DIY: Stenciled Wall

This very well could be my biggest DIY to date. That, my friends, is not wallpaper. It is several hours worth of work using a paint pen and a piece of cardboard. It’s not for everyone, but this project only cost me $15!
My Unrequited Wallpaper Love
After realizing the cost, I regretfully kissed my dreams of a gorgeous embossed wallpaper goodbye and set out to try stenciling my dining room. (My husband almost passed out when I told him how much papering just one wall would be. I could see this was a problem…) In hindsight, there are so many reasons why I’m glad I went with a stencil over wallpaper. Just to name a few…
       1. The total cost was a mere 5% the price of the wallpaper I had picked out. Seriously. 
2. If I tire of the pattern (which is inevitable at some point), I can simply paint over it.
3. I discovered that trying something that once intimidated the life out of me could pay off.

My Inspiration
Like many blogoholics, I too have been enamored by the amazing stenciled wall projects out there. Here are just a few of my favorites that nudged me over the edge to try it myself.  

This amazing room from Hello Gorgeous
Kate’s bedroom from Centsational Girl
Above is Emily’s office (Jones Design Company). I decided to imitate her stencil. She was inspired by these curtains from Ballard Design that I had been admiring for a while.
Firenze Embroidered Panel 
My Process
1. I tried to use Emily’s stencil, but the scale wasn’t quite right for my wall. I basically recreated the same shape with poster board in the dimensions I needed. I spent quite a while testing it to get it perfectly symmetrical. (This could have been avoided had I downloaded or purchased pre-made stencils, BUT mine was free.)
Please forgive the dreadful pics…This was pre-Cannon 60D.
2. Next I traced the stencil on my entire wall in pencil. I started at the top and traced vertically down the wall. If I had to do it over again, I would start on one side and trace horizontally across the wall first. This would have saved me a lot of erasing and repainting. (I did admit to the trial and error at the beginning, remember?) This was the hardest part.

3. Then I used white paint pens to go over the penciled tracing. It is by no means perfect up close, but from a distance the pattern looks mostly uniform.

Dining Room BEFORE

All my friends who saw the project wanted to know how long it took me. Honestly, I don’t know exactly, but would guesstimate between 12-15 hours. I came home from work each day, turned on music, and worked until bed time for four days. That’s where the patience comes in.
If you’ve been contemplating stenciling, just go for it. You need to be precise and patient, but the end result is completely worth it. If you fail miserably (which you won’t) all you have to do is paint over your attempt and no one ever has to know. If only high school year book photos were that easy to erase…  
Be sure to “stop by” next week. I’m going to share three DIY art ideas to solve the “BLANK WALLS” dilemma.
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41 Comments Filed Under: DIY, Home Decor

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  • Comments

    1. says

      Michelle-I’m planning to stencil the shelves of an entertainment center for some clients in the coming weeks, and my wrists are already hurting just thinking about it!

    2. says

      GORGEOUS!! Very nice job! I did a harlequin diamond and dot wall on my daughters nursery. It did take a long time and a lot of erasing and measuring..and erasing…and erasing..LOL

      I want your wall!

    3. says

      Thanks to everybody stopping by via the DIY Showoff! I am so glad to “meet” you all.

      Mellie, I actually bought the cheapest, off-brand, white paint pens from Hobby Lobby. I purchased silver first, thinking I could make the wall look like some of the metallic wallpaper that I loved. Unfortunately, it blended in too much with my paint color. I am thinking about experimenting with the silver or gold paint pens on a another project soon though.

    4. says

      I’m here from the DIY Showoff…. Gorgeous job! You may have just inspired me to try this in a bedroom redo I’m ‘designing’. Oh, and I’m a new follower.

    5. says

      Hi Heather, your dining room wall finally motivated me to tackle this project once and for all. I am also using paint pens and find it incredibly frustrating. I’ve purchased Sharpie brand fine tip paint pens from Michael’s and even though I’ve depressed the tip and shaken up the paint, the paint does not come out consistently. At this rate, the wall is going to take me 5 years to complete! Did you have any problems with the paint pen? Any tips? I don’t have a Hobby Lobby in my area, otherwise I would purchase the same ones you used. Thank you – Vivian

    6. says

      Oh no, Vivian! It sounds frustrating. I’m not totally sure what the source of the problem is, so I’ll try to give it my best attempt: Perhaps the “fine tip” is making it more difficult. I’ve seen the Sharpies you mentioned. Mine was a medium point, so it was a bit thicker. Also, what kind of surface are you writing on? I have a satin paint on my wall, so the paint pens gripped to it a bit easier than they would on high gloss. I will say that in several areas I did have to shake, depress the tip, and retrace. One last tip, I found it easier to trace individual sections starting at the bottom of the curve and tracing up. This allowed me to hold the pen so the paint flowed down rather than fighting gravity. I hope your project works out! Feel free to email me pics, and I’ll try to help any way that I can.

    7. says

      I ended up returning the Sharpie pens from Michael’s (they were actually extra fine point) and getting Elmer’s pens (fine point) from Joann’s. I noticed the Sharpie tip was different… less sponge-like and therefore probably harder to soak up the paint. Thanks for the tip about tracing upwards – hopefully that helps get things done faster. (p.s. my wall is painted in eggshell which I think is the same or similar as satin). Will let you know if I run in to any more problems – thanks again have a great day! – Vivian

    8. says

      I can’t believe you did that with a diy stencil and a paint pen! You are awesome!! I am here from Thrift Decor Chick, btw. Great job!!

    9. sharon says

      i love this stencil.. can i get the dimentions you used for this kitchen i want it for my living room wall been searching everywhere for this perfect pattern.

    10. says

      Heather, this is beautiful! Thanks so much for sharing your method…I may end up trying to make a pattern based on a metal cross we have at the wall facing our entry… I am thinking if I trace the line I want to use I can play with size by enlarging on a copy machine… very creative! god Bless

    11. says

      Heather! This is beautiful! We’re using it as inspiration for our mama’s room at work (where our moms pump). I’ve read that you made your own stencil-where do you suggest we purchase one? I don’t even know which key words to search with! What would you call this design?

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