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Kass Wilson: A designer’s resource


Kass Wilson is a true faux artist. Wilson, the owner and creative director for WallsTreat Studio, creates subtle and sophisticated finishes for residential and commercial spaces. She’s also a valuable, go-to resource for Atlanta designers.

The artist & owner: Originally from Minnesota, Wilson moved to Atlanta in 1985. With a love of design, Wilson began working with architects and designers selling corporate interior furnishings. In 1992, she was introduced to decorative artistry and began to focus on becoming an inventor of beautiful finishes. Wilson is also the author of a how-to book, “Creative Finishes.”

The company: WallsTreat Studio started in 1993. The decorative arts studio specializes in architectural finishes and decorative arts services, providing architects and interior designers with creative resources for commercial and residential interiors.

What is a faux finish: Faux is the French word for false or fake, but the term faux finish is often misunderstood. Many times it is used as a general term for different types of decorative artistry, including murals and for simulating natural elements (wood, marble) on a multitude of surfaces. Unfortunately, many people still think of faux finishes as sponge painting, rag rolling and over-textured walls for the past.

Where to use finishes: On obvious surfaces, such as walls and ceilings, but also on cabinets, columns, mantels, vent hoods and floors.

What finishes do for a space: Provide balance, disguise imperfections, enhance architecture, unify a color, and add an element of drama.

People would be surprised to learn:

  • Today’s finishes can incorporate glass beads, sheets of mica, glitter and reflective materials, foils, and interesting patterns.
  • There are finishes for contemporary, transitional and eclectic styles as well traditional.
  • Natural elements, such as marble, granite, wood grains, leather skins, concrete and metals (galvanized steel, aged copper, pewter, and gold leaf) can be simulated.

“True ‘faux artists’ are masters of disguise in their ability to mimic these natural elements,” said Wilson. “In the end, you must see it, feel it and touch it to believe it is not real.”

Biggest mistake I have made: In my first project (almost 20 years ago), I painted columns to resemble marble. I stood back and realized that the angle of the veining made the columns look like barber poles.

… and mistakes homeowners make: Watching a 20-minute demonstration and believing that applying a finish is an easy, do-it-yourself project. Also, thinking that a finish should be the first design element they should select. Instead, a finish should be the last element specified, inspired by the colors, patterns, styles and features in the space, such as area rugs, flooring and window treatments.

Most challenging job: Applied a finish to the walls of an elevator shaft that had a glass cab. The finish looked like a wall of stone and included carved sayings at each stop.

Design pet peeve: Being called in to fix a project done by someone else. This is most common with cabinet finishes that are failing.

Current design obsession: Working with design professionals to incorporate patterns and designs in unexpected ways that complement the architecture and design elements in a space.

New or re-emerging design looks I like: Patterns and reflective products.

… and looks I am glad to see go: The heavy, Old World Tuscan look with tones of yellow and thick textures. Also, perfect stripes on a wall.

Most unusual request: Create the illusion on a floor that appears as though the concrete has broken away and looks down into a hole of fire.

Recent projects: Asked to make a wall appear like concrete, slate or large pieces of metal in a high-rise in downtown Atlanta. Also a law office in downtown Atlanta. Created a stunning wall in the firm’s reception area that reinforced its branded message.

What’s next: Refinishing cabinets, using the preferred method of a sprayed catalyzed lacquered finish (like a factory finish).

Find Kass Wilson and WallsTreat Studio at:

- Website: www.kasswilson.com

- Facebook: WallsTreat Studio



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