Inspiration: Using Stencils

AS_StencilJuly14_17I’ve been designing and working with stencils for years – in fact, I wrote two books on the subject back in the 1990s. But it’s only this month that I’ve launched my first ever standalone stencil collection. With 21 different designs, I’ve drawn inspiration from a whole range of styles – from folk art to traditional Swedish – and adapted them to work in an interesting, contemporary way.

In the image to the right, I had fun combining stencils that draw on different, contrasting styles. My Hands stencil at the top has a real contemporary feel, while my Coral stencil on the wooden bowl wouldn’t feel out of place in a coastal setting. On the sideboard, I’ve used my stencil Freya – a design based on the Swedish country look.

I designed my stencils particularly with furniture in mind. They’ve been created in just the right size to go on furniture but you can also do repeats or borders; you can also use them on walls and even on fabric.

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On the chair above, I applied my Classical Bird stencil in a pattern using my paint, Chalk Paint™, straight onto burlap. On the wall, I applied my Petrushka stencil in a slightly random pattern creating a contemporary wallpaper effect. For the small cabinet on the wall, I used my Lavender stencil as a standalone design – I like its simple elegance next to the busyness of the wall.

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I painted this little chair for my granddaughter, Willow. I decided to use my Trees stencil on the seat. This stencil is based on a design I first painted in my old kitchen years and years ago. I had painted it on cupboard doors with my paint, Chalk Paint, and the design had always brought me such great pleasure. In fact, I actually kept those painted cupboard doors even though we moved out of that house almost 20 years ago now!

I wanted Willow’s chair to be bright and playful, so I painted the seat in Antibes Green and the stencil in Napoleonic Blue. The legs and back are all painted in colours to complement the green and blue: Arles, Barcelona Orange and Emile.

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Those of you who know me well, know that I’m not someone that likes to measure. I get very bored with that! If you’re creating a pattern or border, use the edge of the piece of furniture as a guide or a string or plumb line on a wall. Most importantly use your eye!

I think randomness is very nice. It’s about being playful rather than doing the completely obvious repeat. In the images above, I decided to use overprinting – randomly overprinting my Sand Dollar stencil in the cabinet and the Fish stencil on the table. I applied my paint in different thicknesses – sometimes lightly and sometimes heavily – to create depth.


I’ve had this Oak Leaves design with me for many years. It is a classic design and I love the way you can repeat it to create a beautiful pattern – almost like wallpaper.

I’ve painted it here on a wooden panel that I found in a junk shop. I diluted my paint to create a delicate wash over the background (you can do this by just adding water to my paint until you get the consistency you’re after). I’ve simply repeated the stencil in Old White all over.

Written by Annie Sloan

Annie Sloan

One of the world’s most respected paint and colour experts, Annie Sloan brings decades of expertise – and plenty of style – to her hugely popular line of decorative paint, Chalk Paint™.
Celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2015, Chalk Paint™ is a unique, eco-friendly, formula that sticks to just about any surface – inside and outside the home – without the need for priming or sanding. Inspired by 18th and 20th century décor and design, the range comprises over 30 decorative and historic colours, which combine well to provide an even larger colour palette. With a brand new line of stencils, fabrics, brushes, waxes to provide protection and durability to painted projects, and other finishing products, Annie’s inspirations are transforming more and more homes every day.

While growing the range, Annie also finds time to swap paintbrush for pen. Her 24 books on decorative painting, with a 25th due to come out later this year, have sold well over 2 million copies and are giving people the world over the skills and confidence to get creative.

A passionate supporter of small businesses, Annie only sells her products through independent shops. She encourages each of her tight-knit group of global Stockists to be individual and inspiring in their ventures and – like the lovers of her paints and products – to find their own Annie Sloan.

Annie trained as a fine artist and turned to decorative work after university in the mid -1970s while painting murals in houses as commissions. By 1987, Annie had written the phenomenally successful book ‘The Complete Book of Decorative Paint Techniques’ which is considered to be the industry bible on the subject. Unable to find the paints that she wished to work with, Annie used her knowledge of colour, paint, pigments and art history and invented Chalk Paint™ in 1990.

In 2000 Annie set up a shop in Oxford to showcase Chalk Paint™, run courses, and offer interior design services. More books followed and there are now nearly 1,500 Stockists around the world, with 43 Stockists in Canada and growing, and an ever-expanding portfolio of complementary products.

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