The Art of Stenciling, I Presume?

The Art of Stenciling, I Presume?

Once upon a time, after the New Year of 2011 had begun, and before 2010 taxes were due, I had the opportunity to collaborate with an esteemed Client and associate, to add that “finishing touch” (actually, the window treatments came afterwards) to a very special Guest Bath.

This Bath was in the process of being transformed, from a place of day to day use by his son, now gone off  to college, to a fresh and fun “new” space for his fiance, who tended towards a minimalist, Mid-Century,  New York sensibility.

My awesome Client, himself a long-time Berkeley, CA resident, has an eclectic design sense, informed by extensive travels around the globe,

art collected at home and abroad,

and a love of bright color,

rug patterns,


and funky furniture.

Indeed, he has done much of the interior painting in his home himself.

We discussed that bathroom in question, and I took a look…

It was freshly painted, with colorful artwork, of course,

and the green tile had to be taken into consideration.

I chose three repeating stencil designs, and made Samples for my Client and his Intended to look at on site, in the room. Taking my cue from the tile, the artwork, the colors in the adjacent hallway and throughout the home, I used cerulean blue and deep forest green, nature colors that would contrast beautifully with the base coat,  Benjamin Moore OC57, “White Heron”,  give a clean fresh feel to the room, and support its function.

I also wanted the design to reflect both a feminine and masculine sensibility, and be able to marry both eclectic-world beat-funky tastes with minimalist-Mid-Century-streamlined preferences. Or, try, anyway.

I was thrilled that the Client chose a custom stencil that I had created from an existing source years ago, for a master bath suite  in another and very different East Bay city.  Happily, the design contained both geometric and organic elements, that created both a sense of movement and stability.

It was fun, it was crafty, it was elegant, yet funky, and the Client supported my idea of applying the paint color in a mottled, layered, and textural way.  Best of all, in the words of my Client’s fiance, “It complete(d)  the room!”.  As I was concerned that she be as happy with the result as he, this comment was music to my ears.

The repeated design pulls out colors in the artwork,

and creates a bower for the painted lovers.

The blue and green hues set off the strong red accents prevalent throughout the home.

The stenciled effect is multiplied through reflection.

A spot application of invisible clear varnish protects the stenciled border from the effects of moisture.

With careful planning, enhanced by Client collaboration, even a room already containing strong elements of art and color can be “completed” through the well-placed pattern, whether hand-painted, stenciled, printed or plastered. That extra addition of artful love and care to a space can really “pull it together”, and bring it to the next level of design and artistry.  A stenciled border can contain and express both feminine and masculine elements within its design.  Eclectic-world beat-funky can marry minimalist-Mid-Century-streamlined. My Client/s, and our collaboration have proved that!

Have YOU ever “married” sensibilities, styles and approaches in Your projects?

If you feel so inspired,  please share about it with us here.  We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all collaborating in this thing called Life,  together.   Cheers!



Featured Work: A Mid-Century Tale

Featured Work: A  Mid-Century Tale

Once upon a time,  in March of 2011, I had two wonderful and creative Clients who wanted a special decorative / design application on a perfectly blank wall in their master bedroom.

Here’s where we started…

And..here’s where we ended up.

So…what happened in-between?

Well, having done a custom application in their guest room,

I had familiarity with the Clients’  home, tastes, design style, and color preferences.  It was immediately apparent upon entering their space: these Clients have a passion for  Mid-Century/ retro style and design.

Their strong affinity for hues of orange fit right into their Mid-C sensibility.

The Clients’ unified approach to their home decor and design is expressed in just about every detail of their space, including

tray tables…

shower curtains….

coasters,

textiles,

a sunburst clock,

vases (and furniture and ornaments),

and more vases (and furniture and ornaments).

We began our collaboration with a small gem of an idea…a snippet of  inspirational pattern that caught my Clients’ sensitive eye.

We played with the scale, the sizing and the spacing,

 

and I created custom stencils.

We did the math (a few times…), and I marked out the pattern on the wall with chalk.

I did the first stencil application. The pattern emerged, and,  the wall came alive…  the pattern just animated that wall!

The secondary stencil animated the pattern, design, and wall surface yet further.

Little rings of fire did their job…added energy, snap, crackle and pop that was just, well, FUN.  (As my Clients are).

The result, though we had planned for it carefully, surprised us all in its whimsy, uniqueness, and aliveness.  (Also qualities of my Clients.)

Somehow the wall, and the design, the pattern  and the treatment became more than the sum of their parts…

one of the happiest outcomes of the Arts!

And here we have the happy ending of the tale…or, is it a beginning?

Have YOU ever had the experience of your collaborations and creations becoming more than the sum of their parts?

If you feel so inspired,  please share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.

Remember, we are all creating this story of our LIVES, together.

May You have JOY and Aliveness in your Life, as you Live it!



Ceilings: No Limits for 2011!

Ceilings:  No Limits for 2011!

As we  enter the new year, let’s take a minute to consider not limitations, but possibilities!

The ceiling, or  “fifth wall”,  imposes limitations of height, size and shape upon the room it covers.  A defining factor of any interior space, the color and treatment of a room’s ceiling can profoundly affect its ambiance.

Whether you wish to warm up or cool down your interior spaces this year, create more spaciousness or intimacy, or add formality or whimsy, try taking a  fresh look at your ceilings, and pondering their creative  potential.   Consider the ceiling a blank canvass with unlimited possibilities.  After all, the ceiling is our interior sky…and you know the old adage…”the sky’s the limit!”

