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Category: Travels

08 Sep

Roses are Gold…

We’ve been very busy here at Garay Artisans. At one point in August, my brother, Jason, and I were running three job sites at once and all of them full and luscious. We finally had to establish some time parameters. It’s hard to say “no” when the client is wonderful and keeps adding work, the finishes are fun and you’ve experienced some dry spells and would like to keep busy. I think most artists understand this situation, no?

One of the projects we’ve been working on is the Inn on the Lakes in Sebring, FL. Owner Christine Pavlo is an admirer of Kelly Wearstler’s work and so am I. We were perusing her latest book, Hue, and came upon this picture.

Photography by Grey Crawford

Although it has large abstract woodgrains on the ceiling, Christine wanted to use that idea with flowers instead for the public Ladies Room. She wanted the ladies to feel as if they were walking into a large bouquet of roses. It was decided to let the roses be the star of the space and the wall finish more neutral, with several layers of light Lusterstone and gold foil peeking through. We also pearlized the crown molding.

I tag-teamed with a separate artisan for each finish — Monica Arrache for the roses and Debbie Jackson joined me for the plasters and crown. Starting with the roses, we drew color inspiration from the Maya Romanoff Aphrodite wallcovering outside the entrance and the elements inside. I drew out the designs loosely with a graphite pencil, Monica came behind to start shaping them, we both shaded and she finessed them to completion. It’s all about teamwork and I couldn’t have done it without them. Thank you Monica and Debbie! :)

Monica getting her Michelangelo on...

Shot of the Ceiling

Below: During the plaster phase, we started with splotches of gold foil (left) and you can see how it’s all coming together with the first layer of plaster (right). The third pic shows a finished plaster area. Here’s a closeup. We were working to compliment the gorgeous onyx on the counter and Debbie and I worked layer upon layer to achieve it — a lot of Lusterstone!

Below: It was decided to also do the roses on accent walls in the three smaller stalls. You can see this particular stall closeup here but another one follows. The one large stall also had the designs placed on the ceiling.

To give you an idea of the transformation, the ceiling was plastered over, the doors were replaced and stained, crown molding added, the tile and countertops were changed, the flooring upgraded…well, here’s the only Before pic I have:



BTW, you know how I always talk about interiors following fashion? Like maybe this post, or this one and maybe this one. Check out a preview of some of the upcoming Fall 2010 collections. Cool, huh?

It’s hard to see but the pearlized moldings really added an elegant kick. We still have a few small details to attend to but I thought I’d share these images. Also to come, gorgeous light fixtures, decorative mirrors and beautiful accessories. Until tomorrow!

07 Sep

The Cutler Majestic Theatre

Welcome back to Fauxology! I hope your Labor Day weekend was wonderful — mine was restful and yet I got a lot done. Love that! Well, we are moving on to the second site our roving correspondent, Monica Arrache, visited during her hometown visit to Boston. Please be sure to see her visit to The Paramount Center.

219 Tremont Street, Boston, MA

The Majestic Theatre, designed by architect John Galen Howard and Beaux Arts enthusiast, opened as an opera house in 1903. Emerson College purchased the theatre and a 20-year renovation of the intricately colored washes and detailed ornamentation was finished in 2003. It was often called the “House of Gold” since every piece of decorative plaster is gilded. It also features murals by William de Leftwich Dodge. After a past of opera productions, vaudeville and a movie house, today it is a 21st-century venue for all types of student and professional productions. The renovation won major awards from such organizations as the National Trust for Historic Preservation, who says that the interiors are like being “inside a Faberge egg”. That, in itself, would get me there.

