When we bought our town home in 2014 we knew we'd have a lot of painting to do. While the guest bath actually was an adorable two-toned green stripe pattern, the walls were so worn with dents and nail holes that I decided it needed a makeover. I started where all good ideas are born these days, by browsing Pinterest for how to make a big impact in a small space. While something like a big floral print wallpaper really appealed to me, I decided painting and stenciling was going to be the easier option for a first time DIY-er. I decided to stick to one accent wall as to not overwhelm the space (also the shorter walls in a small space aren't easy to work around with a stencil). Below is the step-by-step process I used to create this look.
What You'll Need: stencil, (2) paint colors, foam pouncers, painter's tape, a damp cloth, a level, easy-tack adhesive spray
1. Once you've browsed around for ideas (Pinterest, DIY blogs) you'll need to pick out a stencil. Make sure it's one with a repeating pattern so you can easily line up the next section. There are so many stencil patterns to choose from, whether it's geometric shapes, floral, or damasque. I purchased my stencil from Amazon (here) in the 13x16 size but you can get them at other specialty shops online or craft stores.
2. You'll need to paint the wall a solid color first if you haven't already. For your accent color you can either choose to go a few shades lighter than the wall color or a few darker (or even a silver or gold color)! Look around for what you like best. I chose to go a few shades darker for my accent color. You'll also need to use the painter's tape around the edges of the wall to prevent getting paint where you don't want it.
3. Once you've found the starting point for your pattern (think the place your eye goes to when you first step into the room) you can spray a bit of the adhesive spray on the back of the stencil. Make sure to use a level to ensure the pattern doesn't end up looking crooked. If your floor/ceiling as at a slant like some old houses, you'll need to decide if you want to stay level with that or not. I also used painter's tape to tape the stencil to the wall. Note: the most annoying piece to this project was that the stencil really did not want to stick to the wall. I'd suggest trying to find a lighter-weight stencil than I used.
4. Once the stencil is adhered to the wall you can use the foam pouncer (I used ones by Martha Stewart) to lightly dab the paint onto the wall. Make sure you're holding the stencil down so the paint doesn't seep through and cause the paint to bleed outside of the stencil area. You're only going to use one coat of paint here so make sure you've really covered the whole stencil in paint.
5. After a few minutes, gently peel off the stencil. Wait up to 20 mins for the paint to dry before moving on to the next section as the stencil overlaps and you don't want to get the back of the stencil wet with paint that will transfer to places you don't want it to.
6. Continue lining up the stencil where it repeats and paint within the stencil. You'll need to add more adhesive spray occasionally as well as bring in the level to make sure you're keeping the pattern straight. It never hurts to step back and make sure everything is looking level too.
7. Cutting Corners. By far the most time consuming piece to the project (and I think it took over 20 hours total to complete this project) was using the stencil around the edges of the wall. While the stencil is reusable, I decided to cut mine in half vertically in order to really be able to get into those corners and get the stencil to be flush against the wall.
Have a damp cloth always handy! There were times when I got paint outside of the stenciled area. If you use the damp cloth while the paint is still wet, it should come right off. Don't be afraid to even wipe off a whole section and start over if you have to.
If you want to re-use the stencil you can buy some Motsenbocker's Lift Off paint remover. I wouldn't suggest it though unless you really plan on using the stencil again- it wasn't worth the time.
Cut the stencil if you can towards the end of your project when all that's left is getting into those pesky corners. If you can afford it, you can even think about buying 2 of the same stencil so you can cut one up and leave one intact.
Have patience! This project definitely became frustrating at times because the stencil just did not want to cooperate, but it was so worth it in the end. Everyone who comes into my house thinks the stenciling is wallpaper and is shocked to find out I did it myself!
Happy stenciling, all! Feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions and I'll be happy to answer.
Stenciling sure isn't easy and it's a very long process; but the finished results sure are rewarding!