She Said the F-Word!

Get the soap out, she said the "F" word! Okay, so the dreaded "F" word may not be what you think! We're talking about Faux... The "F" word that has wreaked havoc on our industry - it brings to mind the 90's do-it-yourself spongers, glazers, and heavy textures! These finishes were made popular by DIY TV programs and carried out by the the masses to their detriment. Most of the time the end result was not a lovely finish but an art project gone bad, and called "old world" or "tuscan", tarnishing the the word "faux" as a whole.  

Today, if you were to ask your client if they wanted a faux finish, you would never sell it, because it has such a negative connotation in the industry and the name itself sounds dated. The truth of the matter is, that there are so many more opportunities with faux finishing (decorative, specialty and artistic finishes) than you could ever imagine!

Here at Anything But Plain, we are artists.  We develop unique techniques and processes that create one-of-a-kind finishes for designers who want to stand apart from the rest.  We pour our heart and soul into our work and take great pride in what we do. In today's design world, we are asked to create many clean-modern finishes, utilizing our custom, hand-mixed products and metallics. We also create a soft ambience with elegant European plasters and hand painted details. The truth of the matter is, after 26 years in the business, there isn't much we CAN'T do... We love creating something special and helping the designer cultivate a warm and inviting home for her clients to enjoy for years to come.

Take a look at some of our newest one of a kind "decorative" finishes.

It's Award Season!

And We Won!

Award season is upon us! You may be thinking Emmys, Oscars and Golden Globes but we're talking about the ASID Ruby Awards.  This past Saturday night were delighted to accept an ASID Ruby Award Win for Industry Partner Best Wall Treatment and an Industry Partner Honorable Mention for Best Design Implementation. Both of these awards were projects of Slovack-Bass Design. We are so grateful to work with such talented and innovative designers.

We weren’t the only ones recognized for hard work and inspired design. Slovack-Bass Design, Marie Flanigan Interiors, Jane-Page Design Group, and Pamela Hope Designs were also big winners. Best of all...Some of the spaces they won or received honorable mentions for had our finishes on the walls and ceilings! How cool is that?!

We are so grateful to these designers that give us an opportunity to create unique finishes in these beautiful homes. It’s always a pleasure to work with a pro!

Here are a few photos from our winning designs: 

We also want to congratulate Marie Flanigan and her design team on their honorable mention for 2015 JOHN STAUB AWARDS. 

River Oaks Guest Quarters
Residential Interiors



Fashion Meets Finishes

Fashion Meets Finishes

The 2015 Spring Couture collections are gorgeous! As we looked at the top players in the fashion world, we noticed some pretty significant correlations between our finishes and what’s hot right now in fashion, so we thought we should share!

Chanel has done it again!  What an iconic brand and an iconic woman.  If you haven’t seen the movie “Coco Before Chanel”, you should.  Grab some girlfriends and have a wine and movie night.  You won’t be disappointed.  The Spring-Summer 2015 Collection is unbelievable.  The way Chanel keeps it’s classic, defining style yet pushes the envelope with new ways of utilizing color and design is astonishing.  Just like Chanel is pushing the envelope, so are we, with our new, surprising luxe contemporary finishes, definitely not to be missed.  Our clients are in love with these unexpected designs that bring fine art to the wall.

This Chloe’ blouse and skirt from the Spring/Summer 2015 Collection is breathtaking.  It’s soft detail, fluid fabric, and muted tones bring forth an ethereal eminence.  This reminded us of the wall finish we completed this stunning residence with the extremely gifted designers of Slovack Bass Design Build. Pearl Fresco with a soft all over tone-on-tone pattern gave the room the soft detail and airiness just as the dress has done.

Glass beading is a great way to bring elegance, sophistication, and glamour to a gown.  The same rings true with walls!  This Monique Lhuiller Spring Collection 2015 gown is a showstopper.  The way that this designer chose to structure the dress and layer shades of the intricate beadwork is exquisite.  This gown reminded us of our cherry blossom glass bead installation that we completed in 2014 in collaboration with one of our talented decorators.

This Louis Vuitton handbag has made its debut! The use of unexpected texture and color has made this handbag a piece to be coveted. Pictured next to it is one of our wall finishes featured in our showroom. You can envelop your walls in couture, something one of a kind and fabulous. Finishing walls in a room brings so much more to the space than can ever be achieved with flat paint or wallpaper. The dimension is uncomparable. We had a blast on our hunt for this season’s top picks! Hopefully, you enjoyed this as much as we did! Come check us out and see what other unexpected finishes we may be hiding in our showroom.

