The Basics of Decorative Painting

Paint Brushes

In a post two weeks ago, faux finishing was discussed with several painting options and instructions for sponge painting. Faux finishing is part of a larger category called decorative painting, which includes stenciling, murals, and custom painted details.

At it’s most basic, decorative painting can be as simple as painting vines on a flowerpot. Be sure to use weatherproof paint, not only to protect it from rain and sun, but also from watering the plants.

Stenciled Butterflies & Vines
Stenciled Butterflies & Vines
Stenciling is a fairly easy process. Choose a plastic stencil, a few paints, and some sponge brushes. Painter’s tape is great for holding the stencil in place while you work, painting one color at a time. AC Moore has a nice selection of stencils. Crafter Tip: Stenciling on a textured wall is not recommended. The bumpy texture can cause the colors to bleed, and the designs may appear stretched or irregular.

Antiqued Wood Chair with Painted Floral Seat Back
Antiqued Wood Chair with Painted Floral Seat Back
Furniture presents the challenge of durability. Paint alone is not enough. Crafter Tip: Consult a specialist, or research what types of paints and sealants to use to ensure your designs will withstand every day wear and tear.

Now if you’re really feeling ambitious, here are some amazing painted murals:

Floral Wall Mural with Metal Butterflies
Floral Wall Mural with Metal Butterflies
This bead board paneled wall was painted green as a background color, and then the flowers and vines were added. Crafter Tip: Even though you are painting a mural, you don’t have to paint everything yourself. There are plenty of wall art options, which will coordinate with your painting, such as these sculpted metal butterflies, the perfect complement for this gardener’s retreat.

Tinkerbell Wall Mural
Tinkerbell Wall Mural
Disney characters are sure to be childhood favorites. The flowers and vines in this mural can be painted by hand or stenciled. Crafter Tips: In lieu of using a paintbrush, delicate details can be made using a fine tipped paint pen. If Tinkerbell seems a bit beyond your skill set, purchase a Disney decal, or wallpaper version and adhere it to the wall after the mural is complete. It will save you time, and from a distance, no one will ever know.

Ocean-Themed Exterior Wall Mural
Ocean-Themed Exterior Wall Mural
The old block wall in this photo has been given new life through wall art. Because of the large scale, and dependence upon the weather, the artist used a paint sprayer to speed up the process. With the overall design blocked out, the details can be added using a combination of a fine spray nozzle and paint brushes. Crafter Tip: Using a paint sprayer will certainly give your arms and upper body a workout. You won’t need to go to the gym that day!

Asian Water Dragons Mural on a Porshe
Asian Water Dragons Mural on a Porshe
Vehicle painting is a specialty in itself. Painted details can include logos, initials, stripes, and full-size murals. Crafter Tip: Vehicle painting is best left to the pros. Manufacturers’ new vehicle warranties will most likely become void if the body paint is altered.

How To Decoratively Paint a Powder Room

Fleur-de-lis Powder Room
Fleur-de-lis Powder Room
Fleur-de-lis design was made using an ink stamp, which was purchased from the scrapbooking department at Michael’s craft store.

Acrylic Paints, Ink Stamp & Fan Brush
Acrylic Paints, Ink Stamp & Fan Brush
To produce more consistent imprints, paint was applied directly upon the stamp using a small flat brush. The stamp was then pressed against the wall, spacing the pattern by eye. All the brown fleur de lis designs were completed first, and then the stamp was cleaned in preparation for the green paint.

Create a Fleur-de-lis Pattern
Fleur-de-lis Powder Room

Fleur-de-lis Detail
Fleur-de-lis Detail
Using a fan brush at the four corners, brush strokes were applied with the contrasting metallic paint color.

For continuity and consistency of the design, it is probably best to have one person working on a project. However, if your friends or family would like to help, assign a particular design element to each person to be completed throughout the project. Using the fleur-de-lis project as an example, one person could do all the stamping while another applies the flourishes at the corners.

Crafter Tip – Future Decorative Paint Removal
I once had a painter in my home to give estimates on a few small projects. I had recently finished a mural in one of the bedrooms, and as we walked by, the painter said, and I quote, “Do you know how much Kilz it would take to cover that?” Although I was appalled at the idea, it certainly gave me food for thought. At some point in the future, how could I easily cover over painted designs without filling the house with toxic fumes? The answer is simple: paint over it using the same paint used to create it. There was an acrylic midnight blue design (Folk Art Brilliant Ultramarine) painted across the upper half of one wall. White acrylic paint (Folk Art Wicker White), purchased from A.C. Moore, was brushed over the dark paint. Just to be sure, a second coat was applied. The painter was stunned to see how well it covered. The new wall paint was a pale blue, covered in only one coat, and there were no toxic fumes. To protect the air quality in your home, be sure to select low odor paints, with low or no VOCs (volatile organic compounds).

Happy Crafting!