A Design Story


A Design Story: Dewald Farms

Sometimes our custom jobs take much, much longer to realize completion than we ever intended. Such is the case with the Dewald Farms foyer embellishment.

Rob and Susan Dewald came to us through their designer, Marcea Seimears, in August of 2011. Building a new farm home on their existing site, they wanted to embellish and personalize the foyer to represent the legacy of farming the Dewald family name has provided. Owning and farming the 1,000's of acres since 1889 is something to be proud of for sure! With brand new construction the opportunity was perfect!

The design process began with determining what product would be best for the area. Being a farm house there will be heavy duty boots, high traffic, possible dogs, and lots of cleaning. The surrounding area would be slate tiles so we needed to be able to color match the product. Also to consider, the floor would have radiant heat throughout. Simultaneously we began computer line art concepts.

The final design - options that preceded this included different wheat bundles, fonts, tile size, etc.

It was decided cement would be the best option for the area and desired outcome. Since our concrete would need to cure and be protected for at least a week after finishing we recommended being the last ones in before the home is finished - or as close to that as possible.

The tile layer did a fabulous job laying the slate tiles all around our 5 ft medallion area. The circle he left for us to work in was absolutely perfect! Upon arriving, this week - almost 2 years later, we sealed the under layer of concrete with a hydro-barrier membrane, taped and protected the slate tile surrounding the circle, and poured 2 thick layers of concrete to build up the depth on Day 1.

Beginning bright and early on Day 2 we put one last layer of concrete over the entire surface. Once dry we applied our one-time-use stencil made to size from our computer rendering of the design.

This concrete dries within hours of troweling.

We then applied our final layer of concrete in two steps. The first was the center circle, which would have hand carved wheat stalks in the center.

Being careful not to push the concrete past the "grout line" so as to avoid uneven application.

With a blown up print of the Dewalds' favorite sheath of wheat we waited moments until the concrete was set up enough to make an impression of the wheat and not flow back together.

Talk about a one time use "stencil"

Once the tracing was complete we removed the paper and went back over the shape, embellishing areas that should be shaded and given more detail, as well as making it deeper.

carve, brush, carve, blow, carve, brush, scrape, blow... repeat until finished.

Before applying the outside layer of concrete we colored the wheat. Then pulled the areas of the stencil that needed "weeding" and began troweling our final layer... it's probably 4:00pm at this point... LONG day!

Phase two for the top layer of concrete - after "weeding" the stencil.

We used push pins to mark the beginning of each letter - so we weren't digging holes in the fresh concrete searching for a letter.

Not long after this final trowel we began pulling the stencil for the inside circle and the outer border of tiles. This left the circle with the words "Dewald Farms Est 1889" as an island unto itself for coloring. We colored this portion a darker grey and then pulled the letters. Once those were pulled we filled in the words with a rust color to accent the rust in the surrounding slate tiles.

The final product. A beautiful accent to a gorgeous foyer in a new farm house.

It was a joy to pull tape and seal that medallion around 8:00pm. We loaded up the car and headed back to Spokane.

Seeing a project from beginning to end is very fulfilling. We wish the Dewald's a happy house warming and a bountiful harvest this year!

  • Kim Smith

White Room Challenge

Every year we participate in three Home Shows. This year the Premier Home Improvement Show, put on by the Spokane Home Builders Association, held a White Room Challenge. When they asked us to participate, we were all in! How fun to showcase our design abilities and finishes!!

There were three of us on board: Gregg Johnson with LGD Designs, Melissa Helvey with Gina's Design Center, and Nancy Jones (me!) with Artworks Spokane. The project was to design a kitchen in a 10x12 space - floor to "ceiling". There weren't any stipulations. The timeframe: 4 days from framing to completion. BRING ON THE CHALLENGE!

Our theme was French Country.

