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Regina Garay

Stencil Star: Fashionable Finishes from Michele Molek

Michele Molek's Decorative Ceiling Art using Moello Design's Alhambra-B-CC138A via Paint + Pattern

Creating innovative and showstopping finishes is a trademark of artist Michele Molek’s work. She frequently uses stencils with her finishes as well as the flexibility allowed by Modello® Designs to customize and size a pattern. The above, multi-colored stenciled ceiling features the Alhambra B Stencil from the Modello® Designs Carpets & Panels Collection with a gorgeous application by Michele in a dining room.

We travel to North Carolina to meet with the innovative and talented Michele Molek of Fashionable Finishes. She frequently mixes beautiful decorative paint and plaster finishes with lovely ornamental patterns and stencil designs. We’re proud to feature her in our Stencil Star™ series, which seeks to showcase creative artists and feature their inspired design and decorative painting projects using our Royal Design Studio Mylar stencils and Modello Decorative Painting Stencils.

Michele Molek's customized vinyl stencil from Modello Designs via Paint + Pattern

Michel Molek's customized vinyl stencil by Modello Designs via Paint + Pattern

An over-sized graphic stencil pattern is paired with a shimmery strie plaster finish for striking results in a dining room.  The outcome, just gorgeous! The pattern was a customized vinyl stencil by Modello® Designs.

What draws you to Stenciling?

I think of myself as creative, not artistic. I mean I can whoop my kids at a game of Pictionary, but if you asked me to paint a tree on your wall – no way. Now, if you asked me to make your walls look like tree bark – no problem. I have a good eye for color and texture and I excel in figuring out what tools, materials, and processes are needed to achieve a certain look. That’s where stencils come to my rescue. A Modello® Designs Stencil is my number one go-to tool that allows me to utilize the strengths I do have in order to overcome the ones I don’t. With stencils, I can create the shapes, patterns, and designs that I would never in a million years be able to paint freehand. Stencils allow this creative painter to make-believe she’s an artist.”

Michele Molek's faux wood marquetry finish on staircase using stencils by Modello Designs | Paint + Pattern

Michele was ecstatic to find the time to update her own home! After 10 hours with paints, stains and Modello® Designs Stencils, white stairs were transformed with a faux wood marquetry finish. Quick and dazzling!

Michele Molek's decorative art work using Transition Stencil from Modello Designs | Paint + Pattern

The Transitions Stencils from Modello® Designs allow for a seamless flow of color and design from one space to another. Here, the TransBor101 stencil pattern adds beautiful interest to architectural arched entrances.

What are your favorite surfaces to work on?

That’s easy.  Ceilings, ceilings, ceilings. I am a sucker for architecturally interesting ceilings. You know, barrels, and coffers, and domes, Oh My! I want to cry when I walk into a space and see that a beautifully designed and constructed ceiling is painted white and blends into the woodwork. It’s a travesty, I tell you! So I get extra satisfaction coming up with a ceiling design that enhances the architecture and turns what was a boring neglected surface into the focal point of a room. And in my opinion, there is nothing that can transform a ceiling like a Modello® Designs Stencil (at least for those of us who are not Michelangelo).”

Stenciled barrel ceiling by decorative artist Michele Molek using stencils by Modello Designs | Paint + Pattern

Gilding, layered plasters and multiple colors create a showstopping stenciled barrel ceiling. Michele used a modified version of the Modello® Designs Chateau CC 118 Stencil from the Carpets and Panels Collection.

Michele Molek's decorative ceiling art using stencils by Modello Designs | Paint + Pattern

One of the most popular Modello® Designs Stencil is the Ornamental Center 162 Stencil from the Ornamental Stencils Collection. The pattern works perfectly around both small and large ceilings as well as helping showcase light fixtures beautifully. It looks like the perfect design for this foyer staircase ceiling.

What would be your “dream” stencil project?

