In sunny Tampa, Florida, we come upon a studio giving a new, inspired second life to furniture pieces.  Stiltskin Studios combine creative decorative paint techniques with lively ornamental patterns and stencil designs.  We’re so happy to feature their work for our Stencil Star™ series, which seeks to showcase creative artists and their inspired work.


Michele and Kenny Hiley of Stiltskin Studios are a husband and wife design team who have both made creativity a priority in their lives. They re-imagined many items for their homes and once their friends laid eyes on the possibilities, a business (along with an Etsy shop) was born! Although they offer a full-service design studio, their passion is to take vintage and antique furniture and transform them to fit into a more modern home. Their name was inspired by the fairy tale Rumplestiltskin because he turned a seemingly worthless object, straw, into Gold.  They like to do the same with cast-aside furniture and uninspired interiors!

Gorgeous dresser transformed with Chalk Paint™ decorative paint in Florence, our Cherry Blossoms stencil and Royal stencil cremes!

How do you determine which pattern will work for your project?

So many things influence our decision on which stencil to use…sometimes, it’s as simple as using a stencil as a fun accent, such as the Cherry Blossoms we used on a dresser face…other times, it’s to add interest to something that is mundane, like the leaves on a dining table. Often times, we will have a theme in mind…a general direction, such as a Parisian Apartment or a French Chateau feel, that helps guide our decision; other times, we utilize stencils to do something completely unexpected, like a Moroccan inspired tabletop on a French Provincial table.

Frequently, we’ll be painting a piece when out of nowhere, inspiration strikes and suddenly, we decide to incorporate a stencil that was not in the initial design plan. Painting, for us, is a very organic experience. We enjoy the process and stencils are another bespoke element to make each piece truly special.

This lovely and artistic dining room set was painted with Chalk Paint™ and our Small Ribbon Damask stencil on the leaves. We love this inspired idea and so we featured it here on our Stencil Ideas blog.

Please share your top Stenciling tip with us.

A very wise and charming faux painting artist taught me to make sure all the excess paint was removed from my brush before I applied it to the stencil. That seemingly small tip brought us both over from not being huge stencil fans to wanting to stencil everything!

Additionally, there is no substitute for proper tools. They make the job go so much smoother and help ensure perfect results. Cheap tools typically beget cheap looking results!

What would be your “dream” stencil project?

Right now, I’m dreaming about stenciling my kitchen cabinets! We completed the upper cabinets last year (removing the doors to create open shelving) but the lowers are still hideous 1970’s brown laminate. I’m quite excited to have the option to stencil them…we feel the project will be very much representative of us and our style.

Stiltskin upcycled this vintage find with both our Paris Postage Stamp Wall Stencil and Postmark Wall Stencil! Unexpected and beautiful.

How does stenciling enhance your creative business?

My husband and partner, Kenny, has an art degree and is a skilled fine artist; I, on the other hand, can barely paint a straight line. I have much more imagination than skill when it comes to the details of hand painting. Stencils really allow me to create what I’ve imagined. I’m also slightly lazy, so I’ll not make the effort to put a design on the projector, sketch it on the piece, and then hand-paint the intricate design. Stencils alleviate all that work for me. Royal Design Studio stencils really are simple to use, the results are consistent, and I look like a creative genius when it’s all done! Because they are so durable, we can mix it up with different colors and looks using the same stencil. They’ve enabled me to bring my creative vision to life!

So stylish! This hutch was updated with our popular Springtime in Paris lettering stencil, metallic stencil cremes and Chalk Paint™!

We hope you’ve enjoyed the beautiful fairy-tale stylings of Stiltskin Studios.  Do be sure to check their Facebook page and their wonderful blog, too! Please feel free to pin these pics to keep sharing the creative love of pattern and paint!  You can always follow our Pinterest account as well for design and pattern inspiration and keep up with us on Facebook and Instagram, too!


August 2nd, 2012

Stencil Star: Tom Henman

Another fabulolus  Stencil Stars™ showcase.  Every other week, we are sharing our customer’s use of our Royal Design Studio mylar wall stencils and Modello™ masking stencils on walls, ceilings, floors, and more.  This week’s super STAR is Pennsylvania-based Tom Henman of Tom Henman Decorative Painting, a super talented artisan who applies stenciled patterns in innovative and unique ways in his decorative painting projects.

Tom Henman


Prior to starting his decorative painting business, Tom was an Art Director for a direct mail company until 2005, when he lost his job. A few years prior, Tom had attended a decorative painting demonstration given by artist Carol Kemery. He had dabbled in some faux painting in his home after her presentation, but then decided to seek formal instruction due to his job loss. Within weeks, he was signed up for an introductory course and knew instantly that decorative painting was going to be his new career.

