Tuesday, May 10, 2011

DIY: Stenciled Wallpaper

When I think of stencils, I tend to think of the folk art kind. You know, hearts and ducks and country. But then one day while blog hopping, I stumbled upon Carmel's beautifully stenciled dining room on her blog Our Fifth House

Isn't her dining room just gorgeous!

I quickly visited Olive Leaf Stencils on Etsy where she bought her stencil, and saw this stencil...

Which got the wheels turning in my head that the wall behind our bed would be perfect for a stencil!

See, this is how my mind works....I see an idea, fall in love, obsess over said idea, until I have to get it out of my system and just do it! This is what my poor husband has to live with every.single.day. Don't feel too sorry for him though, because he lives to give me grief over my OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Decorating). Trust me.

Anyway, my mind wasn't 100% made up on stenciling our bedroom wall, that is until I saw this beauty

It was official. I was head over heels in love with this dramatic, over-sized damask stencil. Add to cart. Done!

Meanwhile...back at the ranch (okay, I don't actually live on a ranch, altho' the field we built our house on used to house cows, so I guess it was a ranch at one time), I had not yet told Jim what my plans were for our bedroom. Instead I hung the above picture on our bedroom wall and waited for him to notice. Aren't I cute ;-)

Okay, now for the tutorial.....
Because I had no idea whatsoever on what I was doing, I searched the internet and lots of blogs for stenciling tips. Kate over at Centsational Girl has a great post on tips for stencils. Some of the tips I used, and some I didn't.

Re-positionable Spray Adhesive
Painters Tape
Paint Tray
Brush or roller (I used a special roller for the metallic paint I bought)
Wet rag for clean-ups
Patience and a free weekend!

(these are the ones that worked for me)
1. Find the center of your wall and mark it with a pencil or a piece of painters tape. I started from the center of our bed, even though that wasn't the center of the wall, because our bed is centered in the arches. You want to start from the center of the wall so that your stencil design is evenly painted over the span of the wall. If you start from one corner, the far corner where you end your stencil may look "wonky" and "off". So start from the center.

2. Lightly - Medium spray the back of your stencil with re-positionable spray adhesive. This will help hold your stencil to the wall, which was very important for my oversize stencil - mere tape around the corners would not have been enough. You should be able to paint several stencils before having to reapply more spray adhesive.

3. Now find the center of your wall, and position your stencil center of your mark. Use painters tape to secure the edges and corners of your stencil to the wall, as the spray adhesive is not enough "stick" to hold your stencil in place.

4. Now here is the fun and scary (at first) part! Apply paint to your roller (or brush if you decide to go with a brush) in some paint and roll it over the stencil, filling in all the nooks and crannies. Many people recommend that you roll off some paint onto a paper towel before applying the paint to your stencil to prevent the paint from bleeding under the stencil. But because a) my wall color was light, as was my paint for the stencil, and b) my stencil did not have clean cut lines, I was not concerned with the paint bleeding. In fact, I rolled my roller through the paint several times before applying it to the stencil. NOW, this may or may not work for your stencil, so it might be a good idea to test your stencil and the amount of paint to apply on some cardboard before you commit it to the wall.

5. Allow the paint to dry to the touch before applying your next stencil, since you will be overlapping the stencil over the painted stencil. It might be a good idea to pick a warm day to do this project!

5. The next part is the trickiest part until you get it down, which you will, I promise. You need to line up the stencil with the stencil you already painted. There should be little cut-out markers on the corners and sides of your stencil. I circled the marks on my stencil in yellow so you can see what I'm talking about. The tricky part is figuring our where the cut-outs line up with the painted stencil. I swear this took me a good 5 minutes to figure out, but once I did, the rest were easy-peasy!

6. I painted 4 stencils in a diamond shape, so that I didn't have to wait as long for the paint to dry before applying the next stencil. Once I had 4 stencils painted, I then painted one side, and moved my stencil to the other side, and when I was done painting that side, I usually only had to wait a short while before the other side was dry.

7. The next, and last tricky part, was figuring out how to position the stencil and paint into the corners. This took some experimenting, and a few dropped stencils on my head. What I did was line up my stencil, apply fresh tape to the bottom and sides of the stencil, and hold the stencil in place with one hand while I quickly secured the top half of the stencil to the ceiling or other wall. As you can see in the below picture, the top half of the stencil is not smooth and tight. Don't worry about this. Roll your paint into the bottom half of the stencil and when you are ready to work the paint into the corner of the stencil, with your roller still in place on the stencil, release the top half of the stencil so that it is no longer taped to ceiling, and roll your roller as far into the corner as you can. Clear as mud?

Above the bed is done! I cheated and did not go behind our bed, since our bed will always be in this spot, and there really was no reason for me to make more work for myself. I am all for shortcuts if I can take them!

Here's a picture of how I cut in the stencil on one of the corners. It's near impossible to cut the stencil completely into the corner. The only way I would see being able to cut into the corner, was by cutting my stencil in half, which I was not about to do.

And here's a picture of how I cut it into the baseboard, which you will have to excuse in this picture. This section of the baseboard is normally hidden behind a bedside table.

Almost done!

 Ta Da! Finished. Definitely worth a day and half worth of work! Sorry for the poorly lit picture. Go here to see the after pictures of how the rest of the bedroom turned out.

This project cost me under $100 to do. The most expensive purchase was the stencil at $49. And then the Martha Stewart's Precious Metals paint at around $18.

Stenciling was not as hard as I had imagined it would be. All you need is a free weekend and some patience. It's really easy once you get the first few stencils down. If I can do it, anyone can!



  1. Wow! That actually looked much harder than I thought it would. I may have to debate with you about the "anyone can do it" part....I really stink at stuff like this. You are more than welcome to come to Kenwood and show me how wrong I am (wink, wink). I have already picked out the wall and everything.

  2. Jenny, thanks for the tutorial! And also thanks for doing it first, so all the kinks are already worked out ;-) I did the "country" stencil way back when, when I had a flower border around my walls and doors in my bedroom.

  3. It's truly beautiful but I am not even close to having the skills for this....

    that is all

  4. Adrienne and PBJ - your girls shouldn't dismiss yourselves without trying this. It really wasn't that hard. I swear! :)

    And Adrienne - if you ever decide to stencil a wall, I would happily come over and show you the ropes.

    Berta - I am not surprised that you've done stenciling before. What have you not done? ;-)

  5. I finally had a chance to read this post and it is definitely a permanent keeper! Jenny, honestly, you should write a book about these techniques - you're so good at explaining each step and troubleshooting along the way.
    BTW, I also use the "tape a picture to the wall" technique for quietly introducing an idea to my DH - the trouble is, he never notices it!

  6. Thanks Lisa! And I love that I'm not the only one who tapes a picture to the wall ;)

  7. Great now Im Obsessive with wanting to do this !!! your wall came out great I cant wait to start on my walls ... like I don't have a billion other projects to do I just added one more ... Thanks ...'; )

  8. Stephanie, LOL. Sorry, to pass the obsessive bug onto you ;)

  9. Love, love, love this!!! I'm already trying to figure out which room I'm going to try this in.

  10. Stranded - Oh, I hope to read about this on your blog! It was such a fun project.

  11. Beautiful project. What an inspiration! Thanks for the tutorial....it still sounds hard to me. The thing is you don't really have an opportunity to "make a mistake" and have that be "ok" You are very encouraging though so, I will keep pondering over it!


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