I’ve already completed my dream project. It was in a home where I pretty much had free reign to do whatever I wanted. I gave the homeowner a general idea of what I had in mind but very little else. When she started to ask questions I’d say, “Don’t worry about it. Just shut up and write the check.” Did I mention that this homeowner was my sister – my YOUNGER sister? It was fun executing my vision and, knowing her as well as I do, being confident that she would love the results. And if she didn’t? I’d just beat her up and steal her Strawberry Shortcake dolls (oh wait that was a flashback, never mind). All kidding aside, it was great working in my sister’s home. In all, I did four ceilings with Modello® Designs and an allover stencil pattern on the walls in the powder room. The best part of the project was that I got to spend a lot of time with my sister, create something beautiful for her, and make someone I love very, very happy. Plus, I get to visit my work every time I visit her.”

Stenciled wall finishes by Michele Molek using stencils by Modello Designs | Paint + Pattern

Stenciled wall finishes by Michele Molek using stencils by Modello Designs | Paint + Pattern

This stenciled wall finish features fire opal glitter and over 1,000 topaz Swarovski crytals. It’s an incredible wall application with an Ornamental Allover Stencil (OrnAll117). “Without your extraordinary product, this would never have been possible,” Michele says of Modello® Designs stencils.

Stenciled ceiling finishes by Michele Molek using stencils by Modello Designs | Paint + Pattern

Elegant treatment on the walls and sophisticated stenciling on the ceiling – check! Michele uses her talents to achieve a harmonious color scheme with both the finishes and patterns in this luxe bath. The ceiling pattern is the Exotic East Panel Stencil (EasPan152) from the Exotic East Stencils Collection from Modello® Designs.

Michele Molek | Paint + Pattern

Michele Molek is owner and sole artist of Fashionable Finishes located in North Carolina. As a child and teenager she could always be found doing something creative – painting posters for the high school football team, making prom bouquets for her friends, or just redecorating her room over and over again. When college rolled around, instead of following her passion for art and design, she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology and a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. Following her high school sweetheart turned husband around the globe as an Army wife, Michele worked with military families and disable veterans in a counseling role for several years. Her first attempt at decorative finishing came in 1996 when she did a glazed finish in her own kitchen. In 2003, a contractor visited her home and commented on her beautiful “wallpaper”. When he learned that it was a painted finish, the contractor encouraged Michele to think about doing it professionally. After taking a break from counseling and undergoing decorative paint training, she opened Fashionable Finishes in 2005. That fun break from counseling is now a thriving career. Be sure to keep up with her projects via the Fashionable Finishes Facebook page, too!

Royal Design Studio Wall Stencils and Paint Supplies for DIY Projects


  1. WOW. Amazing work. Congratulations!

  2. I am very impressed with not only the beauty of the ceiling stencils, but the ceiling stencil-ers !! I have tried, in a small bathroom, and find it very hard to apply and paint the motivs. How does a person get the stamina and strength to manage in such an uncomfortable positioning? (Not the usual comment, but an enigma to me). The artists have my admiration !

  3. Regina

    A very good question, Eileen! Ceilings have their trials but when you are done, there is nothing else quite like the results. There must be frequent breaks, limited hours (if possible) and of course, having the right tools and materials — like the adhesive-backed Modello® Designs stencils Ms. Molek used — make all the difference. The pain does go away but the beautiful finish lives forever!

    • Thank you for your reply. Just one more “enigma”…….how do you manage to apply the stencil in the first place. (Something about gravity) ! I still would like to give it a go, but it seems awkward to spray the stencil and then not have one end hang on your head, especially with the larger stencils. Thankyou.

      • Regina

        Hi, Eileen! Enigmas are what we are here for and it’s a good question! You could use a mylar stencil with stencil spray, of course, but with the larger applications (and even the smaller ones), a Modello® Designs stencil is a perfect answer – they are what Ms. Molek used to create her incredible projects, including the ceilings. These are one-time use masking patterns that are custom-sized and cut from your choice of adhesive materials. In short, once you apply the Modello® stencil to your surface, the adhesive keeps your pattern in place until you are done with your stenciling. Here is the site to see so much more: http://modellodesigns.com/ Hope that helps! 🙂

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