Stenciling Around The Inn

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Stenciling Around The Inn


Bernadine’s Stillman Inn!


We get a lot of very nice comments from guests about the different stencils and painting techniques that have been used around our Bed and Breakfast.  So I thought I’d share some ideas and inspirations.  I’ve spent many years pouring over stenciling and painting books because I find it absolutely fascinating.  I suppose it’s because it creates a one of a kind piece of artwork.  Although others may have stenciled with the same stencils I purchase, the chances of them using them in the same place with the same colors, etc would have to be very rare making them unique and individual!


garden tote



My Toolbox – This is one of my favorite pieces and I stenciled this many moons ago.  I love the intriciate detail.  I also love, love, love, to crackle my surfaces first for a more interesting background.  You simply put on the paint color you want in the “cracks” of the crackling. Paint a layer of crackle medium over that following the manufacturers suggested application and drying time and then the fun comes.  You take your top coat and layer it softly and quickly over the usually tacky surface of the crackle medium.  This has to be done in as few strokes as possible or you will drag all the top coat off of the slick surface.  When it’s dry you are ready to stencil.  And don’t forget the topcoat.  I use a waterbased indoor/outdoor sealer.  There are great ones out there now!  I love Polycrylic.





This is one of my favorites here at the Inn.  I just love how unique these doors are now with just a little bit of effort.  Here is a closer look:


doors 2


Of course I crackled the background of the center panels and added a very simple stencil layout.  I drybrushed the stencil very lightly so it would look aged.  Then I painted the trim and door with coordinating colors.  I tried to get a “milk paint” look with the yellow so it would look worn as well. I prushed on one very thin coat for this affect.  


I don’t understand chalk paint other than it gives you the feeling that it’s an “old” looking paint with a certain satin finish.  There is a brand new store downtown Galena called “Isabella’s”. Two of our guests just told me about it and she specializes in a specific brand of chalk paint.  Apparently she has been painting furniture with it and the finish is supposed to be beautiful.  Can’t wait to see it!  Will rush down there today!  Apparently it’s imported paint so it’s not a local brand we are used to seeing.


hall 2



This is a very simple stencil I used in our hallway with just a few colors of acrylic paints.  It really makes the hallway look longer.  It’s subtle, fits the decor and looks aged like the rest of the 1858 mansion.  There is one area where there used to be a built in bookcase that is now gone.  This left about 8 inches without the stenciling.  Do you think I can find that stencil to fill that in?  Nope.


bath cabinet



This is our personal bathroom cabinet.  It has one of those bowl sinks on top.  The first time my son saw this sink he asked why we were using a salad bowl for our sink!  I used to take horticulture classes and learned the formal name for many many trees while I was creating this cabinet.  So I used a metallic pen to write various tree names on the doors.  Here’s a closeup:


our kitch cab 4


I did not crackle this cabinet.  Imagine that!  I used various shades of neutral tan colors along with a bit of white to “pounce” the colors on to the background.  It almost looks like worn parchment paper.  I love that!  Then I used a gold metallic pen to write in the names of trees and added a quick rose stencil in the bottom corners.  I often tell my husband that when we move we take this cabinet with us.  We will see about that.  But it is one of my favorites. I painted the top with burgundy acrylic paint and covered it all in the Polycrylic finish.  It has held up to water spots on the counter for about 14 years.


kitch 1



These are the kitchen cabinets on the first floor of the Inn.  We cook breakfast here for our guests and they can see these cabinets as they pass through the hallway to the Parlor.  On several occasions I’ve wanted to paint over these and start over but then Dave rally’s the troops and gets friends, family and guests to tell me not to do it.  Everyone seems to love them but to me they seem to be missing something…not sure what, but they are fun!  It was one stencil moved around and up and down the cabinets to make it look like on long grape fine.  The lower cabinets do not have stenciling. 





I used a goldish, light brown metallic paint for the vines.  I ran some of the stencil off onto the cabinet frame.  That worked out well I think.  The center panel was just whitewashed and you can do that with any white, waterbased paint product.  Simply apply it a little “full” not “dry” with a brush and then wipe it off before it dries.  You can leave a little white buildup in the corners for that milky look.  Be sure to seal them.  We got too busy and didn’t so now we have a lot of cleaning to do on them before we can seal the doors.  I usually don’t like one solid color. You can’t see it here but I painted the light green around the rames then drybrushed some of the dark green paint over it here and there.  It makes it look worn out.  I did some sanding aroudn the door handles to make it old looking as well.


our kitch cab 3



This is our kitchen in the lower level.  I love these cabinets.  I wanted a European, thrown together kind of look so I painted one cabinet on the end of this bank of cabinets a warm blue.  I wanted it to look like we found the cabinet “somewhere else” and added it.  Wish I had a picture of that here.  I purposely used fabric to cover the doors under the sink rather than the hard wood doors.  It just seems to warm the whole thing up.  


our kitch cab 5



This is one of the cabinets.  You can tell I like these colors, especially for the Inn.  I used them on the hallway doors throughout the inn as pictured above.  Same thing, I just had to “crackle” the backgrounds and then add the stencils with a very dry brush creating that nice aged look.  I also drybrushed the yellow trim with a bit of the background red…just a bit!  These cabinets did get sealed so they have stayed very nice over the years.  The base cabinets are simply painted ivory.


rest 4



The stencils in the Wedding Chapel/Reception building are very unique.  I did not have the time to stencil this room so we hired someone to do it and they did an excellent job.  The stenciling is soft, subuded and has a nice patina.  I love the color variations she used.  Enjoy the rest of the pics of the restaurant and if you have any questions…please call!  

Bernadine’s Stillman Inn

815 777-0557

rest 6 




rest 2


The person we hired also created a marble effect on all the supports throughout the building.  

We think they are beautiful too!  These are not stencils but done by hand.


Have a great day and go out there and Stencil!









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