February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Pam Mertz expresses her creative side through home decorating. She enjoys watching DIY Network and HGTV, perusing home interiors magazines looking for projects, and decorating her Papillion home of 10 years. And she’s also not afraid of a design challenge.

“I definitely like tackling a project,” she says. “I’m not intimidated by them. I think I have a gift for decorating…I can walk into a room and picture how a space will look if I do this or that with some end tables or paint on the walls. But I admit I’m more of a big-picture person…not as good with the accesssories.”

When a tour through some Street of Dreams homes led Mertz to a fascination with faux finishes on the walls, she put her mind to learning how to do several painting techniques.

“A girlfriend taught me some skills…rag rolling, feathering…and I had a knack for making it look professional. I did it in my home, then I started doing it for friends.”

During some time off work (she works full-time as a UPS driver), she took a week-long class learning about plasters, glazes, and other materials and techniques for wall and ceiling treatments from local decorator Kelly King. The class was not cheap. “It was $1,500, but I figured if I could learn to do it myself, it would save money in hiring a professional,” Mertz says.

Detailing of the copper-penny ceiling.

Detailing of the copper-penny ceiling.

The first project she tackled was her dining room ceiling. It was not an easy undertaking. The process took nearly 30 hours over two weekends and involved plastering cheesecloth to the ceiling in various shapes, then pulling it off, sanding it until smooth, adding a glaze, painting it a copper-penny color, then trolling on a topcoat to fill in the cracks.

“I learned the plaster technique on a paint sample board standing up on-end,” she says, “so doing this on the ceiling, over my head, was much harder. When I was done I looked like I had cake batter all over me, and I thought I’d have permanent neck damage.”

Still, Mertz says the ordeal was well worth the effort. “It turned out beautiful. A lot of that has to do with the products I used (which she special-ordered online), but [they] make a huge difference.” She recommends the Blue Pearl metallic and pearlescent paint line.

Since then, Mertz has gone on to apply textured finishes and faux paint to walls and ceilings in many other rooms—“I used a metallic copper in my kitchen, a paint technique in the master bedroom, a suede finish in another…[The finishes] give the rooms a depth and warmth I love.”

While Mertz gets a lot of requests from friends to do their homes, she admits she doesn’t have much time. “I may take up more projects when I retire, which I hope to do in less than three years.”

She admits faux finishing is not a home project for just any do-it-yourselfer.

“If you are not a patient person or detailed person, it’s not for you,” she warns. “You have to be willing to do it just so or it won’t turn out the proper way.

“And you can do too much. There are ways to do techniques more subtly.”

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