Have you read the brand new book all about home, Home Made Lovely?

How To Stencil A Wall

I am a huge fan of high impact feature walls in decorating. Wallpaper is one way to get that impressive effect – but stenciling can be just as effective for much less money, not to mention that stenciling is less of a long-term commitment (because it can just be painted over)!

Our last house saw us stenciling subtle feature walls in both our dining room and our bedroom. At this house, we’ve reused one of the same stencils in our current master bedroom – but this time with more of a high contrast geometric look.

all three stencils

After we posted our Rustic Chic Master Bedroom Reveal a week or so ago, we had several requests for a tutorial on how to stencil a wall. We aim to please (and we love ya!), so here you go!

how to stencil a wall

How To Stencil A Wall


  • stencil
  • paint*
  • plate or cup for paint
  • small stiff brush or foam brush or small roller brush
  • painters tape
  • stencil adhesive
  • level
  • pencil
  • paper towels and/or baby wipes
  • drop cloth or plastic
  • ladder or step stool for reaching the top of the wall

*For our old bedroom I used the same paint as the trim in the room – Behr Swiss Coffee. For both the dining room at our last house and the bedroom at this house I used craft paint (Black in the dining room and White in the bedroom)!

Step by Step:

1. Lay the drop cloth or plastic out on the floor. Lay your stencil upside down on top and spray back side with stencil adhesive. Follow the instructions on your stencil adhesive for amount and spray distance, etc. Let dry to tacky and not wet.

2. Using your level mark a small line near the ceiling to line your stencil up with. This is important because most ceilings are not perfectly level and you may get a bit sea-sick after you stencil if your stencil sort of leans because you went with the ceiling line. 🙂

trellis stencil corner ceiling

3. Now align stencil with the penciled level line and press firmly to wall, moving from one corner to the next to get a smooth surface (no bumps in the stencil). I also use some painter’s tape or stencil tape to affix the corners to the wall. You may find that whatever stencil adhesive you use is sufficient.

stencil triangle

4. Mark your triangles with a pencil. These are the little triangles for lining up your pattern. Muy importante! You’ll kick yourself when you move the stencil if you haven’t done this step! (Ask me how I know).

5. Dip your brush in paint and dab/roll off onto plate or side of cup. Your brush should not be really wet as this will cause bleed through.

stencil with paint on it

6. Gently brush or roll paint over stencil openings.

7. Carefully remove stencil from wall and re-position, lining up triangles and re-affix. If there has been any bleed-through, either wipe it off the back or wait until it’s dry to re-affix the stencil to the wall so you don’t get smudges.

8. Repeat Steps 4 to 6 until your wall is finished.

springtime in paris stencil


  • Edges and corners can get really tricky. You just have to make the best of it and bend the stencil to fit. They’re pretty durable and I haven’t broken one yet, despite some serious manipulation in awkward places.
  • Stenciled walls will not be as crisp as printed wallpaper, so don’t expect perfection. If you can’t live with some color variation and a handcrafted look, you probably should avoid stencils.
  • If you want a subtle look try using your wall paint color mixed with some white paint. Or use the exact same color in a higher sheen. For example if your walls are egg shell stencil with satin or semi-gloss.

trellis stencil

We’ve loved each of our stenciled walls so much. I’m still debating on where to use our Springtime in Paris stencil at this house. The dining room? The family room? My office? We’ll see!

trellis close up

Have you ever stenciled a wall? Did you enjoy the process? Or were you more like me and wanted to get it done to enjoy the after? 

P.S. This is NOT a sponsored post! We have two Royal Design Studio stencils (Springtime in Paris and Small Moorish Allover Stencil) we’ve had for ages and we love them. We’ve only used Royal Design Studio stencils for our stenciled feature walls. They have the coolest little triangles in the corners for lining up the pattern as you go. And they are totally washable and reusable. Other stencils may be great too, we just can’t speak to that because we’ve never used them. But RDS didn’t sponsor this post! You know, in case you were wondering. 🙂

Home Made Lovely Paint Finishes eBook ad

I'd love it if you'd share:

home made lovely book on table with get it now text button

I'd love to chat with you in the comments!


  1. Therese @ Fresh Idea Studio says

    Shannon, you know I L-ove your master bedroom stenciled wall. It’s Gorgeous. So happy to have this great tutorial now. I’ve not ventured into stenciling but you make it look so great I think I should consider it. I have done “wall decal” since I’m a feature wall fan too. I did them in the entry way of our new house. Anyway, this awesome. Thanks for sharing your insight.

  2. janet @ ordinary mom says

    I love your script wall. It is gorgeous! I am not sure if I am a stencilled wall person as patterns often bug me after a while but that subtle script is definitely soft and different. Love it!!

  3. jb @BuildingMoxie says

    I too would like to do a wall behind our bedroom in the master bedroom. I really was leaning toward paper but this post definitely makes me at least stop to re-consider. I think these are super tips & ideas (in the Tips section esp.) … thanks for sharing. ~jb

  4. Tia says

    Wow did that ever turn out great! I love the high contrast! Our last Master had a black accent wall (done in wallpaper) and it really made the room. Nice to hear that you were able to re-use the stencil — they aren’t too cheap from what I remember the last time I looked.

  5. Kathryn says

    I love your stenciled walls! I’m wanting to stencil a wall too but can’t quite make up my mind! thanks for the tutorial!

  6. Heather says

    Great post Shannon! I love your bedroom and the stencilled wall! It’s amazing how the same stencil can look so different depending on the colors used!

    • Shannon says

      I’ve only gotten stencils from two places: the large wall ones from Royal Design Studio and smaller, craft type stencils from Martha Stewart.

  7. Jackie B says

    This looks awesome! It adds so much to the room!
    Would you mind sharing how long it took you to do the walls?
    Thanks for sharing!

    • Shannon says

      It took a couple of afternoons this time around. Mostly because I get bored with repetitive tasks and kept stopping to visualize what it would look like when finished!

  8. Denise says

    All your rooms look great Shannon! Approximately how long did it take you to stencil the master bedroom?

    • Shannon says

      It took me a couple of afternoons. But I despise repetitive work, so I got distracted … Squirrel!… easily! You could totally knock it off in a couple of hours depending in the space.

Student love

I found my style and was able to bring our small space together by creating a cozy and inviting home...

Danae C.

I loved the lesson on color theory, and also THAT YOU TOLD US EXACTLY WHAT ORDER TO DECORATE IN!

Erica L.

My ah-ha moment was when I realized how much time and money we have spent in the past couple of...

Cheryl P.

I love your easy process to determine my style. I've also learned that my style has changed over the years and seasons...

Sheryl R.

Your explanation of paint colors was the light bulb moment for me! Your explanation would have saved us from painting...

Pat Jensen