French Farmhouse Charm

This diamond border is simple to make with a hand-cut stencil and a few classic colors.

At the heart of French farmhouse style is a sense of comfortable cohesion. Pleasantly uncomplicated color schemes and hand-hewn pieces soften the harsh realities of a lifestyle woven around weather's whims.

This checkerboard border blends gently into farmhouse decor. The red and mustard colors, picked from fabric and accessories, fit this breakfast nook, but light taupe and black or earthy terra-cotta and mossy green also would work against the neutral base color of the wall.

To make a template for the diamond border, cut an 8-inch square and a 11 1/4 x 4-inch-tall measuring strip (to help keep the pattern evenly spaced along the top edge of the wall) from a piece of card stock.

Starting in a corner, position the strip against the ceiling and secure in place with painter's tape. Place the square-shape template on point (to form a diamond) at the base of the measuring strip. Repeatedly trace the template around the room, leaving about an inch between diamonds for adding circle shapes. Use a circle template to trace 1-inch-wide circles between the diamond shapes.

With a round brush, paint the mustard circles and let the paint dry. Next, hold a #12 round artist's brush like a pencil and fill in the triangle-shape areas with red using a scribbling motion to create a loose, casual effect. With each stroke, different tints and tones will emerge, and a bit of the wall color will peek through.

The resulting painterly effect will eliminate the necessity for the additional coats of red you would need for solid coverage. Measure and mark a 1 1/4-inch-wide band at the top and bottom of the border. Paint the bands with mustard. Outline the mustard bands with narrow red lines applied with loose, painterly strokes.

The result is a stunning dimensional border that lends hand-painted appeal to a timeless farmhouse look.

Project designer: Brian Carter