Since 2006, Tom Henman has been the sole proprietor of Tom Henman Decorative Painting based in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.  He has attended some of the top decorative painting schools in the country, including a painting trip to Morocco with Royal Design Studio as one of our amazing and intrepid Peacock Painters. Tom continues to explore his new found passion and expand his clientele, which incidentally, includes his last boss.  Sometimes it takes one door to close before a better one opens.

Above, Tom creates a wonderful, well-rounded ambience with a lustery plaster on the ceiling and a Modello Ornamental Center stencil (OrnCen128) encompassing the room’s color scheme.  Below, a beautiful finish walls set off the three Modello Eastern Panel stencils (EasPan105) along the staircase walls.

What draws you to Stenciling?
I love the idea of adding color and pattern to a wall or piece of furniture to personalize it. Wallpaper has not been a friend of mine, ever since I had to remove it from my house. Often it’s difficult to find a correct wallpaper colors and patterns that coordinate with the room’s color scheme, and it may be discontinued. That is where I find that being able to design a custom finish with coordinating stencil colors is a win-win situation. Plus there are no seams that can peel!

Acid etching is a specialty of Tom’s studio, after being introduced to the technique in a class here in our San Diego Studio.  Using the Chippendale Molding stencil in vinyl form, he etches the design onto a Statuary Marble backsplash.  The Carrara Marble below has been acid etched with a custom Modello® vinyl stencil with the center area gilded.

Below you will see two bathroom vanities which have been transformed with a two-layer, two-color distressed custom finish.  The Spring Time in Paris Stencil Set is then stenciled in with our Royal Stencil Cremes. Beautiful and unexpected!

What are your favorite surfaces to work on and design for?
I know that this may sound crazy, but I love to work on ceilings! Clients often forget about adding a splash of color and design to the ceiling. It’s funny how we install huge chandeliers in rooms, but the light bezel is only 6” wide… it just looks out of place. When I can show a client how their room can look with a Modello Design on the ceiling that is proportional to the light fixture, they wondered why they waited as long as they did.  One of my favorite references for clients are Modello by Design Volume 1 and Volume 2 by Melanie Royals.

The dining room ceiling above has an Eastern Motif stencil (EasMot125) in gold and silver leaf while the walls have a modified Modello Eastern Panel Wall stencil (EasPan114).   Modello vinyl stencils are fantastic for areas with unusual architectural features, like the dining room below.  For the ceiling, a Hampton Corner stencil was used with a nice lined design joining the patterns while a custom Modello® stencil was created it to match it for the back wall.

Please share your top Stenciling tip with us.
The obvious answer is that I love Royal Stencil Cremes and Gardz.  They are a must-have for any mylar stencil or Modello® vinyl stencil project.  My real secret, however, is my MacBook Pro and Nikon D90 camera. I love to take before pictures of a wall and show the client how their room can look with a stencil pattern and finish. Sometimes clients just can’t envision the final result. This usually seals the deal or shows us that we need to tweak the scale and design a bit more before the job starts.

A gorgeous plaster finish in a powder room creates a great background for the two ornamental border stencils (Top: OrnBor157 and Bottom: OrnBor163) that were gilded in gold and silver.  The kitchen below has a beautiful ceiling which is set off nicely with a glaze finish and our Modello Ancient Worlds Center stencil (AncCen103) nicely capping off the beautiful light fixtures.

BIG thank you to Tom for sharing is stencil work and artistic inspiration with us. Seriously, we can’t wait to see more! If you can’t wait either, please be sure to see more of his projects on both his studio website and Facebook fan page!

April 3rd, 2012

Fab Furniture Stenciling

It seems like everyone is painting and stenciling furniture these days. And why not? Furniture makes a great little canvas for stencil patterns and you can accent details like table tops, drawer fronts, door panels SO easily and quickly with stencils. The availability and popularity of the the amazing Annie Sloan Chalk Paint™ is inspiring people all over the country to scour thrift stores and flea markets for furniture pieces that can be transformed in a day with some creativity and a can of paint!

painted furniture with stencils and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

One of my friends who has caught the furniture painting bug bad good, is Debbie Hayes of Faux Design Studio. Debbie is a long-time decorative artist who has the MOST amazing studio in a converted fabric mill in Greensboro, NC. There she paints endlessly (it seems!), sells her one-of-a-kind furniture pieces and also teaches others how to do the same. Debbie has such an artful approach to using Chalk Paint™ and stencil patterns we were inspired to create this lovely graphic to showcase her work.

You can find all the details about the Royal Design Studio stencils and Chalk Paint colors Debbie used in this Fabulous Furniture Stencil post on our website. I hope it inspires YOU!

