With a decorative stencil and some paint, you can decorate not just walls but just about any surface of your home.

Wall decals and stencils have become more popular, says Emily Bidwell, an in-house style expert at the crafts website Etsy.com, because they are "a no-fuss way to create a big impression."

"In under an hour you can create a mural effect without the mess of paint, and it's an affordable alternative to wallpaper," she says. "Plus, you have the added fun of having done it yourself."

Besides walls, there are stencils with intricate medallions for ceilings and other designs perfect for floors: Think of a curling vine pattern on an outdoor concrete porch. Stencils can be used on fabrics too, from decorative pillows to window treatments to shower curtains. If you use the right paints, you can even embellish glass and ceramics.

Smaller stencils can be used for personalized gift bags, tags and cards, as well as for scrapbooking and, of course, sign-making.

Check out some of the other ways you can decorate your space.

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  • Gilded Moleskine Journal

    Add some personality to your Moleskine by carving original gilded designs and pressing them against the journal. Head over to <a href="http://www.designmom.com/2012/09/perfect-gift-gilded-moleskine-journal/" target="_blank">Design Mom</a> for the full tutorial.

  • Gold Leaf Notebook

    Adding gold leaf details to your journal adds a touch of style and sets it apart from others. Head over to <a href="http://www.hellolucky.com/wordpress/2012/09/05/diy-gold-leaf-notepads/" target="_blank">Hello Lucky</a> for the full tutorial.

  • Button & String Journal

    This clever button & string journal is a craft activity that you can using raw materials. Head over to <a href="http://thecreativeplace.blogspot.com/2010/02/ive-been-trying-to-decide-on-what-to.html" target="_blank">The Creative Place</a> for the full tutorial.

  • DIY Striped Notebooks

    You'll never guess how this blogger made these pastel colored designs. Here's a hint: they're repurposed office supplies. Head over to <a href="http://papernstitchblog.com/2012/10/17/make-this-striped-one-minute-notebooks-diy/" target="_blank">Paper & Stitch</a> for the full tutorial.

  • Book Binding Tutorial

    This is a useful craft if you're interested in binding your own journal. You'll be able to choose from your own selection of papers and include any number of pages you'd like -- as long as the binding keeps it together, of course! Head over to <a href="http://www.modernparentsmessykids.com/2013/03/diy-book-binding-experience-journals.html" target="_blank">Modern Parents Messy Kids</a> for the full tutorial.

  • Washi Tape Journal

    These journals are given a little flair using a variety of different patterned tape. Head over to <a href="http://www.designlovefest.com/2012/08/make-it-18/" target="_blank">Design Love Fest</a> for the full tutorial.

  • Easter Ideas: Miniature Flower Baskets

    These lightweight <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/20/easter-ideas-tiny-flower-baskets_n_2902413.html" target="_blank">miniature flower baskets</a> are the perfect party favors for your Easter celebration.

  • Easter Ideas: Egg Hunt Bag

    These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/21/easter-ideas-egg-hunt-bags_n_2917237.html" target="_blank">compact totes</a> will come in handy on your Easter egg hunt search!

  • Easter Ideas: Piñata Eggs

    Smashing these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/25/easter-ideas-pinata-eggs_n_2945141.html" target="_blank">confetti-filled pinata eggs</a> can be a fun activity for your festivities.

  • Easter Ideas: Alternative Egg Crafts

    Ditch the typical egg-dyeing routine and try a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/easter-ideas-alternative-egg-designs_n_2901928.html" target="_blank">different approach to glamouring your eggs</a>.

  • Easter Ideas: Paper Crafts

    These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/27/easter-ideas-paper-crafts_n_2957631.html" target="_blank">adorable paper crafts</a> make for easy instant Easter decorations.

  • Easter Ideas: Bunny Crafts

    Head over to our list of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/28/easter-ideas-bunny-crafts_n_2963748.html" target="_blank">Easter bunny crafts </a>that you'll want to start working on ASAP!

  • Yarn Decoupage Vase

    Set the St. Patrick's Day mood with these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/14/st-patricks-day-decoupage-vase_n_2853027.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home" target="_hplink">charming decoupage vases</a>.

  • St. Patrick's Day Candle Centerpiece

    Make <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/13/st-patricks-day-ideas-candle-centerpiece_n_2854731.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home" target="_hplink">a candle centerpiece</a> with green split peas for St. Patrick's Day.

  • St.Patrick's Day Shamrock Barrette

    DIY <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/12/st-patricks-day-ideas_n_2853111.html" target="_hplink">felt shamrock barrette </a>to show off your spirit.

