Create Faux Wallpaper Using Paint and a Stencil

Last week I posted the reveal of the guest bath in my house. Today, I want to show you how I used an all-over wall stencil to create the look of wallpaper.  I call it faux wallpaper.

How to stencil a wall using a Royal Designs Studio stencil

Wallpaper can be pretty pricey even for a relatively small space, an all-over stencil costs around $50 and can be reused. There are so many patterns to choose from, plus the best part you get to choose whatever color you want.

Create Faux Wallpaper Using Paint and a Stencil

All-over wall stencils are designed to help you cover large areas quickly so depending on the size of the room you may be able to get the project done in a day or even an afternoon.

How to stencil a small room with an angled ceiling

My bathroom is small with an angled ceiling, a door and a window which had to be stenciled around. It took me a full day to get the job done.

Bathroom with Faux wallpaper created with a stencil

The hard part for me was the fact that the ceiling is angled. 

Create Faux Wallpaper Using Paint and a Stencil

I had to fit the stencil in each of the corner angles, plus 3 more above the door and the window in the room.  To make it easier, I started stenciling from the top of the plank wall and then up to the ceiling. For the last row along the ceiling line, I cut the stencil in half with scissors to make the process easier.  More about how I did this in the tutorial.

Note: Plank Wall On Bottom Half of Walls

I did a full plank wall in the powder room that is off my kitchen. I wrote the tutorial for that here: Easiest Way to Install a Plank Wall

Since I only went half way up the wall for the guest room bath, I capped the top plank off using a trim piece of molding. I added this trim piece after I stenciled.

How to Create Faux Wallpaper Using a Stencil

What I used:

Royal Design Studio Stencils Floral Fireworks size small

Royal Design Studio Stencils – Pattern: Floral Fireworks All-Over Wall Stencil


Floral Fireworks All-Over Wall Stencil (Size Small)

supplies needed:

Stencil brushes

You can purchase stencil brushes or foam pouncers at the craft store.  My fave is the red-handled one.  You can also use stencil rollers that can make the painting process go even faster. I do find that the rollers sometimes leave roller edge lines in large open areas of the stencil design, so I prefer using a stencil brush.

How to start stenciling a wall using a Royal Designs Studio stencil

Paint the walls using satin white paint, let dry. I needed 2 coats to hide the previous color and wallpaper on the walls.

Normally I would begin at the ceiling line and work around the room and then keep moving down until I reached the floor or in my case the top of the plank wall. Instead I started at the bottom and worked up. I did this because the ceiling has angles which are hard to get into, plus if things don’t line up around the angles, I could simply fix the design by hand painting with a fine tipped paint brush.

To start, place the stencil on the least seen part of the room. I usually start in a corner, but for the bathroom, I started in the middle of the wall that would become covered by a mirror.  You do this so that when you go around the whole room and come back to the starting point, if the pattern doesn’t match up perfectly, it won’t be seen as much.  Once nice thing about using an all-over stencil like the Floral Fireworks pattern I did, you can make some mistakes and they will just blend into the design. It is very forgiving!

I placed the bottom of the stencil a little bit lower than on top of the horizontal plank wall. I wanted the actual design to look like it went behind the planks. If I placed the bottom of the stencil right on the edge, the design would be above the planks since there is excess mylar all around the design.

Place a drop cloth to protect the surrounding area. Using your measuring tape, find the center of the wall. Affix your stencil to the top and center of your wall with painter’s tape. Check to make sure that your stencil is level.

Wall stenciling tips and tricks

Place paint on one side of a foam paper plate. Load up your brush with paint, then remove most of the paint by off-loading (dabbing) it onto a folded piece of paper towel. This is important as you don’t want excess paint to bleed underneath the stencil. Less paint on the brush is better when it comes to stenciling.

How to stencil a pattern on a wall

Begin to pounce the brush over the stencil. You can lift up the corner of the stencil to make sure you’re not applying too much paint and bleeding through.

How to use a stencil brush to apply paint to a wall stencil

Continue to pounce or dab the brush over all the open areas of the design. Once complete, move your stencil over to the the next position.

