A Herringbone Stenciled Wall + How NOT to Stencil a Wall

Ah yes, stenciling   You’ve seen it everywhere and in some really cool designs.  I have too, and I have been dying to try it.  When I was given the chance to review a stencil from Royal Design Studio,  I knew I wanted to try a cool herringbone pattern on the one solid wall in my daughter Stella’s room.

This is what her plain and boring grey wall looked like before I started the process of turning it into the herringbone stenciled wall:

At first, I planned to do the wall in colors pulled from her quilt that I was making.  I custom mixed 6 tones of paint to match the fabrics, and read the instructions that accompanied the stencil.  (By the way, Royal Design Studio sends super awesome and very detailed instructions along with all of their patterns.)

However, after I did one stencil of the multi-colored, I decided it wasn’t for me.  It was just too much.  So, I got a baby wipe, and while it was still wet, washed all of that paint off.  Then, I went to my closet full of paint cans and grabbed a can of cream colored paint and started over.

Now this is where I will get into the “How NOT to Stencil” portion of this post.  I will be completely honest with you and tell you that I am not a patient crafter.  Unlike my good friend Barbara over at Chase the Star who must have all the patience in the world to makeover that gorgeous furniture that she does, I want things done quick, quick, quick.  I don’t like waiting.  I want it to be a constant, go go go flow.

Stenciling is not made for this type of personality.  It requires you to take your time and use very little paint on your brush. Less paint = more coats = more time.  Plus, since I was a dunce and painted my wall grey first, I had to paint a light color on top of a dark color. (Don’t do this!  Paint your light color first and then use the stencil with the dark color and save yourself quite a few coats of paint.)
This product is amazing – the first few times that I applied the very thin layer of paint to the stencil, I was amazed at how clean and crisp my lines were.  However, that is where my love and patience for the project wore out.  I had a toddler who wanted to be in her room, and even more bothersome, she wanted to help with the painting.  I needed to come with a way that would at least feel like I was moving along quicker.

I will give a disclaimer that this is not the conventional, or even best, method of using a stencil, but if you are super impatient like me and you have a very straight edged stencil like mine, it works.  Here’s what I did:

I did my entire wall with the stencil in a light coat of paint with an almost dry brush.  Then, I went back and taped the lines all off.  It actually didn’t take that long, since the lines were already created with paint and everything was very linear.

Now I know what you’re thinking… if you’re just going to use tape, why bother with the stencil at all?  And here is my response:  If I didn’t use the stencil first, I would still be up there, leveling, measuring, and taping perfect herringbone shapes and it would have taken forever!  The stencil gave me the outline and it was super easy to tape along the edges. (My favorite part of using the stencil was how easy it was to line up – there are dotted lines that you simply place over the portion you already did.  So simple!)  With my tape, I did a quick thin layer around the edges and let it dry, just to seal the tape so that it didn’t bleed underneath.  Then, I put on a slightly (ok, maybe more than slightly) thicker layer of paint.  I got away with only 2-3 coats, instead of the 5-6 it was taking me with the stencil.

If you’re considering using a stencil, I absolutely say go for it!  But, I think planning ahead is key.  I kinda went into it thinking, “Hey, I’m gonna slap this stencil on the wall during naptime and be on my way.”  Yeah… not so much.  Plan your colors first of all – and do your best to try to paint the darker color on top of the lighter color.  Second of all, give yourself enough time.  Do it on a weekend when your kids are away or at least have someone else to entertain them while you paint.  And lastly, relax, and take your time with the process – and if you can’t, then adapt the rules to suit yourself.  There’s more than one way to do everything, right?

After I was done taping, I went back in a small foam brush and used the tip to touch up and small dribbles that may have happened as I was going along. You can just place the brush over the spot you need to touch up and you dont even need to brush it.  The edge will keep it crisp.

Royal Design Studio also sends ceiling filler, so it is easy to finish off the pattern right to the top, but I liked the zig zag look without it.  I actually painted a couple of squares and went back in and painted them grey again!  Totally personal preference, but I liked it uneven!