  • St. Patrick's Day Yarn Wreath

    A DIY <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/11/st-patricks-day-yarn-wreath_n_2831120.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home" target="_hplink">St. Patrick's Day yarn wreath</a> to start the celebration early.

  • Paint-Dipped Flower Vases

    Make these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/10/paint-dipped-vases-spring_n_2830169.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">paint-dipped flower vases</a> that remind us of spring.

  • Paper Photo Lanterns

    Turn paper lanterns into <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/paper-lanterns-photo-spheres-_n_2715981.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">personalized glowing photo spheres</a>.

  • Storage Tins

    Dress up your refrigerator with a touch of personality by adding these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/17/-refrigerator-storage-tin-magnets_n_2695726.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">DIY storage tin magnets</a>.

  • Snowflake Votives

    Relish the last few weeks of winter with these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/15/diy-snowflake-votive_n_2669265.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">charming snowflake votives</a>.

  • Painted Vintage Silverware

    Give your antique silverware a dose of personality by <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/11/vintage-silverware-neon-paint_n_2663527.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">painting them with vibrant, neon colors</a>.

  • Reusable Fruit and Vegetable Bag

    Reuse vintage flour sacks and turn them into fruit and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/24/reusable-vegetable-fruit-bags_n_2536944.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">veggie bags</a>.

  • Paint Dipped Bud Vases

    Add some color to your space with these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/23/make-paint-dipped-bud-vas_n_2530606.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">paint dipped vases</a>.

  • DIY iPhone Cases

    Brighten up your winter by designing your own <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/21/a-diy-iphone-case_n_2517019.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">iPhone case</a>.

  • Retro Inspired Clock

    Make these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/20/retro-inspired-clock-diy_n_2515834.html?utm_hp_ref=crafts" target="_hplink">retro-inspired clocks</a> with wood shims.

  • Crepe Paper Fringe String Lights

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/18/crepe-paper-fringe-string-lights_n_2500859.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home" target="_hplink">Make these</a> for any festive occasion.

  • Paint Splattered Vases

    These are a throwback to the '80s and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/17/paint-splattered-vase-craft_n_2492400.html" target="_hplink">a blast to make.</a>

  • Wood Burned Sign

    Make this <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/16/wood-burning-craft_n_2482645.html" target="_hplink">cute rustic decor </a>for your next get-together.

  • Painted Platter

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/15/painted-platter-craft_n_2476038.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost Home" target="_hplink">Update a simple</a> plate with glass paint.

  • Paint Dipped Pots

    This is a great way to use<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/14/paint-dipped-pots-craft_n_2449767.html" target="_hplink"> up those extra paint samples</a>.

  • Sequin Pillow

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/13/sequin-throw-pillow-craft_n_2449523.html" target="_hplink">This is made from</a> a forgotten piece of clothing.

  • Faux Malachite Hardware

    You'll never guess <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/10/faux-malachite-knobs-craft_n_2441673.html" target="_hplink">how these are made. </a>

  • Fabric Feathers

    You can <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/11/fabric-feathers-craft_n_2448757.html" target="_hplink">use these for countless projects</a>.

  • Glitter Thumbtacks

    Turn <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/09/glitter-thumbtacks-craft_n_2434717.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">boring office supplies</a> into this.

  • Hand Warmers And Ice Packs

    Heat them up or cool them down -- these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/08/hand-warmers-ice-packs-craft_n_2425960.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">hot/cold packs</a> can do it all.

  • Linen Napkins

    Add some color to your table and <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/07/linen-napkins-craft_n_2411487.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">never use a paper napkin</a> again!

  • Braided Rug

    Turn scrap fabric into a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/06/braided-rug-craft_n_2404200.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">bright and welcoming rug</a>.

  • Book Page Boxes

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/04/book-page-boxes-craft_n_2403665.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">Try this</a> instead of throwing out your old books.

  • Painted Votive Candles

    A craft project that will <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/03/painted-votive-candle-holders-craft_n_2398283.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">help you unwind</a>.

  • Snowball Wreath

    Stay festive after the holidays with this <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/02/snowball-wreath-craft_n_2389757.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">wintry wreath</a>.

  • Pom Pom Bookmarks

    A simple way to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/01/pom-pom-bookmark-craft_n_2389135.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">never lose your place</a> in a book again!

  • Honey Bear Vases

    An <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/12/craft-of-the-day-gold-honey-bear-vases_n_2094626.html?utm_hp_ref=craft-of-the-day">adorable way</a> to repurpose these little guys!

  • Polka Dot Pillowcases

    These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/07/craft-of-the-day-polka-dot-pillowcases_n_2088768.html">spotted pillowcases</a> will help add some personal flair to your bedroom.

  • Add some flair to your fridge with these bright and colorful magnets.

