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Category: Studios & Workshops

22 May

Portrait of an Artist: Causer + Lai

 A few years ago, I read an incredible four-part series on the artistry of Benjamin Lai and it was easily one of the best interviews I’d ever read with a decorative painter. Fast forward a few years and I meet the hugely creative designer Alison Causer by chance on Twitter and find out that she and Mr. Lai are partners in Causer + Lai! Kismet. They are based out of Brooklyn, NY and working as a team of Designer and Master Painter, they create unique and exclusive, decorative finishes for a variety of surfaces within private residences and commercial interiors. I hope you enjoy this feature on their beautiful collaboration and artistic work.

Benjamin Lai finished the highly acclaimed Van Der Kelen in 1995 and was immediately immersed into the high end residential sector after returning to his hometown NYC. He spent the better part of his career continuing to fine tune his skills, learning about the other aspects of decorative painting, job management and also adjusting and creating new techniques. Alison had gone from wanting to be a fine art painter to majoring in Interior Design at The Columbus College of Art and Design. Alison continues, “Soon after graduating I had a successful career in Ohio and even garnered several awards for my interiors work, but working for a large firm was wearing thin and moving to NYC was enticing.” She then worked with a few designers in NYC as well as doing independent work.

Alison shares their fated meeting, “Ben and I crossed paths via NYC Craigslist! He placed an ad to meet creative people, chat and hopefully collaborate on an experimental level.” Of all the intriguing personalities that he met, one person stood out: Alison. After many cups of coffee, Alison and Benjamin knew that there was a unique connection between them. Meaningful design and philanthropic resolutions were the initial subjects that inspired the two, but also the realization that the unique skills and ideas of both could translate into a great combination.

Alison and Benjamin spent more than a year developing samples, concepts and ideas. During this time they were able to collaborate on several jobs together by bringing each other onto their own jobs. This helped them to really establish the logistics for their working relationship and fortify their beliefs in each other. Now Alison is the Creative Director for Causer + Lai and Benjamin, the Technical Manager.


Where do you see decorative painting headed?

Decorative Painting is a very misunderstood field in America. In Europe, decorative painting is a skilled trade and there are very serious schools that teach it. I think the widespread understanding of it is basically whatever sells in Home Depot. It’s amazing how even a lot of interior designers and architects don’t really understand what it is. Most people think that it’s this weekend craftsy thing that can be done by most do-it-yourselfers because of all the ready-made stuff. I think that there will better exposure and understanding in years to come. The trend will incorporate much more complex modern color themes and active layering techniques.

Some of the intricate work that goes into the decorative painting process.


What is your personal artisan philosophy?

Surface Design Collectivism! We love collaboration. Every job is an extension of not just us but the client as well. Art is a form of expression and our roles are pretty well defined when clients hire us, but it is this need to express that a client feels when desiring to redo their home. Our projects and spaces are shaped by this type of social environment. Working together, respecting and understanding each others ideas is our philosophy.

What are your favorite go-to materials?

All of our techniques vary a lot but you would be amazed at what we could create with metallics, some beer and shellac!

A few of the gorgeous finishes created by Causer + Lai.

What is the best professional advice you have received?

We believe strongly in Clean. Clean. Clean.  I first got this advice while studying with Monsieur Van Der Kelen in 1994. Monsieur’s smock was always pristine and white. All the student’s smocks, on the other hand, were filthy from paint. One day he told me that my smock was a reflection of who I am as a professional.

The majority of our work is in private homes. We like to treat their homes with respect like our own homes. We arrive in clean clothes, work neatly, clean up and organize at the end of every work day. Our tidiness is a reflection of who we are as professionals.

What is your ideal job for a month?

We would love to do a boutique restaurant or hotel in a Biedermeier style. Or really any style… We would also really enjoy working on a job that is giving back to the community such as a whole shelter, with murals and texture work.

Professionally, who are some of your inspirations?

Klimt, Picasso, Clyfford Still, Graffiti as a movement, Katsushika Hokusai or anything during Edo Period, Sol LeWitt, Mark Rothko, Imi Knoebel, Pollock, Chuck Close.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this look at an innovative, forward-thinking studio that still respects the disciplines of artistry.  You can see more of the work of Causer + Lai on their website as well as their Tumblr, Facebook fan page, Twitter account and Pinterest boards.  I thank both Alison and Benjamin immensely for their time and for sharing their projects as well.  Hope you have an inspired day!

19 Dec

Holiday Sponsor Love: Royal Design Studio!

