Wednesday, November 3, 2010

the downstairs foyer, stenciled

Finally!  I stenciled it.
Remember the before?
the ugly mustard color
then the ugly blue color
then plain Decorator White

Well, now it looks like this:

And my favorite--the view when I open my apartment door:

It was not the easiest project I've taken on.  In fact, I decided to not do the smaller walls at the far end, or up the stairwell, because a 2 foot by 3 foot rectangular stencil is not that easy to maneuver on an 8 inch wall or a slanted stairwell.  Instead, I painted the trim around all the doors brown to make them more connected to the space.

We used this stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils.  You might remember that originally I wanted to do this Imperial Trellis look-alike, but it was a reverse stencil, meaning that I would have to paint the room dark brown first and then use white on the stencil, and my inlaws were not particularly excited about that method.  I think this worked out pretty well, and I also like the lighter, brighter background.

Things I've learned from my first stencil project:

1.) This large scale repeat would be fairly easy to do in a large, boxy room---something with a large unbroken space.  The downstairs foyer is neither large nor boxy.  I used it in a small foyer, and the front of the foyer is an octagon (the outside of the house looks like a castle turret.)  Plus there are three doors and a stairwell.  That means 8 chopped up walls, plus a stairwell, and lots of corners to wrap the stencil around.

2.) Start at the top.  I unfortunately started at the bottom.  If I had started at the top mistakes would have been concentrated towards the bottom, where they would be less likely to be seen.  You can see that I had to take the design all the way to the ceiling on the first wall, but with the rest of the walls I started at the top, which looks more even.  We will be installing crown molding, so this won't be visible eventually, but I would start at the top next time.

3.) When the instructions say the foam roller should look like it has very little paint on it, they mean it.
This is wrong--see the paint drips on the top of the roller? That excess paint will slide under the stencil and make it smeary and screw up the design.

This is right--all of the paint is soaked into the foam roller, with none visible on the top.

To get that, I rolled the roller in the paint tray, then rolled it on newspaper so there was no excess paint on the roller.

Prior to starting, I had asked if you had to wait for the stencil to dry before moving on.  If you are using a little amount of paint, and are careful, you can just pick up the stencil and move it over.  The plastic border will not smear the wet paint underneath, as long as you aren't leaning on it or pushing the stencil around.  At least, it didn't in my experience.

4.) Don't lay your stencil wet-side down on newspaper.  Or it will meld like glue and you will clean it for a half hour.

5.) Using a less contrasting paint combo would have made mistakes less easy to spot.  Its a busy pattern, so its not a huge deal, but a white on cream or light gray would have been easier plus I think it would be easier to decorate around.  I'm still looking for the right curtains that go with the design and the oriental stair runner.

And voila! I am ready to not paint anything for a while.


  1. Beautiful!

    So when are you going to decide you hate it and want to re-paint?

  2. WOW! That is a huge transformation! Great job, I bet that took forever! Thanks so much for sharing :)

  3. Wow, this most likely took a long time, it looks wonderful!

  4. WOW is looks great though...I would not have the patience!

  5. thanks...the stencil is pretty big, so it didn't take as long as you might think. The hardest part was lining up the pattern at the ceiling, since I was holding the stencil up over my head with one hand and the paint roller with the other. If you start at the ceiling you wouldn't have that problem.


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