The Cross House

The Dining Room

BEFORE. The door to the china cabinet.


AFTER. The later DARK finish has been removed, revealing the original faux bois finish. (My friend Patricia tells me that the FAUX WOOD term I have been using is, more correctly, stated as FAUX BOIS, meaning false wood.)


The upper door and window trim in the dining room features glorious swags. I have long wondered what this trim looked like under the horrible DARK brown later finishes.


Squee!!!!!!!! I still need to do some fussing but now the faux bois finish is revealed!


It now seems evident that the dining room will, more than any room in the house, celebrate a faux bois finish. For, none of the other rooms have, to date, revealed such dramatic faux graining.

Thus, after much fretting about all the wood in the dining room, I am now hopeful that the original faux finish can not only be exposed after many decades of being hidden, but that the end results will be…glorious.

I am quite excited!



13 Responses to The Dining Room

    • Hi, Thomas!

      I would guess that the staircase finish is close to the original.

      It is a myth that all old hosues had DARK woodwork. I did a post on the subject, here.

  1. Likely the current term for the decorators of the Cross House was grain painting. John W. Masury noted in The American Grain Painters Handbook(1874)”The disposition for grained work, which at one time had declined materially, has of late years revived, and the fashion for this kind of painting is more prevalent and general than ever before.” It was an art form and respected decorative technique, not a disguise for cheap materials. “Faux bois” is a broad term for a nineteenth century French decorative technique of “rusticage”-daily wood objects drawn from nature, park furniture, railings, balconies cast in concrete over metal–think Adirondack Great Camps, but in cement. “Peinture faux bois” would be the interior surface technique. I boiled mine off when I carted my interior doors to a lye vat, and have only achieved Restoration Purgatory after nearly 50 years.

    • Yes, I am a wood grain painter and we generally call ourselves that to distinguish our work from the Debbie Travis-type “faux finishers” who do mainly plaster and stucco-look drywall finishes.

    • I had intended to post the exact same question! It has nagged at me ever since I started reading this blog: how are you removing precisely the layers you want, without removing the faux finish as well, Ross?

      • Apparently he’s in the lucky situation that the original finish is linseed-oil based while the later layers are shellac or (in the dining room) some mystery stuff, so denatured alcohol takes off just the layers on top of the original finish. I’m not that lucky, in my case the base and grain are linseed oil, the tinting (the layer that gives the painted grain the wood colour) is shellac and the badly alligatored top layer is who-knows-what. Where the top layer is gone alcohol takes off the wood tone and reveals the beige-ish base, where it’s still stuck alcohol does nothing. So other than a small test spot I’m leaving it well alone.

  2. Come on Ross, inquiring minds want to know? Is it denatured alcohol and steel wool? Grit? Terry cloth and detergent? You are killing us here.

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