Happy Spring!

We're Green with Envy on St. Patricks Day!

We’re Green with Envy - Happy St. Patrick’s Day

While everyone is swilling green beer and pinching their friends, we are celebrating with our favorite vibrantly verdant creations! A few of these photos are our very own works of art, while others are just something we found share-worthy. We hope you enjoy these photos and your St. Patty’s Day!

Emerald Jewel Box

This bedroom is one of our very favorite creations. We loved the opportunity to use such vivid colors and fun designs.

Peter Pan Decal

What a clever way to paint a kids room, and we love it in green!


Although this isn’t exactly green we’re going to count it because its one our absolute favorite colors and projects. Who wouldn’t get the most out of the work day with a vibrantly glazed cabinets like these!

Dining Green

This room is gorgeous with the different shades of blue and green! We love it.

Limey! It’s gorgeous!

These vibrant lime green walls shimmer with metallic plaster and Fortuny design.

Have a safe and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Janie's Signature

We're Hooked on a Ceiling!

The song says, "Were hooked on a feeling" but we're definitely Hooked on a Ceiling! Over the years, we have been pleased as punch to create ceiling designs from beautifully understated to over the top opulent.. There are many types of ceilings and ways to make them the centerpiece of the room or just tie into the design around them. Its a fabulous way to draw attention to the architectural detail in your home and draw the eye upward. Crafting a design for your ceiling is like the cherry on top of the cake, it really can take a room from lovely to outstanding. Let’s take a look at our favorite ceiling projects from over the years.

Luxe Linen

This ceiling is one of our new favorites. It is a faux linen texture in beautiful in neutral grays is absolutely stunning. The faux linen creates a wonderful contrast against the rich wood paneling.


Elegantly Subtle

Who said subtle is boring? We get so many compliments on this lovely entry hall! The tone on tone all over pattern matched with a hand painted design really brings this space to a new level of exquisiteness and draws attention to the length of the space.

Wine & Dine

Looking for a way to WOW guests in your home when you entertain? Metallic plaster with a hand-painted design on the barrel ceiling adds the perfect finishing touch to this gorgeous wine room!

Color & Class

An amazing two story groin in this master bath needed something both beautiful and colorful. Adorning this ceiling with a hand-painted medallion over diamond plaster.delighted both the client and designer.

Dining in Style

This dining room is a perfect example of how a little detail can go a long way. This ceiling is an inlaid wood cutout, hand painted and accentuated with gold detailing to reveal the stunning design.

Beautiful Border

This is a perfect example of how a blend of subtle design in an all over pattern mixed with a bold border can really work. We hope our artwork inspires you to find the perfect design for your ceiling! Check back later this month as we take a look at what creative masterpieces your dome can become.

We hope our artwork inspires you to find the perfect design for your ceiling! Check back later this month as we take a look at what creative masterpieces your dome can become.

Janie's Signature

Throwback Thursday!

A Throwback to Our Best Tips & Helpful Hints!

We thought we would get in on the Throwback Thursday fun! Here are 3 of our favorite blast from the past blogs that we think have the best tips and helpful hints! We hope you find them as helpful as we did the first time we posted them.

1. Why Primer?  - A must read if you're thinking of re-painting ANYTHING in the future!

2. How Do I find an Interior Designer? - This short read will give you all the ins and outs of hiring a great designer!

3. Four Time Saving Tips for Painting Projects - This one is straight from our crew to you on all their insider painting and clean up tips that will make you're next DIY job a breeze.

Hope you enjoyed the trip down memory lane as much as we did, leave us a comment with your favorite throwback blog.

Janie's Signature

We Love a Good Rug!

"A good rug can change you life"

Some people say a good pair of shoes can change your life. However we like to say a good rug can change your room and your life! One our talents not too many people know about is our talent for custom, hand painted rugs. Maybe you’re not ready to change the current flooring or carpeting but still want a big change? A hand painted sisal rug can make that happen for you and your space.

We love offering this custom service. Who wants to spend hours shopping all over town or scouring the internet for the perfect rug when you can have one custom created. One of the best parts of decorative painting is offering something no one else can offer our clients…unique custom created beautiful finishes and products. And these rugs are a sublime example of our ability to make our clients space special with a one of a kind creation.

Whether your room is modern, traditional or some eclectic mix in between we have a pattern that’s perfect for you. Or maybe you’re looking for something with an even more personal touch. Many of our clients have us do their entry rug or doormat, we’ve done several monogramed mats and even large custom cut outdoor rugs for local businesses. They are fun and functional as well as inexpensive and hardy.

