Q We have a cottage that’s finished with pine boards throughout, and I find it a little boring and would like to add color to some of the walls. I have heard you can do a whitewash with paint. What do you suggest?

A: You can create a good whitewash effect with paint or plaster. A skim coat of plaster troweled over the pine boards will brighten the room and last for a good long time. It doesn’t require perfect coverage, and sanding back to reveal some wood produces an attractive weathered finish. For whitewashing with paint, clean and lightly sand the boards, then cover the knots in the wood with shellac — otherwise they will bleed through and ruin your finish. Water down acrylic paint, three parts paint to one part water. Brush it on one board at a time, let dry for a few minutes and then rub off the excess with a cloth.

I treated old cottage walls with a weathered paint technique to add some color. The boards had layers of white paint built up over the years. I prepared brown and sage green colored glazes, each one part water-based glazing liquid to four parts acrylic paint. The brown glaze was applied with a dry brush over the white base coat so that you could see brush lines and some white peeking through. Once dry, the sage green glaze was applied sparingly to two or three boards at a time, then rubbed back with a cloth, leaving a soft patina behind, particularly in the cracks and imperfections in the wood.

Wood walls also can be brightened with colorful textiles and artwork. White lace at the windows, bright, colorful upholstery and area carpets will complement the wood and bring warmth and your personal style to the cottage.

Q: We have a rather plain wooden coffee table that I would like to gold-leaf so as to give it an antique look. Is there a paint technique that mimics the effect of gold-leafing but without the expense and effort?

A: Refinishing your table is a great project. There are many options. Gold leaf or gilding is used more for highlighting furniture details or creating sections of pattern where none exist. Decide on the look you are after. Do you want raised edges, detail on the legs, a pattern on the top, or a sleek, flat surface with an all-over gold patina? You can find furniture trim and detailed or patterned blocks at your hardware store and adhere them with glue.

Primer and base coat will unify the new with the old. Choose your base color. Black or red will produce an elegant Asian piece; use pastels such as cream and palest green for a more traditional style. There are metallic paints available in gold, silver and bronze for faux gilding. Brush a thin coat of gold metallic paint over the surface and then sand along the edges and gently over the top to reveal some of the base coat. If using the gold for details, draw in gold patterns freehand over the basecoat, or use a stencil.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Email questions to house2home@debbietravis.com. You can follow Travis on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis, and visit her website, www.debbietravis.com.