Behind My Red Door

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

September is here with a stenciling tutorial and an announcement (or two)

Happy September Peeps!! Woohoo! Oh I just love September! It means cooler days and nights and the start of my favorite time of year. We have been blessed with gorgeous weather here in these parts the last few days and I am so enjoying it!! Warmer days, and a few hot ones too, will return, but they will be fewer and farther between and that is just fine by me. Yes, September is a great month indeed!


I have so much to share with you but first the promised stenciling tutorial. I am so sorry this took so long but life Behind My Red Door has been busy lately and is about to get busier – but more about that in a minute. I decided to do this after several requests, and because I had many questions on the bathroom and stair riser stenciling that I did in addition to the dining room stenciling. I have to start off by adding this disclaimer -I am not a trained expert in stenciling!! After all I did pick some of the hottest days of the summer to stencil. (But then again, I didn’t feel like waiting until October either! ) So while I am not an expert, I have done quite a bit of stenciling. On walls in this house and our first house, in a friend’s house, on stationary, on signs, on band boxes, and even those fabric covered hoops that were so popular in the 80’s. Remember those?? So I know what works for me. I always look for the simplest, yet most effective way to get a job done and that is how I stencil. I have to add that I have never attempted a job with stencils all over the walls – I know a lot more planning goes into that. This tutorial is for a simple one color stencil with no additional shading and no need to measure the walls for placement and alignment but I have thrown in a few brief tips for multiple color stenciling. Note: I took most of these pictures when I was working on the bathroom.

So let’s start with the basics. The tools of the trade.

Brushes: You need stencil brushes like these with flat heads below. Yes that is duct tape holding mine together. The bristles are secure in the metal clamp but the metal has separated from the wooden handle. Duct tape solved that problem. These are well used and date back to the 80’s! I use one brush for each color. You always want a dry brush so if you have to wash in between colors you may have to wait forever to do another color. When I am up on the ladder, I want to finish that section so if I do a two color stencil, two brushes are a must for me.


Paint: There are many opinions on what kind of paint to use. Me – I use the cheap stuff or leftover wall paint if it is a color I want. By cheap stuff I mean the acrylic paint that comes in the small plastic jars and is available at Wal-Mart, Joanne's, ACMoore, Hobby Lobby etc. If you have painted woodwork, you can use that paint too so that you get a good match. Any water soluble paint will work. You need VERY little paint. I also use a coated paper plate to squirt out some paint and then I have folded paper towels ready to dab off the excess paint. Remember – you want a dry brush. Less paint is more. Too much paint on the brush will seep under the stencil and then you will make a mess. If you use less than you think you need, you’ll almost always have enough. It dries so quickly that you can do a second coat if you need to.


Painters tape: It holds the stencil in place. It won’t leave residue and you can reposition it many times. When stenciling a border, I often place the edge of the stencil against the molding or ceiling. I put the painters tape on the opposite edge. And here is a neat little trick I always use with painter’s tape. Fold one corner under so it can’t stick to the wall. It makes it much easier to remove and reposition!


Now put your favorite music on, get your old clothes on, get your step stool or ladder if needed and extra paper towels – some dry and some wet to quickly clean up mistakes you might make. ME – I never make misteaks mistakes. My other tip is to always have a painters shirt in your closet. I have 2 or 3. These shirts look some a child’s school smock because they are covered with paint. When I am painting or stenciling and I am on the ladder reaching into a corner or over a door or sitting on the floor painting along the baseboard and get my hand all painty, I want a shirt that I can wipe it on quickly. Saves time looking for that papertowel!

Are you ready to get into that paint now? Take your brush and placing the flat edge parallel to the paint, dab it into the paint and then onto the paper towel until it is almost dry. Some call this stippling. Then dab it on the opening of the stencil until you fill the area. Wait – back up. In addition to the painter’s tape, I hold the stencil down with two fingers around the area I am going to fill in for extra security. It helps with all the uneven wall surfaces we all have. Okay now dab the brush flat against the wall over the opening. Some might also call this technique pouncing.


Remember, less is more and you do not want the paint to be solid mass when you fill in the open area of the stencil. It should look shadowed a bit. See below. You can carefully pull back one edge of the stencil to see if you have it filled in enough. Remember, less is more and no solid masses of paint.