The storyboard shows our color theme and design feel.
We started by designing custom cabinets. Since we weren't ordering these from a cabinet manufacturer but rather finishing them ourselves we had to work on them before the "white room challenge" timeframe. These were built and delivered to our studio. Once that overhead door was closed we hit the ground running! There was quite a bit of finishing to accomplish in a little over a week. Peggy, Carol, Annette, Mary, Robin, Kim, and myself worked on these cabinets!
Robin and Annette get busy prepping the cabinets for paint and stain.


We gained access to the space on Wednesday before the show. Kim went in to stain the beams of our faux ceiling and finish the walls with an acrylic plaster called SandStone. This plaster has ground up pecan shells that reveal a beautiful texture and movement when troweled back. This gave us the old world feel we wanted. John and Dave put the floor in at this time as well.

Thursday morning the cabinets were delivered and installed (ok, this took more than the morning). :) Once those were done we could begin decorating! Along with the cabinets we finished a bench with Chalk Paint® and Annie Sloan fabrics. Throw in some pillows and table linens... and voila! Our french country kitchen is complete!

cabinets and bench
Our bench was created from the backs of two dining room chairs. Annie Sloan fabric pillows and cushion adorn the seat. The cabinets were a custom yellow/gold color for the uppers and a custom green mix for the lowers. Both mixes were made from 100% Chalk Paint® colors.
mural for the "window"
Our muralist - Peggy, finished this beautiful countryside garden mural to hang outside our window. We used a shop light behind the display to backlight the art, giving it depth.
left side of the booth
Our corner cabinet had built in space for a wine refrigerator and microwave.
hutch and table - right side of the booth
No country kitchen is complete without a china hutch. ;) Our table slides under the countertop for optimum space management.
the finished room
And here is our finished product!
We had so much fun competing in this challenge! When show-goers voted for their favorite kitchen design they were also entered into a drawing for $4,000.00 worth of kitchen appliances donated by Fred's Appliance. You can imagine our delight when the winners were a couple just getting ready to move into their first home!
Fred's Appliance winners
Sheena and her husband won the drawing for $4,000.00 worth of appliances from Fred's Appliance. So happy for them!
And finally, this is Gregg Johnson, of LGD Design. He built this kitchen design. (He won the contest... by something like 25 votes.)
Gregg's winning room design
Modern-Eclectic-Awesomeness. Each kitchen had a completely different feel.
And Melissa of Gina's Design Center brought this clean, sleek design to the contest.
Melissa's room design
Ultra clean with a combination of modern elements and traditional architecture. We loved the illuminated cabinets and under lower cabinet lighting.
I think that about sums it up. We received a really cool time-lapse movie for participating. We have uploaded it to our YouTube channelfacebook page, and soon on our website. I think you'll enjoy it.Until next time, we'll keep transforming ordinary surfaces into works of art!
  • Kim Smith

A Design Story: Show Booth 2013

It's time to reveal our Show Booth for 2013! This has been a fun process! We've recorded photos each day as our booth comes together and posted them to our facebook page but saved the debut "all-in-one" overview for our blog! Taking the surfaces from last year's booth we have transformed them from an eclectic combination of rooms to a "Modern Vintage" unified "home".

Here is what we started out with...

We try to balance our booth design with what's trending and what will impress our clients.  So this year we chose a Modern Vintage theme. Refurbishing old pieces and thrift store shopping has become very popular in this economy. We are also seeing a turn in the trends toward glitz, shine and luxurious surfaces and textiles (while this trend has been around awhile all over the rest of the country... we think Spokane is finally ready for it). So we combined the two! We've taken old pieces and given them new life with paint, accessories, and bling. We chose a modern color scheme of White/Pearl, Silver, Black/Graphite, Red, and Mustard.

We will begin with our patio...

The exterior wall remained the same. It was such a hit last year and the finish is perfect for the Northwest. The "patio" floor has been refinished in grey tones. There are four different textures. The island consists of vertical concrete carved to mimic stones and a poured concrete countertop. The outdoor fireplace also has vertical concrete carved stones as well as a stamped concrete "log" mantel. That baby is HEAVY!

