Ever heard of Trompe L’oeil? It’s just a fancy French phrase meaning “To fool the eye”. The picture above is one of my interpretations of it. Can you tell what’s not real? If you guessed the zebra rug, you’d be right. This sunroom has hardwood floors, but the previous owners had two dogs that I’m guessing spent a lot of time in there, because the floors were scratched to high heaven! Until we can refinish the floor professionally, I decided to paint it (If you’ve read any of my previous posts, this is no shocker). When the time comes to refinish them, the sander will scrape the paint away no problem. Again I used latex paint and you could polyurethane over top to protect it if it’s a high traffic area, but it’s not needed here since this room is very small and not much traffic comes it’s way. You could also paint the floor in high gloss or Porch and Floor paint for a more durable finish.
For the zebra rug, I found a picture of one in a magazine, drew it out in water colour pencil (or chalk) – you can too, it’s such an organic shape it’s very forgiving. Then paint the entire thing with white craft paint. I added freestyle black “stripes” basically like I saw on the magazine page. Don’t worry about being precise, first off a real zebra’s stripes aren’t evenly spaced and second of all, it’s already not real so artistic license comes into play here. Yay Artistic License!!
The trick to Trompe L’oeil is all in the shading. Find the light source in the room and notice how the light and shadows fall on the furniture and accessories already in the room. If all the shadow falls to the left, that’s where you’ll be painting your faux shadow. Mix a teeny bit of black paint and enough water to make the consistency of milk. Run your brush (I like an angled brush like above – dollar store is fine here) along the faux rug from top to bottom of areas trying not to have stops and starts. If you find the shadow is too black, quickly wipe it off with a damp paper towel and try again. It may take a little practice but you’ll get it. It should look something like this:
To continue the foolery (is that even a word?) you could have the floor be high gloss but paint over top the zebra with a matte polyurethane to continue the difference even a little further. Et Voila’!
Here are some other examples of Trompe L’oeil I have done in the past:
The possibilities are endless. All it takes is a little imagination and shadow!