These rugs are perfect for any home even high traffic areas and you don't have to sacrifice style. We love these rugs, we hope you do too!

Janie's Signature

7 Amazing Chocolate Creations for Valentines Day!

Almost too beautiful to eat!

There is no better way to celebrate Valentines Day than with some delicious chocolate! The only thing that could make it better is adding artistic flair to the mix! These lovely creations will tantalize your tastebuds and peak your artistic sensibilities, they are almost too lovely to eat. (be sure to check out #5, fabulously inventive)

1. Chocolate Planet Truffles

Who wouldn’t want a galaxy made of this wonderful sweet stuff!

Chocolate Heaven

2. Functional Lego Chocolate Bricks

Incredibly clever but who could resist this delicious goodness long enough to build anything?

Chocolate Lego Art

Chocolate Lego Art Sculptures

3. Chocolate Tools

True artistry went into creating these aged tools! This is some “faux finishing” we can really sink our teeth into.

Chocolate Art Tools

Chocolate Art Tools

4. Chocolate Pencil Set

You can write the sweetest notes with these and the pencil shavings would never go to waste!

Chocolate Art Pencil Set 

Chocolate Pencil Set Art

5. Chocolate Skulls

How fabulously creative is this little treat! These guys really do have brains the size of walnuts!!

Chocolate Sculpture Skull Art

Chocolate Skulls Art

Colorful Chocolate Skulls

6. Chocolate Paint Tubes

We could make something really beautiful with paints, like a smile on our face after tasting each one!

Chocolate Art Paint Tubes

Chocolate Art Paint Tubes

7. Chocolate Painted Bars

So lovely I might not want to eat it … all at once.

Creatively Painted Chocolate Bars

Creative Chocolate Bars Painted

We hope you celebrate Valentines Day with someone special and a beautiful, sweet treat!

We wish you hugs and chocolate kisses!

Janie's Signature


Marsala, the Color of the Year!

Marsala is the Color of 2015!

If you haven’t already ran smack dab into this fabulous new color of the year let us introduce you. Pantone’s pick for 2015 is Marsala. We for one are huge fans of this stunning shade of wine. We are in love with the warmth this color brings to interiors and home furnishings not to mention just about anything you wish.

Marsala is an incredibly versatile color. It’s appealing to men and women, an earthy tone thats fantastic for apparel or accessories. This fabulous hue is earthy yet sophisticated.

What we love best about Marsala is when in a matte finish it conveys its organic, hearty nature but when glossy gives a completely different feeling of luxury and glamor.

It is a beautiful color just waiting to find a place in your home or wardrobe! We can’t wait to find the perfect finish for this lovely color of 2015. Where would you use Marsala? Leave us a comment to tell us your ideas on the “it” color of 2015!

For more amazing finishes in the new hot Marsala or for any color in your home take a look at our vast portfolio and give us a call if we can help you on your next project.

Sincerely, Janie's Signature Janie Ellis, RID, ASID-IP, CF, Master Artisan

*Photo credit to Pantone

Anything But Plain Voted Best of Houzz 2015!

Thanks for voting for us!

Award season is here and we are tickled GREEN that we're in on the action! We have been awarded "Best Of Houzz" for the second year in a row! This time we were recognized for Customer Satisfaction by Houzz. We are honored to be chosen by the more than 25 million monthly unique users that comprise the Houzz community from among more than 500,000 active home building, remodeling and design industry professionals. If you are one of those millions of users we have you to thank, along with our amazing clients and colleagues that keep us busy with such exciting projects!

If you haven't tried Houzz for yourself be sure to Click here to see what all the buzz is about!

Sincerely, Janie's Signature Janie Ellis, RID, ASID-IP, CF, Master Artisan

Won't You Meet My Neighbor!

We Have Great Neighbors

There are a multitude of things we like about our business. Great clients, interesting projects and not least of all, fabulous neighbors. We are so lucky to have such fantastic neighboring businesses at the Houston Design Center. Not only are they an integral part of our industry, but also an asset to our clients. This year we hope to bring the spotlight to a few of these incredible businesses. First in the spot light is our neighbor Mirabella Doors.

Mirabella Doors has the greatest tagline. " You only get one chance to make a first impression." When you think about it, the front door of your house it is the first thing that everyone see. These wrought iron doors are pretty sensational. When I think of iron doors I think of tradition designs but to my surprise they have some very slick contemporary ones as well. I get to walk by them everyday. It's a nice treat.

