Remind yourself of an important truth or a favorite line of poetry by painting it right on your wall. Words are the new wall graphics, and it's never been easier to get professional-looking quotes or lists over the sofa, around the kitchen doorway or floating above the headboard. Paint the baby's name over the crib in script that doesn't resemble bad graffiti. Stencils and carpenter's levels up your game for getting it all down.
When you want a one-word wall-art statement, you're in luck. Hunt for a premade stencil, or create one with your computer and printer. SMILE! might be available at the craft store. RODNEY is a custom stencil. Just find a font you like and print the word. Enlarge it with a copier to the ideal size, if needed, and cut out the letters with a craft knife.
Then immortalize young Rodney with a barn-red name tag on the blue wall behind his bed. Ensure your word is perfectly level and centered by using a carpenter's level and a ruler or yardstick. Make tiny pencil or chalk dots on the wall to keep the stencil straight.
Acrylic craft paints are simple to use and come in an infinite array of colors. They adhere to the paint on the wall more reliably than waxy, oil-based stencil creams.
Interactive wall words are art you can update. Paint a wall with chalkboard paint and "season" it once the paint is dry by rubbing chalk all over the paint and then wiping it off. Now place the stencil on the chalkboard -- or go for it with your flawless freehand -- to permanently add a title, word or phrase in contrasting chalk-colored paint.
MENU is fine in the kitchen, on the wall behind the cafe table. RULZ might be a good reminder in the playroom. LOVE, LAUGH, MAGIC, DREAM, WIGGLE and DANCE will seed some happy ideas when the words are scattered all over the now-you-scribble-on-it nursery wall. Write On Your Walls is a fun reminder in the mudroom. Brush Your Teeth on the chalkboard wall over the bathroom sink saves you some nagging. Provide plenty of chalk for inspired artists to add their own lists, rules, comments and stick figures to the tempting chalkboard wall.
Cover an entire wall with a love letter or that passage from Whitman that makes your heart sing. Clean the wall and make "lines" to write on with painter's tape, positioned in equidistant horizontal bands.
Write the passage in pencil, using the tape to keep the lines fairly straight. They do not have to be perfect -- this is handwriting. If your calligraphy is far from a thing of art, print the passage on sheets of transparency film in an attractive font and project it on the wall in the correct size. Experiment before painting to "pop" out words or passages with larger fonts.
Go over the words on the wall with a paint pen -- the simplest way to avoid wiggles, squiggles and blobs. Paint pens come in various colors and several widths -- vary the widths of the letters for a more interesting wall embellishment.
A Few Tricks for Awesome Results
Your first measurement for a line of text is critical. Use the level; center it, and measure everything twice. Test stencil adhesive in an unobtrusive area to be sure it won't lift the paint off your walls. It usually works fine, but you don't want to discover your wall is the exception.
When you do use spray adhesive, keep it light. A low-adhesive painter's tape is an adhesive alternative -- use a tiny piece in each corner of a stencil. Apply pressure with your free hand to hold the stencil tightly against the wall. Dab color sparingly on the wall with a small sea sponge or a round-bristle stencil brush to avoid any bleed around the edges.
The sponge or brush gives you more control than a roller, and you can go over the stencil again once the paint dries if you want more opaque coverage.
Benna Crawford has been a journalist and New York-based writer since 1997. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, and in professional journals and trade publications. Crawford has a degree in theater, is a certified Prana Yoga instructor, and writes about fitness, performing and decorative arts, culture, sports, business and education .