Decor, DIY

Living room stencil instead of wallpaper

Want to know how to save hundreds on wallpaper? Try a stencil! I did two huge walls for $40! I’ll show you how I did it step by step and teach you the application differences between sponges, brushes and rollers.

The first two years of living in this house were about seeing how it functions best for our family. This year is all about adding layers and depth! After wallpapering Clara’s room and then the play room, I’m addicted. But those were only murals — wallpaper for a whole room is expensive! So I bought ANOTHER stencil!

Though last week I shared 9 affordable murals, starting at $55! I bought number 3 and can’t wait to try it!

I even have another stencil sitting in my master bathroom, waiting on me to get motivated. Because it takes a long time! But for those of us with more time than money, an inexpensive stencil is the way to go!

Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, living room decor ideas, ektorp ikea

I liked the walls white and bright in here, but I wanted to add some dimension, some interest. I actually used this stencil in my boy’s bathroom in our last house in Hale Navy, but I wanted a more subtle approach in this main living space.

How to stencil a wall - DIY tutorial - geometric squares pattern - wallpaper alternative - $40!

This is the Cuckoo stencil ($40). I bought the large stencil, but maybe I should have bought the repeat pattern! This stencil has a lot of layering that most do not. I have a video at the end that you can watch to see how to do it.

Stenciled living room walls instead of wallpaper - before and after

I went with Light French Gray. You can see my whole-house color palette in this post.

Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea

Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea

Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea

I know this is supposed to be about stenciling, but I’m so excited about my new rug! I got it for $96 including shipping! I’m officially leaving my neutral hiatus and starting to add some color up in this place!

Too many exclamation marks. I’ll tone it down, but I think the trend in the next couple years will be “more is more” and lots of color as we come out of our “white on top of white” decade. It’s exciting! (I can’t stop!!!)

I did this post yesterday with all the great rug deals I found: Large area rugs under $200

Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea

How to stencil

How to stencil a wall - diy tutorial

How long does stenciling take?

Not gonna lie, this geometrical stencil was a lot of layering. It took me probably 11 hours total, for two walls. I am forever underestimating the time things take and thought I’d knock it out in a day, haha! Instead it took two full afternoons. It was worth it though!

Don’t forget to watch the video at the end if you need clarification :)

How to stencil - DIY tutorial

1.Spray stencil with adhesive spray

When the stencil is fresh out of the box, give it a good spray. I like this adhesive spray. Then after each time you place it you can give it a light mist.

How to stencil - DIY tutorial

2. Place the stencil on the wall.

Start on a corner or straight edge to make sure your stencil is straight. I occasionally use a level to make sure when I’m in the middle of a wall.

How to stencil - DIY tutorial

3. Pencil in place keepers.

If your stencil has markers to show you where to place it next, don’t forget to pencil them in after you place the stencil.

4. Apply paint to the stencil.

You can use a sponge, a stencil brush or roller to apply the paint. I’ve used all three now and they all offer different finishes.

Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea

Sponge: More control and even coverage.

Stenciling kitchen wall to look like backsplash tile - jewel stars - black and white - how to stencil

Stencil brush: A vintage, faded feel.

stenciling the master bath with roller

Roller: This is the easiest method, but often has uneven coverage. I did this in my master bath and LOVE it, but it’s definitely a different feel than the even coat of the sponge.

Sneak peak of my master bathroom makeover! Of course it’s all with paint. So excited to share this one with you soon!

How to stencil - DIY tutorial

For this project I used this 6-pack of sponges from the Dollar Tree. Can’t beat that price!

5. Wipe off the stencil.

This step is important, especially if you are doing a large space. It’s probably even best to lay it down on a drop cloth and wipe the whole stencil thoroughly with a paper towel after each use.

If you don’t wipe it down, the stencil will get caked with paint and make it difficult to get perfect shapes.

Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea

For example, this is how my stenciling started, above.

Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, hanging plants, ektorp ikea

And this is how it was looking toward the end. More blotchy from caked on paint and applying harder … and I was tired of stenciling!!

Stenciling is NOT for the perfectionist, haha! But in my opinion it is worth the hard work. And when I step back I don’t even notice the imperfections. There’s nothing like living in a house you put you heart and sweat into!


Here’s the 1-minute DIY video:

Heres’s the full 8-minute tutorial:


Stenciling kitchen wall to look like backsplash tile - jewel stars - black and white - how to stencil

See my other stencil projects here:


Stencil applications - stencil brush, sponge and roller - which one is right for you? - How to stencil
Stenciled living room - wallpaper alternative, Light French Gray, how to stencil, white walls, gray couches, colorful rug, big fiddle leaf fig tree, wooden accent table, living room decor ideas, ektorp ikea

10 thoughts on “Living room stencil instead of wallpaper

  1. Hello Kate, Oh my goodness… I am speechless! What a project!! You did a very grand work, hats off to you :). Wallpapering is bad but beautiful, yet stencilling is a real challenge yet, you pulled it off magnificently. The pattern really compliments the lounge and furnishings especially the black and white pot/urn standing next to the white cupboard. The lounge really looks so up to date. If I lived close I would take you for a very smart high tea, you deserve it. I can honestly say you are the woman in Provebs 31. I was paid that compliment many years ago, and I can associate you with that lady. Actually it is very hard work but the reward of satisfaction is great afterwards. May the Lord bless you richly, do take care. Can’t wait to see what is in the next Newsletter. Kind regards.

  2. It looks amazing!! I love all the pops of color you’re adding. I was in my happy place around 2010 when turquoise and rainbows were all the rage, and I’m so glad to see more color coming back!

  3. That’s the nicest compliment I could ever ask for. Thank you so much, Elize! Thank you sincerely for your encouragement and love xoxo

  4. Oh yes! I’m a fan of turquoise too! I’m kind of mad about how long I was in the neutral phase, haha! But I guess I had to get it out of my system. I think color will be big in the next few year. It will be fun!

  5. this is amazing! such a neat way to get color and depth on walls! we are renting right now but I will definitely keep this in mind for when we buy our own house eventually!

  6. Hi Kate, Well, all I know is that I am most sincere when I send a comment to you. I love a beautiful cared for home, but there are limits I would venture into :), I prefer the boys to do quality painting with a colour of my own choice and then just to fill up with curtains and bed linen. Oh, I like to spray paint the wicker washing baskets :), now Wallace says Mother, I will do that for you, he has his own technique as he worked for a company with paint mixing machines and he knows all about paints. I am quite elderly yet I would love a big house, with enormous walls and wide doors and windows and a grand kitchen, I think I was born in the wrong era :), I love basic but decorated with taste. Oh, you look most professional on top of the ladder! I can see you are enjoying and loving your home. God bless.

  7. Stenciling isn’t exactly fun, but it sure is a cheap alternative to wallpaper! Adds so much dimension to the room :)

  8. Hi Kate! Happy Valentines’ day to all!
    Kate, like Elize said, the stencil project looks grand! I’m surprised that it was an improvement, because I thought the walls before were perfect. Classy, too. The larger motif was a good choice. Blessings!

  9. Thanks! I know, I’m fine with white walls too — I just had too many of them! And I’m really enjoying adding layers and detail around here. So glad you like. And I agree, the larger patterns are great choices :)

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