How To: Silhouette Accents for the Home

Get your spaces into shape with fearless room updates and silhouette-inspired DIY projects that revive a classic art.


  • view all thumbnails
DIY living room with silhouettes
1/12
Cultivate a Family Tree

    Although cut-paper profile portraits known as silhouettes originated in 1700s France as an amusement for the royals, it won't take a king's ransom to make your own. Ours are cut from scrapbooking foam that costs just $2 a sheet at crafts stores. Make the look super chic by pairing white foam and frames with a vivid background color. While you're at it, wake up other decorating classics like the wall stencil. Choose a stencil with a tight motif like this floral to balance with the bold, simple silhouettes, and pick saturated colors with "visual weight" that equal your frame's background. Next, add some teeth to the floor by painting short, staggered rows of stripes onto the back of a sheet-vinyl remnant. (See next slide for the silhouette how-to.)

2/12
A Fine Line

    To create silhouettes of your near and dear ones, start by posing them in front of a white backdrop, such as a bedsheet or wall, then photographing their profile.

    DIY Tip: If using a sheet, position a light source behind it for sharp contrast. Print the image in a size that fits your frame, but no larger than the foam sheet, and cut out. Trace the image onto the foam; cut out. Adhere the image to an art mat. The crafts foam will provide a slight shadow line and depth. Or, you can use thick paper and pump up the art with self-adhesive furniture-protector pads for dimension.

3/12
Finishing Touch

    To attach clothespins along a tabletop edge, dab wood glue on the back of each clothespin, press against the table's edge, then nail into place at its chubbiest part using a pneumatic pin nailer. For level pin alignment, place a -inch-thick board on the tabletop as a guide. DIY Tip: Emphasize the shapes of old metal figurines and candlesticks by spray-painting them glossy white.

4/12
It's a Wrap

    Jump-start the style of vintage furniture pieces with vivid paint and pretty additions. A side chair becomes more Kate Middleton than Queen Anne when dressed in a brilliant Aegean blue paint and a seat cushion woven in grosgrain ribbon. To create the look, remove the seat cushion, then weave layers of ribbon over the top of the cushion. Secure ends underneath the cushion with nails, glue, or heavy-duty tape. When you are happy with the placement of the ribbons, place drops of fabric glue on the underside of the ribbons to secure.

5/12
Bit of Bubbly

    Add bubbly pattern to a plain sheer window panel by dipping the lip of a round yogurt cup in white fabric paint and pressing it to the panel in your desired rhythm.

6/12
Perfect Pouf

    Rethink the definition of casual seating by stitching a stack of floor cushions. Our floor poufs are made from a pretty pattern by Amy Butler via amazon.com, or you can download a free pattern from Better Homes and Gardens at BHG.com/pouf.

7/12
Improve Your Outlook

    Wish the view outside your windows brought you closer to nature? Adhere a decal of lush, silhouette vines, flowers, or fauna to your interior window panes. Etsy.com is a rich source of whimsical decals (ours are from seller WowWall). Made from durable sign-maker's vinyl, these peel-and-stick decals are easy to cut, position, and adhere to windows without adhesive, which also makes them a snap to remove. Make guests do a double take by sneaking a squirrel into a corner pane.

8/12
Full Figured

    Let objects with shapely bodies be your muse. Group the finished silhouette designs in a theme arrangement, such as vases or beverage service pieces, and hang them salon-style above a buffet, along an entry wall, or on a kitchen backsplash. These works are made from humble shelf liner. You can download our patterns (see link below), or snap a photo of an object against a solid backdrop. (See next slide for instructions.)

9/12
DIY Silhouettes

    Print out the image in your preferred size, cut out, then trace onto shelf liner. Cut out the drawn shape, peel off its backing, and smooth into place on a purchased frame's mat board. Here we used a colorful blue shelf liner for the background.

    For more inspiration, scour antiques reference guides, eBay, and the Internet for images of historical ceramics, silverware, and furniture with standout figures to photocopy and use.

10/12
Coat Tree

    Abandon the idea that a silhouette always means cut paper. Here it's an eye-popping wall stencil that simply uses positive and negative spaces and one color on a white wall to create the appearance of a birch forest. It's a perfect backdrop for mudroom coat hooks.

    To make these coat hooks using 1-inch-diameter wood dowels, first determine the length of your peg. Then, using a miter saw, cut a 45-degree angle into its end so the peg will hang flush to the wall. Predrill a pilot hole into the end to accommodate a short dowel screw with threads on both ends. Insert the dowel screw into the dowel end. Drill a pilot hole into the wall; screw the dowel peg into place.

11/12
Desktop Zoo

    When your workload becomes a beast, make it "bear-able" with a little humor. Top your work piles and to-do lists with our desktop zoo of folded-paper animal silhouettes. Label each animal with press-on letters according to desired task, day of the week, or family member. Or tuck animals among objects on bookshelves, atop a secretary, or down the center of the dining table as a centerpiece.

    To fashion our menagerie, download the patterns at the link below. Trace them onto sturdy cardstock. Fold each shape in half along its spine to make it stand. To get the penguins to march, cut slots into their bottom edges and slip their two semicircular feet into place. Add a second colored paper for each penguin's breast. Cut slots where needed to add the elephant ears.

12/12

Top Brands

Share Your Thoughts