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Archive for Stenciling

Stenciling as a Period Touch for this Historical Chicago Row House

Vintage Stairway Motif

Vintage Stairway Motif

This Row House dates back to 1890’s. Yet, to the owner’s credit, he created a wonderful Mid-Century décor for its interior. In such a house, the foyer and staircase takes a disproportionate volume of space. The owner wanted to do something special for the walls of that space. He took his first step about two years by having us install a Lincrusta wallcovering below the chair rail and then painting it and glazing it to create the perfect look. But the owner was not done.

There was a carved motif in the newel post of the staircase that inspired him, as shown in the first picture. He felt that the space above the chair rail was begging for a stencil that would be reminiscent of that motif. So, he set out to look for a design that would be appropriate for the task. He went online and found a motif he liked. From this point forward, we did the design, planning and execution work on the project, making sure the client was approving of our work every step along the way.

Stencil in Foyer Area

Stencil in Foyer Area

The steps in the execution included the following:
– Enlarging his original motif to the appropriate dimension.
– Ascertaining the desired placement and pattern density.
– Protecting adjacent surfaces before painting
– Cutting the stencils.
– Creating the actual layout on the walls.
– Finally: Stenciling!
– Clean up.
– Voila!
In the second picture, you can see one of the foyer walls, which also shows the Lincrusta wallcovering. The other picture shows the landing area and the two motifs we created for the project. The motif above the picture rail consisted of an enlarged segment of the original design.

Stencils in Landing Area

Stencils in Landing Area

The key to the successful execution of a stenciling project is the precision of the layout and the consistency of the stenciling, with some “adjustments” here and there to enhance the aesthetics . At times, such adjustments are made necessary to correct defects on the walls. For instance, the picture rail was one and a half inch from being level. Making such adjustments ensure a successful project.

Planning a Custom Stenciling Project

Ascertaining the Proper Spacing

Ascertaining the Proper Spacing

As painting and decorating Contractors in the Chicago area, we are occasionally called upon to do a custom stenciling project. A custom stencil is a completely made-up image or an enlarged version of a much smaller pattern that is cut into a stencil, to be used to create the desired composition, in this case a wall treatment. Quite a few steps are involved in the planning of a custom stencil project, which we will now discuss.

Establishing the Proper Stencil Size

In our case, our client came across a pattern that he liked, whose dimensions were 2.5’ x 2.5”. In discussions with the client, it was ascertained that a 6” pattern would be the optimal size for the space. We then headed out to the print shop to enlarge our small pattern to a 6” size. Once we achieved the desired size, we made about 18 copies of the stencil patterns and cut them into 6” squares. We were then ready for the next step.

Choosing the Color and Style

Choosing the Color and Style

Ascertaining the Proper Spacing of the Stencils

As shown in the attached picture, that process consisted of temporarily attaching the pattern to the wall, trying two or three possible layouts. We finally settled on the one in the picture.

Choosing a Color and Style of the Stencil Pattern

This step included both choosing the color and the style of application. As shown the next picture, we first prepared a sample board showing stencils using a pewter color, applied in slightly different styles. The client immediately commented that the pewter color was too much brown. From the sample, we were also able to ascertain that he preferred a lighter touch of application. Fortunately, we had brought an other pewter color and we proceed to create a new sample that used the new color and the proper style of application. The new sample hit the spot!

Selecting a Pattern for the Border

Selecting a Pattern for the Border


Selecting a Pattern for the Border and its Size

Up in the stairway, there is a picture molding and a border space of 12” above it. We could not keep this space blank. We chose a fragment of the wall pattern and followed the same steps all over again to arrive at the right size of the pattern. We then produced a final sample board for the client’s approval as shown in the last picture.

A project like this involves much advance planning. Once the project begins, more work goes into the actual cutting of stencils and the actual layout in the client’s space before any paint is touched. Painting is the easy part!