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Why some designers love using faux materials

Blogger and designer Erin Souder redid her kitchen counter for $30 by painting a slab of butcher block she had lying around in her garage. Her “very discerning” mother-in-law thought it was real marble. “It’s held up phenomenally,” Souder said. “Red wine, coffee, you name it, I’ve spilled it, but it looks brand new.

By Megan Buerger, Special to The Washington Post

Lusting after exposed brick walls or a ceiling punctuated with rustic wood beams? Here’s an idea: Fake it.

 

Their motto is simple: What you lose in integrity, you make up for in savings, and these days, most folks can’t tell the difference.

Milton & King's Camden Factory Bricks wallpaper is the company's most popular brick wallcovering ($132 per roll, miltonandking.com.
Provided by Milton & King

Milton & King’s Camden Factory Bricks wallpaper is the company’s most popular brick wallcovering ($132 per roll, miltonandking.com).

Erin Souder, who runs the design blog and online store Earnest Home Co., redid her kitchen counter for $30 by painting a slab of butcher block that she had in her garage. The project was such a success that her “very discerning” mother-in-law mistook it for real marble. “That, my friends, is a win,” she wrote. Two years later, Souder says the counter has far exceeded her expectations.

“It’s held up phenomenally,” she said. “Red wine, coffee, you name it, I’ve spilled it, but it looks brand new.”

Many faux materials are more durable and low maintenance than the real thing. Wood-grain porcelain tiles offer the warmth of hardwood without the upkeep. Laminate countertops are more scratch- and stain-resistant. And faux wood beams are made of lightweight polyurethane, which means they’re easier to install and won’t crack, warp or rot.

The best part: You don’t have to be artsy like Souder to pull these projects off. Many imitation surfaces are designed for DIY beginners. Laminate countertop sheets, which are made using high-resolution digital prints of natural stone, can be glued right onto plywood or particleboard. And while marble and granite start at about $150 per square foot, laminate costs about half that for a 48-by-96-inch sheet.

"Fixer Upper" star Joanna Gaines recently partnered with York Wallcoverings to create her own shiplap-inspired wallpaper ($86 for a double roll, yorkwall.com.
Alexis Mills – York Wallcoverings.

“Fixer Upper” star Joanna Gaines recently partnered with York Wallcoverings to create her own shiplap-inspired wallpaper ($86 for a double roll, yorkwall.com).

Digital printing has also nudged the wallpaper industry back into the spotlight, and there is a similar desire to replicate rustic charm. Brewster has two new collections, Reclaimed and Restored, that were inspired by vintage architectural details such as antique tiles and pressed tin ceilings. One pattern, a dusty red brick in the Reclaimed line, features textured images of bricks that were taken from photographs of an 18th-century home in Newport, R.I. ($140 for a roll covering 56 square feet, brewsterwallcoverings.com).

Chicago designer Kaylan Kane is partial to Phillip Jeffries’s Against the Grain wood-veneer wallcovering in Paulownia Parquet, an elegant, gray herringbone. She recently used it on an accent wall in an industrial high-rise that “looked straight out of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey,’ ” she said. “All it took was a touch of warm wood to soften it up.” The Against the Grain series is available only to the trade.

Kane’s firm, Olive Juice Interiors, caters to professionals in their 30s and 40s who live downtown, and she said simplicity is a big selling point. When clients in the Logan Square neighborhood wanted to redo their fireplace, opting for faux stone panels meant they didn’t have to reinforce the wall. “It wasn’t just cheaper, it was less work.”

Inspired by parquet flooring, Phillip Jeffries' Against the Grain wallcoverings are made of four strains of wood veneers. Rare Cane, above, is among seven color varieties.
Provided by Phillip Jeffries

Inspired by parquet flooring, Phillip Jeffries’ Against the Grain wallcoverings are made of four strains of wood veneers. Rare Cane, above, is among seven color varieties.

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