This Old House TV: Charlestown house project
"That's an interesting color." From "interesting," to "@!!# ugly!" no one passing through the foyer of This Old House's Charlestown project was without an opinion about the freshly-applied orange paint on the newly-added pair of medium density fiberboard (MDF) doors, or the willingness to express that opinion. "Did someone actually choose that color?" These supposed arbiters of good taste ranged from the diplomatic to the cruel in their comments on the ghastly color. But what this circuit court of proper decor didn't know is that they were observing just the first step in the miraculous metamorphosis of ordinary paint into beautiful wood grain. The process of graining (or faux bois, "fake wood") begins with a plain painted surface, over which one or more layers of glaze are applied and skillfully manipulated to simulate the visual elements of a wood grain. Just as the ugly (and often strangely colored) caterpillar becomes a beautiful butterfly, so the grainer's art transforms an ordinary surface into a rich and (almost) real wood grain.

The Caterpillar
The background color for the Charlestown doors is called "jack-o-lantern". While you'd likely never select it as a finish color, it is, in fact, a slightly intensified version of the color that lurks glowingly beneath the red tones and the deep brown grains of the existing mahogany trim. Seemingly caterpillar colors like jack-o-lantern are often the starting points for the grainer's magic.

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