Pam Miller is the face behind the beautiful doors.She has been in the custom door business for over 10 years and always provides excellent service to her clients. We just love seeing the unique custom creations she comes up with for entry ways as well as interior doors and wine rooms.

Pam Miller, OwnerContemporary Entryway Beautiful Door at Dusk

Beautiful detail on wine gateArched Entry WayCustom Wrought Iron Door
Modern Door with Clear ClassFlemish Glass DoorCustom Designed Wine Gate
If you are building a new home or desiring a new look in your entry or wine room don’t hesitate to call Pam. You can find more of her fabulous designs, as well as, photos of finished doors on her website. Keep an eye out this year for more spotlights on Designers and Industry Partners. We love showcasing they're amazing talents and hope you remember them for all your design needs.

Sincerely, Janie's Signature Janie Ellis, RID, ASID-IP, CF, Master Artisan

3 Myths of Cabinet Finishes Revealed!

Distressed, Glazed, Worn-Thru … Oh My!

Have you noticed how every industry has their own special “buzz words”? Notice how those words get over used, lose their meaning, and completely complicate things? Much of the confusion creates myths about terms or processes. Never fear, we’re doing our very best “myth busting” today.

In our industry a lot of the confusion about certain terms revolve around furniture and/or cabinet finishes. So, let’s take a look at some of our favorite hard surface finishes and breakdown the terms and processes and what the buzzwords of glaze, texture, and distressing really look like.

Myth 1 – Glaze

Glaze is probably one of the most misunderstood terms in use.  It’s the cornerstone of basic decorative painting and faux finishing techniques. Glazed is used in many applications and on many different surfaces. People think it is a magic wand we wave to completely change the color, texture and design of a surface. While we wish that wand existed, its just not that easy.  Glaze is a semitransparent medium, it can be oil based or water based. It looks a little like thick milky paint but you can see through it. It is tinted with colorants. If we put dark umber colorant into the glaze it would look like thick dirty water or if we used yellow it would look like bad lemonade. Any color can be used to get whatever end result you want. We use Glaze to create an antique look on cabinets and walls or over texture to give added depth. Used alone in a single process, it can be a less expensive option for walls and cabinetry finishes. It is also used in combination with other product to create over the top opulent results. Glaze can be applied on walls, cabinets, furniture, and molding. Glaze adds soft color,warmth, a sense of dimension. It can help create a faintly aged “caught in the corners” look so many desire.  It’s a great technique in our bag of “tricks”.

Myth 2 – Distressed/Antiqued/Worn-Thru


Those three little words can cover a wide range of effects. They have become the “catchall” phrase to explain all finishes that aren’t flat paint. As a decorative painter, there is a world of difference in each technique, as well as a large price difference. An antiqued finish is usually created with glaze, directly over paint, to give it an aged quality. Distressing can be created by beating up the painted surface and then glazing to show the marks and imperfections. A worn-thru finish is a mutli-colored and multi-layered process. Texture is built up on the surface and than abraded to show the colors below. A coat of glaze is applied to give dimension for added character. We like to seal or topcoat all of our cabinet finishes for "wearability" and to give them a "furniture quality" look. The difference in technique is reflected in the difference of price. It's always best to set a budget first. Your decorative painter needs this as a guide to get the finish you want at a price within your budget. Here a few examples of slightly aged and glazed, worn-thru and a multi-layered finishes.

Myth 3 – Everything in Between

This is less of a specific myth and more of a misconception. Some clients think that what we do on cabinets as decorative painters is limited. Its’ the very opposite! We’re you looking for an alligator bar for the man cave? Or maybe you want your vanity cabinetry to sparkle and shine with glass beads? Or how about hand painted designs to personalize your cabinets? Maybe a raised design to create the look of hand carved designs strikes your fancy?  And of course for the solid wood paneling in your library or bar, a little gold detailing is always a hit. This and so much more is available to you! Take a look at these over the top finishes and rooms and you’ll see why the sky is the limit when it comes to cabinet and hard surface finishes.

For more amazing finishes for any style home take a look at our vast portfolio and give us a call if we can help you on your next project.

Sincerely, Janie's Signature Janie Ellis, RID, ASID-IP, CF, Master Artisan

Do You Dare to be a DIVA?

Kristi Becomes a DIVA!

