Category "News"

Painted Mahogany Faux Finish – When “faux” is the way to go!

November 28, 2018

In this historic home, my clients were eager to restore all the trim in the Living Room and Dining Room to its original dark stained finish. After a few attempts themselves, they realized that stripping and refinishing the wood was too overwhelming a project. The next best thing to real mahogany would be a painted wood faux finish.

Not only did the wood in this 100+ year old house already have many MANY coats of paint, a lot of it was not in the best condition. Nicks, gouges, missing pieces, crooked molding, corners that don’t meet, and many other “charming” imperfections, typical of a home this age.  My clients decided to embrace that charm and hired me to add a few more coats of paint!

 We settled on a dark red mahogany finish.  Mahogany has a tight smooth grain and many variations in depth of colors, making it a perfect project for me to paint, and one of my favorites techniques! After a few small repairs, sanding, cleaning and priming, I painted layers of paints and glazes, followed by a top coat of tinted polyurethane. All water-based products. The result is gorgeous! It brings a warm cozy and unified feeling to this home, while camouflaging all the imperfections in the trim.

Here are some before, during and after photos!


Choosing Paint Colors

May 29, 2018

Choosing Paint Colors

Do you need help choosing paint colors for your home? So often, I see people asking in online forums for help choosing a paint color:

“Please share your suggestions for a nice blue for my son’s room!”

“Does someone have a favorite warm grey color to suggest for my living room?”

“What’s your favorite off-white for trim?”

“Which of these 6 paint swatches should I use on my bedroom walls?”

People ask, and SO many people are quick to answer with SO many photos and color swatches and opinions. It’s overwhelming! How can you choose?  Everyone who responds is looking at different devices with different screens, so the colors you see and the colors they see aren’t the same. No one sees your room and your décor and your natural light conditions or light fixtures. No one sees your style preferences, but they are ready to share theirs. I love my online community!  I’m not knocking this method, sometimes it works really well. But sometimes it doesn’t.

You might think a professional color consultation isn’t necessary. You might think that paying for professional advice is too expensive. But I think what’s too expensive is paying for paint, hiring a painter to do the work (or even spending your time to do it yourself) and then realizing it’s wrong,  you don’t like it and you want to start over.

I am a lifelong painter with a design degree. My business is decorative painting, but COLOR is the basis for every project I do. I can look at your room as it relates to everything in and around it, including you! I can look at your entire house and help you develop a palette that works throughout. I can give you suggestions, options, swatches, and instructions for your painter. I can even give you a lesson in color theory!

But the best part is that because I am a decorative painter, your flat fee will be credited toward any decorative painting project you decide to do in your home within a year! Now THAT’S a great value. So, look through the rest of my website for some great ideas, but if all you really want are solid paint colors, I can help with that too!

Contact me for more information! 908-217-3861 drdesign4u@gmail.com


Sweet ideas for a newborn’s painted nursery.

March 15, 2018

The Painted Nursery

Oh baby! Anticipating the arrival of a new baby? What could be more special than creating a beautiful space to welcome your little bundle of joy home to?   Painted nursery projects are some of my favorites because my clients are extra eager to do something special! Think beyond the basic pink and blue for something that can easily transition to the toddler years and beyond, or go all-out for something extravagant that can be updated in a few years as your child asserts his or her own preferences. Here are some of my favorites, from full room wall murals to surprisingly simple embellishments.


The Personal Touch: Painted Names in Kid’s Bedrooms

September 26, 2016

Personalized Decorative Painting

One of the best things about a decorative painting project is that you end up with something personalized, beautiful and unique. Incorporating painted names into the project goes one step further! Here are some names that I’ve worked on some of my projects.

Tree Paintings and Murals: Trees!

April 28, 2016

In honor of Arbor Day, here are a few examples of the wide variety of trees that I have painted in the homes of my clients in the NJ and NYC area. My tree painting and murals on walls include palm trees, willow trees, and birch trees.

Painted House Numbers: Where Are You?

January 14, 2016

A legible address is a very important feature of your home, especially if you want someone to be able to find your house! But beautifully painted house numbers and addresses are even better and add to the “curb appeal” to your home. Discover some of the house addresses Donna Rubin has painted for her clients.

Painting Bathroom Vanities: Oh Vanity!

December 22, 2015

Sometimes simple, straightforward projects like painting bathroom vanities can make a very big impact. 2015 seemed to be the year of the bathroom vanity re-do. None of these projects were terribly complicated, but they made a big difference in the look of a bathroom! Sometimes a homeowner is not ready to completely renovate a bathroom, but still cannot live with the current decor! Sometimes a cabinet is beautiful and loved just as it is, but surrounding renovations require an update.

Kid’s Room Murals Revisited

December 3, 2014

One of the best things about painting for so many years has been revisiting my clients over time, seeing their style evolve, and helping them as they redecorate or move into new homes. Most rewarding? Painting something sweet for a new baby or young child and then coming back as they grow older to repaint something new! Here are a few of my favorite examples of kid’s room murals that I have painted for clients in the New Jersey and New York City area. Click on any image for a broader view, and please excuse the pre-digital-era quality of some of the photos.

Painting Outlet Covers: Creating Continuity

October 24, 2014

Walls are covered with an array of light switches, electrical outlets, vents, and speaker covers. Kitchen backsplash areas are loaded with switches and electric receptacles. Sometimes my clients ask if I can paint these outlet covers and light switches to help blend them into the surrounding wall. What is my approach to painting, with these “interruptions” of the visible surface? On a tiled surface, painting outlet covers and light switches can make them appear to be part of the tile pattern. On walls, I include them in the mural or paint finish. Otherwise, they’d stand out and distract from the overall look. Here are a few pictures of some outlet covers I have painted.


PDCA Convention 2014: What I Learned at This Year’s Convention

October 18, 2014

Every so often it’s nice to take a break and re-connect with some colleagues and get inspired by some new ideas and materials. October 16th-17th I attended the PDCA Convention 2014, the 60th Annual Convention and Tradeshow of the Middle Atlantic Council of the Painting and Decorating Contractors Of America. (That’s a mouthful)! It’s better known as the MAC/PDCA.  I used to attend this convention regularly and was even an officer of the Decorative Artists chapter in our region for a few years. Now I attend when it is local, as it was this year, in West Orange at the Wilshire Grand Hotel. Thursday there were seminars all day, and Friday was the trade show. I didn’t take advantage of the dinners and shows since I am local and wasn’t staying at the hotel.

Of course, I went to the seminars on the “Decorative Track” versus the ones mainly for General Painting Contractors. Two of them were given by long-time colleagues of mine. Dean Sickler gave a seminar on Color: how it works with light, how the spectrums are broken up, how colors relate and play off of each other, and how to make color corrections with paint and pigments.

Andre Martinez gave a seminar on Decorative Textures for Fun and Profit, and explained the Proceed line of materials and how to market the exclusivity of your work.

Aliya Riaz, also a long-time colleague spoke about Gilding and Gold leaf from an international historic perspective. At the Trade Show on Friday she demonstrated some Gilding techniques.

There was also a lunch-and-learn seminar, given by Ross O’Neal who described his 12-year long restoration project at the Oaks Cloister, built in 1900 by Joseph Huston in Germantown PA. No photos, I was busy eating,  meeting new contacts and catching up with old friends while watching his presentation!

The trade Show on Friday was fun. I got to play around with some new products in the demonstration area, visit with my friends from Dundean at their booth, watch a demonstration on paintbrush construction (by hand!) at Purdy, check in with Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, and other distributors of paints, brushes, rollers, tapes, and other supplies.