Stencil Style

Walls, floors, and accessories get a dose of designer style with our easy, budget-savvy stencil ideas.

Make Your Bed

Although this headboard looks complex, it requires only basic skills and a few bucks. Using a jigsaw, cut a curvy headboard from medium-density fiberboard (MDF), and paint a base coat in a color you love. When dry, use a stencil roller (find it at a crafts store) to apply a trendy damask stencil in a cool contrasting color. We rounded out this vignette with stenciled pillows.

Pattern Powerhouse

Head-over-heels for high-end wallpaper but not so enamored with the price tag? Create it yourself using a wallpaperlike stencil pattern. Paint the wall with a base coat in a deep hue, then stencil the design in a lighter metallic paint. Wallpaper stencils come in large sheets, so you just roll the pattern and repeat.

The best part? No picking and peeling stubborn wallpaper when you're ready for a change. Simply repaint and enjoy.

Step-Out Designs

Finding the right rug can be a challenge even for decorating pros. Our solution: Make the perfect one yourself. For the rug's base, we found an innovative felt product called KuninFelt. It's fade- and wrinkle-resistant, and it cuts cleanly. To make this rug, simply cut, add a base coat of paint, stencil, and seal with polyurethane.

Snazzy Servingware

Found a stencil you love but just don't know what to do with it? Update your dining room with tricked-out dinner plates and cups. Apply nontoxic or porcelain paint over your favorite stencil in a color that stands out against the plates, let dry, and let the party begin.

Ray of Sunshine

To add a burst of sunshine to an entryway, paint your walls with a base coat of warm orange or brown. Stencil on small sunburst patterns in a metallic gold; repeat all over for a bright and inviting look.


Let your inner artist come out to play with this easy piece of art. Buy a small artist's canvas from a crafts store and paint it a dark color. This will make the pattern on top really pop. Stencil on a flower using several bright colors, overlapped onto one another. Let dry, then hang with other artwork or a group of framed pictures.

Greenhouse Effect

A simple vine stencil can bring patterns found in nature to your interior spaces. Here, the lower portion of the wall is painted a light beige-tinged celadon and the upper section a deeper shade of the same color. We used the celadon paint to stencil vines onto the top section. Crisp white-painted chair-rail molding covers the seam between the two colors.

Salvage Success Story

Stencils are a perfect decorative cure for flea market finds such as this dresser. First, prime and paint your dresser a fresh coat of white. Use a large wallpaper-style stencil (home centers and crafts stores carry these) to transfer designs to the drawer fronts in a contrast color. Cheap, easy, and fast-perfect!

Calling All Curtains

Basic white curtains are affordable and widely available. Give them a style boost with a quick stencil treatment such as this seaside-style coral design. Lay the curtain on a large work surface or floor. Place cardboard or scrap paper underneath to catch any paint that might bleed through. Use a foam stencil roller to transfer designs all over the fabric.

DIY Tip: To make the curtains washable, use fabrics paint for this project, and heat-set according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Spells Like Teen Spirit

Give your teen boy's room color and style with simple letter stencils. This design starts with a medium blue wall color; the oversize letters are stenciled in a deeper shade of blue. To create the letters, use a straightedge and pencil to draw letters on your wall, then outline the shapes with painter's tape-forming the outside and inside border. Paint inside, using a light pouncing motion.

Go Stencil Crazy

Once you master the basic stencil technique, you'll find that almost any surface is suitable for stencil designs. Here, the walls and a decorative pillow feature a stylized paisley (the stencil is from a crafts store), the lampshade is trimmed with a border stencil, and the side table is tricked out in two stencil patterns.

The Royal Treatment

Dress up crisp white table linens with a single stencil motif to create your own signature tabletop style. This design is stenciled randomly over the fabric with just a bit of paint so the effect looks block-printed. Use fabrics paints for this project and heat-set according to the manufacturer's directions so the linens can be laundered.

Graphic Attack

Want the drama of graphic wallpaper or artwork but lack the budget? This design uses just a few quarts of paint ($40 tops for paint) and minimal materials. Start by tracing various-size squares and rectangles onto cardboard or stencil acetate. The sizes here range from 8x10 inches to 2x4 inches. Trace interior squares as well. Cut out the designs with scissors. Using a stencil roller and just a bit of paint, stencil the designs over the wall. Vary colors and motifs to create a layered, almost 3-D look.

Lamp Lift

Give a discount or thrift-store ceramic lamp designer style with a stencil pattern and paints formatted for ceramics and glass. Here, the flowers are stenciled in a pretty pink that complements the dresser stripe, while the leaves are stenciled with two shades of green.

DIY Tip: Look for ceramics and glass paint at art stores. To create the painterly look shown here, use an artist's brush to stencil the images, starting with just a bit of paint at first to master your technique.

Art Class

Make your own custom art in an afternoon or less with an oversize art canvas, a graphic stencil, and two paint colors. Cover the canvas with paint and let dry. Stencil your motif over the canvas, spacing the stencils as desired (here the look is random for an organic look).

Finess Your Furniture

No headboard? No worries! Just stencil one. Here, a scrollwork design stands in behind the bed. It's budget savvy, and lets you get exactly the look you want. The cupboard here is also treated to a wallpaper-look basket-weave stencil.

Bonus Stenciling Tips

Want to stencil like a pro? Follow these tips from our experts.

1. The right materials make all the difference. Have them on hand when you start a project. Start by putting these items on your crafts-store shopping list: precut stencil pattern; stencil or crafts paints; a stencil roller, artist brushes, or small sponges; and stencil adhesive.

2. Before tackling your project, practice on scrap paper to achieve the right colors and pattern placement. Experiment with blending paints if you want a layered look.

3. Use stencil spray adhesive to hold your stencil in place and to prevent paint from seeping under the stencil.

4. Blow-dry the stencil between applications to keep stray paint from marring your finished project.

5. Cut your own designs from freezer paper or frisket paper. Draw your design on the paper, cut out with a crafts knife, then stencil.

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