Do away with ordinary surfaces and try a few faux finishes to create the illusion of texture, stone, brick or antique. The ideas here can be applied to floors, walls or furniture. Be sure to prepare the surface before beginning any faux painting project by sanding rough edges, wiping with a damp cloth and allowing the surface to dry.
Sponging creates a mottled, grainy appearance. It can be applied to concrete to resemble granite, or to walls for a colourful texture. Create this look by applying a base coat in one colour and allowing it to dry. Dip a sea sponge in another colour, and dab it onto the base coat. You can add other colours after each application is allowed to dry (see link in Resources).
Create the illusion of fluffy clouds floating across the sky. This technique is appropriate for either a wall or a ceiling. Apply a base coat of light blue acrylic paint and allow it to dry. Mix white acrylic paint with water, 1 part water to 3 parts paint. Dip a sea sponge into the mixture and wring out the excess. Dab it onto the surface, creating cloud-like forms. Make sure some of the blue comes through. Before the cloud is dry, dab it gently with a dampened cheese cloth, to fill in some of the sponged areas.
Frottage painting creates the illusion of marbling or an artisan plaster surface. Paint on your base coat colour and allow it to dry. Apply a coloured glaze to a small section, about 2 feet square. Make the glaze by mixing 1 part paint to 4 parts glaze. While the glaze is still wet, take a piece of plastic (about 2 feet square) and bunch it up. Hold the bunched sections in place with your hands as you apply it to the glaze and then lift it off, to create the frottage look
Feathering is a technique that requires you to ruin your feather duster, but it will be worth it. Apply your base coat and let it dry. Dip your feather duster into paint of a different colour (tone-on-tone works nicely), rub the excess off on a paper towel and swirl it lightly over the base coat. This creates a gauzy texture that works well in a child's bedroom or baby's room.
Faux striping creates the illusion of striped wallpaper, and is effective with wainscoting. Start with two colours of paint, one for the base coat and one for the larger striped sections. Apply the base coat, and let it dry. Decide how far apart you want your stripes to be, and measure off the spaces on your wall. Mark them with a pencil, at the ceiling and the floor. With blue painters' tape, mask off the spaces according to your pencil marks. Paint the wide sections with the second colour. Let it dry, and remove the tape to reveal the base colour.
Faux wainscoting can be created by painting the lower portion of a dining room or living room wall in a solid colour. Try your hand at painting a trompe l'oeil chair rail, and paint the top section in a different colour. The top portion can also be a faux finish.