Ways to spruce up walls with stenciling, fabrics, paper
Walls have a dramatic effect on the impact of a room. Stark white walls offer a good background for modern furniture. Small print wallpaper makes a room cozy. Stenciled walls can add an authentic country look to a home.Skip to next paragraph
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The easiest and least expensive way to decorate walls is to paint them.Do-it- yourselfers can save up to 80 percent of the cost of having a room painted professionally, if he or she does it carefully with the right paint for the right surface. Talk to hardware salespersons about paint choices. Take home color chips or swatches to see what day and night lighting will mean. Learn to read labels. Acquaint yourself with the special virtues of oil-base and latex-base paints. Look to see on what surface the paint will be most effective , how to prepare surface, and how much of the surface can be covered.For information on painting, write the National Paint and Coating Association, 1500 Rhode Island Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20005.
Another method of decorating a wall with paint is stenciling. It is a fairly simple process that requires few tools -- paint, stencils, cutting tools, and paint brushes.
"A person with any ambition can decorate the home with wall stencils," says Adele Bishop of Dorset, Vt., who teaches stenciling seminars and sells stenciling supplies. Stenciling designs is much faster than trying to paint them, and, unlike wallcoverings, a person has poetic license to combine the patterns in many different ways. Since stenciling can be done on many different surfaces, stencilers can complement walls with matching stenciled curtains, fireplace screens, or floors.
"It gives you the self-satisfaction of being creative," says Ms. Bishop.
She tells students not to worry about obstacles such as thermostats and light switches, or what to do if stencils come out uneven at the end of a wall.She takes her cue from the original American stenciling artists who traveled around the countryside decorating homes.
"The itinerant stencilers didn't always bother making stencils even. They would play around and have a wonderful time. If there is a barrier, such as a thermostat, just move the stencil a bit."
STenciling is not expensive. Adele Bishop offers designs from a sea captain's house with seven stencil sheets (12 designs), brushes, and paints for traditional American stencils are very popular now, stencil patterns in baroque, Moroccan, French Renaissance, or Oriental styles are available.
Although only 7 percent of US homes use wallpaper or vinyl coverings, products have become much more varied and sophisticated than most do-it-yourself decorators realize. Industry innovations have added durability and supplied new textures to wallcoverings. Simulated satin, suede, linen, and even corduroy can be made from vinyl wallcoverings.
Walls Unlimited in Boston, a firm that sells wallcoverings to architects and designers only, has everything from ordinary wallpaper (one in a red handkerchief design) to vinyl coverings (new designs include western styles called the Cowboy Collection) to suedes, tweeds, wild silk, and natural grass.
Wallpaper is not as durable as vinyl wall coverings, but it is much less expensive. The more expensive wallcoverings, which can cost $40 and $60 a roll, are not to be used just anywhere in the house. Natural fibers will fade on the walls. Some fabrics will not stand up to certain environments, such as moist bathrooms. But the new vinyls are nearly indestructible, according to Paul Roberts of Walls Unlimited.