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Stencil supremo Nicolette Tabram shares her stencilling tricks & background with Vintro Paint

Stencil supremo Nicolette Tabram shares her stencilling tricks & background with Vintro Paint
Stencil supremo Nicolette Tabram shares her stencilling tricks & background with Vintro Paint

We don’t mean to sound biased, but we believe stencils are a fabulous way of making your home unique and we don’t mean in the way of the embellished walls of the eighties and early noughties. Following the success of shows such as Interior Design Masters and Escape to the Chateau, people are moving away from grey homes to seek out ways of making their homes beautiful by hand rather than following the en-masse trends. Stencilling is a cheap and easy way to personalise your home and create beautiful patterns on your walls or floors using paint with very little skill.
We interviewed stencil specialist, Nicolette of Nicolette Tabram Stencils, who shared her inspirations, influences and tips.


Can we have a bit of background about you and how you started your career in stencils.

When I was young, I would draw for hours on end. I studied textile design at Central School of Art and Crafts (now Central St Martins) and after graduating, began a career in fashion textiles. I worked for brands such as Monsoon, M&S and Sunuva, creating print and embroidery designs.
I began painting and selling furniture to find a better work life balance when my children were teenagers. I quickly felt the urge to add pattern and so began hand cutting stencils to use on the furniture. When a customer asked if I sold my stencils, I had a light bulb moment, and the range grew from there.


Do you have a creative individual you most admire?

It’s hard to choose one person, but I love William Morris. As a student, his work was hugely inspirational to me, and I still return to it today. He was a great champion of the decorative arts, craftsmanship and beauty. My Olive and Flora stencils are very inspired by his designs.

Do you have a favourite decade of décor design and does this influence your designs?

I take inspiration from lots of different styles and eras, and I like to mix them up.


What is your favourite colour/colour combination?

It changes, but Indigo is a constant and I have been using a lot of black, charcoal and ochre in my stencilled wall hangings.


Colour can seem daunting, how do you suggest using it?

Firstly, consider where you are using it and what effect you wish to create. Colour can affect your mood and it is important to consider what atmosphere you wish to create. Wallpaper, or patterned soft furnishings, are a good starting point for pulling two or three colours from and I am a big fan of anchoring bold colour with neutrals or using tonal combinations.

Do you experiment much with design and colour in your own home?

I had a lot of stencilled surfaces in my last home, but in my current home I have created a more neutral backdrop, adding colour with the addition of stencilled furniture and wall hangings. I often stencil new cushion covers for my lounge and dining room.

Who or what inspires your creativity?

It can come from anywhere. An exhibition, a day at the shops, travel, or something as simple as a birthday card I have received.

How do you pick stencil designs?

I create the designs in groups or themes, rather than a solo design and I always think about what it’s end purpose is. I’m quite frustrated by the many designs I have in in my head which have yet to be realised!

How do you keep up with current trends?

I look at the usual social media channels, exhibitions, blogs and interiors magazine websites, but I still love an actual interiors magazine.

How do you know a stencil design is good?

Essentially, when it is easy to use, repeats perfectly and creates a beautiful pattern. It could be an intricate design like my Bergen Border or something simple like the Crescent Tile Stencil.


What are your top tips for how and where to use stencils?

Stencils can be used on most flat surfaces, walls, floors, tiles, furniture and fabric.
I’d advise to lightly coating the back of the stencil with a spray adhesive or use a low tack tape to secure the stencil in position.
Whether it is best to use a brush, or a mini foam roller depends on the scale of the project, but always remove as much paint as possible before applying through the stencil.
Carefully lift the stencil and reposition before repeating.


What are the most common mistakes made when using a stencil?

The biggest mistakes are using a damp brush or roller, overloading the brush or roller with paint or not securing the stencil in position. They can all cause the paint to bleed or smudge.

Why should we use a stencil?

Stencils are great because they are an economical and easy way to update surfaces with pattern. My tile stencils are popular for updating tiles on walls and floors. The wall stencils are much more affordable than wallpaper.



Do you use your stencils at home to try them out?

I always test my stencils before uploading them to my websites. I still find it very exciting when I lift a new design off the laser machine, and I love experimenting with them.


What are your favourite 2 stencilled pieces?

I have sold all my stencilled furniture, apart from two pieces which I wouldn’t part with. I used some of my border stencils to create a mock bone in-lay effect on both, but to different effect. One is a glazed cabinet which I painted a bright green and completely covered in intricate pattern. It was a real labour of love, but it’s still a favourite. The other is a pine chest of drawers, which has the pattern applied directly onto the bare wood. It niggles me that I left some of the drawer fronts plain. I know one day it will all be too tempting, and I will get the stencils out again!

What advice would you give to other people who are motivated to become more creative?

Make time for it! Being creative is very mindful, rewarding and so good for the soul. I run a lot of creative workshops and people often tell me how therapeutic they have found the experience. As adults there can be a tendency to be fearful of failure in a way that children just don’t experience. Often the joy of creativity comes from the process as much as the finished article. Remember, it doesn’t need to be perfect!


Nicolette’s stencils are available online at and you can see them in use on Instagram @nicolettetabramstencils and on Pinterest nicolettet.