Meticulous faux marble recreated for Ross Bay Villa

The Land Conservancy saved heritage building. Renovation work has been ongoing since 1999.

Back in the 1860s, faux finishes were all the rage, and friends of Ross Bay Villa have launched a painfully meticulous project to recreate these time-period fakes.

“We are making an oil cloth floor covering, inch by inch, by hand,” said heritage advocate Nick Russell.

Though the application of about 20 layers of paint, sealed and sanded along the way, volunteers hope to give the impression of faux marble tile.

‘It’s an amazing process,” said Russell. “It’s so meticulous. It really is being done with tiny little artist paintbrushes and dentist tools.”

The new floor covering is slated to fill the inner hallway of the house, built in 1865 and saved from demolition by the Land Conservancy in 1999. Over the past decade, small improvements have been made to restore the home’s original look.

Conservator Simone Vogel-Horridge is guiding the design of the oil cloth floor covering.

“We know it was there, because we can see the nail patterns in the floor where it was nailed down in the hallway and there are one or two tiny whiskers of linen threads where it was torn up a century ago,” said Russell.

It’s not the only faux furnishings, however.

“The wood work will also be painted in faux wood, so figure that if you can,” Russell laughed. For instance, the home’s front door was originally red cedar by combed and finished to look like wood. Similarly, the halls were covered in paper with a faux wood finish.

“We will be printing the same thing by silkscreen, inch by inch,” said Russell.

Ross Bay Villa is located 1490 Fairfield Rd. It opens for viewing on the first Saturday of each month. On Jan. 7, a sample oil cloth floor covering will be available for viewing. Suggested donation $5. Public tour begins at 2 p.m. Group tours by arrangement at other times: 250-995-0022.

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