Reveling in the Decorative Moment

Faux painter gives Asheville homeowners a taste of the real thing 
Anna Krauss at home with a furry sentinel.
Photo by Karin Strickland

Anna Krauss spends a lot of time in bathrooms. And no, she’s not a plumber. 

Rather, Krauss is a faux painter: an artisan-turned-optical illusionist whose work mimics the look of wallpaper, wood, marble, and stone. Since emerging as one of the area’s few professional faux painters in 2000, Krauss has made a name for herself by stenciling Art Deco patterns and floral facades in the powder rooms of Asheville’s biggest and most ornate homes.

Dull lavatories just beg for a pop of style, Krauss says, noting that a funky motif can break up the clean lines and muted grays of ultra-modern abodes. Finishing just one of these itty-bitty privies demands three solid days of work. But Krauss does more than bathrooms. 

Clients hire Krauss to paint faux barn-wood ceilings, restore antique mirrors, refurbish lamps, and even stain harlequin patterns on their hardwood floors. “I love doing floors,” says Krauss. “It’s such an unexpected and interesting way to add decorative flair to your home.” 

The faux painter is known for her exacting wood-grain technique.
Photo by Karin Strickland

Of course, stenciling a honeycomb mosaic on 100-year-old white oak flooring takes a hearty dose of gumption. “You must commit. If you change your mind, the only way to get rid of it is to sand the pattern out,” Krauss notes.

Ironically, many of her clients are trying to undo past design decisions. Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing, recently contacted Krauss with a problem: some beams in her home had long ago been painted white. Now, she wanted to let the wood grain shine once again. 

Krauss accomplished an intricate vintage-look wainscoting (above), and also stenciled a modern honeycomb mosaic on a century-old floor (below).
Photo by Karin Strickland
Photo by Karin Strickland

“Rather than replace the beams or try to strip them, I painted them to look like real wood,” explains Krauss. 

This technique is something the faux painter learned more than 20 years ago. After receiving her BFA from East Carolina University in textile design, Krauss moved to Asheville and signed up for a decorative painting and restoration class offered at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College. Designed by the City and Guilds of London Art School, the course was quite prestigious. 

“It was a very, very esteemed class that people waited several years to get into,” says Krauss. But when another student didn’t show up for three days, the instructor called Krauss and asked if she might be interested in a seat. “I just waltzed in,” she laughs. 

Krauss has since built a clientele spanning high-brow neighborhoods like The Ramble and The Cliffs at Walnut Cove. But that’s not to say her services are exclusive. In many cases, Krauss helps homeowners avoid costly and invasive remodels. A faux-granite fireplace is significantly cheaper than a real granite fireplace, for instance.

The old barn door that came from a paintbrush.
Photo by Karin Strickland

“Or, if a certain wallpaper is out of their budget, I can reproduce it with stenciling,” she notes. 

Krauss does a lot of stenciling now. It seems that wallcovering, which began tiptoeing onto mood boards about five years ago, has officially returned. Stuck inside during quarantine, clients started looking around for ways to invigorate their homes with visual interest and wonder. Nostalgia took hold, and for many, Mid Century floral wallpaper was the answer. 

“The ability to bring a client’s vision to life is satisfying,” says Krauss, who is booked two to three months out. “It’s a dream to create something special that a homeowner will look at every day for many years to come.” 

Anna Krauss, Asheville. For more information, visit

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