When designers Karen and Guy Vidal went to revive a concrete area along the back of an East Hollywood apartment building that they owned, the couple turned to an inexpensive DIY trick: stenciling a "carpet" directly onto the patio.
"We wanted to do something fun," Karen Vidal said. "We worked with the idea that a carpet creates intimacy. We weren't sure how it was going to play out, so we didn't want to spend a lot of money."
The goal was an inviting communal outdoor room for a 1920s Spanish building that otherwise had little alfresco space for tenants. The couple behind the L.A. firm Design Vidal often use cement tiles because they "add a lot of personality" and are durable, Karen said, but when that application proved too expensive for the apartment project, they decided to emulate Moroccan-style cement tiles with paint.
The stencils were designed by Mary Kay Harrison of Design Vidal using the same kind of folding technique that's used to make paper snowflakes. Harrison simply took a piece of paper, folded it and cut a pattern. She then place the pattern on poster board and used an X-Acto knife to create a durable stencil.
"It really is so simple and yet looks so fancy," said Karen of the process, which involved only a few more steps:
1. Remove grease or any previous sealant from the concrete with a solvent.
2. Apply a good coat of cement deck primer. The Vidals used Life Deck Paint from Jill's Paint in Atwater Village.
3. Tape off the perimeter of the carpet and lay down the base color. For the apartment project pictured here, the designers used terra cotta.
4. Once the base coat is dry, tape down the stencil and roll the accent paint — in this case, white — on top. Repeat (and repeat, and repeat).
This project ended up costing a few hundred dollars and has held up well without any sealant on the paint. And the best part?
"If you don't like it," Karen Vidal said, "you can paint over it."