I had a client who wanted her Hinsdale home to appear to be like a wealthy Mexican Plantation. She had purchased all of these wonderful iconic artifacts, decorations and furniture of the region and I had rendered faux finishes in foyer and dining room of her home previously in earth toned finishes reminiscent of old plaster hand rubbed walls. Everything we had designed together was creating this wonderful environment for her and her family.
In her great room...the stakes were raised quite a bit higher. It was a two story great room with a long slanted ceiling line that went from the second story loft and angled down to the first floor sliding glass door to the outside deck and garden. My Client had recently been to Mexico and had purchased four massive solid wood beams from an old farm house and had them shipped by semi-truck to her home in Chicago. These were bolted into the ceiling to create this old farmhouse appearance. It was really effective. She had her painter apply a skim coat of plaster to the walls and render a knock down technique so that when the plaster dried there were many depressions and smooth raised areas.
I was brought in again to age the walls but I wanted to try something more unique than paint and I spent the weekend experimenting with different methods of applying age and color. I thought about ink or dye washes and then tobacco staining. I tried coffee staining but thought the lingering odor might be offensive and decided tea would be best.
So....I urged my Client to wash out a 50 gallon plastic trash can and use a garden hose to fill it with water. I told her to leave it outside on the deck of her home and fill it with 3 large boxes of 100 count generic tea bags. Cover it with the lid and let it bake in the sun for a hot three day weekend.
I arrived on Monday and we spent the better part of the entire day slowly washing her walls from top to bottom with rags soaked in the tea solution. One rag would apply the tea at the top of the wall in large circular motions and the other rag would capture as many drips and runs as possible. She wanted to try it with me so we began on opposing sides of the great room and worked consistently in a clockwise direction so the walls were treated every couple of hours with light layers of this soft umber stain. It took about 8 hours to complete the room to her satisfied tonal depth of color.
On an interesting 'personal note'....when I came home at the end of the day - my neighbor asked me if I had been to a tanning salon. Apparently, all of that exposure to tea over the course of a long day had stained my face and arms as well.