Thursday, August 14, 2014

Graham's Room Redo, Phase 2: in which we do some arty stuff!

Second post took longer than I intended!

Graham's room was this gigantic, sprawling redo.  You know those projects that spawn other projects while you are planning them out?  Like a Home Depot fueled hydra?  Yes, it was kind of like that.

I think we took three months to actually complete it.  I set a mental goal of having it look presentable by his birthday, which was at the end of June.  In my first post, you got to see how the faux brick wall came out, along with the magnet wall.  We wanted the room to have this garage feel to it, so I really wanted to create enamel signs to hang in the room.

I don't collect enamel or tin.  I also don't have any particular brand fondness, so I didn't have this burning need to go pick up old Penzoil signs.  So I got the notion to create vintage inspired enamel signs that were centered around my family.

I used neither vintage tin nor enamel paint.  So here's how I fudged the look.

I started out with roof flashing.  You can buy this in precut sheets at Home Depot or Lowes.  I used a few of those and I also used some scrap left over from the magnet wall.

Here's what it looks like.  The metal has this fun, bumpy flake texture.   I think these are a dollar or so a piece and they're about 4x6 inches.  Little kid or clumsy adult warning:  SHARP EDGES!

I didn't do anything to the edges because these got affixed high on walls, but if they were going to be accessible to little hands, I would have a metal shop or other handy individual bend brake the edges. 

Onto the paint.  I just used house paint.  Sure, you could use a metal primer like Jasco.  The paint might adhere better, but probably not.  You could also sand the metal beforehand, but I'm going to be real, I was making a bunch of these and I can only apply so much effort.

So I just rolled two coats of black paint on and here is the result.

I get more glare and lens flares than a J. J. Abrams movie.  It's totally intentional.  Isn't that texture rad?  I sure think so.  So I created some stencils specifically for this project, but this first one is just a French inspired gas stencil.

Do you see how my blue painters' tape is touching the paint?  If you're going to employ this method, don't let the tape touch the paint.  The adhesion is just not there and when you remove the tape, the paint is going to come right with it.  Like this:

It's easy enough to touch up, which is what I did.  But in future tin signs, I just made sure the tape was affixed to the stencil and then whatever medium was beneath me, i.e. table, concrete, horizontal plane.  That's two coats of white paint I did with a stencil brush, by the way.

This second sign was large and time consuming.  As a rule, I don't like using a roller on anything stenciled.  I just haven't had good luck with it.  My mom is a pro at that technique and she can do it on fabric with no bleed.  Maybe it's a skill that comes with wisdom and age?  I used a stencil brush for all this real estate, this sign is about 3 ft by 4 ft.  1ER is a French way of abbreviating Premier.  So essentially, this says:  Premier Graham (like Grand, get it?  GET IT?) Prix.

I cut all these individual components out of stencil scrap material, and in the midst of stenciling that darn race car, the stencil totally slipped.

The whole car was off like that.  Some words were said.  But it cleaned up just fine.  Paint is amazing. 

This was a fun one because I did a drop shadow in the maroon color.  Drop shadows are great.  We sell some stencils with drop shadows built in, but as a rule, they are very thin openings for paint to go through.  You can make pretty much any stencil you want have a drop shadow by doing a base coat and letting it dry.  Then you simply move your stencil up and to the left a smidgen and use a contrasting color of paint. 

I don't have any process pictures of the Pit Lane sign.  I did that one out of scrap.  I love the gloved pointing hand.  My son has a nanny cam in his room and the thing is unsightly.  I wanted to mask its presence in some way.  So my husband cut this jalopy I found at Home Goods in half and mounted it to the wall.  Sometimes I think it now looks like a Nanny Cam being driven around by Henry Ford.  I'm okay with that absurdity.

The pipe you see coming down from the jalopy is electrical conduit.  We used this as cord hider.  My husband split this in half with a grinder so it would sit flush against the wall.  He then affixed it to the wall with pipe tape.  We use this around my son's television as well. 

I totally stole this street sign in the middle of redoing this room.  It was a crime of opportunity not passion.  I was driving to Target on a blustery day and there, forlorn, in the middle of the road was this street sign.  It was pathetic.  It was about to get run over.  I was saving it, really.  I did my civic duty by putting on my hazards and running out into the road to rescue it.  You have no idea how large a street sign is until you are loading one into the back of your SUV.  I asked my sister-in-law (who is a police officer) and she totally told me I was cool.  So I feel good about the whole incident.