When you hear the term Design DIVAS, giving back  may not be the first thought that comes to mind. However, that's exactly what the Houston Furniture Bank Design DIVAS are all about. They describe a DIVA on their website this way:


/n. pl. / DEE-vahz:

  • Very successful performers,
usually extremely talented and highly respected;
  • Persons who are committed to achieving their goals,
doing so with flair and finesse;
  • “Decorating Interiors – Volunteers At your Service”,
D.I.V.A.S.: a group of Houston Furniture Bank volunteers dedicated to
“making empty houses homes” for families in need who have been nominated
by their caseworkers. These caring volunteers create home-makeovers from
house-hold furnishings which have been donated to Houston Furniture Bank.

On September 14th, Kristi was introduced to this lovely group of people at an event  benefiting the Houston Furniture Bank and Design DIVAS at James Craig Furnishings.  At this gathering, the founder of the Houston Furniture Bank and now the Executive Director of this independent 501C3 non-profit organization Oli Mohammed told the beautiful story of the history of the Furniture Bank and the Design DIVAS.  He spoke about all the family’s lives they have been able to change by giving them a beautiful place to live after experiencing various tragedies that have left them struggling financially.  Oli went on to explain that the Furniture Bank offers these families necessities that they cannot provide for themselves.  The Design DIVAS spend countless hours volunteering to help give them a fabulously designed place to call home that they cannot believe is actually theirs.

The DIVAS explained that designing for these families is like the ABC show, Extreme Makeover Home Edition.  Ann Cummins, the founder and visionary of the DIVAS told Kristi that this is truly one of the most rewarding things she has ever done in her life.  It inspired Kristi to join the DIVAS and help give these families a beautiful space to live in.  We encourage you to take a look at the Houston Furniture Bank and the Design DIVAS wonderful work and see if these programs tug on your heartstrings like they did Kristi’s.  If you would like to get involved, The Furniture Bank accepts donations for gently used furniture, decorations, and kitchenware.  You can help out struggling Houston families this holiday season by giving back in a wonderful way, directly benefitting the residents of the city we live in and call home.

Modern Now and Wow!

Can Decorative Painting be Modern? Absolutely!

If you’ve picked up any home magazine this year, you’ll find the words “sleek”, “modern” and “clean” on almost every page. We hear these words over and over again. Most people translate that to mean flat white or light gray wall paint, or maybe a simple wallpaper pattern. These are not the only answers. Decorative painting and faux finishing does not mean “Old World” or “Sponging (ugh!)”. It is an illusion painted on, or a texture applied to walls, ceilings, furniture, or just about any surface in your home. It can be “Old World”, but can also be modern, sleek, clean, and contemporary. We want to set the record straight and show you a few FABULOUS contemporary finishes that we hope will peak your curiosity and change your mind about decorative finishes.

The best part about decorative finishes is it’s flexibility in style and uniqueness of the finish. A custom finish is created for your particular space in whatever color and design you desire. It is exclusive to you! Texture adds dimension to a room as well as warmth to a surface. Metallics and micas can give a subtle glow to a space without competing with the décor. Design elements, whether hand painted or stenciled, can give a neutral room a focal point. You will love that your finish will be a one-of-a-kind work of art versus just another wallpaper catalog order number. Best of all there are no seams! When you are ready to redecorate you can just paint over it, and not have to worry about scraping it off inch by inch. Let’s take a look at these 5 “little teasers” of our current favorite modern finishes.

Here are our fav 5 Contemporary Finishes...

Water Color Whimsy

This fanciful design is created to mimic beautiful watercolor flowers. The deep greens and teals make a striking statement that would be just perfect for a powder room or any space you want a contemporary punch of color.

Ombre’, Ombre’, Ombre’


With Ombre’ all the rage why not wash your walls in your favorite color combos?! We are in love with this vibrant Ombre’ finish in pinks and purples! I can just imagine a room bathed in this finish bright or subtle, it’s definitely a showstopper.

Subtle Design

Subtle design


Subtle doesn’t have to be boring. With this Metallic Venetian Plaster finish you get high shine with a subtle design that is stunning with understated elegance.

Shimmer, Shimmer


Are you interested in shimmer without the over the top glitz? This finish is for you! Metallic plaster like in this finish can give warmth, depth and a subtle shimmer that’s perfect for any modern home.

Metallic Foils

Foils are not only some of our most fun finishes but they can be some of the most modern and elegant as well. This design in foil would make a jaw dropping statement in any room of your home.

For more amazing finishes for any style home take a look at our vast portfolio and give us a call if we can help you on your next project.

Sincerely, Janie's Signature Janie Ellis, RID, ASID-IP, CF, Master Artisan