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Stencil Me In!

Want an easy and inexpensive way to add color, texture, and style to your home? Try stenciling. You don't need to be an "artist" or a "craft-person," since stenciling simply involves painting inside a pre-cut form. If you are inclined toward a challenge, however, stenciling has that aspect, too. You can find designs that are quite complex and require a number of different colors.

To get your project started, you will need to purchase a stencil of your choosing, some painter's tape, a few paintbrushes, and some paint. Stenciling a whole room can cost you less than $50, depending on the nature of the design you select. Check your local craft store for a multitude of stencil designs. Popular right now are designs with ivy or ribbons since they trail nicely across the top of a room, around a window or over a doorway. Other patterns include flowers, fruits or vegetables, designs for children, and geometric patterns.

Once you have your supplies, map out where the stencil pattern will go. Some light chalk lines may help you to keep your pattern from wandering off course. Secure your stencil to the wall with the painter's tape and then begin painting inside the stencil. A small dabbing technique works well, and keep your paintbrush nearly dry to prevent the paint from bleeding at the edge of the stencil. Different paint finishes will help to add contrast and depth to your work. For a soft and unobtrusive look use a flat-finish paint, and for a more dramatic look, try a glossy paint.

If you have a knack for this type of craft you'll find you fit right in with current trends in home d�cor. Many people are adding stenciled designs to their homes, and even going further than that-pictorials and murals are appearing in homes across the country.

And don't think that stenciling is just limited to painted walls. You can stencil virtually anything-wallpaper, faux-finished walls, even furniture and lampshades. Use stenciling to brighten any area of your home that could use some color and texture. Changing the atmosphere in your home no longer has to be a major project. With some paint and stencils, you can change your home for very little money, and in very little time.

Sources used in this article include the Paint and Decorating Retailers Association, and Better Homes and Gardens,

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