The other piece of non-stencilled art in the room is this wicked cool poster of race cars signed by the drivers who race them.  We have a friend who is a race-car driver mechanic (I know right?  That's like a job little boys {or girls who rock} dream of having but then they get real and become actuaries.)  Anyway, he got all the signatures and we were totally jazzed and knew it had to go in the room.  My husband is a huge open-wheel racing nerd.   

Speaking of open-wheel racing, one of the more laborious projects for this room was this curtain I designed which covered some unsightly shelves in Graham's now exposed closet.  I regret that I do not have process pics as it was a wee bit difficult to photograph in situ.  That is art history talk for: in the space where it's supposed to be. 

Those are all famous open wheel racing courses.  Neat right?  The fabric for the curtain is just drop cloth from Home Depot.  The lettering is not stenciled, it's actually jersey fabric (I buy old T-shirts from Goodwill).  I then cut them out via the same method I cut our stencils and affixed them to the drop cloth. 

The last project for the room was the race car bed.  These race car beds are pretty spendy new.  I think we found this one on Craiglist for $30.   

Here it was.  So....blue.  I could not stand it.  I decided to paint it one day when my husband went on a business trip.  I used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in brick red.


This paint is amazing to work with.  There is virtually no-odor, which is a wonderful thing when you're painting a bed that a small person needs to sleep on.  The texture is just phenomenal.  I knew that I couldn't leave the bed with just paint on it.  It needed some sort of clear coat.  In the midst of this project, something else cool happened.  We welcomed a new retailer to the Maisondestencils family.  Cindi Rowley Designs in Valencia, CA.  Now the cool thing about that is:  1)  She's awesome and 2)  We live in Valencia!  So finally there is a store where we live where our stencils are stocked.  Prior to this, Laura and I have joked for years that we just need to bite the bullet and move to Alabama.  Cindi's store is great, she stocks a lot of the projects you folks are familiar with like Annie Sloan, Artisan Enhancements, etc.  She sells this clear coat by General Finishes.  It has the lowest odor of any clear coat I've ever used.  I really liked it.  Tragically, after completing this project, Theodore knocked over the can in the garage and WALKED through the puddle.  Now I can remember his footprints at that size, forever.

That's after 2 coats of the General Finishes.  I did 5 coats total.  The bed definitely needed that sheen!  I really like how the satin finish brought out the vibrancy of the Annie Sloan Brick Red.  You may notice that I removed all the Little Tykes emblems from the bed.  There is one spot for an emblem on the front and one emblem on each tire.

The last step for this project was to design some emblems for the bed that tie into the total room design.  I wanted to use the wings featured in the No 2 Petrole sign and a G, for Graham.  I cut my design out of balsa wood.

Next step was to paint them.  I had a backer piece I painted white.  I used spray paint for this project.

Following that, I spray painted all the detail pieces like the frame, wings, and G black.  I used spray paint here as well.  I then glued all the pieces to the white backer with Gorilla Glue.  Use less glue than you think you'll need.

After these dried, they got a coat of spray poly.  Then it was time to glue them on the race car bed!

Looks sharp!  Graham loved these.  When he walked into his room the first day after they were on the bed he said, "Oh!  It's a G!" 

Here's a picture of the whole room.  I realize I didn't include any pictures of the Theodore Magasin de Pneus sign.  That means Theodore's tire shop.  It utilizes the same fun wheeled tire graphic that I have on the race track curtain.

This project was so much fun.  Graham and Theo both love the room and play in there every day.  And now it isn't such a horrendous eye sore.

Hope you enjoyed!

Friday, May 30, 2014

Graham's Room Redo, Phase 1: or How I learned to stop worrying and love faux brick

Hello Blog Readers:

This year has been crazy busy I tell you.  Our new little house in California is a work in progress.  Between working and running after our little ones, we've been revamping the rooms one by one.

One day Graham's speech pathologist calls me and starts asking me the most unusual questions about my house. 

"Did you used to have a wood burning stove in your living room?" 

"Yes..."  I replied, puzzled.  Not going to lie, little creeped out too.

"Did you have a yellow brick wall in your kitchen?"

"Yes.  God, yes."  (We went full Elton John on that wall and said Goodbye.)

 Finally I got round to the heart of it and asked, "Why are you asking all these weird questions about my house?!"

She laughed, "Your house was on House Hunters Renovations last night!"

We had to wait for a re-run, but we finally saw the episode.  If you're not fans of the show, HHR is one of the newer iterations of House Hunters.  They give a shorter time span to the "ringer" houses as I call them, the couple picks the house they're going to buy, and then showcases the renovations they do to their new house.

