February 2012 Design Tip Of The Month
Who remembers when designer Hildi Santo Tomas from Trading Spaces glued hay on the walls of an unsuspecting couples living room? I remember screaming to the television “Hildi, don’t do it!” like she could hear me. Well at least she created a paradise for spiders and other multi legged critters who would be happy. This actually isn’t a new concept, Hildi just added her own twist to it.
Straw walls have been around for centuries. The French called it “massing.” Adding hay or straw on the walls would help for the insulation of a room, a practical purpose. It can however be appealing to certain spaces when painted and/or glazed, adding dimension, depth and an interesting visual when paired with accent lighting.
I’m going to tell you how to apply hay to a wall, you can use this method for the whole room or just an accent wall. I chose to use it on an accent wall displaying framed artwork. It’s really easy to do and lots of fun. Let’s get started!
Hay or straw from your local farmer
1 gallon joint compound
½ tube latex caulking
½ cup water
Trowel or large putty knife
Most walls do not need any preparation. If you have a wall which is painted a high gloss you may decide to apply a coat of primer before starting so the plaster will better adhere. Mix joint compound with caulking and water. I do this with my hands or a metal paint stirrer attaching it to my drill.
Start with a four by four area on the wall and apply joint compound mixture with a trowel or putty knife. Apply it fairly thick (about ¼ inch) when the plaster is on the walls you will need rubber gloves for the next step.
Take the straw or hay and separate them slightly so they are too clumpy. Determine how textured you wish your wall to be. Press the hay/straw to the wet plaster making sure you apply it randomly so there is no pattern. You may want to add more in certain places and leave some spots bald for a more natural look, or you may prefer a bolder heavier texture. Keep adding straw/hay until the area is covered with the amount of texture you desire. Don’t worry about the hay poking out, just make sure it is buried deep enough in the plaster so when it dries it will not fall off.
Apply plaster to the next area and repeat the process. You will want to wait until the plaster completely dries before continuing to the next step. This may take up to 48 hours so be patient!
When the plaster is dry you may proceed to the next step. This part reminds me of finger painting in Kindergarten, so allow your inner child to come out and play!
Get those rubber gloves out again and don’t be afraid to make a mess. This step is fairly simple, all you do is dip your hand in the plaster scooping up a large fistful and smudge it gingerly over the hay. Basically what you are doing is sealing the hay/straw with a light layer of plaster so the hay/straw is covered. You want to make sure you don’t apply too much plaster because you will lose the effect of the projecting hay. You do not need to apply plaster to the wall except over the hay/straw.
Again, let the plaster dry, it probably won’t take as long this time since you have only covered the hay. When the plaster is dry it’s time to paint. Choose a color you like and remember since this is a textured wall it may cast some shadows. Don’t be afraid to use a bold color! For a more contemporary look use a bold color in a satin or gloss finish. If you prefer a traditional look, choose a lighter paint color and tint it with a darker glaze such as umber.
This is a unique way to design a wall and because it’s not suppose to look perfect you can have fun with it.
Because as we say, design matters!