Creating Interiors in the Key of “Faux”


Eric creates beautiful finishes with cutting-edge products from the top
manufacturers in the industry.

Decorative finisher Eric Spiegel uses his talents to create harmony in more ways than one

By Diane Capuano Franklin

When it comes to making beautiful wall finishes or beautiful music, Eric Spiegel hits all the right notes. While one talent is visual and the other auditory, Eric is adept at drawing analogies between the two.

“Being a songwriter, when I approach someone’s home, I look at the living room, dining room—everything I see—as one composition,” says Eric, who owns Spiegel’s Decorative Finishing Studio in Naples, Fla. “A client may say, ‘I just want to do the dining room for now.’ My response to that is: ‘Even if you aren’t doing the living room for another year, at least talk about it.’ It’s like a composition. Everything has to be in harmony.”

Eric is currently one of southwest Florida’s most preeminent faux finishers, but he got his start—both artistically and musically—30-some years ago in New York City. What he learned in those days was the importance of professionalism, whether entering a home to paint a wall finish or standing on a bandstand with a group of musicians.

Eric specifically recalls a bandleader from his days of playing gigs in New York City. “If your shoes weren’t polished and your tie wasn’t on straight, he’d say, ‘Get off my bandstand and take care of all that.’ That stuck with me, and it’s the same attitude I have with my crew whenever I go into a home. My message to my crew is: ‘You’re on my bandstand. Have on a clean shirt, your hair combed, be well groomed and professional. It’s like a performance for eight hours, so you have to look the part.’ ”

Eric the Tribute Artist

Faux finishing is a term used to describe decorative paint finishes that replicate the appearance of materials such as marble, wood or stone. Eric prefers to refer to himself as more of a tribute artist.

"I have so much respect for the beauty and magic of nature, my job is to with respect, integrity and good craftsmanship, create the best tribute in the likeness of these amazing children of mother nature, be it wood, marble, or exotic jewel stones like, opal, malachite, lapis, etc.," Eric says. "I like to consider I am paying tribute rather than impersonating these elements of nature, for no one can compete with Mother Nature!”


Advice from “The Gambler”

Understanding the importance of harmony is crucial to Eric determining which finish is appropriate for a specific setting. In some cases, his wall finish is the focal point of the room. In other cases, it’s a more subtle accompaniment.

“I try not to be too theatrical with my finishes,” he says. “I try to think about the lyrics from ‘The Gambler’: ‘You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em.’ When you’re doing a wall finish, you have to know when to turn it on and when to turn it off. I consider it egotistical to design something that tries to steal the show.”


This exotic holographic foil wall creates a unique and dramatic setting for
the VIP Room in one of the world's most famous cigar lounges, "Burn by
Rocky Patel."

Eric uses another musical analogy to drive home his point. An overpowering wall finish, he observes, is like two drummers sitting in the back of the bandstand but overplaying to the extent that they drown out the other musicians. “When I apply my wall finish, I have that in the back of my mind,” he says. “There are other elements in the room besides the wall finishes. It’s just obnoxious to try and overwhelm the rest of the room.”

Learning from the Best

It was in the early 1980s when Eric got his start in the decorative arts. He considers himself fortunate that, throughout his career, he had the opportunity to train with the very best. He apprenticed with master faux finisher Selwyn Mills, working in exclusive mansions along the “Gold Coast” of Long Island. He also took classes at The Finishing School, which gave him the opportunity to study with the incomparable Ina, Allen and Robert Marx. At one point, he relocated to upstate New York, where his historic restoration work earned him a wide range of impressive contracts.

Florida eventually beckoned, which is where Eric had his first introduction to the product line of Faux Effects International Inc. He also had the opportunity to study directly with Faux Effects founder Raymond Sandor himself, the pioneer of a revolutionary water-based technology that changed the industry.

After being hired to do an extensive project in Naples, Fla., Eric decided that the Sunshine State was the place for him. He relocated his business there in 1995 and has been enjoying great success ever since. His work adorns some of the most impressive multi-million-dollar mansions in southwest Florida.

This powder room includes mica embedded into Brown
LusterStone® from Faux Effects.

A Trend Toward “Bling”

Over the past three decades, Eric has seen the faux-finishing trade evolve from traditional finishes to more contemporary styles. What’s really popular these days is “bling,” i.e., finishes that sparkle and glisten with the use of glass beads or mica. He credits artists like Diane Corso and Donna Phelps with bringing those looks to the foreground.

“It taps into the metrosexual side of my craftsmanship, doing these types of finishes,” Eric says. “Those looks are very popular now. It’s a more contemporary look than the Tuscan finishes, which we’re not seeing as much of anymore. We’re aiming our whole marketing focus more toward contemporary finishes. I even changed my logo to reflect that trend.”

Eric’s website and new e-newsletter allow him to showcase some of his top projects. For instance, one of Eric’s recent projects was a bathroom using glass beads, which he completed for a luxury condo located in a golf course community. “I had done work for the same client about 10 years ago,” Eric says. “Back then, it was all transitional and Tommy Bahama.”

Another project that Eric completed featured a mother-of-pearl inlay in mahogany for an elevator door.


Humphrey Bogart was really saying " We'll Always Have Mica.” Embedded mica flakes
in a black plaster type medium called Granyte by Triarch.

“In general, when you’re doing bling such as mica, you save it for smaller areas and niches,” Eric reports. “If you do it for a whole room, it’s way too much. It’s just one of those things you do, that you save for the right situation and pull out of your bag of tricks.”

Eric was just featured in a recent edition of Faux Effects World, where he shared the details of some of his most successful projects, including his restoration of the mahogany finishes on a 100-foot yacht. For a bathroom project in a home on Marco Island, his team embedded mica into Brown Suede LusterStone for a truly amazing, luxurious look.

Eric's persona, Dr. Faux, has the
prescription for
what is ailing his
client's tired walls.

The Emergence of Dr. Faux

After 30-plus years as a decorative artist, Eric has developed a full repertoire of finishes—much like a musician develops a repertoire of songs. However, as much as the musical analogy applies, Eric also likes to use another analogy—that of a doctor who can cure ailing walls and tired interiors.

In fact, Eric is mulling over the possibility of writing a book using the persona of “Dr. Faux,” complete with a caricature drawing of himself in a white lab coat but holding a paintbrush instead of a scalpel. “A lot of artists talk about ‘recipes,’ but I instead would provide ‘prescriptions,’ ” he explains.

The book would be a way to help those in the industry, many of whom already approach Eric about his advice on how to accomplish various finishes. “Even though I’m not teaching, I get private messages just about every other day. For instance: ‘I just ordered this mica. Can you help me out?’ I help a lot of people behind the scenes.”

Eric uses the term “fauxing it forward” to describe the cooperation and sharing that occurs among artists in the industry. As he explains, “People have helped me in my career, and I’m happy to help other people in return.”

Editor’s Note: While Eric works as a decorative artist, he also continues to make beautiful music. He and his wife, Linda, collaborated on a song, “Power of Two.” “It’s a love song we wrote for our wedding,” Eric reports. Meanwhile, Linda has achieved success with her recording of “Risin’,” which reached a ranking of #2 on ReverbNation. Take a listen to their music at the Reverb Nation link.

See more of Eric's work in the Artist Portfolio section of Focus on Faux.