It's no secret that changing a room's coloring is often the least expensive way of redesigning an interior. And you don't have to be a professional designer to know that paint is one of the most versatile means of achieving a colorful makeover.
In the hands of an experienced craftsman, paint can add not only brightness and contrasts but also texture and pattern.
Dragging, pouncing, sponging and combing are the names given to techniques that painters have long employed to produce irregular stripping, stippling, mottling and other special effects.
Those of us who delight in decorative interiors have rejoiced at the recent revival of these centuries-old painting methods. During the past decade, it has become more common to see walls painted in simulated patterns, textures and shadows.
What's seldom seen however are flooring surfaces done in such a manner. I'm reminded of this incongruity whenever I visit certain traditional houses. In these settings, the selection and installation of wood or of hard surfaces such as marble and tile reveal the care that has been taken to produce color configurations on the floor.
In the past half-century, decorative surfaces in general and decorative floors in particular have been among the most mourned victims of modern design.
How could such a brilliantly effective display ever have gone out of fashion? Just take a look at this photo of a floor designed and stenciled by the EverGreene painting studios in New York. It's a perfect example of how to delineate a specific area within a room or an entire room.
In fact, a perception of separateness can sometimes be conveyed more effectively by changing the flooring pattern than by putting up walls.
Specialty finishes such as stenciling "can be used alone or in combination to achieve an infinite variety of effects," says Jeffrey Greene of EverGreene. "All these applications enhance the mood, architectural sense and scale of the area."
The wood parquet floor shown here was painted in an intricate pattern involving different colors as well as translucent stains and opaque paint. The translucent glazes allow the grain of the weed to be seen through the colored glazes. Besides creating pattern, these variations and combinations add a sense of texture to the flooring.
It should also be kept in mind that a treatment of this sort can act as an exquisite backdrop for a rug, a tapestry or some other artwork. Often, too little consideration is given to the look of the wall or floor against which a major acquisition is to be placed. If a decorative addition appears striking in its own right, think how extraordinary it might seem when paired with a wall or floor design created by a skilled painter.