Stella loved her new wall.  She was so excited and said “Thank you for my pretty wall, Mommy!”

I only did it 3/4 of the way up the wall, because I wanted to add a high chair rail.  However, when I went to look at chair rails, I didn’t like the detail of them.  I wanted something very simple, since the herringbone was quite graphic.  I instead decided to grab two end corner pieces from the crown moulding section, and used a long piece of 1×4 MDF. 

I bradnailed them in and then caulked the little holes and painted it the same color as the herringbone pattern.  Now I just have to decide what to put above it.  I have a few options, maybe you can help me decide. It was hard to find pictures of my ideas, but I tried!  Here are the four ideas I’m mulling around in my head:

Source: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4
What do you think?  Leave your vote below!  Hopefully I soon get it done and get to show you what I choose!  And stop by Royal Design Studio too and pick our your favorite stencil!**I was given a free stencil of my choice by Royal Design Studio to try out and review, but I did not receive any additional compensation for this post.  All opinions are 100% mine.

About Sarah

Sarah Desjardins is a mother of two girls, a wife, an elementary school teacher, and a self proclaimed glitter addict. Becoming Martha is a place for anyone who wants to make their domestic life more beautiful and creative. Sarah started Becoming Martha as a place to find bliss between the diapers and the dishes, and invites you to do the same.


  1. great job! I want to do something similar, but I am like you, I want it done NOW!

    PS I like the banner idea!

  2. I’m loving the herringbone! As for above it I am smitten with pennant banners, but that may be a bit much with the herringbone. So my vote is for the alphabet. :)


  3. It turned out so cute! I love the cream against the gray! Much better than the “taste the rainbow” herringbone =) Stella looks happy and that’s what matters!

  4. Wow, you did an amazing job! This is really beautiful! I vote for #2, the alphabet to go above:)

  5. Wow! This looks awesome!!

  6. You wall looks great and I’d pick the alphabet, that would look cute!

  7. You did an excellent job! I would love for you to link up at http://hickorytrailblog.blogspot.com/2013/05/assets-and-efforts-linky-party-2.html


  8. it is so pretty! I love herringbone! This is a great idea! Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

  9. This is just too cool for words! Love the herringbone pattern!!! I’d love for you to share this and any other projects you’d like at my House Party—http://www.firsthomelovelife.com/2013/05/house-party-3-b-y-o-p-features.html XO

  10. Very cute! I love how the herringbone turned out… it is one of my favourite patterns. I vote the banner or the alphabet… can’t wait to see what you pick!
    Krista @ the happy housie

  11. The end product came out great, even if it was trial and error. So glad your daughter appreciated all your hard work!

  12. Love it! I am going to share on my FB page because the challenge this week is Crafting and Decorating with patterns. You did a beautiful job!!!
    Link up starting Thursday if you want to!!!!

  13. This looks awesome! I was thinking about doing something similar in my little girl’s room and I LOVE how this turned out. Great choice!

  14. Sarah, you did an amazing job! I just LOVE the wall! Miss Stella looks so happy with her new wall! Way to go Mommy! And for the record, thank you for saying I’m patient! I will tell my husband that he will promptly disagree I’m sure ha! XO
    Barbara at Chase the Star

  15. Looks amazing!
    We would love it if you would link up at our linky party: Two Girls and a Party Live every Wednesday to Sunday. Hosted by:
    Dana @ This Silly Girl’s Life
    Parrish @ Life with the Crust Cut Off
    We hope to see you there!

  16. I love how you just did a portion of the wall with the chair rail! It looks fabulous!

  17. It looks great! I am afraid I am like you, the quickest “easiest” way ( that usually turns into the longest hardest way). It turned out way cute, though!

  18. Fantastic! Thanks for your tips!! Letters would be cute above or a banner in the colors you were originally going to do the herringbone!! But you’ve probably already decided! :)

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