The stencilled decoration in our dining room was inspired by eighteenth-century blue and white china, this part of the house dated from the 1700's so we tried to recreate the feel of Georgian simplicity but with a twist. A deliberately plain, glass topped table revealed the patterned floor below. Stencils of plates, pots and teacups graced the walls in linear rows.
This is where my students ate lunch on our stencil courses and all family dinners were held. It looked simple and homely by day and with the help of dimmer switches and dozens of candle lanterns, it was glamorous by night. I am writing in the past tense because this room no longer exists but I have snap shots and the stencils are still available. Some of the following text was adapted from my book The Stencilled Home.
Stencils with overlays were used in this room which give an appearance of hand painting.
Using multi-layers or overlays on stencils is similar to printing; you use a different stencil for each colour that you apply. The images become more elaborate as each layer of stencilled shapes are applied. A great deal of stencilled pattern in historic buildings is built up in this way. It is common to see this technique used on the walls and ceilings of churches.
The stencilled images of plates, cups, teapots and coffee pots have between two and five layers and are arranged formally on the walls within panels defined by a narrow band of mushroom-coloured paint. The stripe was made by positioning masking tape and painting along measured lines. A stencilled pattern was overlaid onto the stripe and it featured a simple oriental style border in copper paint. There are twelve different blue and white images and each is separated from its neighbour by a little honeysuckle motif, also used in the decoration of kitchen next door. A trellis and leaf effect border sits at the top of the walls on a dark blue background; the blue provides a perfect complement to the metallic copper and aqua paint. The designs were mainly based on eighteenth-century English porcelain patterns.
The sanded wooden floor was painted in the same dark-blue emulsion paint which is also found on the kitchen work tops in the room adjoining it. A square stencilled ‘carpet’ formed a centrepiece, flanked on all sides by the trellis which again was stencilled with copper and aqua then bordered each side by a narrow stripe of putty-coloured paint. A dinner plate design bearing pheasants and peonies appears in each corner. A huge circle made up of four quadrants of ribboned flowers was applied around the centre of the floor and frames a larger pheasant plate 125cm (50in) in diameter. Everything was stencilled with large stencil brushes using emulsion and acrylic paint. We added generous amounts of a copper colour to give warmth.
The room is not overly cold or overlooked so curtains were never considered. A large fireplace with an oversized mantle dominates one wall – its tiles which were once brown have been given a facelift with tile primer, blue paint and then satin varnish.
I am hoping to redecorate this room again soon, at present it is stencilled in the arts and crafts style; the lights blew just before we hosted one of our tours around the house, the ceiling may need surgery then repairing. However it is a perfect shape and height for decoration so a stencilled ceiling may feature in the next decorative phase of this room.
It just occured to me as I finish this post that all the pictures that show someone working feature my husband, all pictures that show someone loafing feature me...funny that. Photos from The Stencilled Home and OK Magazine(blue shirt) are by Colin Poole, photo from Ideal Home (green dress) is by Marianne Majerus