If someone were to say they’re stenciling a room in their home, what would you think? Most of the population would picture a border of dainty little flowers. That school of thought is on its way to changing and Cold Spring resident Cate Olivia Mars is paving the way. Her company, Olive Leaf Stencils, offers a totally fresh take on wall stencils.
In this arena, Mars is definitely the new kid on the block, but she is already making giant strides. This Manhattan born, local girl launched Olive Leaf in October and has already been picked up by many DIY blogs, filmed a segment for HGTV’s Dear Genevieve, and was asked to participate in modern furniture giant, West Elm’s Etsy showcase in March.
Mars has a natural proclivity for art—stemming from her father, an oil painter, and her mother, a master calligraphy artist—that was further developed by growing up in Soho during its heyday, and attending The Waldorf School until the eighth grade. After a few years of teaching French to high school students and a life-changing event, she returned to her artistic roots and began drawing and drawing. And voila! Her company was born.
She painstakingly taught herself Photoshop and Illustrator and began releasing her designs on Etsy. Her stencils start with hand sketches that she modifies and tightens up digitally. The image is then machine-cut and hand-weeded—meaning Mars personally extracts the unnecessary pieces that make up the image.
An obsession with textiles, pattern and texture was the impetus for where she is now. Mars wanted to offer the average person the ability to have cool-looking, modern, and even better, totally custom wall treatments.
“Anyone can do it,” she says “and all they need is a can of paint, a roller and some painter’s tape.”
Stenciling is far easier and far less expensive than hanging wallpaper. Plus, you can just paint over the design when makeover time returns without laborious paper removal.
The other thing that excites Mars about her work is that she is the silent partner in a collaboration with each of her customers. She gives them a springboard and an amazing tool with which to be creative. The beginner can roll their stencil in a single color and the more adventurous DIYer, can use hand techniques, vary the color, or even layer different stencils for more depth.
Mars loves to see how her customers use her stencils. She shares these images in the gallery of her website. One customer/blogger showed the versatility of stencils by making curtains. When you buy from Olive Leaf, you always get a surprise, freebie stencil. This customer took hers and made curtains. But it doesn’t need to stop there. Furniture, or even your floor is an option. How about your kitchen cabinets? If the surface is flat, you can stencil it. As they say, the possibilities are endless!
If you review the offerings on the Olive Leaf website, you will quickly see how beautiful, unusual and truly breathtaking they are. She is the first to bring the look of Ikat (one of the oldest weaving techniques developed in Southeast Asia producing a tie dye appearance) to the wall stencil market. And they are flying off the shelf.
Mars’ inspiration is born mainly from nature. She is the modern-day, hipster version of William Morris-England — king of the decorative arts circa 1860. In fact, he is one of her biggest inspirations. And by hipster, I mean she takes Morris to a whole new level. If you’re brave enough, you can have a giant squid floating across your wall.
You won’t find that stencil at AC Moore or Michaels, not yet at any rate.
For more information about Olive Leaf Stencils, visit www.oliveleafstencils.com.
Nicole Ashey is the principal of Burlock Decorating & Home Staging in Beacon.
For inspiration and decorating ideas, visit www.burlockhome.com