No one knows exactly when the compass was invented, or when its north, south, east, and west indicators were subdivided with a sun-embracing design of petal-like points, giving rise to the term compass rose. But in time this motif jumped from sailing ships to inlaid floors and even quilts, becoming as much a part of Americana as it is a navigational tool that dates back to at least the 14th century.

In the photo shown here, a compass-rose medallion rimmed in red is set among rug-like blue and white stripes. While the eight-point star punctuates the base of a spiral staircase here, it could also anchor a foyer or even a breakfast table. A faint N, for north, can be seen above the rim, but the updated design, with facets in white, navy, and ocean blue, is less literal than a classic compass rose, lending energy and graphic punch to an otherwise restrained color scheme. Let the design point the way to a place worthy of this patriotic flourish.

Shown: Blue and white stripes mimic 19th-century American woven cotton rugs.

Download and print out the template here. Then take it to your local print shop to have it enlarged, or watch this video to learn how to enlarge templates with graph paper.
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    • shop vacuum
      Vacuum cleaner and dust rag
    • scissors
    • pencil
    • wooden yardstick
    • tack thumb
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    • plastic putty knife
      Plastic putty knife to seal the tape before painting
    • 1 inch paint brush
      1-inch paintbrush
    • 4-inch paintbrush
      4-inch paintbrush
    • 4-inch paint roller frame
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    • paint roller with extension
      Long-handle roller for applying polyurethane

    Shopping List

    1. Posterboard

    2. String

    3. 1-inch delicate-adhesion painter’s tape If you are painting a large area, buy two rolls.

    4. Disposable paint trays

    5. 4-inch roller covers with ¼-inch nap, one for each paint color

    6. Porch and patio latex paint

    7. Water-based polyurethane

    8. Roller cover with ¼-inch nap for applying polyurethane

    9. Disposable booties