Tobi’s DIY Diaries: Stenciling Walls with Rosemary on the TV

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Today I want to introduce you to another Little Rock gal I’ve discovered, Rosemary.  I found this wonderful DIY project on her blog and I just had to share it with everyone on Tobi’s Blog.  She was gracious enough to jump over here today and share with you her magic!  Expect a new DIY post from different creative types each month.  I hope you enjoy this ignaugural DIY segment with Rosemary on the TV. – Tobi

Recently, my boyfriend, Aaron, bought us our first house: a typical one-story ranch style home that, while cute, lacked some of the character we’d always longed for. So we rolled up our sleeves and got to work, promising to document our budget DIY projects (and occasional mishaps) on my blog, Rosemary on the TV. We have a full disclosure policy: all honesty, all the time. Because we’re learning as we go, things aren’t always easy or turn out perfectly – something I had to keep in mind when I decided to stencil an accent wall in my dining room.

The stencil idea grew from two opposing forces : my desire for a glamourous statement wall and a fear of commitment to wallpaper.

When I stumbled across Royal Designs Studio’s extensive stencil collection, I knew what I had to do. Aaron and I narrowed down our choices to the Endless Circles Lattice stencil (seen here), I placed an order, and we got to work.

First, we painted a base coat of white primer on the accent wall. Which color you paint first will depend on the stencil you are using, and since we wanted a blue wall with white circles on it, we started with white.

When stenciling, you should start with the center of the stencil at the center of the wall, up by the ceiling. This way, the pattern will end in the same place at either side and will flow along the top edge of the wall where everyone will see it. If it cuts off at the bottom down by the floor, it will be more camouflaged by furniture. I made a small pencil marking where I would start on the wall, as well as at the top center of the stencil.

Next, I used stencil adhesive spray (available at craft stores for just a few dollars) to give the stencil a “light misting.” Be conservative – too much adhesive will pull your base coat off the wall! Let the adhesive dry for about a minute, then stick it to the wall. Don’t expect the stencil to feel super sticky to the touch. It will definitely stick to the wall.

Align the marking on the stencil to the marking on the wall and press the stencil onto the wall to make sure it all adheres. If painters tape will make you feel better, use it. You also need to use a level throughout the stenciling process to make sure your stencil is straight.

All of the stenciling directions I read said to use a “dry brushing” technique. I can not stress enough how little paint you should have on your brush when stenciling. Blot the brush on the wall, rather than swiping it. I made the mistake of swiping too much paint across the stencil, which is exactly why this photo is from my second attempt at stenciling. For the sake of full disclosure, you can read more about my first failed attempt here.

Blotting like this also kept the blue paint from peeling away with the stencil when I removed it. Be warned : stenciling requires patience! Not only do you paint slowly, a little at a time, but, because the stencil overlaps itself, you have to wait for each section to dry before you start the next.

Before long, I’d made a lot of progress and was getting better at staying “inside the lines” so to speak. Things went pretty smoothly and I thought I was becoming a total pro when this happened:

I had clearly become over-confident with my stenciling skills and quit leveling. Lesson learned – level early, level often. The stencil has little perforated markings to help you line it up, but you still need to use a level every time you stick it to the wall.

But the best part about stenciling is that, at the end of the day, it’s just paint. It’s easily remedied. If you make a mistake, just paint over it and try again. I was able to stencil the entire wall with very few mishaps after this and was patting myself on the back for a job well done when I hit a road block.

If there is some magic secret to getting your stencil to lie flat in corners, I didn’t know it. This was causing me a lot of grief and messy hands when Aaron recommended I try tracing the stencil onto a magazine cover and cutting it out with a box knife.

It was a good idea in theory, but it didn’t work very well. Obviously, paper gets a little flimsy when you try to paint over it, and it didn’t help that magazine covers aren’t transparent, so I was never sure if I was aligning the stencil properly.


It wasn’t until after the fact that someone let me in on a little secret : stenciling pros just leave the edges until the very end, then cut the stencil to get it to lie flat. Duh, Rosemary. But, c’est la vie. I finished my stencil wall the hard way, with a small brush and a steady hand. Yes, I freehanded the edges. And no, I wouldn’t recommend it. 🙂

It’s not perfect. Had I known that cutting the stencil was the preferred method, it might’ve been perfect. But I’m human. And this is one human who is very happy with her stenciled accent wall, which turned out looking like this:

The most important thing to remember when stenciling is that it’s just paint and you can hide all your indiscretions faster than you made them. That being said, I truly believe anyone can do this, and it’s definitely worth a try if you want to make a statement with minimal money or commitment.

For more projects like this (including a DIY chandelier makeover), follow our adventures at Rosemary on the TV!

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19 Responses to Tobi’s DIY Diaries: Stenciling Walls with Rosemary on the TV

  1. […] You read that correctly. Today, you can read all about my stencil adventures at Tobi Fairley’s blog. I’m beside myself, because in case you’ve been living under a rock, you know that Tobi […]

  2. Lindsay says:

    This is absolutely beautiful. The patience you must have to complete this project is beyond me! I would have thrown a tantrum and given up 🙂

  3. Look at Miss Rosemary looking so sassy! Love this post! I’m feeling in the mood for a stencil. Which wall will it be?

  4. Rosemary- I love this stencil wall! It’s so beautiful! I have the same feelings as you towards wallpaper, it feels like a huge commitment, but this looks really amazing and trendy! About how long did it take from start to finish?

  5. kalanicut says:

    This looks so fantastic and the advice is very valuable.

  6. Ayana says:

    That’s looking so good! It’s pretty much exactly the look I want for my wall in my dining room… so this is great inspiration. I can’t wait to see another project!

  7. Rosemary says:

    Thanks again, Tobi, for having me guest blog. Thanks for the kind words, ladies! I highly recommend ordering a strong drink with your stencil. 😉

  8. Jamie B says:

    Inspirational!! I have a huge wall in my kitchen that is lacking something…now I know what!!!

  9. Lauren says:

    This is gorgeous!

  10. Barbara says:

    Great tutorial and beautiful results! I never knew about stencil spray. This project is on my long “Bucket” design list!

  11. Monique says:

    Rosemary, your stencil is gorgeous. I was going to use the exact same stencil on a small hallway. Thanks for the tips and for keeping it real. Your suggestions will help me when I begin this project.

  12. Hi Tobi,

    I love the stenciling that wass done on the wall. Very creative way to spice up a wall.

    We will be sure to share this on

  13. dede says:

    So much work. It looks like she had too much time on her hands.

  14. So wonderful to see this project with our Endless Circle Lattice stencil again here on Tobi’s blog. Stenciling is so rewarding and SO doable. Yes, it takes some time and some patience-something we could all use a little more of these days-but the end result is sweet satisfaction and you can’t BUY that! 🙂

  15. absolutely beautiful results with the stenciled accent wall!!! I’m just dying to stencil a wall in our house!!!

  16. […] chose to hire a professional, but stenciling can also be a do-it-yourself project (click here for a tutorial). Have you ever stenciled a […]

  17. Carry London says:

    Gorgeous! Cannot really get any better than that.

    I will certainly share this with my friends.

  18. Truth says:

    Sorry, but your wall pattern would make me dizzy.