Monday, August 31, 2015

The Masquerade Hall

The entry hall at my home is rather large for a house of its size. It has always felt a bit grand and intimidating, while at the same time, lacking in elegance. I understand that the previous owners had a grand piano in the space to give it scale and focus. Since I donât play the piano, I looked to see how I could add interest to this cavernous space. The answer was in the floor. By providing detail and visual texture to the yardage of white oak flooring, I was able to make something elegant of it all. Next step: re-think that stair!

After posting images of the faux marquetry pattern that I stained on the floor, I received a lot of inquiries as to how I did it. The answer is LOTS OF MASKING TAPE! Following are some very fuzzy pictures of the process. It took a total of about one weekâs worth of evenings, but I think was well worth it.

The first task was to come up with a pattern that would translate well. I decided on a series of boxes that would be defined using two stain colors. (I wanted to keep it simple(ish)!) I counted the floor boards and used that number to determine the cadence of my plan. I did a quick mock-up with tape on the floor to be certain that I liked the scale (No photo of that Iâm afraid.)

First run of taping

First run of taping

Then the taping began. Since I laid out my geometry based on the rhythm of the floor boards, the first run of taping was relatively easy.

Once that was complete, I taped in the opposite direction with the same dimensions, keeping in mind what was to be stained and what areas were to be masked.

Second wave of tape

Second wave of tape

Cutting the masks

Cutting the masks

Once all of the tape was down, I had to cut the stencils for the corners. This was perhaps one of the most tedious tasks. I made diagonal cuts through the tape and peeled away the tape to expose the areas to be stained dark. (This took two evenings and a couple glasses of wine).

My first round of stain was the darker "L"s. I used Minwax Walnut Gel-stain for this. It paints on like pudding, so there is little seepage under the edge

First pass of stain. (Note that I removed the mask for the center square when done staining to prevent accidental seepage.)

First pass of stain. (Note that I removed the mask for the center square when done staining to prevent accidental seepage.)

 A very blurry image of the second pass of stain.

A very blurry image of the second pass of stain.

I painted the second pass of stain, which filled the center squares, directly over the darker first pass. I was not concerned that the first pass might get too dark, as I had done a test in the closet. I peeled up the masking tape as I went, to assure that the stain would not seep under the mask. This was the moment of truth. And I was pleased that it was working out according to plan.

Once the stain had dried, I applied three coats of polyurethane to protect the surface. Having a large dog and two teenage boys, I was a little concerned about how it will wear. But houses are for living, and I think that life's patina can be a great reflection of the activity of a home. (Remind me of that when I freak out that my dog just tore up the floor, or my son just clomped through with hiking boots on!)

The view from above

The view from above