Here are a few ideas to get you going…

Some folks like it hot…hot color, that is.  Like washes of strong hues on all the walls , and gradated color glazed on the stairway ceiling to express the warmth of a luminous sunset!

The gradated sunset colors overhead flow from yellow to orange to red to violet, as we climb the stairs and turn left into the second floor hallway.  Adjacent is a yellow and black deco bathroom, with a  glazed ceiling that matches the walls.

The theme of sunset also inspired this ceiling treatment.  The young girl who lives here requested a purple sunset cloud and sky treatment.   Five glazes in hues of blue, purple, plum, pink and fuchsia are blended in several layers over a ceiling surface  that curves down to meet the wall’s crown molding.

This kitchen tray ceiling seems made for a multi-color glaze treatment that enhances and accentuates it, adds warmth, depth and interest, and reflects the copper accents throughout the room. The folks  who cook here also appreciate the appetite-stimulating effect of the treatment’s tones of coppery-orange.

Baths and powder rooms are ideal for imaginative, mood-setting ceiling treatments.  The only rules: prepare the surface to be treated properly, and protect it with the appropriate varnish upon completion.  On the recessed ceiling of this bath, blue and pearl glazes are blended together to create a dreamy evening sky punctuated by stenciled silver stars.

The light fixture was the inspiration for the ceiling design in this colorful entry.  The stencil  based on it is set off by sponged and stippled glazes which wrap the entire room.  Mysterious decorative shadows are cast by the light shining through the ornate fixture, adding to the effect!

How about a little gleam and glimmer?  Three successive applications of gold and silver glazes lend depth, shimmer and texture to the entry ceiling of this designer showcase home.  The treatment adds elegance and glamor, and doesn’t compete with the light fixture.

This octagonal domed breakfast room is treated to successive applications of custom metallic gold and silver glazes which  create an effect of both subtlety and richness. If metallic finishes are  applied with a light touch in the right room, they add a bit of magic, and don’t overwhelm the space.

In another domed breakfast room,  the ceiling’s architectural details  are brought out by the application of three soft-colored glazes, applied and blended with sea sponges.  The treatment also warms up this fanciful room, one of many jewels in a magnificent Spanish Revival home.

Two young brothers inhabit this room where rockets zoom, and stars and planets glow from the ceiling above.  Two glaze colors are color washed over the ceiling’s surface, and custom stencils based on the boy’s bedding design are used create a fantasy tableau of outer space.

Have you been moved to create a fun and fabulous ceiling treatment, color choice, texture or application? If you feel so inspired, share it with us here.  We love to hear from you.  Remember, we are all in this thing called Life, together.

All the best for 2011!

Featured Work: “Mid-Century Retro”: Starburst, Atom or Tinker Toy?

Featured Work: “Mid-Century Retro”:   Starburst, Atom, or Tinkertoy?

When my Clients Ted and Mark expressed interest in a wall treatment for their guest room, they knew that whatever was done had to fit into the eclectic brand of “Mid-Century Retro” style they had developed throughout the rest of their home.

From their TV tables, to the artwork on the walls, to their shower curtain pattern, the colors, patterns, feel and sensibility of the interior design and objects recall the visual aesthetic of the 1950’s.

TV tabletop pattern

Touring their home, I observed earth colors re-imagined in plastic, textiles, dishware and furniture. Browns, yellows, beiges and ivorys were applied to patterns created by combining  repeated elements of line, shape and form.

Unadorned wall, a bit empty

Their sunny guest room needed adornment on the headboard wall , which captures attention upon entering the room. The wall color was already reflected in the pillows and bedding, and enhanced by the use of natural wood, pussywillow branches, and carefully selected artwork. Yet the wall felt bare.

Given the scale and function of the room, Ted and Mark were concerned about overwhelming it visually.  They wanted a treatment that would complement what existed, and add a sense of whimsy, depth, and dimension, without cluttering the space.

Ted, who had worked in graphic design, sketched out an image of  a “starburst”  which brought to mind molecular structure, resonating with their mid-century design sensibility.

TInkertoys? No, Molecular Structure

Or, to get more complicated, Tetrahedral Molecular Geometry.

Jack? No, Tetrahedral Molecular Geometry

I created a modular (molecular?) stencil based on his design, and cut the “line” and “circle” elements in a variety of sizes to mix and match, and create the visual impact we sought.

Ethereal Molecular

Assemblages of repeated parts, (lines and circles), were given depth and form through the addition of highlights and shadows, created with tints (white added) and shades (black added) of the wall color.

Line and circles were “built” into larger shapes and designs, just like some of us once built with tinker toys

The resulting treatment is reminiscent of designs and patterns that emerged with advent of the “Atomic Age”, and became integral to “Mid-Century” style. A nexus of science and design, perhaps so familiar to us now, that we may be barely cognizant of its origins.

Mirror Image Module Multiplies

Mirrors expand the space and subtle visual impact of the treatment. Values of light and dark add dimensionality and a soft “pop” to the shapes, which seem to do an dream-like, molecular dance across the wall.  Although it was not easy to articulate, this is the effect and feeling the Clients were looking for.

“The subtle starburst pattern enlivens our mid-century look. Our houseguests love the playfulness it contributes to the room.” – Ted and Mark, San Francisco, Ca.   August 2010

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