So the episode was filmed while we were in escrow and was one of the houses the couple did not select.  The list price of the home was also falsified.  HGTV does this a lot, sorry to ruin the illusion. 

The couple was pretty merciless to our house, it was interesting to see what random TV people thought about the place we now call home.  We agreed with a lot of it.  There was one room in particular that wasn't even photographed on the multiple listing sheet. 

Perhaps you can see why the realtor decided to skip the photos on this room.  In addition to that incredible brick veneer/faux wood paneling combo, there was this bizarre CC TV camera in the opposite corner and upper kitchen cabinets mounted on the side walls (light oak, the 90s are still alive and well!).  I don't even know.  I walked in that room and shook my head a lot.

As you can surmise from the crib, this was our older son Graham's room.

Now Graham loves cars.  Love is putting it mildly.  He loves the Cars franchise, but he also just loves cars in general.  How they work, driving them around, taking them apart and then fixing them.  He's a mechanic on the make. 

So we decided to redo his room as auto garage.  Kid style.

I had never worked with chalk paint, so I decided now was as good a time as any and that the brick wall would be my guinea pig.  I had so much fun!

 So the color scheme of this brick and mortar had to go.  I don't think black mortar was ever in style.

I did base coat of taupe (left over from painting our living room) on the bricks and the mortar just to even the whole wall out. 

I actually did 2 coats of taupe because black paint is pretty tenacious.  Painting over deep colors like navy blue (more on that later) and red can be taxing.

Don't you just love how I taped off the wall so there wouldn't be paint drips?  I used to be meticulous about stuff like that.  Then I had kids.  I can tell you that painting this base coat took two naps and 3 cups of coffee, for what that's worth!

I really dug the chalk paint.  I just used one of the DIY recipes you can find with friend Google, but I would totally buy a branded chalk paint in the future.  It just takes all the guess work out of the equation. 

Onto the color.  I wanted to do the actual bricks red. 

I painted each brick individually because that's how I roll.

I used a 3" flat chip brush for the face of the bricks and a really lame kids paint brush for the sides of the bricks.  I should not have cheaped out here, but it was all I had on hand at the time.

For color I used a Behr interior flat color called January Garnet. 

The red went on pretty great even with one coat. 

This gives you an idea of what the chip brush covered and what the small flat brush had to fill in.  It was a bit of work, but it was worth it to get appropriate coverage.  Otherwise I would have gotten a lot of red paint in the mortar. 

Here is two coats of red paint.  Great coverage.  I also applied Minwax Paste Wax over top.  Just one coat.  It has a really awesome REAL BRICK feel now. 

The distractingly ugly curtains are Graham's black-out curtains.  Don't worry, they are not long for this world.  You may be wondering how I was going to go about cleaning the paint drips I got on everything.  My solution was simply to cover everything up.  So the white walls had to go next.

I would like to tell you that I decided on this amazing slate grey color myself.  But that would be a lie.  Laura came over and dumped 3 paints together and said, "This is the color you seek."  One coat in and we were already totally in love with it.  For optimum coverage, this needed 2 coats.  I ended up having to go to Home Depot and having them color match Laura's concoction.  I've had horrible results with color match before, but this time it was bang on.  So that was nice.

Some of the trim in the room was oil based navy blue and some was not.  So that had to be unified.  In other words, no more navy.  And the mirrored closet doors were not my friends either.  More on that later.

Next step, eliminate wood paneling.  Another of Graham's fondest playthings are magnets.  He has all kinds of developmental magnets designed for teaching letter and shape recognition.  We had a small magnet board for him in our old house in Oregon, but we decided to go for the gusto here.  We decided to do a magnet wall.

Nate got sheet aluminum (it's in the roofing department) from Home Depot and used a grinder wheel to cut it to be flush with the window frame.

This stuff is pretty sharp, so we wanted to make each sheet sit exactly flush next to the other.  That way no little fingers would get pinched.  The sheets are 4 foot square from what I recall.  I think we used four of them.

The aluminum sheets are all different.  Some have imperfections.  I actually like that, it gives more of a garage feel.  I cleaned the aluminum sheets with Steel Meister because they have kind of a weird oily residue at first. 

So that's it for Phase 1.  Whew.  Doesn't seem like much in pictures but it was a barrel of work! 

Stay tuned for Phase 2, where we ditch those curtains, use some stencils (You knew that was coming, right?), put up some molding, and someone gets a big boy bed!

