WELCOME to Nest by Tamara blog

WELCOME to Nest by Tamara blog
Hi- It's Tamara. I'm happy you've stopped by, and since 2010 I've been sharing my passion for interior design, history, art, entertaining, travel & fashion. I am an interior designer, textile designer and writer living and working in New York City and East Hampton, Long Island. My musings have taken me to international design, art, antique and epicurean events and I have lots to share. I'm grateful to have been listed as the #1 top design blog, blogs to watch, top design blogs and named and awarded Rising Star of Design by the IFDA NY industry organization. Please feel free to reach out to our team for an interior design consultation at NestbyTamara.com -Tamara

A Stencil Painting Project -- A big Ikea Armoire given a facelift

Let's talk specialty stencil art and my IKEA armoire!

photograph complimentary of Design Amour blog

As often is the case, there's a meandering road that leads to opportunities. Remember I told you I attended my very first design blog conference in California last March?  Well, it was fun and productive and one of the many talented people I met was Melanie Royals of Design Amour.  My friend Regina Garay introduced us (remember Regina featured me and my designs on her fabulous Blog Beat section of her website Fauxology last year).  Melanie's stencils and workshops are considered a key training program for many in the specialty faux painting and stencil industry. She takes her expertise on the road and together with a group of artists, they head to exotic places around the globe to soak up the culture, paint and learn the local techniques.  Once back from Los Angeles, I started thinking about my IKEA armoire.

 Let me digress a bit and talk about my IKEA wall unit: 

while the quality isn't the greatest, the austere nature and clean lines of IKEA designs are appealing, plus the prices can't be beat.  Just like in fashion, I am not opposed to a bargain piece here and there thrown in the mix, and to me, IKEA is to home what H&M is to fashion.  As many working designers know, the budget sometimes calls for a couple of lower cost items being added to the mix.  I like to pepper my spaces with key splurges & signature pieces but my clients have been known to shop at IKEA once in a while.  One recent client did an entire kitchen for their country cottage in IKEA -- it was darling! 
I enjoy buying antiques and unique pieces to fit within my home, and some items serve a real purpose and are purely functional, while others are hand me downs given to us by family members and hold sentimental value. I do admit I often throw function out the window over beauty but in the case of my sliding door pine looking 8 foot wide wall unit that has an almost japanese aesthetic, function ruled completely. We bought it after my husband and I shared a closet in our former small NYC apartment for a few years. 

"This single wall unit could
have saved my marriage". 

Don't get me wrong, sharing one sink and a small closet with your husband isn't the worst thing that can happen in your life, but it may be a close second.  I am messy and disorganized and he is meticulous...you can see how this is going.  At the time, we were in the throes of purchasing items that simply seemed more important; baby strollers, decorating a nursery, paying for nursery school.  Our priorities were aschew.  I have never bought much furniture from IKEA, but I do like the simple linens, ready made curtains, accessories, and the modern looking chairs. 

Ten years ago, on an IKEA road trip to New Jersey from New York City, I came upon a sliding door armoire with various custom designed interiors that promised happy times: shoe racks, shelves for purses, suit hanging racks. To say that furniture from IKEA is decadant is showing you how bad it had gotten folks...but let me remind you that ten years later this wall unit is working like a charm.  I bought it.  Now as anyone who has bought an IKEA piece will tell you the stress free experience ends the minute the item arrives. They send an instruction booklet, an important elbow shaped metal item that still puzzles me -- this is DO IT YOURSELF assemby at its finest. 

Note to self:  don't have tired hubby assemble furniture when he returns from a long day of work.  A few hours later he was splayed out on the floor with papers and wood and metal tracks....well, let's just say there was some mumbling and a few choice swear words

Voila!  I had a blonde wood-looking unit set up in my bedroom, doors hung on a track.  I could hear birds chirping somewhere and there was certainly a ray of sunshine beaming in the window of our small apartment.  Cut to ten years later, we moved to a pre-war larger apartment, a place where my stuff finally starts to make sense.  When I lived in a highrise apartment flooded with light and overlooking the East River, but with absolutely not one architectural detail in sight, my funky stuff looked well, shabby.  I wasn't going for a shabby chic look either and that term has always irked me. I starting thinking about painting the faces of the inset panels of the piece to match the tiffany blue painted walls of my bedroom. My plan was this would give this furniture some character and tie it into the overall design scheme, but it was risky.  Melanie recommended Angela Perrone who is local, talented and had attended her last trip to Morrocco. 