If you have a VERY dry brush, you can also swirl the brush around in a circular motion. I use both methods. It is easier to get paint under the stencil with this method so I suggest practicing with the stipple method first until you get a feel for just how dry you need your brush. Remember, it is easier and I PROMISE less time consuming to build up the paint than to have to go back clean up a mess under the stencil. Don’t rush it by over loading the brush and you will be all set!


Once you fill in the entire stencil, you can now move it to the next spot. You may have to reload and dry off your brush before you can move on to the next section. Because you used a very dry brush and you didn’t make a wet solid mass, you can almost always move to the next spot immediately even if the stencil overlaps what you just finished. Many stencils come with register marks to help you line it up as you move along. If not I make my own.

If you are using a stencil with more than one color, you will want a different stencil overlay for each color. Most stencils that are meant to be done in more than one color come with separate overlays for each color. If not, I highly suggest you buy more than one of the same stencil and tape off areas for each color. For instance on a stencil with leaves and flowers, on one stencil block all the leaves with painters tape, and on the other block all the flowers.


Now just move around the room until you finish. It is not hard at all, just slow and sometimes tedious. Don’t rush! Less is more! I did the dining room frieze in an afternoon.


When I am going to stencil a room, I try my design on paper first and I tape it to the wall to see if it is what I envisioned. If you have never stenciled, it is good to practice on paper but that it not always accurate in for the feel of how much paint you need on the brush since the paper is much more porous than the wall. If you can paint some scrap wood or wallboard with a few coats of wall paint and practice there, it has a more accurate feel.

Now if you should forget these important words – less is more and very dry brush - and you do get some paint under the stencil and it makes a mess, you can clean it up right away with the wet paper towel. Just be very careful. If you have to, AND if you catch it right away, you can wipe the whole area off, dry the wall well and start again Make sure you wipe off the back of the stencil too!! Since I nver never make mistakes, this lesson is not learned from trial and error of course!!

Another important tip is to begin stenciling in the least noticeable corner of your room.That way when you get all the way around and meet up in the last corner and the pattern doesn’t match (and it won’t 98% of the time) it is the least noticeable area.

Now some people spend a lot of time measuring for placement of the design. Unless the pattern is really large, I don’t. When I get to a corner and the design needs to fill part of each wall, I gently bend the stencil into the corner. You can see what I mean about the design on both walls here.


So that is the Red Door way of stenciling. Easy peasy. And if you decide to stencil a frieze near the top of the wall, just remember, heat rises!!


I wanted to show you the coolest photo stacking blocks my dear friend Chris gave me for Liliana. They are fabric covered foam and have clear vinyl pockets on the outside of each side so you can put photos in the pockets. What a fun way for baby to learn the names of family members they don’t see often as well as those close by. I can’t wait until Liliana is old enough to sit and use these like this little cutie from the catalog photo. They are from Constructive Playthings and they are item JOL-22 if you are interested!

JOL-22L photo stacking blocks at


And here is a sneak peek at something that will be keeping me busy sometime this week. I took my bins and bags of fall decor out of the attic and have sorted through them all. I am continuing with my less is more decorating theme and will not using every bit from every bin. Just the best of the best!

Fall decor

Of course my fall decor is never done until I can pick my bittersweet and that won’t happen yet for a week or more even. I like the coloring much better when it has a chance to ripen more. If picked now the pods are very green and the berry is almost fluorescent orange. When left to ripen, the pod gets more yellow and the berry a darker color and I like it much better with my decor. It is all personal preference. Last year I put it out too early and I regretted that until I took it down on Thanksgiving evening.

bittersweet on chandelier

If you are still wondering about bittersweet, last fall I did two tutorials on gathering bittersweet and where to find it, and I added those links near the top of the sidebar on the right. All your questions should be answered there!


