Pattern is the easiest way to add character to a room. The important thing is to ensure a visual rhythm.
It’s always easiest to start with one signature piece to guide all your other choices for a room. In this case, our antique 1880s quilt started our path to a color scheme of red and green. Fading colors in the quilt pointed us toward blue hues. We also chose a warm honey gold to complement the cooler greens and blues.
With such a large-scale pattern as our quilt, we knew we needed something to balance it on the floor. A subtle blend of the same hues shows up in the wool rug, which has a smaller-scale pattern.
To give the wall surface some visual interest without competing with the quilt, we chose to stencil the wall in an overall tone-on-tone pattern. For a subtle pattern effect, go only one shade lighter on a paint strip to find the color for the stenciled motif. Here are three steps to stenciling a wall with ease:
1] Mask ceiling, baseboards, and trim with painter’s tape. Paint the entire wall with the darker green base-coat color. Let dry overnight.
2] Draw a level line in chalk about head high, horizontally across the wall. Find the center of the wall and draw a plumb line from ceiling to floor. Spray the back of the stencil with stencil adhesive. Apply it to the wall, lining it up to the horizontal chalk line.
3] Pour the lighter green paint into the mini roller tray. Saturate the stencil roller and roll off the excess paint onto a stack of absorbent paper towels. Apply the paint to the stencil. Fill in where necessary. Remove the stencil and let dry. Move the stencil to line up the partial elements at one edge. Apply the first row of stencils horizontally across the entire wall. Align and repeat the next row until the wall is completely stenciled from edge to edge.
A deep barn-red pitcher filled with vivid yellow sunflowers further encapsulates the room’s color scheme and offers a fresh floral motif to juxtapose the stylized one on the wall.
A few solid blocks of color, such as the antiqued sideboard and red pitcher, along with neutral furnishings like the old farm table and Windsor chairs, give the eye a place to rest amid the mix of pattern. The resulting visual clarity ensures that your carefully coordinated room doesn’t get too intense or busy.
Bring an old piece of furniture into your new scheme with a coat of paint and stain. Then, add some visual age with an antiqued patina.
Gather Your Materials
- Medium and fine-grit sandpaper
- Tack cloth
- Wood sealer
- Foam brush
- Paint stir stick
- Household trim brush
- Lint-free cotton cloths
- Olympic satin sheen latex paint: B14-3 Gold Buff
- Cabot wood stain: Smoked Paprika
- Windsor & Newton fine artists’ oil paint: Burnt Sienna
- Boiled linseed oil
- Mineral spirits
- Small plastic container
- Finish sealer
Sand all surfaces of the sideboard and wipe thoroughly with a tack cloth. Use the foam brush to apply a coat of wood sealer; let dry. Stain the sideboard top following the stain manufacturer’s instructions; let dry.
Apply two coats of Gold Buff to the case and doors of the sideboard letting dry between coats.
In the plastic container, mix 1 part boiled linseed oil with 1 part mineral spirits.
Dampen a small area on a lint-free cotton cloth with oil/mineral spirits mixture. Rub a thin coat of the mixture onto a section of the sideboard. Squeeze a ½-inch strip of oil paint onto a disposable plate.
Pick up a dab of color on the oil soaked cloth and rub on the dampened section of the sideboard. Move to the next section. Apply small amounts of antiquing section-by-section until the desired effect is achieved; let dry.
Apply two or three coats of finish sealer, letting dry between coats.
Although most of our motifs are botanical, using somewhat stylized patterns, you can mix patterns of all different kinds—checks with florals and stripes, Asian motifs with animal prints, for example—making sure they share a common palette. Include a mix of large, medium, and small scale patterns, too, for visual balance.
Photography by Chris Hennessey
Painted projects by Pat Garrington
© Caruth Studio