And now on to the Master Bedroom (formerly the kitchen)...

All the furniture in this space received some kind of new finish. The bed frame was painted black. The armoire was finished with a combination of foils, Chalk Paint®, and crackle size, and the silver shelf above the bed started out as a wooden box. Decorative molding was added to the outside edges to create the frame and the entire piece painted in metallic paint. The bedding consists of Annie Sloan decorator fabrics and various other textiles for variation and depth. The bench at the foot of the bed was a $10.00 yard sale find - with nasty mustard velour. Naturally we couldn't have that! So, out came more of the Charcoal Pastorale Toile. We recovered that bad boy and used black buttons... painted the frame black and PRESTO - the perfect piece for our "bedroom". The floor was finished with SkimStone Decorative concrete to mimic marble tiles and a decorative border was added to define the space.

Our bedroom has a ceiling so we could display options for a surface most people don't consider. We embellished it with a stencil design to enhance the chandelier - a $12.00 thrift store find, which was painted and gussied up with pearls and jewels. The walls are finished with Lusterstone, an acrylic plaster. There is a linen plaster finish in silver on two walls and black and red Lusterstone on the fireplace wall. The red Lusterstone around the fireplace also received a stencil design to mimic "flames" done with Silver gilding wax.

On to the Master Bath (formerly the bath and foyer)...

To start we covered the existing floor with an epoxy reflector topcoat. The color was made with a combination of gunmetal and titanium. Then sparkles were added to bring in the bling! The bathroom features etched glass on the shower "door", poured vertical concrete walls with an embedded finish to give the appearance of 1" tiles. The "tiles" are actually grooves going different directions that catch the light and give the appearance of different sheens. So the two back walls of the shower are seamless poured concrete. The fittings for the AWESOME shower fixture were measured before the pour.

The walls bring their own dimension to the room. The red wall is simply paint with flowers in silver leaf. The "pearl" wall at the end of the vanity is an acrylic plaster with metallic waxes for added depth. And finally, the black wall is the same finish as the master bedroom, black Lusterstone. The vanity was an old buffet that we painted with Chalk Paint® and then waxed using the silver gilding wax. And the top... OH PLEASE!! The top was just a plain ol' buffet top made of wood... that wasn't good enough for our vanity - so we used a decorative concrete overlay and made it look like Carrera marble.

And finally - this year we expanded our booth by 10' x 20' on the back side. This is to accommodate the popularity of Chalk Paint® by Annie Sloan. Here is the kitchen...

This area is where we will be giving hands on demonstrations with Chalk Paint®. That AWESOME cerused oak table top (that my daughters thought looked like zebra) is where the demos will take place. All of our cabinets are the 80's golden oak refinished with Chalk Paint! The countertop on the Arles cabinets is a SkimStone decorative concrete overlay in Industrial Gray as is the countertop on the Graphite and Arles cabinet island - that one in Butterscotch. The hardware was spray painted - some in silver and some in oiled bronze. Talk about TRANSFORMATION!!!

And how could I forget the floor?!!? This floor is a remnant piece of linoleum turned over and painted with Chalk Paint®. The border has stripes of all the colors and each color name is painted with it's color... does that make sense? So much fun! It was sealed with Annie Sloan Lacquer and has held up in our retail space as well as our fall show in 2012.

What a JOB! We've been hustling around here for the past four weeks finishing this booth. I'm sure it will pay off. The finished product is spectacular. But don't take our word for it... come see us at the show or before hand in our studio. This week is open house week and our booth won't be set up in studio again this year! So don't delay!! We want as many people to see this as possible! Come get a sneak peek!!

  • Kim Smith

A Design Story: Basement Overhaul

When Tom and Peggy Best decided it was time to upgrade their basement they knew they  needed a direction. Both thought they wanted the typical "Northwest Woods" theme: bears, moose, pine trees... that cabin feel. But they also wanted the basement to be more light and open - lighter colors, not so heavy (as basements tend to be with their lack of natural light). Peggy finally found her inspiration!