Royal Design Studio has been a long-time supporter of Fauxology — and goodness knows I love their stencils, techniques and products! Their president, Melanie Royals, continues to dream up ever-so-wonderful ways to make decorative painting and finishing easier, not to mention the application of beautiful patterns to a myriad of surfaces.  They have so many good things to share and I thought I’d pay it forward!


Imagine learning amazing finishes and techniques in the comfort of your own home, wearing your favorite pajamas with a nice cup of hot chocolate at your side — all at your own pace, without travel and lodging costs. That’s the beauty of Virtual Workshops.  There are four classes available: SkimStone & Modello® Stencils, Antique Mirror & Glass, Metallic Foils and Stencil Impressions. Each class comes with video lessons and a complete, illustrated manual. If you see each of the class descriptions, they come with informative videos and module lessons.  As the classes are ongoing, you can start a class as soon as you register!

Special Pricing on Virtual Workshops through December 31st!


Stencil Cremes are a fantastic stencil paint with opaque coverage and creamy, dreamy application. Eight new colors were introduced just last week and they have special pricing through the end of the year!  In addition, a few new stencil patterns were added to the Royal Design Studio collection — you can always see the latest additions in the New Stencil Designs area of their website.


For ten days until Christmas Eve, Royal Design Studio will feature one selected stencil per day at 50% off!  They are on Day 6 and have a few stencils to go — will your favorite be among them?  Be sure to use the code given for your half off savings!

The daily selected stencils will be showcase on their Facebook page, Twitter account and Pinterest boards.  Do be sure to follow and “like” them for plenty of inspiration, too!

~ ~ ~

I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a bit more the latest and greatest with Royal Design Studio!  They also have the Design Amour and Stencil Ideas blog with creative artists and fab projects showcased regularly — great reads!  A nice, big lush Thank You! goes out to Royal Design for the Fauxology support!

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18 Dec

Holiday Sponsor Love: Faux Design Studio!

We love, love, love our Sponsors and I just want to extend a HUGE thank you to them for helping make Fauxology possible!  I’m always super happy to learn of the of the new things they have going on and share them with you — and Sheri Zeman of Chicago’s Faux Design Studio has PLENTY!  Sheri is one of my fave teachers and I’ve learned some of my favorite — and most popular — finishes from her directly.  She has an incredible knack at producing contemporary finishes that are so in tune with design today.


Looking ahead to 2013, Sheri will continue to teach finishes that look very complex and multi-layered but actually use minimal product and are done in 2-3 layers.  Gotta love that!  Her studio’s goal is that you produce incredible finishes for your clients, whether residential or commercial, all while ensuring your profitability and time.

The above are some of the samples from the Signature Series workshop and below is a peek at her stencil line and studio.  She’ll be adding new designs to the Loft stencil collection soon.  You can check out their full class schedule on their site.


Do note that the studio also sells the formula along with a sample piece and instruction sheet for some of their most popular Signature Series finishes for the low price of $85.

Sheri will also be introducing a fabulous new cabinet finishing product as well as two new glass colors.  Glass is an ideal embellishment for stencils and custom decorative finishes. Below is a sneak peek of new cabinet finishing samples.  Her Chicago studio will also have a few “free” product update classes in the new year for artists to learn more first-hand.

We’ll be sharing more very soon from Faux Design Studio!  In the meantime, do keep up with them on their Facebook fan page where they share their news, fab samples, amazing projects and even a free recipe or two!  Many thanks to Sheri and Faux Design Studio for their support!

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17 Jul

Kitchen Week Sponsor: Robyn Story Designs [Giveaway Closed]

Robyn Story Designs is a 5,000 square foot destination of style, a place where anyone looking to add panache to their home or wardrobe can visit for inspiration.  She has a fab online boutique, too!  We recently took a trip to their incredible shop and because they are also Annie Sloan Chalk paint stockists, we took an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint workshop at her studio as well.

Today’s Prize to Kitchen Week artist Bella Tucker and Giveaway to one lucky reader is a $50 Shopping Spree at Robyn Story Designs!

G  I  V  E  A  W  A  Y

For your chance to win the $50 Shopping Spree…

Leave a comment on this post after visiting Robyn Story Designs and let us know what you love about their shop!

But that’s not all! You have THREE MORE chances to win…

  1. Follow Robyn Story Designs on Facebook
  2. Follow Robyn Story Designs on Pinterest
  3. Follow Fauxology on Facebook

Each time you do one of these, leave us a comment on this blog post letting us know you did.  So, you can leave up to four individual comments on this blog post to enhance your chances of winning — please note that comments left on Facebook, Twitter or other posts or sites will not count towards this prize.

