Create a Wall of Fame

Here are four ways to give your old walls a new look.

Carol Gentes works on a mural of a vineyard.Look at the Big Picture

If that big, blank wall begs for something more artistic than a giant flat-screen television, a hand-painted mural can offer the perfect balance of size and soul-stirring visuals.

Fortunately, Delaware is awash in talented muralists who take their art and the permanent—and sizeable—place it will have in your home quite seriously. Their advice:

• Size shouldn’t limit you. Most muralists will apply their talents to just about any space, says Sean Crosby of The Mural School in Newark ( Crosby has worked on murals up to 50 feet long and as small as a normal window.

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• Know your style. A standard mural can be little more than a stylized rendering on a large surface, such as the JetBlue airliner that muralist Carol Gentes of Pigment of the Imagination ( painted for the son of one of the airline’s pilots.

• Trompe l’œil—loosely translated from the French as “trick of the eye”—is designed to fool the viewer into thinking that there is a three-dimensional object on the wall or scene beyond it.

• Any mural will require the painter to visit your home, measure the space you want painted, then prepare an estimate based on the size and technical complexity of the work, as well as challenges such as working on ceilings or in high spaces.

• Many clients have clear ideas about what they want, so providing visual examples can help. Also let the artist know if you want to include images of family members or pets.

• Most important, know how much you have to spend. High-end murals can average $200 a square foot, so don’t make the mistake of asking for the Sistine Chapel on a “Dogs Playing Poker” budget.
—Scott Pruden

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Page 2: Roll With a New Hue





Roll With a New Hue

Want to see the hottest colors in interior paint? Stick your head in the closet.

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“Home follows fashion,” says Carol Gain of Mammele’s Paints and Coatings in Wilmington. “The colors in fashion right now will be the hot colors several years down the road.”

Voila. The chocolate and sky blue combo of your Vera Bradley purse is now sprucing up your parlor.

Gain reports that, locally, this year’s hot hues are orange, coral and turquoise. “A warm, Mediterranean type of feel is where everybody wants to go,” she says. “Yellows and reds are sunshine warm colors. Turquoise cools it down a bit.”

Byron McElderry of B. Frank Shinn’s Paint Co. in Wilmington has noticed customers abandoning traditional neutrals. Browns, greens, yellows, mocha, even gray, are the trendiest of tints, McElderry says. Reds lean toward brown, rust and cinnamon.

He links the color revolution to a sagging real estate market. “Up until the past year or so, people were selling every two years,” he says. “Realtors would have them paint everything neutral so it would sell faster. Now, people are fixing their houses up to look like model homes.”

Still, Gain cautions that color is truly in the eye of the beholder. “Color is an emotional thing,” she says. “I tell people to work with what makes them comfortable. A trend isn’t any good if it doesn’t work for you.”

Incorporating the latest, greatest shades into your home may require patience. “Color is determined by furniture and carpeting,” she says. “It can take several years to work the hot colors into your house.”

McElderry says why wait. “Don’t be afraid of color,” he says. “Come on with it.”
—Drew Ostroski

Page 3: Go Faux, Yo





Go Faux, Yo

Would-be faux painters can get real through the Decorative Painting Apprenticeship Program, a hands-on initiative that helps budding artists learn techniques, then apply them to projects that beautify worthy spaces.

The program was inspired by Bernadette Forese, a master faux painter from Kennett Square who collaborated with Marlow and Brita DeBars, master decorative painters from Connecticut. Decorative Painting Apprenticeship Program’s first project created European-style finishes for the interior of St. Cornelius Catholic Church in Chadds Ford.

In what turned out to be a divine partnership, top decorative painters taught 38 apprentices, who traveled from as far as Canada, paying a fee to brush up on such techniques as wood graining, marbling, gold leafing, stenciling, mural and sky painting, glazing and Venetian plaster.

The techniques can beautify sacred spaces and commercial places, as well as the homes of do-it-yourselfers. By giving the students hands-on, real-wall experience, the church interior was transformed from a stark, all-white contemporary setting to a grand, many-layered tableau.

For more information about the program, call Forese at (610) 368-3899 or visit
—Eileen Smith Dallabrida

Page 4: Use Photo Synthesis





Use Photo Synthesis

Whether your pictures are taken professionally or are the product of an impromptu photo shoot in the park, creativity is key when deciding how to incorporate them into your home.

Photographer Laura Novak suggests buying a plain wood frame and hand-painting, stenciling or illustrating it to match the decor of a room. This technique works especially well with black-and-white prints.  

When you get around to hanging those photos, it’s perfectly fine to adorn your foyer with that close-up shot of your son sporting his characteristic happy-go-lucky grin.

 “It’s important to capture the expressions of the kids,” says Novak, owner of Laura Novak Photography in Wilmington. “Something different really calls people’s attention more than just a traditional approach.”

Novak strives to capture the best in her clients’ personalities through photography, and she says you can follow the same approach in your own backyard.

 “Take your kids out and play with them. Dress them in their normal, everyday clothing and let them be themselves,” she says. “Just let them be.”

Photos should come to life with an essence of the people they portray adding their own personal touch to a room, she says.

“By putting framed portraits in a house, it lets you know who lives there and what they’re all about,” Novak says.  “It’s really the art of a family that makes a house a home.”
—Stephanie Ostroff

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