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Create an accent wall with just paint and stencils. What looks like a complicated wallpaper pattern is an easy-to-paint combination of squares and stars.
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Paint the background color of the wall (Modernist Gray shown). Repeat if needed and let the final coat dry overnight.
Using a level, pencil, and tape measure, draw horizontal lines precisely 12 inches apart (Star and Roundel Painting Guide) starting from the ceiling and working down.
Take the time to draw lines as precisely as possible and double-check your work. A section of the grid that’s off by even a little bit will make it difficult to apply the stencil later.
Draw plumb vertical lines precisely 12 inches apart (Star and Roundel Painting Guide, Step 2).
If your accent wall can’t be divided into whole 12-inch sections vertically, center the pattern to leave partial columns of equal width on each side.
On every other row, mask off every other square with painter’s tape (Star and Roundel Painting Guide, Step 3). Tape strips must be laid barely outside the pencil lines, which will be painted over. Use your fingernail to firmly press the tape edges to the wall.
Around the edges of each square, brush on a coat of the background color moving from the tape surface to the inside of the square to avoid forcing paint under the tape edge. If any paint leaks under the tape edge, it will be hidden by the existing paint and seal the edges. After that coat dries, roll on a coat of the contrasting color (Perpetual Gray shown) in each square. Repeat as necessary for an even coat and remove the tape after the final coat. Allow the last coat to dry overnight.
Repeat Step 4 and Step 5 to paint alternating but offset squares on the remaining rows (Star and Roundel Painting Guide, Step 4). Remove the tape after the final coat.
Using artist’s brushes, touch up any rough lines as needed. Let dry overnight.
To make your own stencil, print and assemble the pattern (Star and Roundel Stencil Pattern). Assemble two plastic signs at their long edges using packing tape on the top and bottom to form a 20-inch x 14-inch stencil blank. Use repositionable spray adhesive on the back of the stencil pattern and center it on the blank. Carefully cut out the design.
If your stencil cutout is off by even a tiny bit, the sides, top, and bottom of the star won’t align with the adjoining stars. Cut precisely in the center of the pattern lines and press hard enough to cut cleanly through the paper and plastic. Clean up the corners as needed for a crisp pattern.
Spray the back of the stencil with repositionable adhesive according to the label directions, and fasten pieces of tape to all four outside edges. Measure to find the center of the first square along each edge and center the stencil on the marks. Press it just hard enough to hold the stencil edges against the wall.
Lightly load a brush with paint (Icy Avalanche shown) and dab off the excess on a paper towel. Brush from the stencil toward the center of the star to reduce the chance of forcing paint under the stencil edge. Repeat as needed for even coverage, then remove the stencil. Repeat for all of the dark squares(Star and Roundel Painting Guide, Step 5) and let dry overnight.
This time, stencil the light squares, taking care that the tips of the star stencil match the tips of the stars in the dark squares (Star and Roundel Painting Guide, Step 6).
Using artist’s brushes, clean up the places where the stars meet and any rough edges.
For a more portable version of this look for an apartment or temporary housing, stencil the star and square design onto a framed piece of canvas or paper.