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!

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.

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.

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.

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

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween from all the Goblins and Ghouls at Anything But Plain!

Donors Choose Update

DonorsChoose, Thank You notes from school kids

In September, we wrote about, a charity specializing in helping schools get specific supply needs met for their classrooms. We chose to help a local Houston classroom purchase their art supplies. As part of the program, the kids sent us hand written thank you notes. In these sweet little notes, the kids detail what they love about their new art supplies and classroom décor. It shows how a little help can make a big impact; we cherish each one of these little artists and hope this is just the beginning of their art education.

Take a look at the photos below to see what each student had to say. We hope this inspires you to give to the charity of your choice and if you don’t have one, we recommend supporting Donors Choose.

Thank you for the art supplies...I really like art. It is fun... I love my new carpet because I can see colors and shapes... I love art. Thank you. You are awesome...

Mark Your Calendars! 3 Design Events You Don’t Want to Miss.

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

Mark Your Calendars! 3 Design Events You Don’t Want to Miss

2014 ASID Awards

Not only does the fall bring nicer weather but a plethora of interesting and fun activities in our industry. This past weekend we attended one of the most anticipated design events of the year, the 2014 ASID Awards. Kristi Morrison, our new COO, was there to represent us and she had a fantastic time. On top of it being a fabulous night out, we were honored to win with Beth Lindsey in the category of Designer/Industry Partner Collaboration. We loved working with Beth on this project, and we are beyond thrilled for this win!

If you weren’t able to attend the ASID Awards, be sure to pick the latest issue of Houston Design Resource to see all the lovely winners and get a recap of the evening. And mark your calendars for these 3 Design Events we think NO ONE should miss!

Kristi and Beth pose with ASID Award

One of the many benefits of having our office and showroom at the Houston Design Center is being in the middle of all the wonderful activities the design community has to offer. This fall, of course, is no different.

Here are our TOP 3!

  1. October 28/29Leading in Design FALL Market 2014 – The Fall Market at the Houston Design Center is something you definitely DO NOT want to miss! There is something for everyone in the design industry, from interesting talks by leading designers, CEU’s, and of course great food and a wonderful opportunity to network with those in our industry. Don’t forget to register!
  2. November 19Fall Design Sip & Stroll From 5:30 to 7pm, presented by Audi Central Houston. Meet Leaders in Design and see the latest Audi models, all while you enjoy Flora Springs Wines and Brugal Rum Cocktails.
  3. December 10The 7th Annual Deck The Tables & Holiday Tabletop Tour – Bring a group or just a friend, either way this event is something to add to your holiday traditions. You’ll see a fabulous array of Holiday tabletop décor that is sure to get the biggest Scrooge into the Holiday spirit. Click the link above to register.

We hope you are able to attend at least one of the fabulous events this Fall, we know you will have a wonderful time. Hope to see you there!

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

Things are Fall-ing into Place

Fall has finally arrived!

Happy Fall & Design Events

Great Expectations!

After a steamy Houston summer, I think we’re all ready for crisp cool air, sugar and spice and everything nice! There is something about the change in weather brings excitement for a coming New Year and new changes. We have plenty of changes occurring in our office.

Our office manager Jana is in her last stretch of pregnancy and will deliver her first baby at the beginning of November. Jana will continue to work with us on our social media and marketing efforts but will be no longer be in the office. We are as excited as she is about the new baby!

Jana at 34 weeks.

A Warm Welcome to Kristi!

Kristi Morrison, COOIn light of Jana’s move, and the extraordinary growth of our business we have welcomed a new member to our team, Kristi Morrison. Kristi, a native Houstonian, is an accomplished business woman and graduated Cum Laude from the Wolff Center for Entrepreneurship at the University of Houston’s C.T. Bauer College of Business (a program ranked #2 in the United States). She is a proven leader with a track record of developing a history of successful design work in a variety of environments. Kristi is passionate about her new role here at Anything But Plain and looks forward to bringing her unique creativity to each project.

As our new COO, Kristi will be learning all aspects of our business and will be working side by side with me (Janie) in the day-to-day operations. Keep an eye out for Kristi; she will be making the rounds at events or may pop in your office to introduce herself. Kristi has a very energetic and outgoing personality and is looking forward to connecting with you all. We are ecstatic to add such an asset to our team; we know you’ll enjoy working with Kristi as much as we do!

If you have a chance, call the office to make an appointment to see the phenomenal new samples we’ve been working on! We look forward to hearing from you.

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

Party Like It’s 1989 – Celebrating 25 Years in Business!

We celebrated our 25th Anniversary in business this past Saturday with an 80’s themed bash. We asked our closest friends and colleagues to grab their leg warmers, tease their hair and come “Party Like It’s 1989!” Our Silver Anniversary celebration was hosted at M Squared Gallery in the Heights. It was the perfect setting for celebrating our 25 years of artistry, and to top it off, the current art installation was all graffiti…very fitting for our occasion!

No Eighties Party is complete without costumes, and our guests really showed us the best of the 80’s

I came as a “Designing Woman” and we had several Madonnas, Miami Vice, a Ghostbuster, Wayne from Wayne’s World, Waldo, Mario from Mario Brothers, and Tom Cruise from Risky Business in his tighty whities, just to name a few! We loved the enthusiasm everyone put into their costumes and had even more fun dancing the night away to all our favorite 80’s hits.

It was a great night celebrating our hard work, and all the lovely people we’ve gotten to work with and for over the years. We want to extend a big Thank You to all those that came out, it means so much!

Below you can see a few photos of the great time we had! We can’t wait to celebrate another 25 years in business!

ABP celebrates 25 years in business!ABP celebrates 25 years in business!ABP celebrates 25 years in business!ABP celebrates 25 years in business!
ABP celebrates 25 years in business!ABP celebrates 25 years in business!ABP celebrates 25 years in business!ABP celebrates 25 years in business!

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