When I started drafting and planning the walk-in closet, I knew I wanted to put my vanity in there to get it out of the bedroom. It was part of the bedroom suite, but it was taking up space in front of the bay window; space I thought could be better used for a window seat. I played around with a few options and decided I wanted the vanity against the back wall of the closet, where I could add lighting and outlets for all my hair apparatuses.
Because that wall is the first thing you see when looking into the room from the bedroom, I thought it needed something special. I foolishly decided I wanted to stencil it. My original plan was to use a metallic silver over the pink base. I found the perfect stencil, described as “Victorian Baroque,” at the Home Depot. This is the photo from their website. This is what it’s supposed to look like.
Of course, I Googled for advice before I started, as I always do when trying something new. Most of the sites I found suggested painter’s tape for keeping the stencil in place and a mostly dry stippling brush for application of paint. That’s where I started. But it seemed like no matter how much paint I used, the stencil ended up looking like mud.
I did this as a test run on my dining room wall. We’ll talk about that color later, I promise. It’s similar to the base color in the walk-in; not exact, but close enough that I thought I would at least be happy with the silver. “Okay,” I told myself, “it’s only paint. If you don’t like it, you can always just paint over it.” I gathered up my supplies and went to work in the walk-in. I figured I would just have to use even less paint on my brush.
I drew two level lines on the wall; one horizontal, one vertical. Then I lined up the corner of the stencil and used a couple pieces of painter’s tape to hold it stationary. When I applied paint, I dipped the brush, then wiped it off on both the can and a paper towel before dabbing it over the stencil. I don’t have a picture of it, but it was much the same as my trial attempt. Actually, no. It was way worse, because the pink base was just light enough that it made the silver look brown. I was really getting discouraged when DH called me down for lunch.
DH: “How’s it going up there?”
The Wife (TW): “Oh, you know. Classic me.”
DH: “You got halfway through it and realized it isn’t what you wanted?”
After 13 years, he ought to know me.
I tried a few more times in the afternoon. At this point, I had practically no paint on the brush at all. I even tried using the grey I used on the ceiling. The result was the same: a mess. I know myself well enough to know that I wasn’t going to be happy with the result I was getting. I also knew that I would be furious if I spent hours working on something just to end up hating it. Frustrated, I decided to give up for the day. I needed to regroup.
After a cool down period, I did another Google search. I found a few more sites that suggested spray tack on the back of the stencil. I went to Michael’s a few days later and grabbed a can of repositionable spray adhesive. Since the floor was already installed in the room, I had craft paper down to protect it, so I just laid the stencil down on the floor and sprayed it with the adhesive, then stuck it on the wall to try again. Again, no luck. It was still just mud. At this point, I’m considering ordering wall paper. Two sheets of it and this project would’ve been done. But that wasn’t what I wanted. As I got down from the ladder, I happened to glance down at the floor. That was when I saw it. In the spot where I had sprayed the back of the stencil with adhesive was a perfect design. “I have two cans of grey spray paint downstairs somewhere,” I said to myself. “I’m going to try this on the wall.” So, that’s what I did. It worked beautifully.
Crisp, clean lines. Clear details. Just look at it. I almost cried tears of joy. It got a little easier after that. If you attempt to spray paint inside, which is really and truly a terrible idea, please please PLEASE open all the windows and doors you can possibly open and wear a mask. I opened the door and window in the walk-in as well as the bedroom windows and door. That, combined with a fan in the walk-in window and another at the closet entrance blowing in, kept the stink to a minimum and I was unable to smell it at all downstairs. If you have small children, send them to grandma’s. If you have pets, find a way to keep them out of the room.
To prevent over spray, I cut a square out of a sheet of brown paper and taped it around the stencil like so. Those places where the paint is scraped away are where the registration marks are. I had to keep the stencil clean there so I could line them up with the marks on the wall. I’ve just noticed this picture is sideways. Much like my attempt at stenciling.
I used the spray adhesive only on the stencil, working on the areas of the wall that would be a complete pattern.
When I got closer to the corners, I taped the opposing walls to keep the spray paint from bleeding over, which you can see on the left in the photo below.
I did the corners last because I knew I would have to fold the stencil and I didn’t want to do that before I was done with the whole stencil areas. I curved it into the corners, then pushed it in tight with a paint shield and held it while I sprayed. Pro tip: wear gloves for this step if you’re not into the Mr. Roboto look. Domo arigato.
Here is one of the finished corners. That paint shield idea was borderline genius, if I do say so myself.
It was easier at the base and ceiling because there will be trim there.
Of all the projects I’ve done in this house and otherwise, this one might have been the biggest hassle, and that’s saying something. When the stencil got clogged and I had to scrape the paint off, I stuck it onto a piece of spare dry wall to do so. Once it was clean, I pulled it off, and most of the dry wall paper came with it. I had to wet the paper down and rub it off. The adhesive on the back of the stencil kept peeling patches of the pink base color off the wall. When the stencil got clogged again, in addition to bent and torn, I tried to order a second stencil, from Amazon this time, and I didn’t get the same one even though the manufacturer, description and picture were exact. I returned it, then I cleaned the first one off again and did the best I could with it.
The worst thing? I ran out of spray paint about halfway through. The problem with that is that the spray paint I had laying around was purchased from Ollie’s about 8 years ago, and the paint color and number had been changed by the manufacturer. Luckily, it was automotive paint, made to match a specific vehicle. Not so luckily, the make and model of the vehicle isn’t listed on the can. After trying a can I’d purchased at an estate sale, as well as a can I’d purchased at the Depot that I was sure would match, I was again ready to order some wall paper. Then I thought to myself, “If this is made to match a specific vehicle, all I have to do is figure out which vehicle it’s for. That shouldn’t be so hard.” Maybe someday I’ll learn. It was damn near impossible. I had to plumb the depths of the internet to find it, but I finally located a PDF from Frank’s Auto Supermarket of old Dupli-color codes that listed the vehicle they matched. If I ever decide to park a 1998 Ford Crown Victoria in my walk-in, it will coordinate perfectly.
So, without further ado…
I still had to do a few little touch-ups with an artist’s brush where the silver bled through because the stencil got bent, and where the adhesive pulled the pink paint off the wall. But I’m so in love with it. It’s the perfect focal point for a princess closet, and the perfect background for the darling light fixture above the vanity.
The only thing missing is a tiara. I’ll have to get right on that.