There was a time when I would have run in horror from a stencil.
Visions of kitchsy country kitchens stenciled in forest green and mauve come to mind.
But lately, I’ve come to embrace stencils. I’ve not used on on my walls just yet, but stencils are one of my favorite ways to add pizazz and character to painted furniture.
Take this oversized oak table I picked up for a song at a yard sale recently. I’m sure the previous owner was horrified when I told her I was going to paint it, especially after she’d shared her story of having the table custom made and finished in a lovely golden oak.
I had a brand new can of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Florence, and I thought the coffee table was the perfect place to try out this bold color. But when I painted the table, I thought it looked too plain. I liked the retro color, so I knew I didn’t want to distress the table much — going against my usual inclinations. So I pulled out my damask stencil and went for it.
Let me apologize for this blurry, cell phone photo. Apparently I was drinking when I took this or shivering. Nothing else can explain such blurry, shaky camera work. But this is the only “before” shot I have showing how I aligned the stencil on the table. As you’ll see, I chalked out a grid through the middle of the table and started with the center damask pattern, taping the stencil down.
I used my gridlines and the edges of the stencil to position the top and bottom designs. And I’m very proud to say that my grid and measuring worked.
To finish the table, I sanded the stenciled images very lightly with a fine sanding block, just to flatten them out a bit, then waxed the table.
The look is definitely different from my normal painted furniture, but I like it.
I’m not sure everyone does, though. As I was bringing this into my booth at the antique store where I sell my furniture, one of the customers said she thought this piece looked “unfinished” compared to my other more distressed work.
I don’t know if unfinished is the word. Different, yes. But not unfinished. I know that this table, this poppy color and this design won’t be for everyone. But someone will walk into the store and will absolutely love it. And it will be a showpiece in their home. Or it won’t sell, and I’ll haul it back to my garage, attack it with the sander, coat it with dark wax and call it “distressed antique damask.”
At the same time I was painting the cocktail table, I was also making over this downtrodden side table.
The table was in pretty rough condition when I bought it — gnarled, water stained, peeling veneer.
That made it the perfect candidate for a little milk paint — a couple of watered-down coats of Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint in Ironstone, to be precise.
For the finishing touch, I pulled out another of my stencils — purchased from Overstock.com (as was the damask one).
This stencil looks like an old invoice, written in the precise cursive of the early 1900s. I loved the look I was able to achieve with milk paint, a stencil and some black acrylic craft paint, especially since the milk paint did that cool chippy thing it sometimes does.
While I used store-bought stencils for these two pieces, I’m just as likely to cut my own stencil with my Silhouette Cameo.
Like I did for my red tricycle chair.
And my red-white-and-blue Betsy Ross flag chair.
And my vintage Coca-Cola logo chair
And the Sinclair Oil dinosaur stool.
If stencils can come back into fashion, what’s next? Perhaps wallpaper borders? Or wooden doodads with hearts cutouts? Maybe mustard and avocado appliances?
What decorating trend from days gone by would you like to see come back in fashion again? And which one do you want to stay in the history books forever?
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