Paint your own pattern

By Debbie Travis

King Features Syndicate

Dear Debbie: My girlfriend and I have just graduated from college and are renting a really great apartment together. We have jobs, but decorating dollars are scarce. We know that you’ll have a brilliant idea for our living room. Cheerful funky is the look we’re after. — Mel and Mia

Dear Mel and Mia: Congratulations on finishing school. That’s a big step, and I’m sure you’re both ready to have your own space.

There are such great colors to choose from in the cheerful palette: Happy shades of turquoise, all shades of pink, tangy lime green, lighthearted lavender are fresh, feel-good colors guaranteed to bring a smile.


Two of these colors applied in a pattern, and you’ve got a winning combination. Oversize shapes are popular today, so why not paint your own geometric pattern on the walls?

The oval or lozenge design shown here was produced with a homemade stencil.

The base color is the pale turquoise; the stencil pattern represents the dark space in between the four corners of the oval shapes.

Make a template of the oval shape and cut out four ovals from a piece of paper or cardboard.

Arrange the edges touching in a square on a large piece of paper and draw around the corners to the halfway point of each oval.

Trace the pattern onto a sheet of Mylar (stencil plastic) and cut out. Add registration marks at the top, bottom and sides.

Draw a grid on the wall that matches the registration marks. Use a small roller to fill in the pattern.

This project takes some time to set up, but the results will make you proud.


Dear Debbie: I plan on painting our sunroom a pale terra cotta with white trim and the tiles on the floor are cream. This room leads to the 10-foot-square dining room through a 6-foot archway. We have wainscoting in the dining room and hardwood floors. I’m perplexed as to what colors to paint. — Dorothea

Dear Dorothea: You have picked a beautiful color for your sunroom that goes with most colors, especially other earthtones.

Your choice for the dining room should be determined more by how you’d like the room to feel.

A fresh shade of leaf green or sky blue would both work nicely on the upper walls with white wainscoting.

If you’d like a more contemporary look, try medium stone gray for the wainscoting and top with the sunrooms’ terra cotta covered with a metallic silver glaze.

It’s fun to experiment with the new metallic and pearlescent paints. If you aren’t happy, you can easily paint again.

Dear Debbie: I would like to know how you can use paint to look like stain on old doors. Thanks. — Kim

Dear Kim: Paint and stain have different qualities. Paint is an opaque medium that sits on the surface of wood. Stain is translucent and penetrates into the wood.


A stained door will have more depth and shading to it, as the natural wood grain shows through.

To produce this subtle shading with paint, first apply a base coat in the wood-brown shade of your choice. When the base coat is dry, tint high-gloss varnish with a slightly darker shade of brown paint and apply two coats.

If you want to produce the look of real wood grain with paint, you can find a wood-graining tool at your paint or hardware store.

Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. E-mail your questions to

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