You know the story: you install new flooring (dark chocolate stained oak) and then the furniture looks bad, so you buy new stuff and then the walls look shabby so you re-paint them a potato peel color but then the fireplace gets lost so you strip and re-stain the (orange-y) oak mantel a rich chocolate color to match the floors but then it all seems too dark.
I am not a fan of the “focus” wall, I did that in the early 90’s and well I know the 80’s and 90’s are back for some but not for me -yet. (a focus wall is painting one wall in a room a diff color than the others). Wanting to make the corner wall where my fireplace was stand out more I decided to go for it by doing it in a cream venetian plaster from Lowe’s. (Lowe’s instructions are available online and in stores.)
If you want a matte venetian plaster look, this is easiest: apply it and do nothing. But if you want some sheen here are the steps:
Step #1 Make sure the color of the wall is a color you like because no matter what it will show through. So since the rest of my living room was that brown/grey potato peel color I painted it that color.
Step #2 I chose a creamy white venetian plaster (to match the existing carrera marble around my hearth). Buy a metal trowel/spatula and apply the plaster to the wall almost as if you are mudding drywall but more liberally in a sort of criss cross motion.
Step #3 Do small sections at a time: aprox 24 inch x 24 inch. Follow instructions. But basically let dry 10 min or more (do not wait until fully dry) and if you want a slight sheen take a very VERY fine grit piece of sand paper and lightly go over the surface. If you want high sheen (as I did, to look like marble) take a small metal trowel and gripping each end burnish the wall (as in, rubbing the surface of the wall very quickly back and forth to generate heat).
Step #4 When you are done one section, repeat #2 and #3. Working in small sections at a time until you are done. This will yield the best results (and give your arms a great workout!). This medium is forgiving: if it is too dry it will not burnish, simply reapply the venetian plaster over top, wait a few minutes and try to burnish again.
If you completely mess up -like I once did in a small guest bathroom (the venetian plaster color was all wrong not to mention impossible to get a cohesive look -it’s hard to burnish around a toilet!) then you can paint over it. The result will be a textured paint technique that will look really fabulous! Take a chance -either way it will end up looking great!
(I don’t recommend for an entire room unless you can hire a professional or are a serious DIY).