Some­times, faux is the way to go

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Me­gan Buerger Allyson Reedy (areedy@den­ver­post.com) is food writer for The Den­ver Post. On Twit­ter @AllysonBTC and In­sta­gram, AllysonEat­sDen.

Lust­ing af­ter ex­posed brick walls or a ceil­ing punc­tu­ated with rus­tic wood beams? Here’s an idea: Fake it.

Dec­o­ra­tive ar­chi­tec­tural ac­cents such as im­i­ta­tion stone coun­ter­tops and hard­board pan­els of em­bossed “brick” are in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar so­lu­tions in home ren­o­va­tions. To some, this might seem at odds with the larger de­sign move­ment to­ward or­ganic ma­te­ri­als and ar­ti­san ob­jects, but plenty of de­sign­ers and DIY blog­gers see noth­ing wrong with go­ing faux.

Their motto is sim­ple: What you lose in in­tegrity, you make up for in sav­ings, and these days, most folks can’t tell the dif­fer­ence.

Erin Souder, who runs the de­sign blog and on­line store Earnest Home Co., re­did her kitchen counter for $30 by paint­ing a slab of butcher block that she had in her garage. The project was such a suc­cess that her “very dis­cern­ing” moth­erin-law mis­took it for real mar­ble. “That, my friends, is a win,” she wrote. Two years later, Souder says the counter has far ex­ceeded her ex­pec­ta­tions.

“It’s held up phe­nom­e­nally,” she said. “Red wine, cof­fee, you name it, I’ve spilled it, but it looks brand new.”

Many faux ma­te­ri­als are more durable and low main­te­nance than the real thing. Wood-grain porce­lain tiles of­fer the warmth of hard­wood with­out the up­keep. Lam­i­nate coun­ter­tops are more scratch- and stain-re­sis­tant. And faux wood beams are made of light­weight polyurethane, which means they’re eas­ier to in­stall and won’t crack, warp or rot.

The best part: You don’t have to be artsy like Souder to pull these projects off. Many im­i­ta­tion sur­faces are de­signed for DIY be­gin­ners. Lam­i­nate coun­ter­top sheets, which are made us­ing high-res­o­lu­tion dig­i­tal prints of nat­u­ral stone, can be glued right onto ply­wood or par­ti­cle­board. And while mar­ble and gran­ite start at about $150 per square foot, lam­i­nate costs about half that for a 48-by-96-inch sheet.

Dig­i­tal print­ing has also nudged the wall­pa­per in­dus­try back into the spot­light, and there is a sim­i­lar de­sire to repli­cate rus­tic charm. Brew­ster has two new col­lec­tions, Re­claimed and Re­stored, that were in­spired by vin­tage ar­chi­tec­tural de­tails such as an­tique tiles and pressed tin ceil­ings. One pat­tern, a dusty red brick in the Re­claimed line, fea­tures tex­tured im­ages of bricks that were taken from pho­to­graphs of an 18th-cen­tury home in New­port, R.I. ($140 for a roll cov­er­ing 56 square feet, brew­ster­wall­cov­er­ings.com).

Wall pan­els are surg­ing in pop­u­lar­ity thanks in part to HGTV’s Joanna Gaines, the “Fixer Up­per” star who praises shiplap (wooden wall planks) for its sub­tle, out­doorsy warmth. She re­cently part­nered with York Wall­cov­er­ings to de­velop her own shiplap-in­spired wall­pa­per ($86 for a dou­ble roll, york­wall.com). For more dra­matic tex­ture, try brick pan­els that mea­sure about three-fourths of an inch thick. Red brick can make a dull home feel his­toric ($26 for a 4-by-8-foot panel, lowes.com), while white brick of­fers a more con­tem­po­rary look ($105 per sheet, home­de­pot.com).

Chicago de­signer Kay­lan Kane is par­tial to Phillip Jef­fries’s Against the Grain wood-ve­neer wall­cov­er­ing in Paulow­nia Par­quet, an el­e­gant, gray her­ring­bone. She re­cently used it on an ac­cent wall in an in­dus­trial high-rise that “looked straight out of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ ” she said. “All it took was a touch of warm wood to soften it up.” The Against the Grain se­ries is avail­able only to the trade.

Kane’s firm, Olive Juice In­te­ri­ors, caters to pro­fes­sion­als in their 30s and 40s who live down­town, and she said sim­plic­ity is a big sell­ing point. When clients in the Lo­gan Square neigh­bor­hood wanted to redo their fire­place, opt­ing for faux stone pan­els meant they didn’t have to re­in­force the wall. “It wasn’t Joanna Gaines part­nered with York Wall­cov­er­ings to cre­ate shiplap-in­spired wall­pa­per. just cheaper, it was less work.”

Of course, sim­u­lat­ing ar­chi­tec­tural fea­tures makes some de­sign­ers cringe. “Call us tra­di­tion­al­ists, but we’re not into fak­ing it,” said Julie Mas­succo Kleiner of Mas­succo Warner Miller in Los An­ge­les. She says she prefers to use other tricks to dis­tract from “less-than-stel­lar ar­chi­tec­ture,” such as a high win­dow treat­ment to dis­guise a short win­dow, or a col­lage of art to fill a blank wall.

That’s great ad­vice, but it might not be enough to sat­isfy some peo­ple’s hunger for ar­chi­tec­tural charm or the ap­pear­ance of “good bones.” For them, faux flair can seem like the most im­pact­ful so­lu­tion: cus­tomiza­tion and char­ac­ter with­out the com­mit­ment, or the ex­pense, of con­struc­tion.

“It’s hard to ar­gue with cost and con­ve­nience,” Kane said. “That’s the bot­tom line.” Sun.-Sat. 6:30 a.m.-7 p.m.

Lit­tle Anita’s: 1550 S. Colorado Blvd., Den­ver, 303691-3337, Lit­tleAni­tas.com, Mon.-Fri. 6 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m.- 8:30 p.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. (also at 6882 S. Yosemite St., Cen­ten­nial)

The Orig­i­nal Chubby’s: 1231 W. 38th Ave., Den­ver, 303-455-9311

Sam’s No. 3: var­i­ous lo­ca­tions, Sam­sNo3.com

San­ti­ago’s: Var­i­ous lo­ca­tions, EatAtSan­ti­a­gos.com

Senor Bur­ri­tos: 19 E. First Ave., Den­ver, 303-733-0747 and 2553 Ki­pling St., Lake­wood, 303-202-1185, SenorBur­ri­tos. Blogspot.com

Tamale Kitchen: Var­i­ous lo­ca­tions, TheTa­maleKitchen.com

In­spired by par­quet floor­ing, Phillip Jef­fries’ Against the Grain wall­cov­er­ings are made of four strains of wood ve­neers. Pro­vided by Phillip Jef­fries

Blog­ger and de­signer Erin Souder re­did her kitchen counter for $30 by paint­ing a slab of butcher block she had ly­ing around in her garage. Pro­vided by Erin Souder

Mil­ton & King’s Cam­den Fac­tory Bricks wall­pa­per.

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