Home decorating takes a literary turn with wall art

The saying "the writing's on the wall" has taken a literal turn. Some homeowners now personalize their homes with phrases using vinyl wall lettering.

Whether you prefer a serious tone ("Life is a journey and only you hold the map") or silly ("Drop your drawers here" for the laundry room), you can likely find a sentiment to fit your home's personality.

Fresno decorator Pam Milam of Reinvented Rooms says using favorite quotes in rooms can make a big impact.

"Wall lettering, pre-pasted, pre-spaced individually cut letters, came into the market about 10 years ago," Milam says in an e-mail. "It's a great alternative to hand-painting or stenciling, which takes a lot of time and money if you hire a decorative painter to do it."

Homeowners will find plenty of online companies offering vinyl lettering, as well as a limited selection at stores such as Target, Michaels, JoAnn Fabrics, Stein Mart and online at The rubber stamp catalog company Stampin' Up! offers self-adhesive vinyl art products called Decor Elements through its Definitely Decorative home decor line. Stampin' Up! demonstrator Kathy Chono-Herring of Fresno says the line was introduced last July.

She has the phrase "Live every Moment" on the wall of her craft room.

In addition, if you happen to own a personal paper-cutting machine -- such as Cricut or QuicKutz Silhouette, used for scrapbooking -- you can create your own designs. Both brands sell rolls of vinyl to cut out your own sayings and words.

Gwyn Kim of Fresno owns a Silhouette but says she doesn't use it to create her wall art. Instead, she bought the saying from the Web site Wall Words.

The phrase she placed in her kitchen reads: "Miracles often flow unseen throughout our lives, so let us remember to thank God for our daily blessing."

"The words look great," she says. "It adds so much to your house. Everyone comments on it. It's the first thing you see in the kitchen."

Kim says the saying, longer than most, took a couple of hours to rub on.

Milam has also used vinyl letters from Wall Words. "The letters are made of a thick vinyl about as thick as two or three coats of paint, so they give you the look of hand-painted stenciling," she says.

Milam answered common questions about vinyl letters:

You apply them by removing the paper backing and transferring them onto the wall by rubbing with a burnishing tool (similar to a big Popsicle stick.)

They are available in a wide selection of colors to coordinate with your room's color scheme.

There's a great selection of fonts -- from whimsical to classic.

They remove easily (just carefully peel them off) when you're ready for something new.

They come on a single sheet, but you can apply them in the arrangement that best suits your space. You can use them in one long line or cut the sheet into multiple pieces to make your quote two or more lines. Or you can cut each word out separately and place them in a creative layout to circle around an arch or stair-stepped down a wall.

They can be used on painted or papered walls, glass, windows, mirrors, wood and metal. Just be sure the surface is not too textured. Heavily textured paint finishes, such as stucco, are too bumpy and won't work.

Another option for purchasing wall letters comes from the direct sales company Uppercase Living. Homeowners invite friends to demonstration "parties," where Uppercase Living demonstrators showcase the product and answer questions.

"We tell guests about the product and show them samples," says Tara O'Rourke, a Fresno Uppercase Living demonstrator. "You could buy a different brand at a store, but with our company, if you accidentally rip it, you can exchange it."

Examples can be viewed at her Web site,

O'Rourke says it takes anywhere from 1 to 15 minutes to apply the sayings on the wall. Prices, based on size, range from $19.95 to $100. She used the sayings "You are my Sunshine" in her daughter's room and "Please don't feed the dust bunnies" on a wall near the baseboard.

"I like that it doesn't leave holes in the walls and you can just peel it off," she says.

Jenny Kubo of Fresno likes the product's ease, too: "I'm not a painter, and I like the convenience. You have the option of changing it. It's really easy."

Her daughter Makayla, 31/2, has her name spelled out with a princess crown on her bedroom wall.

"She loves it," Kubo says. "One of the nice things is to be able to personalize her room instead of using wood letters. It's her 'big girl' room."

Online companies such as Words Anywhere, at, show the many places the vinyl letters can be used. Saying such as "The love of a family is life's greatest blessing" can be placed in an entry way. "Always remember to kiss me goodnight" is a romantic sentiment for a bedroom.

"I always try to make rooms reflect the client's personality and lifestyle," Milam says. "I feel that when you walk into a room, you should get a real sense of who lives there. Using favorite words, phrases or quotes in your rooms can be a very personal form of decorating."