I wanted to mention 2 fun conversations I had this week – all because of my 15 minutes of fame as a Country Sampler featured homeowner. I have said time and again, how many great people I have met because of the Internet and blogging and none of the CS experience would have happened with out those connections! The first call came last night. I have mentioned my sweet friend Carol several times now. Carol called me when she saw our home in the magazine and we just hit it off. Carol has the sweetest personality and she is so easy to chat with. And her home is gorgeous – and still a work in progress. To see some photo’s from earlier this year, click HERE. So Carol has been chatting with Linda Harris from Oregon. CS fans will instantly recognize Linda’s name from the current fall issue. You know, the gorgeous colonial home we drolled over? I had asked Carol to kindly give Linda a message from me and Linda was So delighted, she called ME! Mr. Red Door handed me the phone saying “it’s a Linda Harris??”. I knew who he meant right away. We had the nicest chat. I told her how popular her home is with all the gals I chat with online through blogging and the forum and email, and she was just so tickled to know that. We chatted for a while and I totally forgot to ask her the one question I HAVE to get an answer to… I need to know more about the booties on her furniture legs! We will be chatting again so I will do that next time for sure! ( I can hear you all scurrying to get your copy to see what I mean about the booties, right?)

And this morning, I received a phone call from Esther Schmidt who is one half of the delightful team that did my shoot last summer. They are looking for more homes on the eastern seaboard, in new England and the mid Atlantic states etc. I gave her a few recommendations and I will be in touch if I know if any other homes that might work. If any of you know of a home that might be worthy of a shoot, please pass the info on to me. Thanks so much!


Now for my exciting announcement - actually two announcements!!

Many of you will recognize this iconic picture (below) from the homepage of A Primitive Place. This comes from my dear friend Kathy's gorgeous Home on the Hill in New Brunswick, Canada. This month Kathy’s home is the Featured Home on A Primitive Place!! If you have never seen her gorgeous home, this is your chance! And if, like me and so many others, you never tire of looking at her photos, this is a chance to see it once again in a new light. ENJOY! I know that I certainly did. And you can click here to go the A Primitive Place Blog post with the link to her home to leave Kathy a comment. .I know she would enjoy hearing from her many fans, both new and old alike!



For sometime now, I have talked about how much I enjoy A Primitive Place. No one has ever asked me to mention the site. I did it because I truly enjoy it. It’s a great place to meet and chat with others who like prim decor, as well as see photo’s of some great homes. New ones have just been added so make sure you stop over and don’t forget to sign up as one of their followers on the A Primitive Place Blog so you can keep abreast of the newest happenings.

Today I am very honored to share with you that I have been asked to write a monthly column for the website that will be called Primitive Musings. To best explain what topics I will be covering starting this month, here is the introduction I have prepared:

Greetings Prim Friends! My name is Linda Rudman and I am the Contributing Prim Writer here at A Primitive Place. Each month I hope to entertain you with my Primitive Musings.

I have been the Keeper of our Home since marrying my high school sweetheart in 1975. I grew up learning those homemaking skills from the best ~ my mom. She did it all including making the best meals and desserts, to making our dresses and winter coats, to canning and preserving her home grown produce and making jams and jellies, to curtain making and upholstery. She even punched copper panels much like we see done to tin now and she bought old pieces of furniture to refinish and distress. When she wanted something, she learned how to make or fix it or redo it. She was the original DIY gal and she instilled in me a love for all things domestic and for being creative.

Along the way, I defined my style while reading about life in Early America and visiting historic communities such as Old Sturbridge Village, MA; Historic Williamsburg, VA; Old Salem, NC; Strawberry Banks, NH and many more. Many of the things I collect and decorate with are colonial inspired or are actual items from the past ~ antiques even! Like my mom, I love creating things with my own two hands and learning DIY skills. When I wanted samplers for my home, I learned how to cross-stitch.When I want a picture hung, I get out my own tools. When I want a room painted, I get out my brushes and get on the ladder. In addition to those skills, I enjoy cooking, gardening, needle punch, wool appliqué and penny rugs, taking road trips with my dear hubby, and my newest love is babysitting for our delightful new granddaughter Liliana.

I love living in New England with its very distinctive four seasons. Decorating for the holidays and changing seasons is a way for me to change up the décor and add warmth to our home. I especially love making our home a comfortable and welcoming place for entertaining family and friends. And even though I LOVE autumn in New England more than any other time of the year, I always strive to find the best in each season, whether it be the changing landscape, seasonal foods, traditions or décor and even the weather! I will share some of that with you each and every month here in Primitive Musings. Thanks so much for stopping by!

So peeps, starting this month, you can find my Primitive Musings column HERE! I am excited to start this new venture and I hope that I can keep our readers entertained! At no time will any blogging post be harmed in the making of my new column! Now I need to go get started on my first column – September in New England. Enjoy this first week of September and THANK YOU so much for making my blog part of your day!

Until next time – hugs, Linda