Decorative Art On A Floor

Stenciled Floor Makes a Unique Statement

The Canvas is the Floor

Stenciling a floor in a Mill Valley, CA home was a challenging opportunity to help recreate a unique space for the owner, who brought the New England love of a stenciled house with her to California.  The kitchen floor had been previously stenciled years ago, but was now faded and worn.   I was approached to do the job through Monarch, my daughter-in-law’s store in Mill Valley, where I applied decorative stenciled art to the walls when the store opened 12 years ago.  The style of the stenciled art in the store compliments the Indian imports that are sold there.  As in the store, the stenciling in this home compliments the gambral roofed style of this lovely early 1900’s California home.

The floor was prepped – sanded and painted a creamy white by a professional contractor, ready as a primed blank canvas waiting to be filled.

The Floor is not a Wall ~ the Challenges of Floor Stencilling

Prep and planning is key prior to applying a design to any floor, while accounting for any oddities of shape, doorways and built in cabinets that might throw off careful measurements on graph paper.  I had photos of the old floor, the old stencils to work with and former pattern drawing from the previous stencil artist, plus my own rough graph paper pattern layout to help guide me in recreating the stenciled pattern on the main floor and two hallways.  If I thought a floor is as easy as stencilling a wall, my naive assumption in stencilling my first floor, quickly faded.

The borders came first, then numerous careful measuring and planning each row was calculated as I went, adjusting and compensating for areas of the room that jutted from the wall.  The project took 7 hours to complete the main area and one hall the first day, plus 2 more hours on a separate day to complete a small back hall that flowed into the kitchen area.  The first day’s work was almost a non-stop  stretch, resulting in lots of muscle aches from hunching over the stencils or kneeling along the floor.   I realized the next day that I should have taken more breaks to stretch, drink water and eat during the 7 hour stretch!  Instead, I worked in a rather obsessed fashion, totally absorbed in the creative and fun process of it.

As Sandra Buckingham notes in her book, Stencilling,  A Harrowsmith Guide:   “Measuring contributes the mental anguish to floor stenciling; working on your hands and knees provides the physical punishment.  The job always takes much longer than you think it will.”

Ultimately, the most important part of stencilling a floor is the planning ahead that keep problems to a minimum.  Read as much as you can about other stencil artists’ experiences; learn from their mistakes as well as your own.  In spite of careful prep you may still wind up eyeballing some sections so all remains looking balanced.  This happened in my case. The pattern absorbs any small irregularities with spacing and the placement of furniture further breaks up any notice of those irregularities.  In the end I felt fortunate that it all worked out.  I was pleased with the outcome, and most importantly, so was the home owner.

Maria Doglio – December 2016

See stenciled walls at:  Monarch, 27 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley, CA 94941


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