The gray, cracked and in some places crumbling wall in our kitchen stairwell was an eyesore. I didn’t do anything about it for a few years because, really, no one saw it but us. I even thought when we first moved in that we could wall up the back stairwell so we would have more room for appliances in our kitchen. The stairs in the kitchen meet the front stairs on a landing half way up to the second story. I didn’t think I would even use the kitchen stairs.
It turns out, the kitchen stairs are the stairs we almost ALWAYS use because when we come downstairs it is usually to go to the kitchen. It also has a pocket door that I could use to close the kitchen off. I finally got to fixing it.
This video below is not a very good quality video and I’m a bit embarrassed with my narrative. I had an old camera at the time and took the video just to remember what the stairwell used to look like. I’m posting it just so there is some before and after pictures.
After digging out the loose plaster and chipping away at the protruding parts to make them level with the rest of the wall, I mixed up a batch of plaster. The real stuff. I made it kind of thick to fill in the bigger gaps. For the smaller cracks I used spackling compound. I saw a trick for texturing a wall on one of the home shows. They used wallpaper paste and tissue paper (the kind you wrap gifts in) to give texture to the walls. After priming the stairwell walls, I used that method to put on texture. You’ll see the result in later photos. It actually took a lot of time to do.
Other TV shows at the time highlighted using Trompe L’oeil effects to paint murals on walls. Manufacturers have made stencils to help give the effect even if you aren’t an artist. I wanted to do something in that kitchen area that would give character to a very dark and bland corner of the kitchen. I shopped around and bought stencils on sale and came up with a design.
Trompe L’oeil means “fool the eye” or “illusion.” It’s not for everyone. I happen to like it. I guess it depends on how you decorate. My kitchen is still very period. So that allows me to make it look a little antique, a little more of a country feel. To tell the truth, I often don’t even notice the mural on the walls after all this time. But I know I would miss it if it was gone.
I painted my mural using stencils and some free-handed painting. The patio bricks were free-handed as well as the lattice and the tree. The flowers and ends of the tree branches with flowers, the birds were all stencils. The cat is our little Russian Blue.
The first photo is the finished product. My photos were taken with an old camcorder that I took still photos from back then. I’m putting the rest in gallery form that you can click on to enlarge. They are different stages of progress. Often, I painted over what I didn’t like and repainted it (the mountains in one of the below photos.) You can get stencils at your crafts stores like Michaels and AC Moore.
Click on the thumbnails below to enlarge.