This whicker shelving unit, previously used for display at Macy's, is one of Peggy's favorite pieces. It has the tropical/garden feel both she and Tom enjoy. And just like that we have a theme... tropical. Because this is a basement it can tend to be cold and dreary most of the year. A tropical look would camouflage this tendency because it has both warm and vibrant colors.

Here's what they started with...

lots of exposed "goodies" - washer/dryer, furnace, water heater... and no access to the beautiful backyard.

First they enlarged the window and added french doors for access to the backyard.

French doors and a larger window allow more natural light.

Because this wall was now looking out to the lower patio, Peggy gave it the same feel as an old garden wall. She used Aqua Stone and washed it with greens and browns to give it the aged feel she was going for.

To cover the "goodies" shown in the first photo, Peggy and Tom had the utilities reconfigured and installed french doors. Because Peggy is a muralist she saw an empty canvas! She painted a tropical garden mural on the french doors and a smaller faux niche on masonite board to cover the electrical panel. Plants, flowers, and birds seen in her own backyard were incorporated into the mural.

Our talented muralist matched the floor color to give the mural more depth and dimension.

Monkeys are seen throughout the space in subtle ways, here in this mural covering the electrical panel and in the fabric covering the cushions on the whicker furniture.

The floor had it's own dilemma. The ceiling is low (7'-6") and the floor was uneven due to a wall they had removed. To keep things affordable, durable, and easy to clean, Peggy went with SkimStone decorative concrete overlay. It was going to be easy and fast (Peggy could do it herself). They were going to have an area rug - so the coldness of the cement wasn't a concern, and she could choose a color that would appear warmer and brighter. She chose a combination of morocco sand and butterscotch. The result fits beautifully in their theme.

Moving on to the ceiling - Since they were already concerned with the height of the ceiling Peggy thought it would be a good idea to give it some faux height. She painted it a soft blue/grey and added some wispy clouds for dimension. They wanted to give the illusion of an outdoor cabana and thought bamboo beams would be the perfect touch. After pricing real bamboo it was apparent that was going to be an expensive addition. Being the creative problem solvers they are, they found plastic tubing used for exterior plumbing and cut them in half vertically. After adhering them to the ceiling Peggy painted them to look like bamboo.

Faux bamboo ceiling beams complete the look.

To cover a steel support beam and furnace ductwork Peggy's muralist techniques came to the rescue. In the photo above it looks like they have a whicker beam - nope! It's faux finished drywall to look like whicker!! So talented I tell you!!

The whicker furniture doubles as outdoor furniture during the summer on the lower patio.

For a pop of color, Tom really likes red and wanted it somewhere in the room. Peggy used a venetian plaster with metallic waxes to antique it a bit. The brick was multi-colored red and black brick. For ease they painted it a neutral color. Everything was trimmed in white, which Peggy believes make spaces look bigger. Top it off with some tropical decor, just a little here and there, and you have a warm tropical retreat - no matter the time of year.


  • Kim Smith

A Design Story: Studio 8

Being a decorative arts studio we have a design story for every room! So from time to time we will feature one of our own rooms as a design story. You're lucky! Today we will feature the front office!

When we first leased this space the floors were wall-to-wall carpet.

This is fine for most... but we have a vision...

We started by ripping that out! We wanted to feature unique flooring options in each room, so this one got tongue and groove maple flooring with marquetry staining. Once the flooring was laid we applied the modello stencil pattern.

A seamless pattern was chosen to give the floor wall-to-wall beauty.

We began a process of staining and removing layers of the stencil, therefore the areas we wanted to be darkest were removed first and each layer of stain was applied to the entire floor. The stains we used complimented the overall color scheme used on the walls throughout the studio. This particular office has a celadon shade of green.

Step by step... lots of "let's catch up on our personal lives" time.

