Stenciling The Walls In Our Office (It’s Done!)

My little stenciling project above the chair rail in the office has officially concluded. Woooo to the hooooo! It only took three 4.5 hour installments spread out over four days (so my hand-claws could turn back into hands between sessions). You can read all about my stenciling process here), but in short: it was well worth all that work and a bag of chips. Behold:

Of course since it’s a subtle tone-on-tone effect, the further away that you get the more – well, subtle – it gets. In person when you stand at the doorway to the office you see pretty feathery texture, but of course in photos it’s somehow MUCH harder to capture. Here’s a shot I snapped during the day (ignore the too-dark chairs, non-permanent lamps, bad leaning frames, too short rug, giant placeholder ottoman, random toy basket, lack of window treatments, etc):

And here’s one at night (again, avoid all the weird we’ll-change-that-later stuff going on). I wish the stencil were more obvious in photos, but in real life, yeah, it’s our favorite thing we’ve done so far. Maybe someday we’ll master the Nikon enough to truly do it justice on film.

Here’s the much requested shot from the dining room, where in person you can still see a soft & pretty tone-on-tone texture (you’d swear it was wallpaper from this distance). But again, in photos it’s nearly impossible to capture. It’s a nice amount of subtle interest beyond the bold teal built-ins and colorful textiles in the dining room. And hopefully when we hang some art and add window treatments in the office it’ll be a good balance between those two rooms.

But let’s get closer again. It’s more fun.

Even closer…

Oh yeah, that’s the stuff.

The writing on the mirrors is our weird to-do list madness. Ignore that too.

But don’t ignore this sweet faced chihuahua who just turned five (five days ago, actually). Burger is always my favorite accessory (tied with the bean of course).

But let’s go back to ignoring stuff. Like the just-for-now chair and too-big ottoman (borrowed from the living room) along with the too small rug. Just figured you guys might appreciate seeing the room from a few different angles (even though the only “finished” things in here are really the light, the desk, and the stencil):

As for the wall color under the chair rail (Moonshine by Benjamin Moore color matched to Olympic no-VOC paint in satin), we’re toying with the idea of going a smidge darker to ground the stenciled upper part and add a tiny tiny bit of dimension (don’t want too much contrast since that might look crazy from the dining room beyond the built-ins). Of course we’ll keep ya posted if we make any changes! The nice thing about stenciling is that any other regular painting project feels like a cake walk by comparison. Haha. I actually wish you guys could all come over and see it in person – it’s so much better than these photos! Who’s down for a quick visit?

Oh but before I go back to staring at the walls with the same expression that I reserve for Eric from True Blood, let’s get into the paint color details, how we did it, and the budget breakdown. As for those paint details, here you go:

  • Gray paint for stencil: half tint of Moonshine by Benjamin Moore color matched to Olympic no-VOC paint in a satin finish
  • Grellow paint for stencil: Sesame by Benjamin Moore color matched to Olympic no-VOC paint in a semi-gloss finish

Oh and how about a time breakdown? It took 13.5 hours over three evening sessions. Definitely not a quick project, but one that makes you especially proud/excited/relieved/amazed when it’s actually done. As for all of our stenciling tips and techniques, click here for a nice long post all about applying the stencil. Now here’s that budget breakdown for ya:

  • Stencil (from here): $54
  • Martha Stewart Stencil Adhesive (from Michael’s): $2.99 (with 50% off coupon)
  • Foam brushes (from Michael’s): $2.50 (with 50% off coupon)
  • Quart of gray paint* for stencil (half tint of Moonshine from Lowe’s): $11
  • Grellow paint* for stencil: $0 (leftover from kitchen, but would be $3 for a test pot)
  • TOTAL: $70.49

I’ll admit it, it’s definitely not a super cheap-o paint project (which normally run us about $15-30. But to wallpaper the entire room above the chair rail could easily have been five hundred beans or more. And the effect is so amazing that – dare I admit it? – I probably would have paid $150 to get ‘er done. But not a penny more. Haha.