There is nothing more inspiring to me than to see finished projects that our customers have done with our wall and furniture stencils! One of the things I am most excited about is that our new stencil website give us the ability to SHARE these projects with others on a weekly basis on our Stencil Ideas Blog-right from within the site! I want to encourage you all to share YOUR projects with us, because we really want to show you off!!

Using wall stencils to stencil stylish bathrooms

Here is one of our first  features showing stylish stenciled bathrooms. Bathrooms can be super fun to stencil because they are little rooms unto themselves and you can be a bit bolder with your choice of color, pattern, and scale-if you want! These three stenciled bathrooms show a nice range of ideas.

The first photo from Michelle Lopez of Sparkle Faux Designs features an allover stencil pattern treatment with our Lisboa Tile stencil. Stenciling an allover pattern in a bathroom can be a bit of a challenge because you generally will have more obstacles and areas there you have to “cut in” with the design: corners, fixtures, tile, and molding. The end effect is super stunning, though, as this photo shows. Believe it or not, allover pattern treatments actually help to visually “push out the walls” and can make small rooms seem bigger!

The second photo by Karen Jorgenson of KJ Decorative Finishes offers a brilliant alternative treatment for an allover pattern stencil. Here, Karen took a modern allover stencil Hip to B Square stencil and turned it into a graphic border. You can achieve this by using tape to mask off and paint a “frame” of pinstripes and simply stencil the allover pattern within them. I think that this amount of pattern and color is just the right compliment to the dark painted walls that offset the bright white paint and fixtures. VERY punchy!

The third photo shows another way to create the look of an allover design without stenciling every square foot of wall space. This works particularly well for a feature wall. Here, Rina Krumholz using our Grand Damask stencil and stenciled it randomly around the room in two different colors. By layering the designs here and there and turning them upside down occasionally, you can quickly stencil a unique custom look that fits your space-something you could NEVER get with wallpaper!

So-how about you? Do you have some stencil tricks and special projects up your sleeve that you’d like to share? We’d love to see them and possibly share them on our website. Please send pics of your projects using Royal Design Studio stencils to [email protected] and let’s keep the inspiration flowing!






March 16th, 2012

Annie Sloan Takes America

The Annie Sloan North American Tour is ON! I’ve just returned from an exciting week in New Orleans, where Annie has kicked off her North American Tour by presenting an inspiring class to those of us who are privileged to stock and sell her incomparable and original Chalk Paint. In just the last year, the number of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stockists in the U.S. has grown from a handful to 191 nationwide, and it’s a lovely family of dedicated, inspired, and creative people who are now sharing the beauty and versatility of “The Best Paint in the World” for repainting and repurposing furniture, cabinetry, and decorative accessories with this amazing product.

Royal Design Studio is sponsoring the tour with a free French Damask stencil, exclusive to all tour participants, that was designed by Annie herself.

Annie Sloan with stencil

In the Stockist’s workshop Annie shared with us an easy stencil technique that is a wonderful way to add layers of color and the expression of age and time with Chalk Paint.

Clear crackle varnish

We were also introduced to Craqueleur, a two step clear crackle varnish that is ideal for adding the effects of age to furniture and can be used over stenciling and decoupage work as well.

Most inspiring of all was the lecture Annie gave us on color theory using her Chalk Paints. She has prepared a series of boards that she will also share on the tour that shows how easily colors can be combined and neutralized, as well as gorgeous color combinations to represent French, Scandinavian, Boho Vintage, Neutral, and Modern design themes. If you are unable to make it to a class on the tour, Annie also shares color colour advice regularly on her Paint & Colour blog.

In addition to playing with paint, we also got to “just play.” Here is a photo of  Lisa Richert getting ready to lead the 2nd line dance at the fabulous party that they threw for us in one of the beautiful mansions of the New Orleans Garden District. Lisa also leads Annie Sloan in North America (and soon in Australia, mate!) as Annie Sloan Unfolded. What has impressed me the most (and always has) is Lisa’s passion for this paint, her commitment to Annie Sloan both as a person and a brand, and the complete professionalism and dedication of her whole inspiring team.

Annie herself is a true “original”, a consummate and accomplished artist without ego-full of as much grace and humility as talent and creativity. She leads by example and everything related to Annie Sloan Chalk Paint flows beautifully from her. It’s an honor to be an ambassador for her and her brand.

Is Annie Sloan coming to a city near you? Find out here. The tour has begun but there is still time to register for upcoming workshops in San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Atlanta, Leesburg, and Boston!