How to stencil a wall using a Royal Designs Studio stencil

The stencil will have registration marks that will guide you to the correct placement.  The paint was dry enough to move onto the next placement without disturbing the previous paint.


You can see in this photo how the design flows together when you move the stencil to the next position using the registration marks. When you finish the first vertical row, you will use the same registration marks, plus ones on the bottom to make sure you are lining up the pattern correctly to start the next row. I know it sounds complex, but it is very easy once you get the hang of it.

How to stencil the corner in a room

Once you come to a corner or edge, apply painters tape vertically to protect the edge on the adjacent wall from getting any paint on it.

How to stencil in a corner wall

Stenciling into the corners requires you bend the stencil and use painter’s tape to make sure it stays in place while you apply the paint.

Stenciling tips for getting paint into corners in a room

Use one hand to make sure the stencil is flat against the wall…

How to use a stencil brush to apply paint to a wall stencil

…before you begin to paint with your other hand. Once done, you can remove the vertical line of tape.

Wall stenciling tutorial

Continue to go around the room until you have finished.

How to Stencil and Paint into Angled Ceilings

Wall stenciling tutorial

There may be another way to do stencil/paint into angles and tight fitting spaces, but this is what I did.

I waited to do the ceiling line row last and bought two stencils to use, one to cut up to fit into the ceiling angles or tight places. If only using one stencil, wait to do the angled parts of the wall last using one stencil that you cut to fit the areas.  I had three horizontal rows of the stencil design going around the room. Two were the completed design, the third row closest to the ceiling was not. When I did this row, I used the cut up sections of the stencil to paint the design on the wall.  If I had left the stencil full size it would have been flopping over and getting paint on the ceiling.

Before I cut the stencil, I found the registration marks and made sure I didn’t cut them off. I then cut the stencil in half and then again into smaller pieces so I could fit them into the tight angles on the wall.

Bathroom with Faux wallpaper created with a stencil

I had to do some touching up both with white paint (base wall color) and the Liberty Blue. I used a fine-tipped paint brush to do this. White paint hid blue mistakes and blue paint fixed an area of the design that did not get completed.

Note:  If you have a large room, you may have to stop and clean the excess paint buildup from your stencil. I needed to do this once. The easiest way to clean it is in your bathtub.

Blue and white bathroom decorating ideas

For more stenciling tips and ideas, you may want to check out the how-to videos and tutorials on the Royal Designs Studio  website. 

Wallpaper DIY. How to stencil an allover pattern on walls using a Royal Designs Stencil to create the look of wallpaper.

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  1. Love your how your powder room turned out- so much so I will be ordering stencil and using the same accent paint you used! Just have a question. I noticed Royal Stencils recommends the base paint be either flat, or eggshell finish. You used satin finish, Kilz complete coat in ultra white. I’m painting a small powder room, so I’m wondering if I can purchase the Kilz complete coat in the flat. I’m new to stenciling, and I’m thinking stenciling might be easier using flat finish- perhaps less bleeding.?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lisa – You can use flat paint as the base, no problem. I used white paint I had on hand and it just happened to be a satin finish. KILZ does come in a flat finish. The only problem I can foresee using the flat paint is if you do have a bleed through it may be harder to clean off in time before it sets. I always keep a damp rag on hand so when there is a bleed through, you can remove it right away. I think the hardest part of stenciling is doing the corners in the room. You do have to get a little creative with taping the stencil flat to the wall so the pattern continues.

  2. Utterly sensational in every way! I have two rolls of wallpaper in an online cart, but I’m going to do this instead. I am a new reader and am so excited to see what else you’ve done. Thank you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Melanee – Thanks for taking the time to say hi and reading my blog. Stenciling a wall is a whole lot cheaper than wallpapering. If you have not done it before, the most important tip is to start on the most seen wall and work around the room from this point in each direction. This way if the pattern doesn’t match up perfectly where 2 walls meet you don’t see it. Also, the larger the pattern the faster the process will go. Once you get it going it is a easy process.

      1. You are so kind to take the time to respond Diane, and to share such useful tips for where to start the design. I was wondering which size stencil to get and so I appreciate your recommendation to go larger for a faster process. And yes, so much cheaper.

