Paint roller frames, I like RollerLite 6 1/2"
    • 3-4 roller covers, nap for your surface; 3/8" for most
    • 2-3 disposable roller trays
    • Extension rod. Telescoping is the best
    • 1 1/2" angled paint brush, best quality
    • 1-2 Rubbermaid natural (as in sea) sponge roller covers, best price at Walmart
    • Ralph Lauren "Golden Candlesticks" metallic latex paint, at least a gallon
    • Behr Faux Glaze (clear, latex), gallon
    • Small tube of burnt umber acrylic (paint or craft store)
    • Touch-up paint for adjacent areas
    • Plastic dropcloths
    • Gallon zip-loc bags to store rollers & brushes
    • Scotch blue painters tape for delicate surfaces (NEVER use anything else)
    • Kilz Premium primer, if needed
    • 2-3 covered containers for mixing glaze
    • Measuring cups, spoons
    • Free paint stir sticks
    • Foamcore poster board for practice, optional
    • Wall texture spray if you have texture, optional
    Prep & paint 
    • Clear the room as much as you can; I had to work around my heavy glass table
    • Mask off adjacent surfaces as needed
    • Cover everything under the ceiling with drop cloths
    • Clear trash bag works great over chandeliers
    • Put an old baseball cap on
    • You should wear gloves, but I can't stand them
    • Prime ceiling with Kilz if necessary (like if it's red or black)
    • Cut in gold with the brush, around perimeter & in corners (tray ceiling)
    • Roll on 2 coats of gold, min. 4 hours drying time per coat
    • Pop the brush and entire roller into the zip-loc bag to store
    • Gold will look splotchy and that's normal
    ...on your ceiling, a wall, or poster board. I prefer foamcore board. You can duct tape the board to the ceiling to test. Your finish will depend on your ceiling's texture. Mine, right, is light orange peel with several applications of glaze to get the mottled effect. You can always paint gold over areas you aren't happy with and redo, but you won't have to.

    My finish is a burnished gold. You can experiment with different acrylic tints to get different effects, like bronze or copper.
    • Prepare practice surface as needed
    • Paint it gold, 2 coats
    • Dry between applications with blow dryer
    • Gold will look splotchy. Don't worry
    • Start with 3T clear glaze, 1T water, and tiny amount of acrylic (like 1/2 tsp.)
    • For 2nd glaze, mix some gold into your 1st glaze, thin with water
    • Write down your glaze recipes so you can duplicate later
    • Test on the poster board, adjusting til you get translucent shades you like
    • Observe in different lighting in your space
    • This is trial and error, you have to play with it
    When you like your practice results, your ceiling should be dry and ready to glaze.

    • Mix glaze in your darkest desired tone, enough for your space
    • Roll it on randomly with the natural sponge roller
    • Vary the pressure and coverage
    • Leave some spots gold
    • Work in sections, about 3 sq. ft.
    • Lightly blend sections into each other as you go
    • Think organic, you don't want a discernable pattern
    • Let dry thoroughly, 4 hrs. min.
    • Mix your 2nd glaze, you won't need a lot
    • Roll on with natural sponge roller
    • You'll start to see how it goes, layering glazes
    • Go back over areas you want to improve
    • Dab on gold paint where you made boo boos
    • Have fun!
    Click to enlarge
    • WEAR A HAT! I forgot and had gold highlights for awhile
    • Dilute 1-2 oz liquid fabric softener with water for the BEST brush cleaner
    • Don't waste time and water washing roller covers and trays, unless you believe that doing so will help save the planet
    • Store your wet brushes and rollers in the sealed bags...for weeks!
    • NEVER paint out of the can. Pour into tray and seal can immediately
    • Buy the best brushes you can afford, you'll reuse them many times
    • To prevent peeling, always remove painter's tape less than 45 mins. after you painted the area
    • Apply new tape before next coat if necessary
    After I painted, my husband and I installed the two tiers of crown molding (Sherwin Williams "Alabaster," gloss). We used the poly kind from Home Depot (or Lowe's) because it's lightweight, easy to handle and doesn't need priming. You only need a simple miter box. The rest of the living space had crown and the dining room needed it as a finishing touch.

    Dining room wall color is Sherwin Williams Harmonic Tan satin latex (SW 6136), which reads as varying shades of green in different light conditions.

    How-to on the niche faux painting is here near the end of the post.

    Cost to pay someone to do this - ?
    Doing it yourself - priceless!

    Here's a short video showing how I made the dining room's silk curtains, along with some shots of the ceiling.

    Mantel+TV+DVD = Faux fireplace

    Here's how we created our great room's media wall featuring a "faux fireplace," as featured in HGTV Ideas magazine.

