step by step stencil on wall surrounding headboard

How to Highlight a Focal Point With Stencils

Use a medley of motifs to frame a headboard—or a mirror, a window, even a cased opening—with style

Stencils lend themselves to wallpaper-like repeats. But combine a few different ones and you can create a custom pattern shaped to surround and highlight a favorite feature of your room. Once you've practiced stenciling on paper—or in a spot that's easy to repaint—the work goes quickly, with results so magical that you may end up stenciling around every bed in the house. Want one more custom touch? Use fabric paint to stencil a coordinated pillow sham.


Steps // How to Highlight a Focal Point With Stencils
1 ×

Overview

 
Step One // How to Highlight a Focal Point With Stencils

Overview

step by step paint stencil draw attention wall headboard
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Round up three stencils with motifs of roughly the same size, plus a stencil with one or more smaller details that can be slipped in. The stencils we used are JA114, JA138 and JA47A, TP31 by The Stencil Library, a British maker (from $26 each; stencil-library.com). Arrange the stencils on the floor to see how they might flow, keeping in mind that this type of pattern works best when strong vertical elements, such as branches, are oriented toward a focal point, like this headboard. To maintain that orientation, you may need to flip the stencils when moving from one side to the other for a mirror-image pattern. Consider filling in small areas with a special detail from one of the stencils, such as the birds-on-bamboo here.

 
2 ×

Prep The Surface

 
Step Two // How to Highlight a Focal Point With Stencils

Prep The Surface

step by step paint stencil draw attention wall headboard select stencils
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Put down the base coat and let it dry. Measure the wall, and use a pencil to mark out the area to be stenciled and the position of each motif. Here, the stencils were sometimes flipped to keep most of the motifs oriented toward the headboard. The pattern was also allowed to flow behind the headboard.

 
3 ×

Begin The Pattern

 
Step Three // How to Highlight a Focal Point With Stencils

Begin The Pattern

step by step paint stencil draw attention wall headboard spray adhesive on back of stencils
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Start the pattern on the lower left and work from the left side to the right side. In a ventilated area, lightly spray the back of a stencil with repositionable adhesive, let dry for a few seconds, and press the stencil in place.

 
4 ×

Load The Roller

 
Step Four // How to Highlight a Focal Point With Stencils

Load The Roller

step by step paint stencil draw attention load roller with paint to stencil
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Load a small foam roller or a medium stencil brush with paint. To discourage bleeding, remove excess paint by running the roller or brush over a folded paper towel. Using light pressure, roll or pounce on the paint.

 
5 ×

Touch Up Mistakes

 
Step Five // How to Highlight a Focal Point With Stencils

Touch Up Mistakes

step by step paint stencil draw attention touch up mistakes, peel off stencil
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Peel up a corner of the stencil to check coverage, and lightly apply more paint if needed. Take care to clean and dry any stencil before flipping it over to create a reverse image. Stand back and admire your work. Dispatch any blips with a tiny artist's brush, and then start scouting for another space where you can stencil again.

 
 
 

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