Painting & Produce
Simple to spectacular: Houston's faux Miracle provides cosmetic facelifts for the home
Here in Houston we’re quick to tear down the old and replace it with something newer and shinier — but it’s amazing what can happen with a fresh coat of paint.
No, not the Dover White from your local Sherwin-Williams. To truly transform your home — to take it from homey to uniquely individual — look to faux painting. It’s a cosmetic facelift without the time or insane expense of remodeling.
And if you’re aiming high, you might as well go to the master, himself: Glen Miracle.
Miracle began his faux painting career in 1975 when he was hired by the Houston Grand Opera to design and build sets. Need a pile ‘o plywood to look like Verona? Paris? The Tower of London? Glen was the guy, using plaster and drywall, paint, sweat, and sand to transform the theater into the dreamy desired destination.
When the opera decided in 1987 to outsource sets, Miracle took his artistry private, creating spectacular scenes and fabulous finishes in homes around town.
Basic faux finishes are designed to mimic other surfaces—like marble, granite, or stucco. The various textures can camouflage a multitude of sins and add depth to almost any room.
But Miracle goes beyond the usual. An artist to his core, he likes to work with the client to design the right finish for the space. Maybe that’s painting a “rug” onto your living room floor or a “window” in the den. Perhaps he’ll fancy up your dining room with Venetian plaster or wood graining. He can antique the kitchen, marble the bathroom, or turn your bedroom into the Louvre. And the guy is entirely self-taught.
He says with a smile, “I invented almost all of the paint finishing techniques that I use… only to find out later that someone else had invented them a long time before I did.”
Most faux painters just stop by their local paint store, show them a swatch, and ask them to whip up a color — but Miracle does things the meticulous way, mixing his own colors and taking care with each sheen and patina. Green paint? Miracle doesn’t have any; he mixes blue with yellow, and then maybe a little brown.
The process is infinitely more difficult than any of us might imagine — especially since the tints dry a completely different color than they are when wet. So not only does this skill involve artistry, it requires a good deal of patience. And sometimes a hair dryer.
But while his finished products appear beautifully seamless, he’s certainly run into his fair share of challenges.
“When I was just getting started. I had absolute confidence in my abilities, but no formal training. One day a designer asked me if I could do a faux tortoiseshell furniture finish, and I said sure… Then I headed straight to the library to find out what the heck I actually needed to do.”
Once he got the job, Miracle set about procuring a tortoiseshell so that he could match it exactly.
“The most challenging projects are the ones where I need to match something done by another artist. About 10 years ago I was asked to match a Zuber wallpaper. The mural was not large enough for the room and needed an additional — and very intricate — three feet. It required exact color matching and the finished project could not look like it was done with a brush. The project was incredibly time consuming, but fortunately quite successful.”
When he’s not transforming walls into wonders, Miracle works on the masterpiece in his own yard: An enviable organic garden. Much like his painting, his garden skills are entirely self-taught — and just as worthy of praise.
Miracle’s artistry doesn’t come cheap, but he’s happy to stop by for an estimate. Email him or find him on Saturday mornings hawking his organic produce at the Laughing Frog Farm table at the farmers market on Eastside.