    Hanging a 50" TV above a fireplace was not an option - we'd have to crane our necks to see it from the sofa only 9 feet away. So we made the TV look like a fireplace in a mantel instead of hiding it in a cabinet. My inspiration was a very realistic fireplace DVD online ($14.95) from
    Our builder built the arched niches from my drawing above. Jim and I did the rest in about 3 weeks using economical paint-grade poplar, pine and MDF from Home Depot.
    We installed the Fairfield mantel in poplar from Premier Mantles, custom sized for the 24" deep niche. Then we built the removeable frame above that fits inside the mantel and around the TV. That was the hardest part of the entire project.
    This was our first-ever woodworking project (winter 2006). I did the miter cutting, trim and finish work. Jim handled the table saw and router. We now have a garage full of power tools. Our favorite is the Paslode nail gun. Everyone should have one.
    Jim built the cabinet boxes out of sandeply plywood. Shelves are MDF. TV is a 50" Samsung DLP HDTV. The arched plantation shutters were custom made to fit the back of the niches by Blinds4Less, St Augustine.
    The mitered doors with euro hinges were not quite so easy. I applied the trim and stapled on the speaker fabric from Acoustical Solutions, Inc.. after Jim assembled them. Hanging them was frustrating, but we had patience and got it right.

    How-to: Faux Painting with Trash Bags

    Click to enlargeBefore I describe how I faux paint with trash bags (it sounds wacky, I know), I must confess that I'm completely self-taught through books, magazines and HGTV. My mom was an artist, so maybe that's why I love to paint and find it creative and relaxing.

    For the mantel, cabinets and walls I used all Sherwin Williams latex paints and Behr clear Faux Glaze. I also add a small amount of water and Floetrol (extends drying time) to my glazes. You can dilute your glaze with a little water too. No hard and fast rules. Minimum 4 hours drying time is important!

    Click to enlarge
    Step back to survey your work and don't nitpick the small stuff. No one is supposed to use a microscope when viewing faux work.
    Good idea to get some foamcore board to practice on and view it in the actual light conditions of your space.

    NOTE: If you have textured walls like I do, be sure to get spray-on texture from your paint store so you're simulating your actual surface. Remember to prime over it before you paint.

    Glazed mantel & cabinetry:First and most important, I primed the mantel and cabinetry with Kilz, sanded well.

    • Brushed on 2 coats of Alabaster semi-gloss latex (SW 7008)
    • Maintained a thin paint consistency to hide brush marks
    • Brushed on a light glaze in and around the crevices
    • Recipe: Faux glaze plus a little water, tinted with a very small amount of burnt umber acrylic colorant)
    • Made sure to write down the recipe!!!
    • Removed most of glaze with rags until I got the definition I wanted.
    I used these colors and this technique throughout the space except in the niches described below. Builder applied the base coat, Kilim Beige flat (SW 6106)

    • First glaze rolled on in 3 sq. ft. sections
    • 1st glaze recipe: faux glaze tinted with Mossy Gold satin, SW 6139)
    • Bagging off is a subtractive faux technique similar to ragging off
    • Partially removed 1st glaze with bunched up pieces of plastic trash bag
    • Pitch saturated plastic pieces frequently as they'll stop removing glaze
    • When dry, applied 2nd glaze dabbing it on with trash bags, an additive faux technique
    • 2nd glaze recipe: faux glaze and a little water tinted with Kilim Beige
    • 2nd glaze adds more depth and covers 1st glaze overlapping and boo boos
    • Go for an organic or random effect rather than an amateurish repeating pattern
    • Haphazard is GOOD.
    • I've learned to finess corners to keep them from being too blotchy
    Niche accent walls: Click to enlargeI used a green faux combination on back wall of the CENTER niche above the mantel and the wall opposite the media wall. The look I'm going for is crumbling plaster. Also used it in my breakfast nook and dining room niches, where I added a second thin glaze of gold metallic.
    • Base coated with Mackintosh, satin (SW 8116)
    • Recipe: faux glaze mixed with SW Marshland (SW8125)
    • Rolled on and then partially removed with bagging off technique
    • Touch up: make a light glaze with Mackintosh and dab on where needed to soften
    Gold band trim:This bit of trim covers the seams where faux sections overlapped and repeats the gold from the mirror. Really only works with rounded corner bead.
    • Taped off a one inch border along the rounded corner bead on the edge of each niche
    • Use ONLY blue painters tape for delicate surfaces and remove after each coat, within 45 minutes. Trust me on this!
    • Painted two coats of Ralph Lauren's Golden Candlesticks metallic paint
    Latex painting tip:Use liquid Downey-type fabric softener with water to clean your brushes (and rollers if you're dilligent enough to reuse them).