You may ask yourself: How does a college get these renovations funded? For the Cutler Majestic, the tag was $14.8 million over a 20-year span. It also took the efforts of hundreds of volunteers (starting with debris removal), private donors, foundations, corporations and both city and state government cooperation. It was renamed the Cutler Majestic after one of the major donors, Ted Cutler, who is the chair of Emerson College’s Board of Trustees.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this visit to the Cutler Majestic. Private walking tours are $5 per person and if you have a group of 10 or more, a docent is provided for you. I’ll be sure to visit the Majestic the next time I’m in Boston. Will you? I want to thank Monica again for the lovely images and information she provided. I’ll see you tomorrow, same bat time, same bat place. :)

01 Sep

The Paramount Center

When one of our team members, Monica Arrache, told me she was traveling to visit her hometown of Boston (one of my fave cities) I hounded her asked her nicely if she would photograph anything Fauxology-ish in order to share with the readers. She finally had enough of my begging kindly did so with not one, but two amazing spaces.

Emerson College came upon the closed and dilapidated Art Deco-styled Paramount Theatre and commissioned it to undergo a $92 million dollar renovation to transform it into The Paramount Center. The renovation was overseen by Elkus Manfredi Architects. The interior theater has been restored to look like the movie palace that opened in 1932, complete with gold figurines, murals and restored historic finishes. It now houses classrooms, offices and several state-of-the-art performance spaces for Emerson College. There are guided tours for the public as well. Here are some of Monica’s images…

...and they do mean, ANYBODY...

559 Washington Street, Boston, MA

I found an excellent article on its history and current interior design. Additionally, there is a 5-minute video from The Emerson Channel in case you’d like to see further into the space:

YouTube Preview Image

I hope you’ve enjoyed this peek into the new Paramount Center and that it inspires you to visit it while traveling in Boston. I’d like to send out a special Thank You! to Monica for the images and information. I’ll have the second location up soon. Have a great day!

18 Aug

Winter Park, FL

Whenever I mention I live in Orlando, the first thing that comes up is “theme parks”. Yes, they are exciting, but there’s also beautiful neighborhoods and non-touristy areas to enjoy as well. One of these is the city of Winter Park, FL. The Hubs and I recently spent a Saturday in that area. Well, I just lied — it really was a few months ago. There was tons of pics to whittle down, fix and then write a post around them…you see where procrastination would rear up, right? Right. So, on that recent day, we spent it walking, seeing the architecture, taking a scenic boat tour and finally ending up at a wonderful local restaurant.


Winter Park began its start as an art and literary colony in 1881, according to the Winter Park Historical Association. Today, it is home to museums, lakes, canals, parks and a charming shopping district. I like how the roads differ and the exteriors, too — as well as little shots of color from stairwells, arched entrances and tiles.

The old Alabama Hotel -- now condominiums. Would be nice to come home to an ivy covered residence, no?

I don't believe this is faux...


We took a pontoon ride on Lake Osceola from Scenic Bout Tours and had a chance to see another side to Winter Park. We passed the Kraft Azalea Gardens, Rollins College (gorgeous Spanish-Mediterranean architecture on campus) and the Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. They gave a great history of the city and what I remember most is that they noted that Mr. Rogers was inspired to write his signature song while living in Winter Park, FL. (He has a music degree from Rollins.)

The Pontoon

(above) I find it amusing (and yet so admirable) to design the boathouse with the architecture of your home. Click on them to zoom and you’ll see how beautiful the effect is.

A final view of one of the canals.

Hope you’ve enjoyed Winter Park, FL — and that you’ll consider taking a detour from the theme parks the next time you happen to be in Central Florida.  Have a wonderful day!

05 Aug

Columbia Restaurant

My brother, Jason, is a total Foodie. So when I hear him in rhapsody over a restaurant, I know it’s going to be a phenomenal experience. Case in point: the Columbia Restaurant in Tampa, FL. Columbia is the oldest Latin restaurant in Florida and one of its Top 25 restaurants overall. It opened in 1905 and has since been named an All-American Icon — only one of 50 restaurants in the country to have the honor as bestowed by Nation’s Restaurant News. The food is influenced by the cuisine of old Spain and on certain nights, even have extraordinary flamenco shows to complete the experience.

