HomeMade Home Series | Wall Stenciling for Beginners

Last week I shared a metallic gold heart feature wall I made in my daughter’s room. It was a really fun project and was my first time tackling a wall stenciling project. So, I thought I would share some wall stenciling tips from a beginner’s perspective.

Wall Stenciling for Beginners by ThreeLittleMonkeysStudio.com

When I started searching for a stencil for Madeline’s room, I knew I wanted something modern and fun (just like her). I chose this Polka Heart Stencil from Royal Design Studios with some input from Miss M. We both loved the large hearts in a repeating polka dot pattern. So cute!

Polka Heart Stencil by Royal Design Studio Stencils
Polka Heart Stencil by Royal Design Studio Stencils

Before you start any stenciling project, make sure your wall is in good shape. Patch any dings and touch up any paint with your base color. Since my daughter went through a very <ahem> artistic stage, this required quite a bit of touching up for me. There were also some promises made that future artistic endeavors would be on paper only. (So far so good, knock on wood!)

Since this was my first time wall stenciling, I did my research before beginning. Everything I found online said to use a foam roller, but I found that a stencil brush worked best for me since the hearts weren’t huge. If it was a large and intricate pattern, I think a roller would be your best bet, but a stencil brush worked well for moi.

I was so anxious to start right away, but I did a test stencil on a piece of leftover foam core board from  another project just to test my paint and the edges. Or I should say my use of the paint and stencil. You can use paper as well. Tip #1: What I noticed was that my edges looked best when I worked from the outside edge of the heart towards the center, rather than from the center out. Use paper towels to remove excess paint from your brush so the paint doesn’t bleed under your stencil. Just dab it.

Wall Stenciling for Beginners by ThreeLittleMonkeysStudio.com

When I felt confident and ready, I began with my pattern centered at the very top of the wall, working to the left and then the right from my center point. I used my stencil’s registration marks to keep that repeating pattern on track. Tip #2: I used the frog tape to help me position my stencil and keep it in place. Just a piece on each side was enough to keep it put.

Wall Stenciling for Beginners by ThreeLittleMonkeysStudio.com

Once I finished my first row, I started on the next row and so on. The registration marks on the stencil keep you sane. So easy to line your stencil up. They’re genius.

These stencils are flexible, so you can wrap them around corners if needed.

As you go, you will get some build up on your stencil. The paint peeled right off of the stencil for me, but you could lightly scrub it with a wet rag if the paint is being stubborn. You do want to remove the build up every few rows so that your edges stay crisp or it might bleed underneath.

Tip #3: Chalk this one up to impatience, but use a hair dryer to quickly dry the paint. I set my hair dryer to the “cool” setting and dried the hearts for a few minutes before moving on. It kept everything from smudging and allowed me to move along faster and mess free.

Wall Stenciling for Beginners by ThreeLittleMonkeysStudio.com

If your stenciling isn’t perfect, don’t sweat it. You can use a piece of frog tape to mark any areas that need a touch up and go back later. I found that doing touch ups was less stressful when done the next day, and sometimes my perfectionist self realized that something I thought wasn’t perfect, was just fine as is. Take a few steps back and minor imperfections become invisible.

Wall Stenciling for Beginners by ThreeLittleMonkeysStudio.com

This project took me a few days because I was working on it off and on around my crazy life and family. But, stenciling was much easier than I expected, and you can’t beat the outcome! Isn’t it pretty in the afternoon light? I can’t wait to stencil again!

Royal Design Studio has a ton of tutorials, tips and ideas, so be sure to check those out before you start your next project.



  1. says

    LOVE it! I used to be the queen of stenciling but I haven’t done it much in years. I think I still have it though because its kind of like riding a bike, once you have it. I’m amazed how trends come and go and I am seeing the stencil trend come back around one more time. Do I sound old? Like I’m 50 or something? Now I want to stencil something!! :):)

  2. Lauren Wilson says

    Hi Gretchen- love this! Did you use an acrylic gold paint or regular water or latex based house paint? If you wouldn’t mind sharing brand and color name, I’d be grateful!

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