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Filling Space Is Easy; Picking the Design is Harder

November 07, 1998|LYNN O'DELL

The sky's the limit with trompe l'oeil. Stone block walls, crumbling plaster with exposed brick, architectural moldings, marble columns, wall fountains, drapery, potting benches, windows, door openings and animals large and small all lend themselves to the reality-bending art form.

Do you have a narrow hallway that looks bare but is too small for furniture? Through trompe l'oeil, you can have the illusion of furniture.

"I'll paint a shelf and some items on it. I've done little tables in the corners of bathrooms with flower vases and candles on them," said Orange artist Kerri Sabine-Wolf.

The treatment can be as elaborate as turning a flat living room wall into an arched Italian doorway with a white columned balcony overlooking a pastoral panorama. Or as simple as adding trailing nasturtiums, complete with the shadows the leaves would cast, to a garden gate.

The most popular subject? Gardens. Ivy is the first thing people think of, said Sabine-Wolf, who admits to being burned out on the plant. She tries to get her clients to consider more interesting vines, such as the climbing fig, clematis and morning glories.

Home tours and magazine photos are the source of most people's trompe l'oeil inspirations, Sabine-Wolf said. Or their friends have some artwork done and they want to do it too. In one Huntington Beach neighborhood, she has worked on three neighboring houses.

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