And true to form, we we still have about ten million things on the ol’ to-do list in here (one project at a time = sanity, glorious sanity). So we’ll definitely be tackling these things over time:

  • adding window treatments
  • painting and reupholstering our desk chairs
  • hanging art on the walls (no, the oddly small leaning frames aren’t for keeps)
  • finding a more permanent armchair, ottoman, rug, etc (there are lots of placeholders goin’ on)
  • replacing the lamps (or reupholstering the shades, not sure yet – but we’ll keep you posted)

Anyone else do any stenciling lately? Or make any home office updates in general? Do you have a special expression that you reserve for Eric (or some other celebrity)? Oh yeah, let’s talk about that. Who’s your famous man (or lady) crush? Any Jake Gyllenhaal ladies here? Matt Damon? Team Edward? Team Angie? When I met John he totally had a Britney Spears calendar… and she was wearing leather bodysuits with sneakers. Le yikes.

Psst- Read all about my stenciling process and the paint colors that I used here (there’s even an application video).


  1. greenbean says

    it looks perfect! but is it??? i would be afraid to start this project and fudge it up so much that i’d have to repaint an area. are there any faults in the pattern or paint work? any tips for covering small errors? thanks! xo

    • says

      The stencil is extremely forgiving (since it’s not a rigid geometric like repeating circles or squares it’s really hard for your eye to pick up if a leaf isn’t completely filled in or if your stencil shifted a smidge as you went. So it’s definitely not perfect, but it might take someone twenty minutes to find an imperfection since it’s so organic and subtle!


  2. Reenie says

    I actually wish you guys could all come over and see it in person – it’s so much better than these photos! Who’s down for a quick visit? I’m packing my bags now!! ;)

    WOW ~ I love it ~ it looks great. You did a great job Sherry. Love the pic of lil Burger.

    Happy Belated Birthday Burger =)

  3. says

    This looks amazing! Kudos to you for doing it. I can’t wait to have a house to stencil. Stenciling an apartment just seems like a waste. Especially since we don’t know if we’ll be here for awhile.

    Although, I could stencil a huge piece of wood then lean it against my wall …. hrm.

  4. Valerie says

    Do you guys have/use Adobe Lightroom?? It can be a lifesaver when it comes to manipulating white balance, exposure, colour balance, etc. in digital photos. I was just thinking it might help you achieve the “this is what it looks like in real life” look in your pics! (and if you do it right, it doesn’t leave your photos looking “photoshopped” either) Of course, I guess an image will always fall short of seeing the real deal! Great job on the stencil! =)

    • says

      Thanks so much for the tip! I’m not sure that we have Lightroom, but we have Photoshop and have given a few things a try (to no avail). Maybe we’ll have to look into lightroom! Thanks for the tip!


  5. Hanna says

    It looks incredible! And I imagine that it makes you very proud to look at it, remember all the hard work, and see the result. Well worth it, IMHO.

  6. says

    Love love love! That might be one of my favorite projects you guys have done as well, though the teal bookshelves always make my heart skip a beat. Totally worth claw hands.
    Still haven’t seen True Blood, but I read all of the books in about two weeks (nerd alert), and a huge part of the reason that I read them so quickly is due to dreamy (and terrifying) Eric. Swoon.
    My other crush, besides my hot hubs? Ryan Gosling. Can’t help it. He just does something to me.

  7. Lindsey says

    Oh wow, I want to do something like this now! It is WAY better than wallpaper… last year my mom bought a house with horrible (peeling AND ugly) wallpaper in each and every room. I have been helping her remove it, which has made me decide to NEVER wallpaper anything. Doesn’t mean I can’t have a cute wall pattern like this though!

  8. Heather says

    Love the stencil! That looks like so much work though, it makes me exhausted just thinking about it. I definitely think you should go a smidge darker on the bottom, the stencil looks like it’s floating/flying up there above all of that empty space. A shade or two darker paint underneath would look ah-mazing! Of course I know you two will do what’s right for you though, and of course it will look great, as it always does.

  9. Kimberly says

    This room looks AMAZING! I’m so impressed that you had the patience to work on it for so long. It was worth the effort.

  10. Joeva says

    Love the wall decor…great job on the stencil! Are you guys going to put some type of trim on the cabinets (above the doors) where John added the extra height? The blank space looks so needy with all that fancy wall decor….just sayin!

    • says

      In person it really doesn’t bother us at all (you mainly focus on things on top of the desk and the rich dark wood instead of looking at the desk-head on), but we’re debating some sort of trim or something… perhaps down the line.


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