by: Vern Uyetake, After the cabinets were primed and painted, a new tile backsplash and countertop was added, the room seems to have an added glow. Before, the room was white and light cabinets had no depth to them.

A fresh start.

A fresh coat of paint.

A fresh perspective.

Robin Gladieux fell in love with her 1948 Lake Oswego ranch home. Originally intended to be a rental property, Gladieux decided to nix the idea of tenants and spend the rest of her life in the home - but not before a remodel.

The kitchen - with a large window, white walls and cabinets and plain ceiling - needed some attention. Looking as sterile as a hospital, color was in demand. And a texture to liven up the rectangular ceiling.

Gladieux worked with Lorie Wolff to paint, plaster, refinish and otherwise breathe life into the space.

Wolff's business, One Horse Studio, contracts with designers and homeowners throughout Oregon to create unique works of art on all surfaces - walls, floors, ceiling, cabinetry and furniture. Decorative painting techniques and faux finishes are used to achieve the appearance of Italian plasters, marble and other stones, aged metal, wood graining, fresco style murals and a wide variety of other original patterned designs on surfaces.

Basically, Wolff can take any surface and transform it to look like something else. She refers to rooms as 'six sides,' that includes the walls, floor and ceiling - any surface that can be altered.

For this Lake Oswego home, Wolff's mission was to make the small space appear bigger while adding intricate surface details.

'We just wanted to give the kitchen some character, like it's been here for a while and has a story,' Wolff said.

Wolff said that often homeowners request their hard surfaces to look a bit imperfect, giving them character. This is also called 'antiquing.' Finishes on walls, floors, ceilings and cabinetry can be painted and manipulated to look like something European from hundreds of years ago.

'Old world is definitely a staple,' Wolff said. 'Old world has a history to it. If something is old it has a perceived value of being more valuable because it's older. If we can do that with paint you have a perceived value that it's a higher level of quality.'

A spot on one of the upper cabinets in the kitchen looks a bit worn in and weathered.

'This tells me there's a story here,' Wolff said, touching the weathered part of the cabinet, 'like someone over the years (has touched this cabinet right here).'

The kitchen remodel took a few weeks to transform it to appear as if its gone back in time.

Here's the breakdown, just scratching the surface:

- Ceiling: Metallic and copper colors are popular right now to add a bit more pizzaz to a space. The rust and metallic colored ceiling frames the room and natural color scheme. Wolff also had crown moulding added with a heavy black and copper 'crackle' finish on the painted wood.

'I do a lot of 'bling,' as I call it,' Wolff said.

The kitchen remodel began with the ceiling, actually. The textured square wallpaper on the ceiling was painted in a copper color to look like an old tin ceiling. The shiny squares bring sparkle to the room and draw the eye upward. They also balance the new look of the cabinetry.

- Cabinets: Gladieux described her previous cabinets as 'plain Jane;' the cabinets originally were generic, white cabinets with no detail - original to the 1940s house. Decorative painting techniques add depth and dimension to any surface including color washes, glazing, metallic and metallic waxes, distressing, and a wide variety of textures and patterns.

Gladieux's cabinets were screaming for attention - for detail or some way to make them stand out and not blend in with their surroundings. Wolff said that upper and lower cabinetry needn't be the same color or finish.

'It's very popular these days to see the lowers in a different color than the uppers. For in here, it really balances with the copper ceiling,' Wolff said. 'In such a tiny little space as this you've got to make it balanced.'

By balanced, Wolff means that the darker, cherry cabinetry below and dark ceiling provide a nice contrast with the lighter upper cabinets. Wolff scuffed them up to prepare the surface before applying a glaze to change the look and feel of the wood. The bottom cabinets were refaced and utilized a veneer on corner portions to give the appearance of entirely new cabinets.

'It's better than throwing perfectly good cabinets out, and less expensive,' Wolff said. 'You'd never know (the difference), and it's sort of a sustainability issue.'

Cabinets lining the wall by the refrigerator became more transparent with the addition of seedy glass - glass that has minute bubbles of gas, seeds in it.

- Walls and countertops: Stone that looks like travertine replaced laminate countertops on three sides of the room.

'I can't tell the difference,' Gladieux said.

Instead of replastering the walls - some parts of the wall were smooth, some were bumpy - Wolff just added some sand to the paint to even out the texture.

- Tile details: Similar in appearance to dark stone, Wolff softened the look of the new tile floors with a small painted detail that was stenciled on some of the tiles using a special floor tile paint.

'This kitchen is little, but it can take it,' she said. 'It's an antique home.'

Applying paint is an art. By looking at a beginning surface color, Wolff said she knows just what colors to mix and match to get the correct new look.

'For what I do, there's a vision and talent and knowing colors, but then there's also the skill of application,' she said - such as the knobs for the cabinetry, in which Wolff applied a reactive Verdi patina solution.

'That's what would happen over time; if they were real copper they would green like that,' Wolff said, pointing to a spash of color on a cabinet knob.

To finish the room off, Wolff suggested an old period-piece light fixture from Restoration Hardware.

'Shes's not just a painter,' Gladieux said.

Wolff holds degrees in interior and textile design, with 20 years experience. Supplies for this project - and many of Wolff's other projects - are from Chromatix Fine Architectural Finishes on Alder Street in Portland.

Each project brings new creative challenges and customized decision making for the client or builder. Featured in The Neighborhood and Street of Dreams projects, her work is designed to enhance special spaces.

'I think that what I offer that's different from other faux finishing companies is interior design and textile design,' Wolff said. 'I offer unique original finishes.'

Gladieux said she's excited to use her new, old looking kitchen.

'It's like when you have a spice here and a spice there. You might love the spices but when you marry them together that's when you (have the biggest impact),' Gladieux said.

'I can't name my favorite part of this room. Seeing everything together was like, 'oh my gosh.''

For more information, call Lorie Wolff at One Horse Studio, LLC at 503-537-9238. Visit the Web site at

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