Brushed-steel paint effect

Dear Debbie: I am tempted to try to use metallic paint that I have seen in the store, but before I buy it I’d like to know more about it. Do I dilute the paint? Do I use regular paint tools? Can I apply it over wood or on a wall? Thanks. —Kit

Dear Kit: Metallic paint is just as versatile as regular paint and has many exciting decorative possibilities. Metallic paint is available in spray cans as well as paint pots (small) and tins. Today’s preference is acrylic or water-based. Before you purchase, check the label for the type of metallic paint (water-based or oil) and what it covers. There are metallic paints that are designed to cover metals, as well as ones that cover wall and wood surfaces. This paint can be applied by spray, with a roller, a bristle brush or a sponge brush. As with regular latex paint, you can add glazing liquid to metallic paint to give it a more translucent look; glaze also retards the drying time so you can work with it for creating paint finishes.

You can easily replicate the look of brushed-steel panels with paint. I have applied it to the lower section of the wall shown here. The base coat is black latex paint in a satin finish. I mixed two colored glazes using water-based silver and aluminum metallic paint. The recipe is 1 part paint to 1 part glazing liquid. I taped off 3-foot panels, leaving a 1/8-inch gap in between panels. Working on one panel at a time, the silver glaze is applied with a brush in patches moving horizontally and vertically, to cover 70 percent of the black basecoat. The aluminum glaze fills in the gaps. The colors are then blended using the same horizontal and vertical strokes, leaving bits of black showing. With a dry rag, polish the tacky paint, removing more glaze and creating a steel patina.

The upper walls were painted in a rich cafe au lait, which, along with the steel, produces a warm, complementary glow that radiates day and night.

Brushed-steel paint effect

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Dear Debbie: I’m moving into my first apartment and am looking to create a serene, relaxing environment for my master bedroom that comes off mature and polished. My duvet is a bold pattern, bedding colors are lilac, baby blue and pale green. Walls and floor are white. I prefer a dark room to sleep in and am wondering about the color for the drapes. Do I have to stick with white?

I’d also like to incorporate maps and travel items or wall hangings, but I’m not sure how to do this with the bedding having such a bold print. I look forward to your advice. -- Lisa

Dear Lisa: The serenity in your room is being developed with your choice of quiet colors. You have enough white. Choose a darker tone of one of those colors for your drapes and have them lined. You could also purchase blackout blinds to hang behind the drapes.

The duvet will dominate, but does not have to be the only focal point. Maps and treasures brought back from travels inspire you to think happy thoughts and dream of adventures to come. They will heighten your enjoyment of the space. Maps are a big trend right now. Go to flea markets, as all the maps from the old school rooms from the ‘30s and ‘40s are now being sold. They are roll-down maps on wood dowels. Place travel items on a floating shelf or dresser.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email your questions to You can follow Debbie on Twitter at, and visit Debbie’s new website,