        With lots of appreciation and smiles from the Pacific Northwest!

  3. Rudolf Beas says:

    I also think hence, perfectly pent post! .

  4. I followed your instructions and supply list and absolutely love my results! Your little hand towels are the finishing touch and I need them!!! Where did you find? Thank you so much for your inspiration! Karen

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Karen – I got the towels from the site, Birch Lane. Sadly they are no longer available. :-) I looked to see if they still had something similar, but couldn’t find anything.

  5. MARY CAFFREY says:



    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Mary –

      It would look amazing on a ceiling, but would be really hard to do since it is overhead. Keeping the stencil in place will be a challenge and your neck and arms will take a beating.

      I would use the stencil on a wall – it will look amazing and be easy to do. It would also look nice on a wall behind shelves. If the shelves can be removed first, then it will be easy. If you have to stencil around the shelves, it would be hard and you may not be able to line up the stencil correctly and get into the corners on the wall where the meet the shelves.

        I really appreciate you’re thoughts and comments!!!

        1. Kris dufaux says:

          You can stencil ceilings by having removable vinyl cut in your stencil pattern. Look up Modello designs. -(Kris Dufaux…professional decorative finisher.)

  6. Bought this stencil and going to try it!

  7. It’s just beautiful and very unique….better than wallpaper. I love this bathroom!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thank you Kathleen.

  8. I LOVE this bathroom. and I realized when I went to the stencil site and looked at their offerings that I would not have seen how great this stencil would look. and I wouldn’t have chosen such a great color. You have a spectacular eye for color choices and maybe even more importantly you seem to have a knack for knowing how great something will look.

  9. Just beautiful (I love blue,too). You’re an inspiration. Thanks for sharing your ideas and talent.

  10. mary heicher says:

    Love,love love!

  11. Pam Clark says:

    That looks awesome! I’ll be you go in there sometimes and just sit and admire your work! (I sure would!!!)

  12. Melissa Leach says:

    I love it! Lots of work but, oh so pretty.

  13. Just so pretty! You do everything so well!

  14. Outstanding and unexpected. I would have never guessed how fun yet sophisticated that stencil would have looked.

  15. Jennifer Kenrick says:

    It looks beautiful! How did you stencil around the light fixture or did you take it down?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jennifer – I took the light down to paint and stencil the walls. There was enough light from the window. If you don’t have a window in your room, you could bring in a few table lamps and remove the shades to add light while you paint.

  16. I love it!!!!! Well done!!!!

  17. Well done, Diane! I’ve done similar wall treatments with stencils so I know this was quite a bit of work. It is such a pretty color and I love the pattern. That said, adding the planks is a stroke of genius cuz it’s a place for your eyes to rest. Very nice!

  18. James Frazier says:

    I had been thinking of doing my dining room with planks only. After seeing your post and and finding a great stencil I have changed my mind to wainscoting with oriental tea garden wall stencil. Great job

  19. What a great idea – and your pattern is both fresh, and versatile in it’s style. It turned out beautifully!!!! I used to work in a wallpaper store but always favored the patterns that looked like they were painted on. Best thing about stenciling is you can match other hard-to-match colors in your scheme if you need to, which can be challenging with wallpaper. And – you can even stencil fabric items to match it like curtains, pillows or bedding.

  20. Just. Wow. So pretty, and so doable.
    The pink flowers are the perfect touch :)

  21. What a great job you did. This bathroom is perfection. I love it so much !!

  22. This is so neat. I am going to try it in my bathroom.

  23. I love your stenciling! When I first saw it the other day, I thought it was wallpaper. You are so talented! Not only did you apply the stencil perfectly but just finding such a pretty one is quite amazing.

  24. Very pretty! It looks like wallpaper, but no wallpaper stripping if you ever tire of it. I cannot get on the wallpaper resurgence, because I remember the agony of removing it! I declared never again, once I was rid of all of it!