January 16th, 2012

Pinning! Furniture Stenciling

There is so much that I enjoy with sharing this furniture stenciling pin!

furniture stencil with chalk paint

It’s a superb piece by  good friend Debbie Hayes of Faux Design Studio and the Faux Plus Design blog. It uses Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (Duck Egg Blue and Old White), AND Deb incorporated two of my most favoritist stencils from Royal Design Studio: the ever popular and classic Fabric Damask and Brocade Border. It all comes together beautifully in Deb’s brand new studio in Greensboro, NC, where she’ll be hosting an open house this coming Wednesday from 4 to 6:30 pm:

1100 Revolution Mill Drive, Studio 8, Greensboro, NC

January 5th, 2012

Chalk Paint Giveaway Winner!

And the winner of the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint gift basket is……

Kim Lombardi. Kim left comment #7 and ALSO left two other bonus comments including a comment about which Royal Design Studio stencil she would like-our amazing Springtime in Paris Typography stencil. Way to wish big! Kim, you WIN and are also entered in this weekends drawing to attend the Annie Sloan North American Tour date of your choice.

Thank you all for your comments!! I really enjoyed reading your fav Chalk Paint color combinations and stencil choices.

January 2nd, 2012

2012: A Blank Canvas

Welcome to a brand New Year! It is now time for the annual rite of making new promises to ourselves, setting new goals, attempting to discard bad habits. A fresh year bring a fresh slate; a blank canvas. Of course you don’t need the occasion of needing a new calendar to start afresh. Your future is yet unwritten and so each day or even each moment brings opportunity and possibilities, BUT there is something very powerful about closing the books on the past year and focusing RIGHT NOW on how to improve on the next one.

If I was to focus on just one, simple way to feed my psyche, nurture my soul, and tend to my spirit (all of which helps me, of course, to be better to myself and others) I would have to say that I simply need to paint more. As my decorative painting businesses (Royal Design Studio and Modello Designs) have grown the creative art that inspired them has increasingly given way to Biz running business. There’s no time to get a brush in my hand because it always seems to be filled with a phone or a computer mouse. I have a fabulous painting studio that stares sadly at me every day while I rush past it in to my computer. This. Will. Not. Do. I have decided to  give myself the gift of regular “painting retreats”-in my own studio. It’s time to get back in touch with me…and this is where it starts. Lots of blank canvases. Thrift Store furniture pieces exactly, that are being transformed for the new year with some creative stenciling and Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

Here’s to a 2012 that is creative…

…filled with bold strokes…

…and many bright, creative ideas!

What gift are you giving yourself for the new year? Please-be generous!

December 8th, 2011

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint

So, by now, you’ve heard about world famous Annie Sloan Chalk Paint right?

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint painted furniture

The amazingly easy-to-use, environmentally friendly, paint-right-over almost everything in 28 gorgeous, historical colors that launched a furniture painting revolution Chalk Paint?

Annie Sloan Chalk Painted furniture

And you probably are aware that this “British invasion innovation” is now available at over 100 stockists around the U.S. thanks to Lisa Rickert at Jolie Design and Decor. Well, just in case you’ve been living under a designer pillow, here’s some Chalk Paint info on our Royal Design Studio website. Oh, and by the way, did you know that we are now stocking the amazing Chalk Paint? And offering classes in Chalk Paint?? Well, now that you are fully up-to-date and in the know, it’s time to move on to the super fun portion of this post-everybody’s favorite-The BIG announcement and GIVEAWAY! Drumroll……

Announcing the Annie Sloan American Tour and Chalk Paint Giveaway!

Chalk Paint Giveaway Royal Design Studio

The U.S Stockist have banded together to spread a little paint magic around and celebrate the Annie Sloan American Tour, coming in Spring 2012 to a city near you! This little blog, Designamour, is just one of many hosting an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint gift basket giveaway, that includes: 2 quarts of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (you choose!),  Annie Sloan Soft Wax in clear and dark, and Annie’s juicy “tell-all” book, Quick and Easy Paint Transformations.

Here’s how to enter the Designamour Chalk Paint Giveaway:

Go to our Chalk Paint page at Royal Design Studio and leave a comment here telling me which are YOUR two color choices.

For an additional  entry, post a link to this giveaway on Facebook  and leave a comment here that you did.

For an additional, additional entry, post a link to this giveaway on Twitter and leave a comment here that you did.

For an additional, additional extra special entry, go to Royal Design Studio and leave a comment here telling me which stencil you would love to have to paint a piece of furniture with. (If you do, and THAT comment is chosen as the winner, you will get the stencil AS WELL as the Chalk Paint Gift Basket! Brilliant!

That’s 4 chances to win! The Giveaway ends December 31, when a comment winner will be drawn via

AND the chances don’t even end there. There’s MORE!

The lucky winner of the Giveaway here will also be entered to win a free registration to the Annie Sloan American Tour, in the city of your choice. THAT winner will be drawn by Annie Sloan Unfolded and announced on Annie’s Blog on January 10, 2012.

Good luck!!!!!!!

All furniture images designed and painted by Annie Sloan. Photographer: Christopher Drake