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Photograph: Martha Williams

Stencil your wood floor

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There are people in the world who would paint a wood floor out of an excess of time and imagination. Then there’s me, tenant in an apartment that contains a room I used to call “the Creepy Room.” Some nights I would come home, open the door to the water-damaged ceiling, walls studded with a thousand nails and staples, and floor that looked as if it at one point had been home to a flock of birds, and just check to make sure a herd of crusties wasn’t quietly living in there. Then one day—because my slumlord lives in Connecticut—I decided to fix it. I sanded some of the gunk off the floor with sandpaper and washed it. The boards were already painted a kind of pukish blue, so I bought some grayish floor paint at Home Depot plus a paint kit and painted the floor using a roller and brush. But stenciling looks pretty cool on unfinished wood, too. So I ordered the book Stencil 101: Decor by Ed Roth off Amazon ($16), which isn’t really a book but rather a dossier of wall-size stencils. I let the floor dry overnight, then used a paintbrush to stencil, being careful to tape the stencil down and hold it firmly. I used a thin coat of white paint, cleaning off the stencil between uses and patching up splotches after the pattern dried. Since I’m planning to move out the moment I can afford something better, I didn’t use any sort of measuring tape or pencil lines to make sure the pattern would keep an even distance from the wall. But you should definitely measure.

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