  25. Elena Cook says:

    It absolutely took my breath away! It’s beautiful! You are so amazingly talented. Can you provide information on the floors and the light fixture? I wish I had your “mind’s eye.” Seems my AFTER of selections never seem as I imagined them for months/years and I am left disappointed and questioning my ability to design and decorate our home.
    We are looking to install new flooring throughout our house and I can’t make a mistake on this one. So hard to look at any size sample and expand it in your mind as to how it will look on our floors.
    Again, the bathroom is so wonderful! If that were my bathroom I would walk by several times a day just to look at it.
    Well done! (Have you ever thought about writing another book?)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Elana – The flooring is the same flooring I have used in my studioffice, hallway of darkness, laundry area and powder room. It is called NuCore Luxury Vinyl Plank flooring. It has a cork backing that makes installation over existing floor or sub-flooring very easy. It has texture and has a matte finish. You can read about it in this post:

      The light fixture I bought at Lowes. I mounted it upside down, or for me…the right way :-) The glass shades that came with the fixture where too yellow, so I bought 3 separate whiter shades at Lowes to replace them. Here is a link to the fixture:

      I would like to write another book and have been thinking of the angle I would take to write one. Not sure what will be the best.

  26. When you posted your bathroom make-over, my first tho’t was, “I wonder where she ever found that Wallpaper? It’s soo trendy!” Well, you did such a great job that you fooled me & I’m sure, many others, too! I love that you used stencil brushes and pounced on the paint, as I think that gives much more variation to the paint shade. Great job, as always! I really like that stencil and am thinking about getting it for a focal wall in a guest bedroom. Thanks for the wonderful ideas, as always!

  27. Deanna Rabe says:

    It looks so great! Really fresh and modern, yet classic. I like the half planked wall too!

  28. Sherry Darlington says:

    I am cra…cra…crazy over your bathroom! I’m thinking I see a project in my future. You did an amazing job! Thank you for sharing.

  29. You did a phenomenal job! Patience galore, attention to detail, thanks for the great tutorial. Lovely bath, so fresh. Have you considered using dark blue grout in your tub?

  30. Deb Wostmann says:

    Your bath really turned out lovely and the walls really pop.

  31. I love it! I found your blog via a link on Inspired By Charm, and I’m so glad I did! I’ve been stalking since then to make sure I caught the tutorial for the walls. One of my favorite things about yours is that the blue is swirly and uneven. It’s got depth to it. Can you tell us what type of white paint you used? I’m wondering if it was semi-gloss and that helped the blue to slide so wonderfully?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jen – Thanks. Love having a new reader. I used satin Kilz Complete Coat that I bought at Walmart. I used the color Ultra Bright White right out of the can.

  32. Diane!!! I love it! The pattern, the color!!!
    Absolutely beautiful!!!
    I stenciled back in the 80’s!! Curtains, walls! I think I have a few places at the Lakehouse I might do!!
    Thanks for this informative post!!

  33. Publius Huldah says:

    Your room is lovely! and your tips and “how to” are helpful!

    And you are an inspiration.

  34. What a beautiful transformation. You always have such good visions in your mind for what a space can look like. That is one of the things I love about your projects. I wish I had your design eye. :)

  35. Diane, this is absolutely gorgeous! Love all your tips too!

  36. This is so fresh and wonderful! Love the contrast of the blue and white. You can never go wrong with that.

  37. Laura at Duke manor farm says:

    That bathroom is amazing Diane!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Laura – I know you are a blue and white lover, too. Happy weekend…will you be spending it in your beautiful backyard?

  38. Simply Ahhh-MAZING, Diane! Thank you for posting this so quickly. My interior walls are all higher at the center of the house then angle down to the outside walls. And my half bath is pretty small….I won’t be able to remove the vanity and toilet, but they will be an additional stepping support system….or so I keep assuring myself, anyway. I’ve been wanting to plank the walls in there for quite some time so lucky for me I can just refer to your posts for both projects!
    Have a great weekend and enjoy your twin!

      1. Thanks, good to know. I had wondered about that but figured a piece of trim would be the answer.

  39. Absolutely beautiful. Walking into your cheery bathroom would make me smile! Job well done ??

  40. This turned out beautiful!! Great job. Super idea to buy 2 stencils and have one for the odd adjustments. This really brings out the bathroom and looks great.

  41. Love this… It’s so fresh and pretty!!