The Giveaway is open to everyone and one winner will be chosen at random from the comments.  Deadline: Midnight on Tuesday, July 24, 2012.

All winners will be announced August 1, 2012.

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04 Jun

Robyn Story Designs

At last year’s IDAL conference, I had the pleasure of meeting blog sponsor Robyn Story of Robyn Story Designs.  She is full of energy and fun — plus, she has about a million creative ideas per minute.  Everytime I meet with her, I leave feeling that so much is possible in this world.  Someone fantastic to know, right?

A very cool Alice in Wonderland feel as you arrive at Robyn Story Designs...

I had the opportunity to travel to Tampa, FL recently (it’s only about an hour-ish away from Orlando) and took the chance to visit her shop.  The minute you walk in, you are engulfed in design, fragrance, color, textures and eye candy galore (even knobs!) — every inch of all 5,000 square feet is this way.  Plus, they have a complimentary coffee bar which just happens to have a few sweets for you, too.

 Here’s a close-up of the table at the foot of the bed.

Pretty colors and pattern on the wallcovering.

Quite the unique light fixture, no?

There is a lot of eclectic art, design vignettes, books and products that you don’t know how you lived without peeking out from beautiful nooks and crannies.  Also, the best part: their beautiful prices make for affordable luxury.

Venetian Plaster, great colors and unique pieces abound.

Over nine years ago, Robyn Story Designs started out as a luxury silk floral studio.  This area of the shop is like an explosion of color.

Robyn also happens to be an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint distributor in Florida for Annie Sloan Unfolded.  Peggy and I recently took a class at her studio as well.

Amazing the difference a little chalk paint and wax can do!

Furniture and fabrics done with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

If you are ever in the Tampa area, please do make sure you stop by Robyn Story Designs.  Robyn also writes a fab blog and has a hopping Facebook page.  They also have a fabulous design studio to help clients decorate their home.  If you are more of a DIYer, do make sure you check their workshop schedule as well — lots of great classes coming up!  (If you do, make sure you use the special Fauxology code – rsdFun for an extra 10% off!) I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of Robyn’s shop — everytime I see the pics or visit in person, it inspires me to make my home the most comforting, beautiful place I could imagine.  Thank you, Robyn!

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13 Mar

Hand Painted Sinks

From the keypad of Peggy Pardo…

When The Husband and I bought our first house, we had two color choices for our bathroom sinks – white or bone. (The kitchen had the additional choice of stainless steel. Wow.) Thankfully, things have come along way since then. There are myriad options of colors, materials and styles today that give you the opportunity to express your taste and creativity when choosing sinks. Okay, so you already knew that. How about this…

Have you ever thought about using the sink as a canvas for art? Yup. Art. Pretty cool idea, don’t you think? I know I do!

I was looking for some inspiration when I came across a company called Marzi Sink Factory. They’ve been in business here in the U.S. since 1959. They hand carve and paint each ceramic basin according to their clients specifications and the room’s decor. They have some very talented artists on staff. Check out some of their work.

The colors and pattern in this sink are lovely…

Hand Painted Sink 1
Starry Night by Vincent van Gogh was the inspiration for this amazing sink…

Hand Painted Sink 2

Here the artist created a decorative wood finish to match the client’s molding…

Hand Painted Sink 4

And for this one, the look of marble…

Hand Painted Sink 5

This looks more like a lovely serving bowl than a sink…

Hand Painted Sink 6

Looking for the perfect sink for the bathroom next to the gameroom ? Here it is…

Hand Painted Sink 3

Source: All sinks from Marzi Sink Factory

Sinks aren’t the only fixture in the room that you can hand paint. Here the most important feature in the room gets the full treatment…

Hand painted toilet

Source: Hand Painted Talavera Toilet from Mexico, Rustica House

The bathroom sink shouldn’t be overlooked as another opportunity to bring in a fantastic design element – remember, design is in the details. Here are a few ways you can add some pizzazz to your bathroom by way of a decorative sink…

Have you ever hand painted a sink before? If so, I’d love to hear more about your experience – good and/or bad – and any tips you may have.

Cheers to all,


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02 Mar

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop

Annie Sloan Chalk PaintFrom the keypad of Peggy Pardo…

Have you ever attended a workshop or class where from the moment you walked in you knew something extraordinary was going to happen? That’s exactly what I experienced when I participated in the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop hosted by Robyn Story Designs in Tampa a few weeks ago.