    Add some flair to your fridge with these <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/craft-of-the-day-neon-wood-magnets_n_2088075.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">bright and colorful magnets</a>.

  • Magazine Page Heart Dish

    Reuse old magazines to create an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/06/craft-of-the-day-magazine-page-heart-dish_n_2083477.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">adorable and useful box</a> that holds jewelry or other small items.

  • Pumpkin Patch Fall Wreath

    Keep <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/05/craft-of-the-day-pumpkin-patch-fall-wreath_n_2077058.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">the pumpkin decor</a> going throughout this fall season.

  • Rustic Birch Bark Candles

    Add a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/11/01/craft-of-the-day-birch-bark-candles_n_2058318.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">natural look</a> to your fall table setting.

  • Indoor Mason Jar Herb Garden

    The perfect way to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/craft-of-the-day-indoor-mason-jar-herb-garden_n_2051655.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">bring your herbs indoors </a>this winter.

  • Color-Blocked Coasters

    Add a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/31/craft-of-the-day-color-blocked-coasters_n_2049875.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">splash of color</a> to your table and protect it at the same time.

  • Halloween Candy Printables

    These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/craft-of-the-day-halloween-candy-printables_n_2041213.html?utm_hp_ref=huffpost-home&ir=HuffPost%20Home">candy printables</a> were designed exclusively for HuffPost Home readers by Carla Chadwick from <a href="http://api.viglink.com/api/click?format=go&key=b057a0c538f3356fa4383d50d05abcbf&loc=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2F2012%2F10%2F29%2Fcraft-of-the-day-halloween-candy-printables_n_2041213.html%3Futm_hp_ref%3Dhuffpost-home%26ir%3DHuffPost%2520Home&v=1&libid=1351792186409&out=http%3A%2F%2Fprintablepartykits.com%2F&ref=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.huffingtonpost.com%2F2012%2F10%2F31%2Fcraft-of-the-day-color-blocked-coasters_n_2049875.html%3Futm_hp_ref%3Dhuffpost-home%26ir%3DHuffPost%2520Home&title=Craft%20Of%20The%20Day%3A%20Halloween%20Printables%20To%20Personalize%20Your%20Candy&txt=Carla%20Chadwick%20from%20Printable%20Party%20Kits&jsonp=vglnk_jsonp_13517923719541">Printable Party Kits</a>!

  • Book Page Pumpkins

    These <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/29/craft-of-the-day-book-page-pumpkins_n_2039041.html">festive decorations</a> are perfect for the entire fall season!

Melanie Royals, president and creative director for Royal Design Studio, a stencil manufacturer in southern California, says one customer recently used a stencil and acrylic paint on a throw rug. Furniture stenciling also has become popular, she says; one of her ideas is to stencil the sides of dresser drawers for an artistic touch when they are opened.

"There are so many designs that are available that really can co-ordinate with almost any décor," Royals says. Plus, she says, "There is just a really short learning curve for using stencils, and you get the instant gratification right away."

Basically, you paint, pull the stencil off the wall and see the design.

Ambitious do-it-yourselfers can create their own stencils using a cutting mat or stencil film, and cutting tools such as exacto knives, says Tara Custer of Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts, one of the nation's largest retailers of the specialty products. Draw your own design or find free ones online, then transfer them to cardstock or other durable paper. Or try see-through plastic such as stencil film that can be taped to your design; then you can start cutting in whatever shape you've chosen.

Greg Swisher, co-founder of the New Jersey-based Cutting Edge Stencils, says cleaner colours and eye-catching patterns on walls are in fashion.

"Families are on a budget. They want to decorate their homes but they can't afford designer wallpaper," he says. "There is so much value in a stencil — you can custom colour to match the decor, and work with the architecture in the room to accent a wall or around an entryway."

Stephanie Olmstead, senior graphic designer with Stencil Ease of Old Saybrook, Conn., offers three tips for do-it-yourselfers:

1. Practice your technique before you apply the stencil to your intended surface.

2. Remember that less paint is better. You don't want the paint bleeding or seeping under the edges of the cut-outs.

3. You don't have to doggedly follow the colours recommended by the artist or company of store-bought stencils. She advises trying "any colours that appeal to you."

Also, keep some of your base colour on hand to touch up any problem areas, Swisher advises. But overall, he says, stenciling is very forgiving.

"You stencil one print. Say it's crooked — you paint over it and you're ready to go," he says. "You want to redecorate? You want to change colour or style, or add to it? It's super-versatile that way."

___

Online:

http://www.royaldesignstudio.com/

http://www.cuttingedgestencils.com/

http://www.stencilease.com/

http://www.joann.com/joann/home/home.jsp