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Marbling is a fairly common request. It seems like an old-fashioned finish, and I have to admit that when it’s used as an overall wall treatment in a room, it can feel  like you’re suddenly back in the 80s. These days, painted marble is used more as an accent on small surfaces that feel natural, like base boards, crown molding or fireplace surrounds and mantlepieces. For example, this faux Mystique Dark marble base board was painted to match adjacent tiled marble in a powder room.

Here are some samples of typical painted marble finishes. Marble is either painted to match a real stone, or totally invented, which is called Fantasy Marble.

One of the more unusual jobs I’ve done is to transform a fireplace surround from one stone to another. The request for the change reflects not only a newly designed living room, but the way all trends, even those in stone, change over time. Here’s the original, a gorgeous sienna red marble with white veining, probably Rosso Sicilia from Italy.

The client asked that it be painted as limestone. This was the approved sample. Awfully tame next to Rosso Sicilia!

Despite the disapproval of the house’s caretaker, who was appalled that anyone would consider painting over such a beautiful stone, limestone it was going to be. My concern was that the paint would eventually flake off, so I sanded, degreased and primed the surface to within an inch of its life before beginning the painted finish. Seven layers of glaze, four layers of matte varnish and three days later, it was done. Even the caretaker liked it!

An interesting aspect of this project is that even though it was in Aspen, CO, the client preferred to fly me there to complete a quick, clean job rather than deal with the bother and mess of tearing the old fireplace out, finding a new one, installing it, patching the walls and repairing the floor. Here’s a shot of the Rockies as I flew in a tiny plane from Aspen back to Denver before heading home to New York. I love my job!

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