How did Don Kriz transform his home? With lots of paint and an occasional feather duster.
You can tell what matters to people by the portraits framed on their entryway tables -- parents or partners or pets or favorite vacations.
What matters to Don Kriz? Apparently, a house. Make that a boring house.
The carpets throughout are tan. The walls are all eggshell. There's nary a focal point nor a dash of color to be found throughout the 1,800 square feet.
But that was before.
The photo matters to Kriz, 46, because it shows how his Tucson, Ariz., home went from "hmmmm-something's-missing" to "ooooh-how'd-you-do-that?"
The answer: lots of paint and an occasional feather duster.
Kriz is no interior designer, although he learned to create stained glass five years ago and grew to love color. Still, he never had any special training picking colors for a home and matching up furniture.
But he's got a handy, can-do attitude. So when he bought his first home in June 2003 for $172,500, he looked around and thought, "I'm going to add color to this house."
He was snooping around Home Depot when he noticed some free decorating courses and decided to take them. That's when he learned about faux painting, a technique that gives the illusion of marble, granite, stone or textured cloth. But instead of using faux standards like sponges or rags to place the paint, he decided a feather duster was more his style.
Learning the techniques was just the beginning. For the past year, his friends have given up on getting him to go out with them, because practically every weekend he's been immersed in -- and covered by -- paint.
What Kriz has ended up with is a home mostly colored with suede paint -- a matte texture finish that gives the illusion of suede fabric. The hallways and family room are in warm, soothing colors like tan, terra cotta and ivy. Those open into a vibrant kitchen, in eggplant, mustard and tangerine.
Each of the four bedrooms has a different feel, and nearly every room features walls of at least three different colors. He painted the guest room in a series of blues and grays, creating a feeling of peace and coolness. The guest bathroom features a gold metallic wall behind the shower. The office is painted in mustard and greens, and this is where the feather duster came in. He used a duster (or, more precisely, 10 of them) to create a leaf-like effect on the walls with bronze metallic paint.
"I just splashed it up there, and this style is so forgiving it makes you look like you know what you're doing," he said. Paired with a leopard couch, the office has a subtle jungle flavor.
He painted the master bedroom in tranquil earth tones, but the master bathroom features a wetter type of tranquility. A fan of the Impressionists, Kriz decided to try to mimic a Monet water lily painting. He used as many as seven different colors to create the shadows you might see in a pond.
Paint, he said, is his primary design tool. "I wanted the home to feel warm and comfortable. When my friends come here, I want them to feel peaceful. I didn't want it to be modern or edgy," he explains.
He got what he wanted. And all for about $500.
"My friends tell me they had no idea I could do anything like this -- and to be honest, I didn't, either. But I wanted to express myself, and I found out it was actually kind of fun."
He admits his inner voice didn't always get it right. But that's the great thing about paint. If it doesn't work, it's easy enough to fix. When he decided his yellow dining room wall was too harsh, he relied on his trusty feather-duster technique and slashes of brown and green paint to make it more soothing.
"If you want to change the way your house feels, go for it," he said. "Try it out. You can always paint over it again in six months."