Here's my IKEA sliding closet unit before --

A little bit about Melanie and
Melanie Royals writes an interesting and richly detailed blog about painting. 
She sells her line of stencils at very fair prices on her website Royal Design Studios.  
Read about her group's upcoming
more about the road to Spain
In Spain, students will be working on multiple stenciled and hand painted canvases based on our Royal Design Studio's stencil line for The Hearst Castle Collection
Design Amour's Hearst Castle project

"I try to plan these trips to include a lot of local culture, comraderie, inspiring art tours, and lots of good food, wine, and shopping-in addition to a special decorative painting class or project. For this trip to Spain the students will be working on multiple stenciled and hand painted canvases based on our upcoming stencil line for The Hearst Castle Collection, which I am very excited about."
Melanie of Design Amour
Royal Design Studios

Angela and I hit it off well and got busy collaborating
on which stencil would work best. 
We perused Royal Design Studio's stencil choices and here's what we narrowed down:

Love the David Hicks-ish shape of this modern design
incredibly artistic stencil but a tad too much for my piece
quite an embelished wall and all
various pattern choices from Royal Design Studios

the bamboo felt right for my room as well
although the multi colored is beautiful it wasn't right for my bedroom,
with Tiffany blue walls and clean lines

Angela and I settled upon this pattern because
 of its simple repeat and works best with the fabric I have in the room.  The shape resembles a Quatrefoil and has a graphic nature, and wouldn't overpower a large piece of furniture.

A Little About Angela:
read Angela's blog for inspiring stories about her artistic endeavors.  She's an artist with an interesting and positive perspective on life, and offers many before and after photographs
of her projects on blog,  Divine Rooms

Decorative Painting & Faux Finisher
studio: 718-759-1641
Angela is taking the trip to Spain with Melanie's group in the next couple of weeks.  She recently embarked upon their adventure to Morocco, and worked with Maryam of MyMarrakesh on their Peacock Pavilions boutique hotel. 
many of the artists who attend, claim it is a “life changing” experience for them.
I ordered it online from Royal Design Studios,
and shortly later Angela arrived bright and early one morning with paint and supplies in hand and it took two long days of work.

Check out the transformation... 

a little tricky because the veneer doesn't have tons of tooth.
Angela tried a couple of different techniques to get the stencil to adhere...this is only one reason why a professional is needed here folks. 
Day 1 some setbacks but a good amount completed...

Here's what Angela had to say -
"Stencils are hot again. My clients are really becoming enthusiastic about the limitless options now available through companies such as Royal Design Studio. New equipment and modern technology has made creating a custom stencil in any size to match any pattern easy and affordable. Stencils have come long and far since the days of ducks and fruit baskets. The popular patterns are sophisticated and exotic. As an artist, stencils both temper and inspire me. They offer the safe parameters of a pre-determined pattern... and incredible versatility in how to "fill in the blanks." Like a large scale, decorator's coloring book! The right stencil can also solve problems: help take away "big white wall" anxiety, camouflage unfortunate surfaces, allow you to "re-cycle" tired paint finishes and even dull furniture pieces. They are truly the ultimate decorating tool in this today's eco-sensitive and economy conscious world.  Here is a story I wrote
Rescuing A Room With Stencils  

The japanese inspired fabric I backed and surrounded with
cotton tiffany blue fabric for these European shams. 
Tiffany Blue painted walls from Pratt & Lambert (we matched the color for the armoire)
 Glass chrome lamps and Wedgewood pottery vase with planted orchid
from East Hampton Antique Show

dressing table reflecting the armoire with Marilyn painting
by artist
Richard Matthews

End of Day 2: 
a finished project, and happy client (me)
and happy artist (Angela)