Before I start raving about the workshop, I’ll tell you a little about Annie Sloan Chalk Paints. Only recently did I became acquainted with this amazing paint. After I heard Annie Sloan’s concept for her paint, “Painting with our paint should always be a pleasure”, it piqued my interest even more. Annie says she developed this paint because she wanted a product that would have many uses “from acting like limewash to looking like old painted furniture” and with a color palette that could be easily extended by the user. There is also very little prep work involved, so you can get right to work creating something gorgeous. That’s our favorite part now, isn’t it?

Okay, back to the workshop. The feeling that something great was going to happen that day actually began at the front door. The workshop at Robyn Story Designs is held in one of their warehouse spaces. With all the doors at this facility, it was quite easy to pick out the right one. Not only is it painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, but it also has a few extra embellishments that set it apart from all the other doors…

Robyn Story Designs Workshop Front Door

Once inside, I found a workshop setting that had been transformed from a storage area to a fully equipped classroom. This is obviously a room where creativity is nourished. And that day, so was the body. A scrumptious breakfast was set out for all the participants to enjoy. Everyone had a chance to nosh and mingle before the program began. After all, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. What a great way to get started! BTW – They also served us lunch, too!

Many of Annie Sloans books were also available for us to peruse. I have three of them myself - Creating the French LookQuick and Easy Paint Transformations: 50 Step-by-step Ways to Makeover Your Home for Next to Nothing, and The Complete Book of Painting Techniques for the Home. Samples of work done with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint were everywhere about the room. On furniture, accessories, the walls and even the floor…

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop Work Room 2

Stencil: Springtime in Paris, Royal Design Studio

You didn’t have to search high and low for a list of paint colors either. A whole wall (in reality an ingenius use of the storage door) was devoted to showing you Annie Sloan Chalk Paint samples…

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop Work Room 1

Our work stations were fully stocked when we arrived and stayed that way the entire time! As we finished using one color, the used bowls were picked up and the next color was set out ready for us to use on the following finish. They equipped us with aprons, samples, and all the tools we needed. Everything was at our fingertips; we didn’t have to leave our comfortable chairs for a thing. To top it off, we didn’t have to wash a single brush all day either! Did I mention that the chairs were lovely to look at as well…

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop Work Area 1


At each station, we were provided with a folder that included step-by-step instructions for all the finishes we would be learning, a schedule, color chart and information on Annie Sloan Chalk Paints and other Annie Sloan workshops. Every participant also had their own set of sample boards that were pre-labeled with their names, the type of finish and the colors and wax that was to be used. These boards were set out before the chairs and worked as placecards so we all knew where we were sitting…

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop Work Area 2

Robyn Story kicked things off by telling us a little about herself and showing some examples of her fantastic design work. This beautiful lady is talented, funny, vivacious and a force of nature all her own. Her enthusiasm about Annie Sloan Chalk paint and everything design is completely contagious. By the time she was done speaking, her words had inspired us all…

Robyn Story
Robyn’s right hand that day was the extremely knowledgeable, delightful and professional (but not in a stuffy way at all) Lori Rombold. She is an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint guru! It was easy to see why Robyn trusts her to present this workshop. She was able to answer all of our questions and was sincerely interested in what we had to say. The whole workshop ran smoothly with her at the helm…

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop Lori Rombold

We learned seven finishes in the workshop, but by far my favorite was the Two Color Distressed using Primer Red, Duck Egg Blue and both waxes. This finish totally changed a gaudy factory-finished piece of gold metallic painted molding into  something unique and dazzling. Let the transformation begin…

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop 1

A short while later, voila! A thing of beauty to behold…

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Workshop Finish 1

This has nothing to do with the workshop, but I found it very impressive. Robyn told us that Annie Sloan Chalk Paint will adhere to pretty much any surface. Then demonstrated this by showing us an upholstered chair in its original state…

Chair painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint - Before

And what it looked like after it was completely painted with this astonishing paint. And I do mean completely. The fabric was painted, too…

Chair painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint - After

You obviously can’t tell from this picture, but the fabric had the feel and texture of fine aged leather. The cushion was still soft to the touch and comfortable to sit on. The paint didn’t leave any residue on your clothes either - and we tested it with someone that was wearing black pants! The way it was cracked and weathered looking yet soft, reminded us of an old bomber jacket…

Chair painted with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint - CloseUp1

I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to attend this enlightening workshop. Robyn is a wonderful hostess; she made it a terrific experience for everyone that attended. In the very beginning, Lori had made the comment that it was going to be a spa day for our souls and that summed it up perfectly. If you live in the area, you really must attend one of these workshops!

As this post is being written, my first Annie Sloan Chalk Paint project is almost ready for the clear wax coat. This paint has opened up a whole new world of creative possibilities for me. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Have you used this paint before? What types of projects have you done with it? I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers to all,

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