• Word-Inspired

    Stenciling trend adds style to any decor in the house
  • Stenciling has gotten sassy.
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  • Stenciling has gotten sassy.
    No longer is the craft limited to fusty designs and Colonial borders. Today's stenciling is bigger, bolder and fashionably fresh.
    "It's become more of a decorator statement," said Jane Gauss, a nationally recognized stenciling expert who has written multiple books on the subject. She said simple, graphic motifs are especially popular, often used to create overall patterns on walls, floors and other surfaces.
    Subdued metallics are big in stenciling, too, and so are raised designs created with plaster or similar materials. Gauss, a former Hudson, Ohio, resident, used both looks in her current home in North Port, Fla. — a damask pattern done in metallic glazes on the master bathroom walls, and three-dimensional accents on her formerly plain kitchen cabinets.
    Stenciling has made a comeback as handcrafting has gained new appreciation, said Gauss and Melanie Royals, founder of stencil maker Royal Design Studio in Chula Vista, Calif. (www.royaldesignstudio.com).
    The craft allows do-it-yourselfers to put a personal stamp on their projects, even if they lack the artistic ability to paint freehand. "So you still have the bragging rights," Royals said.
    All-over patterns in designs, such as chevrons, Moroccan motifs, oversized florals and typography are a hot trend, creating the look of wallpaper without the commitment.
    Those newer stencils are "a little more simplistic, a little more geometric" than older motifs that required multiple layers of stencils for different colors, Royals said. Gone are the shading and subtle coloring that characterized stenciling in the '80s, she said.
    The simpler stencils allow a design to be completed quickly, she noted, which appeals to people with more artistic ambition than time.
    Especially popular is a subtle tone-on-tone look, created by stenciling the design in a slightly lighter or darker hue of the background color. "It's really very livable," Royals said.
    Often stenciling is used on feature walls, such as a fireplace wall or the wall behind a headboard, she said. Ceilings, hard-surface floors and floor coverings such as sisal or short-napped rugs are sometimes decorated with stencils, as are materials such as glass, tile and fabric.
    And stenciling fits right in with the current painted-furniture craze.
    Hudson artisan Sandra Camp used a reverse stenciling technique to dress up a few secondhand furniture pieces she repainted for a recent Homegirl barn sale organized by her neighbor, Gina Bishop (www.homegirlshop.com).
    Camp used stenciling paper with a low-tack adhesive to create floral and aquatic designs, which she adhered to the furniture before painting the pieces. When she removed the stencils, the original wood grain showed through the designs.
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