Thanks for reading.  If I can help one random person on the internet learn to love their faux brick wall, this was time well spent.

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Absentee Blogger Returns!

Hey folks!

Well I've been seriously negligent on my blog posts and I apologize for that.  2013 was a doozy of a year.  Our business has been growing by leaps and bounds, major thanks in part to our awesome customers and friends.

Alongside our business upswing, life keeps happening.  (Funny how that works.)  When I started the Maisondestencils blog, I lived in sleepy Astoria, Oregon with my husband and our older son.  I treasured the rain, our amazing friends and neighbors, being a Goonie for life, and the historical significance of our town.  I loved our Craftsman home, which was featured in quite a few blog posts.  It turns 100 years old in 2014. we were going to throw it a birthday party. 

In April of 2013, our older son was diagnosed with Autism.  I was due to have our second son within weeks and we were faced with a very difficult dilemma of living near no family and suddenly needing a lot of support for his future.  You may or may not be aware that children diagnosed with Autism (or ASD) now have better support than ever and are eligible for amazing services, but these services vary wildly from state to state.  Oregon, we came to find out, did not offer us the best chance for our son's future.  So we left everything behind and moved back to California, where my Mom and Dad and Laura, (my sister and Maisondestencils founder) live.

The age 2-3 year is pretty pivotal for kids on the Autism spectrum.  Graham, my older son, is now 2.5 and we're knee deep in services for him (We do about 25 hours of therapy a week).  He's doing extremely well (He just asked me for pizza at 6 AM!)  and while we don't have a crystal ball, the future looks bright.   This is a major reason why I haven't been putting out many blog posts.  They would probably read, "I answered email and took Graham to speech therapy.  Answered email and went to occupational therapy."  lol!

We'd been in our new house in Southern California for a few months when my husband said to me, "I don't think I want to move anymore.  I think we're done."  And I agreed.  We've both moved a lot in our lives and while I had dreamed that we'd always live in Astoria, moving to So Cal had a note of finality to it.  So I made a custom stencil I had always wanted to make for my family, but for some reason, always put off.  I wanted something that would highlight every place we've lived, every stop on our journey. 

I really love the way it came out.  I bought a piece of plywood at Home Depot which my husband ripped down to size.  The denim blue color is actually a few old paint colors I mixed together.  Total cost, $6! 

I also want to point out that I attempted to pick up (Bless you people who actually stage your pictures) and still missed a sippy cup!  That's Graham in the picture.  He's watching Cars right now.  :)  

Laura came over (we only live 10 minutes away now, nice perk!) and she loved the sign.  She told me I needed to list the concept as a custom on the website, so I decided to do just that.  You can check it out here

Things are finally calming down now as we unpack our last boxes, so I hope to be back in the blogosphere more.  We also have plans to launch our Youtube channel with a little more oomph in 2014, so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Hope you've all been doing well.  I do keep on Facebook, so I see a lot of familiar faces there.  We truly feel blessed to have the nicest customers and it's our privilege to work with you guys.  I also want to mention that we love designing customs (obviously!) so if you ever have an idea you need help executing, email us at info@maisondestencils.com.

Take Care!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Website Wednesday: Our Latest Adventure

Hey Readers,

Wow!  We have had a whirlwind month here at Maison.  Wholesale business is jamming and our retail customers are more excited about stenciling than ever.  We are so lucky to have such enthusiastic clients. 

Just in case you're not on the mailing list and not on our Facebook feed, we thought we'd broadcast our latest news here on the blog as well.

We are proud to present our newest line of stencils, Les Enfants Stencils.  Les Enfants is our own special line of childrens' stencils.  This product is perfect for decorating nurseries or themed rooms.  We also have tons of customization options, with more on the way.  

Because I have two little kids, I am always thinking of ways I can use stencils in their rooms.  Graham, my older boy, has a woodland themed room, so he's got all kinds of deer, foxes, and the like.   Teddy, my new little one, well poor guy, his nursery isn't even done (he's only 5 months old!).  But since his name sake is both one of our most awesome presidents and the teddy bear, my plan is do an accent wall that has one of my favorite quotes by Mr. Roosevelt himself and have various bears around the room.

We're offering 20% off your first purchase at Les Enfants, now through September 8th with promo code welcome (all lowercase).  We're always looking for great ideas for kids' stencils too.  So if you've got a great concept you want made for a custom or just an idea for us to put in the store, email us at info@lesenfantsstencils.com.

We've done all kinds of awesome themed subways based on popular choices for kids' rooms.  Check them out!