With the floor complete we moved on to furniture. We needed a desk for "reception", a counter for customers, cabinets for storage, and shelves to house our design library. Once again we went out to our back forty and found some beautiful reclaimed lumber. The cabinets and library shelves were faced with this gorgeous wood. Everything received a clear coat.

The dark finish of the reclaimed wood is a rich compliment to the lighter colors of the floor and countertop.

Now, on to the countertop. Of course we used one of our overlay systems for this element. We chose the Aurastone finish "Saturnia" for it's subtle beauty and classic stone look.

And finally we began finishing the custom-designed desk and sideboard. These pieces received a combination of stain, glaze, paint, and plaster to mimic tooled leather.

The "tooled leather" finish using modello stencil, acrylic plaster, and glaze.

Voila! The finished office...

Feel free to stop in sometime and see it for yourself. After 3 years of daily use and traffic, the office is holding up beautifully.

Stay tuned for more interjected Studio 8 design stories.

  • Kim Smith

A Design Story: 'Tis the Season

Black Friday: The official kick-off to the Christmas Season! There will be leftovers for dinner... and lunch... and breakfast. Who has time to cook with all the shopping and decorating? For that matter, who wants to? The Thanksgiving holiday finds most of us in the kitchen cooking, cleaning, and finally eating. But today? Today is about hustle and bustle, shop and ship, wrap and pack. These are just a few of the things I'm sure you have on your to-do list this season.

We have those lists too. But because we are a retail location we get started earlier than most. We had to get our decorating done prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, and truth be told, we loved getting into the Christmas spirit early. Our goal this year, as with many in our current economy, is to celebrate and decorate in style while keeping our costs minimal. We love a good challenge!

So we pulled out the tree and garlands and got to work. First we needed direction.

The Theme: 

The brainstorm (a little insight into our inspiration):

  • Many of our clients are interested in Chalk Paint™.
  • The front area of our studio is dedicated to "All Things Annie".
  • Most of our painted furniture pieces and accessories that feature Chalk Paint are showcased in this area, therefore keeping our tree in the windows at the front of the shop meant having a Chalk Paint theme.
  • Chalk Paint is largely about repurposing and resurrecting... OK, now we're talking! I see a plan formulating...

The Plan: 

We had unused 1/8" hardboard that we cut into 3"and 4" squares and diamond shapes. We found old snowflakes that we were able to use for our tree topper and in the creation of our custom ornaments. We painted the handles on our shop brushes and printed oversized gift certificates made out to "my multi-talented mom", "my creative cutie", "my handy husband", and "my glitzy grandma" to name a few. We gathered supplies from around the store (and property) like paint stir sticks, picture frames, and branches from the over grown bushes outside to fill out our tree. And finally, we printed oversized hands from Annie's logo on photo paper and cut them out.

We painted the ornaments with all the colors in the Chalk Paint line. With some of the ornaments we broke out the gilding wax, some were stenciled with Wood Icing. Our crackled ornaments were coated with Fissure size for a large crackle and others got the Annie Sloan craqueleur topcoat. Lastly, some were embellished with hand painted words: love, peace, joy, merry, etc.

Ornaments: Wood Icing snowflake impression, hand painted words, Annie Sloan's craqueleur topcoat, Wood Icing embossed snowflake.

And then, we trimmed the tree! What fun to see your brainstorm come to life! Stick some branches here, hang a brush there, tie a ribbon here, stuff a gift certificate there, nestle a frame here, shove a stir stick there.

"Oh handsome hunk! You shouldn't have!!"

The finished product!

I think Christmas trees are difficult to photograph - but I can't very well write an entire design story about our tree and not show you the finished product... that wouldn't be nice.

Under our tree we stocked it full of gift giving ideas: workshops, Chalk Paint, brushes, books, etc.

And that's it, our Christmas tree design story. There's just something about digging down deep and creating something from "nothing". Anyone can spend money and decorate with new things, but we have great satisfaction and joy knowing we repurposed what we have and that we were resourceful in decorating our studio tree.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

  • Kim Smith