Cover your furniture and floor with tarps. Don't forget your gloves and protective eyewear. Apply taping mud, also called joint compound. This is a substance you already have on your walls in a thinner and more even coat; it helps get rid of the seams between pieces of drywall. Apply it with a large trowel, which is a big rectangular metal tool with a handle. The great part about this project is that the less perfect it is, the more beautiful it turns out. Therefore, try to apply the mud in a way that creates many variations in height and texture.
Jane Tip: Experiment before choosing the finished look. Take a piece of Sheetrock, add the mud, and then paint three different colors of paint on it. Apply the stain and possibly even try a second color of stain to see if you like it. You'll get three different finishes to choose from, and you can practice without worrying you didn't choose the right color.
Start by throwing five or six handfuls of the joint compound randomly onto the wall within arm's reach, and then use the large trowel to spread it. Remember, don't try to be perfect and create a smooth surface, or the end product won't be right. Rough it up a little. Wipe off the trowel and then "knock down," or flatten, the top part of the texture you've just created, leaving slight indentations. Create either small patterns or large patterns, whichever you prefer.
Jane Tip: When you are purchasing your joint compound, you might see another product called topping compound. It's a bit thinner than joint compound, and some contractors recommended it as an alternative for this project.
Let the surface dry completely. Look at the label to see how long it needs to dry. We suggest waiting at least overnight, though if it still feels damp to the touch, then wait until it is completely dry, because you'll want to knock down or sand some of the texture to remove any sharp or jagged edges.
Make sure you've got good ventilation going in the house. If it's raining, cold, or a high humidity day when you apply the stuff, allow some additional time for it to set up and dry properly.
Apply a coat of lightly colored latex paint with a rectangular paint roller, but don't press down too hard. When you're done, there should be paint on the flat surfaces but very little or none in the indented areas. You want both painted and unpainted surfaces. Just let the roller choose for you.Jane Tip: The sheen of the paint is totally up to you, but be aware that each will create a different look. We suggest a satin finish, as a semi or high-gloss paint will create less depth and have more sheen. Flat paints tend to absorb more of the darker color, creating fewer differences between the textured areas and the flat ones. In our opinion, satin sheen is just right.
With a lint-free rag, rub on an oil-based stain such as one normally used on furniture. Apply it heavily with one rag and wipe if off with a second, clean one. Apply stain as far as you can reach and then wipe on and off and move on to the next area. You will find that any areas left unpainted absorb more stain and create a variation of colors.
To add even more depth to your wall, add a second color stain over the first. One beautiful example we've seen is first applying a cherry stain and then a walnut stain on top of it. This creates a warm caramel color.
You can always come back and add extra color around the corner and perimeter for a halo effect that is especially Tuscan in feel.
Now your family room has the ambiance you've always desired, plus a hint of romance. Pick up an English/Italian dictionary because it might not be long before you want to compare your handiwork to the real thing!