After attending a NY Yankees vs. Tampa Bay Rays game this past Sunday, the Hubs and I decided to stop by. Jason had also told me that the decor was as outstanding as the food. I thought he was talking about the interior but lo and behold, I found these tiled beauties on the exterior of the building.

One image just a bit closer

(above) Click to Zoom

A smaller tiled mural is right next to this bigger one.

There were also several beautiful elements in the interior design. They have fifteen (15) dining rooms in total and each is as interesting and different as the previous one. The restaurant itself is 52,000 square feet. Click here for more information and to read about their fascinating history. Below are images I took and some pulled from their website.

Reception (left) and the view — with painted columns and ornaments — from our table (right)

Cafe Dining Room

The Red Dining Room with an allover design on the walls

The Kings Room -- love the tiled chair rail.

Oh, yes. You may be wondering about the food. Although we did not have the 1905 Salad (rated one of America’s best salads by USA Today), we did have amazing tapas, paella, sangria and decadent desserts. [And hey, thousands of Facebook fans can't be wrong.] Our fantastic waitress, Megan, practically had to roll us out of there with both our stomachs and eyes happy. What could be better?

21 Jul

A Creative Italian Plaster Finish

While perusing pics from my trip to Italy in 2005, I found images of a finish I stumbled upon in one of the hotels. Wish I could tell you which hotel or even which city but I neglected to note that. However, I think it is an interesting technique and one that looks easily achievable with tinted plasters, a grate with a pleasing pattern and a trowel to mess some of it up while still wet. It looks as if they applied, troweled or rubbed some sort of metallic wax or overglaze over some of the finishes when done.

The finish was applied around the room entrances and elevators. Below, you will see Reds & Golds in one area and Blues in another. Isn’t the blue color movement just so visually pleasing? All my closeup shots of the blue are fuzzy. Argh!

Here’s the closeup of the Red & Gold, though…

This one is in ochre tones — there’s a closer look.

The Red & Gold combination continues but here it is paired with beautiful greens.

I love the “messiness” of the finish and the goal of it being not so perfect either.

The artisans in Italy always think in such exciting colors! I really enjoyed the results. What do you think?

24 Jun

D.C. Series Part Three: Library of Congress

A building and history that fascinates me is The Library of Alexandria. The Libary of Congress has also had its share of woe — it has been the victim of fire not once, but twice. After the first, Thomas Jefferson made a gift of his own personal library: 6,487 books. The gift was controversial because he owned books on all subjects and in different languages — some thought a government library should have its limits. Thomas Jefferson said about the controversy “There is, in fact, no subject to which a member of Congress might not have occasion to refer.” He was prophetic. Unfortunately, the second fire destroyed 2/3 of those books. Today, the library is offered additions to the collection at the rate of 20,000 books and items per day. Let’s take a look at more of the artistry. (See Part Two here.)

(below) There are mosaics…

Mosaic 1 Mosaic 2

Mosaic 3

(above) Mosaic niche mural called Minerva of Peace by Elihu Vedder. Here’s a closeup.

(below) Marble, iron and wood have been turned into ornamental beauties as well.



(below) More decorative painting in side corridors.

Corridor 2 Corridor 8

Corridor 1 Corridor 3

Corridor 6

Corridor 5 Corridor 10

(below) The artisans had fun: see the closeup figure on the 23K gold leaf band on the right. Notice the hidden switchplate?

Corridor 11. Corridor 7

(below) Even the flooring was not forgotten.

Flooring 3

Flooring 1

The library is not limited to just research books. They also have sound recordings, photographs, maps, sheet music and manuscripts numbering in the multi-millions. I also found a good online pictorial of the artistry or you can take a virtual tour. I hope you’ve enjoyed the D.C. series and this two-day look into the Library of Congress. I did let them know that if they ever planned on selling, to give me a call first. Hey, a girl can dream.

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