What is faux finishing?

Faux finishing is an age-old craft used mostly in repair. Faux finishing is creating the illusion of natural materials, such as wood, marble, stone and metal. The craft of faux finishing has come a long way and evolved mainly into creating unique, decorative wall finishes via an artist's brushwork. 

What is the difference between faux finishing and trompe l'oeil? 

They are similar, but to a trained eye very different. Trompe l'oeil is the art of painting, usually murals that appear as though you could step into the painting. The term is French and means "to fool the eye." Faux finishing is a much broader discipline. It, too, uses fool-the-eye techniques in painting; but with faux finishing, it is about making a wall look like it has a silk finish by painting it on. It can be applied to repairs or replacing something irreplaceable by making a painting of it to look like rare cabinetry. 

What services do you perform? 

Basically, I am a design and color consultant. When I first meet a client, I assume the role of a design consultant. I weigh what my client wishes to accomplish with possible solutions and offer proper guidance throughout the design process. I am a solo practitioner who is able to deliver a specific design "look" that a client wants but can't have accomplished through traditional design solutions like wallpaper or paint color. Once we decide a solution for a need, then I become the artist who completes the task. For example, if the client wishes to match an aged patina in any part of the house, I can do that. 

What other surfaces can you mimic? 

I can take a mundane post and make it appear like a Greek marble column, complete with tiny cracks and chips if desired. I can create faux wood beams in ceilings. I can make humble wood finishes in kitchen cabinetry look like the most expensive mahogany or teak finish. I can create an entire room to look like it is leather or silk. 

Who motivated you to become a faux finisher? 

My grandfather was an artist. My uncle, an Renaissance man, was my mentor; and my father taught me my business skills. Thanks to them, I learned that to be a successful artist you have to be a first-rate businessman. There's really no escaping that reality.  

How long have you been in business? 

I began my business in 1997 back East and moved it to San Diego in 2000. 

What was the biggest influence in your career? 

I'm from the Philadelphia area, where I attended the Philadelphia Art Institute. One day, a friend offered me a challenge to repair a piece of furniture. It was complicated, so I painted the "fix," and everyone was happy with the solution. From there, I taught myself faux-finishing techniques. Since relocating to San Diego, I have been working steadily with homeowners and interior designers. 

Does faux finishing have advantages over wallpaper and other types of finishing? 

Applying new wallpaper to an ancient wall is an invitation to disaster. Older walls shift; and, often, older architecture wasn't uniform to begin with. As a result, wallpaper looks forced, while faux finishing gives you the exact look desired. A faux finish can embellish a home's architecture and disguise its weaknesses. With faux finishing, old becomes new and new becomes old. The right faux finish on a wall can create depth and texture to all rooms and give cohesiveness throughout with a brushstroke instead of a sledgehammer.

Derek Delibertis Faux Finisher
By appointment, 619-549-4642
  Source: San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles Magazine April 2013