 These two are from our Western category.  

The Knights of the Round Table subway is from Fantasies, the Baseball nicknames is from Sports.  Love that one!  Some of our stencils would be great for a man cave as well!

Hope you all are doing well and beating the heat.  Bring on Halloween, I am ready for fall!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Website Wednesday: Stencils to Fit any Budget!

Howdy all.

Do you ever wonder where your stencils come from?  And the circumstances surrounding their creation?  I'm sure that's all you ever think about, right? 

 You've probably imagined this amazing Maisondestencils factory run by well mannered elves on leave from creating Christmas toys.  Sadly, this is not the case.  We, (by we I mean our powerhouse staff of four) create all the stencils in-house with love and lots of coffee. 

So check this:  my oldest fell asleep in his room in the house and I have my new baby in a bouncer out in the garage (I know, mother of the year right?).  I am checking on my older boy via webcam (God bless technology) when the new baby falls asleep in the garage!   So little Theo and I are packing orders out here (I seem to be doing most of the work...) and I decided I'd take a break to tell you about another cool feature you can use at the new website.

Sometimes, you do not have a million dollars to spend on stencils.  We totally get it.  Maybe things are tight and you know that you have $25 you want to spend on a stencil, but you're really not sure what all you can get for that.  The good news is you can do exactly that on the new site.  Check it out.

Let's say you want to buy a new stencil in our Holiday category.

If you check out the bottom left, you will see a slider bar under the word Catalog.

That slider bar controls the price of the products displayed.  So you can slide it to the left to limit your results.  I slid mine to the left and set it to $24.83.  113 results, that's a whole lot of stencils you can still buy for under $25!!

That's all for now, stay tuned for more fun Feature Fridays and Website Wednesday additions.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Website Wednesday: Top Sellers

Howdy there stencil folk!

We're in our 2nd week of use with the new website and so far the feedback has been awesome.  We're still not done implementing changes, but I thought I would take some time a couple days per month and highlight some of the great features our new site has. 

Our entire goal with this site is to make it easier for you, the end user, to search our catalog.  We have A LOT of stencil designs (over 1000), and it is super interesting to see what draws people to our site.  As you may have surmised, "french stencil" is one of our top keywords, but every so often I see something wild and different that gets me on a whole new design track.  

An interesting thing to note is that in addition to specific keyword searches, one question we get all the time is, "What are your best sellers?"  This is a great question that our retailers and resellers often ask.  It's smart too because you guys all have great taste, so why not look at what other people are buying.  If you are in a retail environment, you want to select stencils that your customer base will like, and that can be a difficult task when looking at our catalog of 1000+ items.  (FYI, all our designs sell, anything that's not selling over time we cull from the catalog.)

So our new website has a link where you can see just that. 

Down on the bottom panel, there is a link that says "Top Sellers."  Here's a screenshot to illustrate.

 When you click that top sellers link, you are taken to a page that lists our best selling stencils, one after the other.  This list recalculates on the fly, so if we say, had a run on Union Jacks a week from now, the Union Jack stencil would move forward until it's near the front of this list.

This list is also only capturing data from the start of the new site, so it hasn't quite balanced what our perennial best sellers are.  In case you are wondering, Bee Crown Laurel 12x12 and Old World Style 1 Numbers are our two best selling stencils.  (Don't tell anyone I told you!).

I should be back next week with an awesome Feature Friday.  Until then, Au Revoir! 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

12x12 Stencil Giveaway! Click for details! Exciting News! Exclamation Points Abound!

Wow!  We are excited round these here parts.

Let me tell you why!

We are launching a brand new website!  Woohoo!

Here is a sneak peek.  We want to thank the marvelous folks at Goodsie for being our training wheels for a year.  They handled some tremendous growth from us with ease.  But we have some amazing wholesale retailers and we knew we needed a better solution to handle ordering for the wholesale side of our business.

So we are very excited to announce that our new website will have user accounts!

What does that mean for you? 

  • You can save multiple addresses (We have lots of customers who have homes in both Canada and the US). 
  • You can look at your order history
  • Wholesale orders can be processed through our website 
  • You can save products for later
  • You can enter names and dates for custom stencils right on the website (I love this one!)
There are a ton more features, that's just a small snippet of the things we love about the new maisondestencils.  We hope you will too.  Our new site will be up by the end of the week.  So keep your eyes peeled for a fresh new look.


To celebrate this launch, we're giving away a free 12x12 stencil to 4 lucky readers. 

Check out this link to enter.