By Léo Azambuja

If you hang out with artist Margarette Johannes long enough, you may start questioning yourself if what you are seeing is really what it seems it is. That’s because she’s a master of illusion, creating astonishing faux finishes and specialized textures for homes and businesses for more than two decades.

“Broadly, my company is a custom finishing company,” Johannes said of her business, AP Fauxs & Plasters. Operating since 1995, the business offers custom finishes for commercial spaces and residences, including faux finishes and decorative plasters.

“The faux finishes break down even further into furniture faux finishes, wall faux finishes, architectural accents and murals,” Johannes said. The word “faux” is “fake” in French. So faux finishes are nothing more than surfaces — walls, countertops, murals, ceilings, furniture, etc. — painted to emulate something else.

The benefits of a faux finish are numerous. For starters, the real materials may be too heavy or cost prohibitive, such as a huge concrete slabs, marble countertops or expensive metals. A faux finish may reduce cost significantly, while also giving the clients more artistic freedom to create their dream environment.

“With a decorative concrete, you don’t have to cast and pour huge monolith concrete walls,” said Johannes, adding the weight of real concrete is “enormous,” and it would be very expensive to work with it.

Showing meticulous attention to detail, Johannes’ custom techniques include several kinds of plaster, American clay, marble, metal and wood finishes, murals, and many other innovative finishes. Current design trends call for decorative plasters emulating concrete, syncing with organic accents of different woods and metals with lighting.

As a teenager, she studied in Norway, and had the opportunity to have first-hand contact with European castles and much of the Old World architecture and art. Back in the U.S., she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts, summa cum laude, at the University of San Diego, California.

Working in Hawai‘i since 1998, Johannes has created murals and faux finishes in several businesses, homes and resorts. Her clientele is quite broad; she has donated time to Habitat for Humanity and worked with celebrities and VIP clients on the island.

Margarette Johannes

“There is no discrimination,” she said. “We work within the people’s budgets, so I can offer price-point finishes to accommodate.”

A world-traveller and a former professional snowboarder, Johannes has made Kaua‘i her home many years ago. But her business has grown to four different locations: Hawai‘i; San Diego, Calif.; Jackson Hole, Wyo.; and Vail, Colo. To be able to service clients in all those locations, AP Faux & Plasters has a team of five muralists, all with different styles.

Johannes said one of the main challenges in her job is to bring to life what a customer visualizes, massaging that vision into reality so that it complements the space they have. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Every job is different, and there is complete satisfaction with what I do, because I love it so much. There’s so much passion behind it,” she said.

Johannes’ love affair with art goes back as far as she can remember. She said she has been painting since she was five years old. Besides her formal degree at UCSD, she has had apprenticeships in Italy and France and interned in Universal and Paramount in Los Angeles, Calif.

AP Fauxs & Plasters has been awarded number one by the prestigious American Society of Interior Designers, and has earned a LEED certification, which means Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.

“I know how to build sustainably. I know what sustainable products to use, all natural products, low VOC, which are volatile organic compounds, and that’s really important when people are trying to build sustainably,” Johannes said.

Because Johannes worked with many customers with high-end properties, she decided to start a second business. She recently opened Luxe Butler, providing management, concierge and real estate services for luxury homes.

“I want to keep the home as sparkling and perfect from the day that it was built,” she said. “That’s what I’m doing, making sure all the systems tick.”

The services provided have a broad range. It could be hiring landscapers and house cleaners, maintaining alarm and air conditioning, doing remodels and interior design, listing real estate agents, moving services, pet or house sitting, basically anything, she said.

“This is specific to luxury homes, and since I’ve worked in many of them on the island, it was kind of a rollover from faux finishing straight into concierge caretaking,” Johannes said.

You can reach Johannes at (877) 651-8495 or at Visit for a look into the portfolio of AP Fauxs & Plasters and for more information.