The stairwell with Madonna mural showcases the en total Spanish Colonial look that Eddie
brought to this project.

Eddie’s Spanish Colonial

By Tammy Adamson-McMullen

Decorative artist Eddie Manzanares is used to tackling small projects that turn into something bigger. Owner of Designs by Edwina in the Denver area, Eddie has tackled projects for multi-million-dollar homes—some for A-list celebrities—that often start out as fairly simple assignments but snowball into something spectacular.

An example is a recent project in which Eddie was called to provide Spanish Colonial-inspired finishes for a dining room for a retiring couple’s dream home in the Colorado mountains.

“The clients had seen my work and asked me to create a Venetian plaster on the ceiling in the dining room,” Eddie explains. But once Eddie sat down with the couple to discuss and plan the project, the size and scope began to change dramatically. The clients in the end not only committed to finishes in the dining room but for every room in the house.

In fact, Eddie supplied finishes from top to bottom and at the earliest stages of construction, beginning with drywall. Eddie says she enjoys getting involved in early-stage projects, which afford a lot of control over the finished product. “I like to hand-trowel the mud the way I want it to look,” Eddie states. “So I like starting from drywall.”

Eddie started plastering from the drywall stage and then followed up with priming,
painting, glazing, etc. Here, one of the chimenea-inspired fireplaces is in progress.

By project’s end, Eddie provided plastering, Italian plastering, priming, painting, glazing, hand stenciling and hand-painted murals and achieved the perfect Spanish Colonial look that her clients had conceptualized.

“That job was so much fun!” she says. “I don’t remember how many square feet I ended up doing, but it included the bedrooms, baths, bars, hallways, lofts, library … The list went on and on and on.”

In Eddie’s first meeting with the clients, the threesome poured over blueprints, discussed the look they wanted to achieve and designated the spaces that would be impacted. Eddie provided her clients with a verbal bid in that first meeting, “but this was an approximate type of bid,” she explains. Immediately afterward, Eddie followed up with a final bid, which is typical of the way she works. Eddie normally has a quick turnaround between the estimate and final bid since, “I know my pricing pretty well,” she says, including “how many days it will take and when I can start.”

Soon after the first meeting, Eddie also provided a contract. Eddie says she is diligent about making sure clients sign a contract before she begins work, which she believes is part of good customer service. Customers don’t have any surprises with a signed contract, she says, “and I’m all about them being happy about the process.”

Eddie touched every room of the project and from the earliest stages of construction.

From the get-go, Eddie felt that she could deliver the Spanish Colonial style that the clients had chosen. Eddie grew up in New Mexico where Spanish influences are prevalent and also holds an interior design degree. (See related article, “In Her Lane.”) But the couple stressed that they wanted the look en total.

To make sure that she was in sync with her clients’ vision, Eddie created conceptual boards, showing colors, finishes, etc. for the couple to see beforehand. Eddie also asked the muralists she had chosen for the project to create mock-ups for approval. While Eddie doesn’t tackle murals herself, she offers them as part of her services by contracting with some of the most accomplished muralists both here in the United States and abroad.

Once work began, Eddie started commuting between Denver and the mountains. The days were long but satisfying, she says. And throughout the process, Eddie kept the clients apprised of her progress since they were living at a distance from the job site. So Eddie gave them regular reports.

Eddie’s launched into the project as soon as the drywall was up. “I did all of the plastering from top to bottom,” she says, noting that she used a hand-plastering technique to achieve just the right look. Plastered surfaces included walls, ceilings, stairwells, alcoves and other architectural nooks and crannies of the custom home. As soon as the plastering was finished, Eddie then primed, painted and glazed every single one of those surfaces, giving them a sophisticated patina.

This finished space showcases Eddie's soft, warm and muted colors and the variety of her finishes.

The colors that Eddie and her clients chose throughout the spaces were soft, warm and muted. The color inspiration came from bright Spanish tiles and a few area rugs that the couple had wanted to work into the décor. As Eddie explains, the wall colors were meant to serve as a backdrop to these more vivid pieces. “We wanted a soft, custom-tinted glaze for the walls that would flow throughout the home,” she says.

Additionally, Eddie used various Italian plasters on some of the different ceilings and chimenea-styled fireplaces. The Italian plasters in these areas, which are richer in hue, set off the architectural detailing of the home and provide even more sophistication.

Eddie also did some hand-stenciling in the kitchen nook—this time incorporating the bold colors from the client’s tile—and in one of the bedrooms, using a geometric design often found in Spanish Colonial décor.

Last but not least, Eddie’s muralists came into the home and created their “magic.” Murals included Spanish landscapes and a Madonna-like figure within an alcove on the stairwell. Eddie says the muralists she chose for the project were “some of the coolest!”—and their images finished the project in grand Spanish style.

When finished in July of this year, the entire house looked like it had been plucked off the Andalusian Plains and set down in the Colorado Rockies.

“When everything was complete, the clients were blown away, and I was blown away myself,” Eddie says. “At the end of the day, it was everything they expected and more.”

View Eddie's portfolio for this project here.