Earlier this week I mentioned my failed attempt at a fun gold striped wall in my dining room. Many of you were so sweet saying that it didn’t look that bad which definitely made me reconsider using it, but not in my dining room. Why? Because my failed attempt still had me aching for something bold so I moved on to the next plan: a stencil! I’ve never used a wall stencil before, but I’ve seen a lot of other people try them and were always very successful. I’ve always wanted to try one out on an accent wall or a small space like a bathroom or entry, but since my gold tape idea was a fiasco I thought that my dining room would be a perfect opportunity! My dining room and living room share the same wall [yay apartment living!] and I really wanted to define the two different spaces so giving the dining room a nice bold pattern would help to set it apart from the living room, and also make it feel a little more formal.
I started looking for the perfect stencil. I knew I wanted something geometric since I live with a boy, and we tend to lean toward more modern patterns rather than organic florals and whatnot. After scouring the internets I ended up choosing the Nova Trellis from Royal Design Studio. It was a nice geometric, not too masculine or feminine, and it looked easy enough for me to stencil. I loved the pixel effect it had too, a nice twist on the traditional harlequin. I knew that I wanted the pattern to be really bold so I decided to go all the way and choose a nice black for the pattern. My walls are a light grey, but I wanted a lot of contrast where my stencil would be used so I taped off the area I wanted stenciled and painted it white.
I used a flat white for the background and chose a satin black for the stencil. I thought it would help add some depth to the pattern by being two different finishes.
When my stencil arrived I was excited at how big it was, thinking “this will be so quick and easy!” Wrong. I’m going to warn you now.. stencils are serious business. They take time. And if you have high ceilings like we do, they take time + overcoming a fear of ladders. This has been a big week people!
Yes those ARE slippers on my feet. We like to keep it real here on YMC.
So before stenciling I did all of the research my brain could handle on how to stencil correctly. I had such a huge fear of the paint bleeding under the stencil because of our heavily textured walls so I was sure to read every tip and trick and watch every video Royal Design Studio had to offer. Then I went to Hobby Lobby and bought some foam brushes on the stenciling aisle, along with some repositionable spray adhesive for stencils.
It comes in a tiny can and it’s $6 [!!] you may be thinking.. is this a marketing ploy to make people buy this “stencil” spray adhesive rather than some super77 spray adhesive in a big jumbo can, or is it really a magic glue that is special just for stencils? It’s not. It’s the same as super77, and it runs our really fast. So save yourself and just spend the same amount on the big can of regular ol’ spray adhesive. Don’t let the stencil aisle brainwash you!
Anyway! I sprayed some of my maaaagic stencil adhesive onto the back of my stencil and placed it on my wall. I decided to start at the top of my wall and work from the middle down. That way everything would be symmetrical, and I could line up the top of my stencil with the ceiling. Easy peasy! I poured some of my black paint onto a plate for easy dabbing and sponging.
Yes those are other projects laying on the table. What can I say, I like to multitask!
I started out using a small container for dipping and a paper plate for wiping off the excess paint, but quickly learned that once I’m up on a ladder I don’t have enough hands for all of these things so I ended up switching to just a paper plate [half filled with paint, the other half was used for dabbing off the extra paint].
On my first attempt I apparently hadn’t used enough spray adhesive because my stencil kept slipping so I also used painters tape for reinforcement. I wasn’t sure if I was dabbing off enough excess paint when applying my sponge to the wall, so I was prepared for the worst.
It was pretty splotchy. Like I mentioned earlier, our walls are heavily textured so the stencil doesn’t lay 100% flat on the wall. This was a problem, but I loved how the pattern looked on the wall and I wasn’t about to give up, so I was on to round two. To line up your stencil with what you’ve already painted you can find some key points on your stencil which will help you keep everything straight as you move across the wall. Since I have a geometric pattern I was able to line up the four rectangles along the bottoms of each diamond in my pattern to be the tops of the diamonds in the next round. The same worked for moving the stencil side to side, except I would line up the three rectangles on the rights and lefts of the outside diamonds with the same rectangles in the next round.
Round two was much better, but there should have been small gaps between each “pixel” and they were just bleeding like crazy. So of course I thought “third time’s a charm!” And boy was it EVER! After each attempt I tried different techniques until I found one that worked for our wall. When it comes to stencils, trial and error is definitely key. Everyone’s walls are different and there isn’t always a fool proof technique that works for everyone. But if you have heavily textured walls, you can try the technique that worked for me!
So as you can see we primed and painted over my first two rounds, what a waste of time! But at least I was able to perfect my technique for our crazy walls. Initially I would dip the sponge into the paint and wipe it off until it looked spongy again. This works for smooth walls for sure. This didn’t work for me, there was still too much paint. So then I had the idea to “work in V’s” since my pattern is a bunch of V’s I decided to break it down that way. I would dip my sponge into paint and dab it off like before but this time rather than sponging like crazy in each opening, I did a quick sponge in each opening of one V. Then I’d start at the end and work my way back [since the last opening had less paint than the first, and it would give the first a little time to dry and calm down before I filled it completely]. Does that make sense? I wish I would have gotten some video of this, but by the time I thought about it I was on my last round and high up on a ladder, so adding a video camera to the equation didn’t feel right. Basically I would move across the stencil one V at a time doing a couple rounds on each V with some light sponging, and only using ONE dip of paint per V, and that dip had beed wiped off before being applied to the wall, so it’s VERY minimal paint we’re talking about. Almost like a dry brush, but not too dry because I didn’t want it looking spongy, I wanted a nice rich color.
I began working down the wall and then from left to right completing each row and moving back up to the top. Each round took me about 45 minutes to complete. So needless to say this was a weeklong project!
The edges were a little tricky, but luckily I didn’t have to turn any corners. Rather than trying to fold over the stencil to make it fit, I just overlapped it over the existing pattern I had already pattern and lined it up so that only the part I needed to add was showing, and I knew exactly where to paint. You never want to paint over a part you’ve already painted because even though it looks like it’s lining up it could make your pattern heavier in some areas, so it’s better just to leave it be.
So after four evenings of stenciling, I was finally done! Which I’m pretty pumped with how it turned out! I’m even more pumped that I can finally paint my nails without having to worry about ruining them each day. Luckily I haven’t had to meet with any clients this week because I looked like a crazy person with paint all over my hands 24/7. It’s definitely a messy process, buy isn’t it beautiful?
Needless to say we are extremely pleased with how it turned out. Even though it took a very long time and a whole lot of patience it was well worth it. When you first walk into our apartment it’s the first thing you see, and it almost looks like wallpaper! I can’t decide if I want to hang any art above our bar car yet, but it something to keep in mind. Next up on the agenda for the dining room:
- Reupholster dining chairs [surprises surprise!] I’m still on the hunt for the perfect shade of kelly green velvet for those babies. I found one on etsy, but it’s so hard to choose a specific color when you’re seeing it online.
- Paint or replace bar cart. We really want something wider that takes up most of the “dining” wall, that one is a wee bit cramped.
- Sew a runner for the dining table. I had already purchased a fabric for this, but that was back when I thought I was having gold stripes on the wall, so I’ll have to find something a little less busy as not to compete with the wall
Have any of you used a stencil on a wall? Did it work perfectly on your first try, or did you have to work at it to get your technique just right? Have you been wanting to stencil something lately? Well you may be in luck because I just might be having a giveaway for one next week. We shall see :)