Stencil your way to a stylish home

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Ed Roth's stencil designs offer an updated and more personalized alternative to wallpaper. (Photo: Stencil 1)


Stencil designer Ed Roth knows how to add punch to just about any space with paint and stencils.

Yep, stencils. But banish those thoughts of the country geese or ivy on the walls at your aunt’s house. Instead, think mod patterns, vintage cars, headphones, boom boxes, barn owls and high-heeled shoes.

And maybe send a thank-you note to Ed Roth. He’s brought these designs and more to the world through his Brooklyn-based company, Stencil 1. Inspired by street and graffiti art, Roth’s stencils are fun, eclectic and just the thing to add a big dose of style to your home. Stencils make it easy to put your personal stamp on just about any surface: floors, walls, furniture, refrigerators, pillows and more.

“It’s addictive once you get started with it,” says Roth, author of several stencil books including “Stencil 101” and “Stencil 101 Decor” from Chronicle Books. “I’m giving you a tool, and you’ll be able to use it to draw. There’s a great feeling of accomplishment.”

Ready to start? Roth shared a few of his projects with us along with some tips for mastering the stenciling process.



(Photo: Stencil 1)


It’s not wallpaper -- it’s stenciled

It might look like high-end wallpaper behind that cute baby and changing table, but Roth created this look by repeating a pattern. Each stencil features four dots, along with registration marks that help you find the right stencil placement as you move across the wall.

Why stenciling rather than wallpaper? It’s often cheaper, and if you and four friends all choose the same stencil, you’ll probably end up with totally different looks. “There’s so much control and self-expression,” Roth says. Changing the colors of the dots, for example, makes this endlessly customizable.

Quick stenciling tip: Lightly coat the back of your stencil with spray adhesive to help it cling to the wall. Keep the whole thing in place with blue painter’s tape.


(Photo: Stencil 1)


Create high-design throw pillows with stencils

Many designer pillows come with a steep price tag, but you can pick up plain throw pillows for a fraction of the price. Then add your own design with stencils and fabric paint. “It’s one of my favorite things to do,” Roth says. These pillows add hip style with headphones and a ’76 Ranchero.

Roth often uses Pebeo fabric paint, which comes in jars, but he also sells his own line of non-aerosol fabric spray paint. The latter lets you go for a graffiti look with drips and sprayed edges.

Quick stenciling tip: Keep in mind that some fabrics absorb more paint than others. And for some kinds of fabric paint, you need to wait for it to dry and then heat-set it with an iron.



(Photo: Stencil 1)


Stenciled chrysanthemums add pops of color to a dark wall

In addition to designing stencils, Roth does custom stencil work for clients—in this case the offices of Benjamin Moore. He added bright pops of color to a dark green wall with chrysanthemum stencils in three different sizes (the mums will be available from Stencil 1 this fall). Like many of his designs, it’s a clean, stylized take on nature. And the perfect way to bring the outside onto an accent wall in your living room, dining room or office.

Quick stenciling tip: Go easy on the paint. Lightly load your brush, then wipe it off on a paper plate or paper towel before using it to stencil.


(Photo: Stencil 1)


Transform thrift-store furniture with a fun stencil

Roth grew up painting old furniture as a hobby, so it’s only natural that he’s now using stencils to bring old pieces back to life. He made over this dresser for a friend with a stencil of a high-heeled shoe. “It looks like a shoe closet in a way, and girls love their shoes,” he says. It’s also a cheeky and unexpected way to finish off this bright-blue dresser.

Quick stenciling tip: Use a baby wipe to clean up any unwanted paint drips while they’re still wet.


(Photo: Stencil 1)


The beehive-like pattern is a repeated stencil

While stencils can help you be bold, you can use them to achieve a quieter style, too. Roth’s apartment is pretty neutral, but he added a little color by painting this repeating hexagon pattern in blue over a grayish-green wall. “I like the subtlety of it,” he says. “I wanted one area of the apartment to have a little more color, but I didn’t want it to be crazy.”

Quick stenciling tip
: Nervous? Practice your stenciling technique on pieces of cardboard before diving into a project.

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