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Broken Colour Effects, Colour Washes, Frescos, Drags & Striés

Nicola Thwaites Specialist Decorating, London, UK, offers a range of decorative broken colour effects including drags, striés, stippling, fresco finishes and colour washes or colour glazes.

Colour Glazes

A colour wash or colour glaze is essentially paint thinned with spirits or water and applied to a neutral or coloured base. It can be scumbled, brushed, and manipulated to create textures, patterns, and various degrees of translucency. Colour washes and colour glazes can also be used for antiquing and for tweaking a base colour. They are go-to finishes when refurbishing kitchens, bedroom suites, and furniture.


When skillfully applied, striés, drags, stippling, and other broken colour effects introduce understated elegance to an interior. While often used in historic buildings, these traditional paint techniques can also enliven contemporary living spaces.

Strié is French for striped, striated or scratched and refers to the subtle lines of a strié finish. The specialist decorator applies a base colour and overlays it with one or more layers of contrasting tinted glaze. Special dry brushes and tools are then dragged over the layers to reveal the base colour below. This results in a subtle (or dramatic) tonal combed effect. Strié is applied either vertically or horizontally. It can also be crosshatched to create the look of fabric, such as linen or silk.


Dragging and combing are really just synonyms for strié. In period interiors, a specialist decorator traditionally applies striés and drags to doors, panels, dados, cabinetry, and other woodwork. Sometimes three graduated colours are used for each separate element – the panels, framework and mouldings.

Stippling and Stipple & Wipe

Stippling is a very delicate and sophisticated finish that simulates varying degrees of solidity or shading. It is applied as small painted dots or dabs of coloured glaze and is fantastic for wall panelling and panelled doors. By using this specialist decorating technique we can breathe life into new or replacement plasterwork, and revive ornamental details that have lost definition through years of overpainting.

Hand Painted Finishes for Warmth and Expression

The eye loves variation, and these subtle two-tone broken colour effects are instinctively appealing. They break flat surfaces in a subtle and pleasing manner and are effortlessly stylish. Not only do our traditional painted glazes dress up a room, they are also practical. A surface treated with a strié or stipple will stand up to handling and wear longer than a flat, plain colour.

Painted Finishes for Refurbishing Kitchens and Other Interiors

When it comes to a refurbishing project, a strié or drag can transform tired kitchen cabinets, wardrobes, and bedroom suites. Kitchen cabinetry is actually an excellent application for these broken finishes. For example, they can work well as subtle neutrals, where a simple Scandinavian or minimalist style is desired. Or they can be given a rustic, distressed look for a country-style or farmhouse kitchen.

When varnished, these glazed surfaces can be tough and resilient. They certainly offer a warmer, more natural feeling than the uniform, mass produced finishes from the factory floor. And perhaps that’s ultimately the appeal of specialist decorating: Compared to sprayed, mechanical, and pre-made finishes, the artisan’s hand shines through, providing the warmth and expression so often missing in mass-produced objects.

About Us

We are based in London and Sussex and work regionally.  We  serve private clients architects and interior designers.

Feel free to contact us regarding your specialist decorating project. As a BIID Industry Partner of many years standing, see more samples of our work by visiting us at the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID).

Rich Gold Drag Finish From Range Of Broken Colour Effects
Rich Burnt Orange Dragging Sample From Broken Colour Effects Range
Silver And Gold Antique Strie From Our Range Of Broken Colour Effects
Red Drag For Dining Room From Our Range Of Broken Colour Effects
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