How to Stencil a Wall (the crazy way)

I have a breather from major holidays and birthdays for a little bit and my focus is returning to my poor neglected home. I am on a quest to bring some much needed order to it. Next week I will begin a series designed to help motivate and inspire me and others like me to take a bite out of the chaos in our homes. In the meantime, I’m sharing a home decor project because–if you are anything like me–nothing is more motivating than a beautiful space!

I stenciled this wall in my in-laws home back during Fall Break. Of course, there wasn’t a lot of blogging time with the onslaught of birthday parties and holidays that followed. So I’m barely getting around to sharing it now. If you are looking for the simplest way to stencil a wall, this is probably not the post to read. I do, however, have pointers to share, if you want to stencil a wall the insane way.

It all started when I convinced my MIL to order this beautiful all over stencil from Royal Design Studio. That, of course, meant that I would come and do the stenciling. Me and my big mouth.

Practice makes perfect 

Stencils are big in decor right now! A tone on tone stencil looks can make fancy designs look very modern. Unfortunately, my in-law’s house isn’t very modern and as I presented some sample board options to my MIL, it became clear that she wanted something with more of an old-world feel. Meaning more variation. Meaning more work.

Here are a couple of my practice boards. I experimented with. She like more blended looks than what I did here.

Location, Location, Location

Whenever possible, choose a wall with a slanted roof and lots of angles to stencil, in order to make the alignment impossible–if you are stenciling the crazy way.  Choosing somewhere really high, where you’ll have to be getting up and down a ladder the whole time, just adds to the adventure.

It was really hard to figure out where to start. I thought I had picked the right spot, but later wished I could have moved the whole thing over just a smidge. It would be much simpler to stencil a square wall without many extra openings.

 If It’s Not Broke–Keep going 

After a day and down the ladder, this is what the wall looked like. I thought it was pretty attractive, especially from a distance, but it wasn’t the “Old World” look we were going for, and my MIL definitely wanted the overall effect softened.

So it meant repositioning the stencil for more layers of highlights and lowlights and lots of blending. I had some small brushes and alternated between usingthe stencil and carefully adding the texture free-hand.

This picture shows what all of my efforts were for. the side on the left is with the single color of paint. On the right I have added some warm tones and lots of lighter paint to soften the look. I would paint one area and then have to go back and look from a distance to see if any spots were too pronounced (either light or dark). I can see a few in this shot that were probably touched up later.

Wear Tennis Shoes

No, really. My first day on the ladder, my husband asked where my tennis shoes were. I thought he was being his overly-concerned self, until a couple of hours later when my feet were aching. I think I tried one of the pairs of so called ‘best slippers for men‘ for a while, and ended up with tennis shoes, but my feet were very sore after about 3 days on the ladder painting and retouching, and more retouching for this project.

The lighting made it tricky to photograph, but everyone was really pleased with the final result. And if they weren’t, I’m sure they wouldn’t have had the heart to tell me after 3 days on a ladder. 🙂 It really looks quite lovely in person. I don’t think these pictures are doing it justice. It goes nicely with the window treatments my MIL had installed.

I think the wall turned out beautifully, but for some reason, after painting for 3 days, I didn’t think the wall in the adjoining room would look so great stenciled any more.

Have you done an all-over stencil on your walls? Do you have any pointers? The hardest part for me was stenciling the design along the angled ceiling, especially in areas where I couldn’t reach well. Do you prefer the bolder, more modern look, or do you like the old-world shaded and softened painting?

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  1. I think it looks amazing. You made me laugh out loud when I read the part about choosing slanted roofs and different angles whenever possible lol. Every room in my house has these types of angles and slants so I enjoyed reading your tips, thanks for sharing!

    • Thanks, Jessica!

      What I found difficult was trying to get a clean line on the design as I got near the walls, and especially the ceiling! It’s just really hard to press the stencil down close enough. Fortunately, from a distance, your eye doesn’t catch all of the little mistakes. Thanks so much for your comment!

  2. Oh girl, you are a much better daughter in law than I would ever be, hehe. You did a great job and the stenciling looks gorgeous.

    • Thanks, Jennifer! I’m not a great help in the kitchen, so I have to make up for it somewhere. 🙂

  3. After all that work I hope your MIL got the look she wanted. I think it looks great!

    Sometimes when you use a big stencil it would help to have an extra hand. I stenciled my entry wall and it’s definitely not perfect!

    I’m having a cutting Edge stencil going on now if you’d like a chance for another stencil!

    • Thanks Debra! She seemed quite pleased (or afraid to tell me if she wasn’t. :-))

      I think you are right! Another hand, could have made a big difference a long the edges. Of course, that would have meant another ladder, etc. The good news about the imperfections is the eye kind of makes up for them from a distance, and they really aren’t noticeable to most.

  4. I’m sure your MIL ALREADY loved you (because you are so sweet!) but this should keep you on her “A” list forever! You did a GREAT job with the stenciling, and I love how you incorporated other colors. Yes, super important to wear shoes with good arch support and “cush” to stand on those thin ladder rungs! Hopefully, after my stencil class at SNAP! you (and your feet) are ready to tackle another wall! Great job with the Acanthus Trellis Stencil, my dear!!

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