Design Hints

Premature Aging

Learn how to stencil and stain your walls to get a timeworn look no matter your home's true age.

Mickleton, New Jersey, homeowner Pauline Fennell, whose home is featured in our September 2012 issue, employed brush, paint, stencils and glaze to create period-perfect walls in her sitting and keeping rooms. Imperfections are essential to timeworn style, so even inexperienced painters should be able to duplicate the look without a hitch. Here's how to fashion old-looking walls:

1. Pick out Colonial-motif stencils and paint hues that suit your theme and palette. In the keeping room, Pauline stenciled willow trees as a top border and then repeatedly applied a two-color feathery motif to create vertical stripes.

2. If you plan to re-create Pauline's vertical stripes, mark stencil placement along the top of the walls to ensure that the rows of motifs are spaced correctly across the width of the walls.

3. Position the stencil and secure it with masking tape; or, spray stencil adhesive on the back following the manufacturer's instructions. If desired, tape off areas that will be painted in additional colors. Use a different stencil brush for each paint color. Dab the brush into paint, and then wipe off excess paint on a paper towel. Pounce the brush over the stencil. Carefully move the stencil to the next position, and repeat as above until all of the walls are stenciled. Let stenciled patterns dry. If you're doing a two-color stencil, repeat the above steps for the second color.

4. Finish the treatment by dipping a scrunched-up rag in antiquing glaze and blotting it across the walls. Wipe off some of the glaze to showcase stenciled motifs. Be sure to leave more glaze in some areas to create a smoke-stained look. Let the glaze dry.

Written by Ann Wilson
Photographed and styled by Franklin & Esther Schmidt