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. KC says

    Truly amazing. You inspired me to try my first stenciling project on the seat of an old child’s rocker (for my 2yo’s birthday). My attempt was nowhere near perfection, but it’s the thought that counts…right??

  2. Katy M says

    “before I go back to staring at the walls with the same expression that I reserve for Eric from True Blood” — HAHA! I know this expression so well.

  3. says

    A.) I’m cuckoo-for-cocoa-puffs over Eric…have you seen the actor in Generation Kill? Also yummy.

    B.) This stencil job is so beautiful! Last week I was checking out the stencil site and decided that I’d be using the circle ones for the nursery. But now I’m inspired to also do our dining room if I find a good Asian/Japanese stencil. Thank you for the inspiration!

  4. leah says

    Love the stenciling! It turned out great!

    “Oh but before I go back to staring at the walls with the same expression that I reserve for Eric from True Blood” – Yes! I know what you mean :) Eric + Sookie 4eva. I’m also Team Edward and Gerard Butler. Rawr.

  5. allison says

    Nice, but very feminine (doesn’t seem office-ish for a male/female duo)…and maybe it’s the camera, but it comes off very pastel looking…

  6. Amy in Pittsburgh says

    Sherry, the stenciling looks FABULOUS. You did a beautiful job.

    And happy birthday, Burger! Sending a virtual Greenie your way.

  7. Kay says

    I knew this would be a great project – it looks lovely. I especially love how the base paint grounds the rooms but then you add these touches (painting the bookcase backs, adding the stencil)in unique ways to make each room its own but yet they still remain cohesive-score!

  8. says

    The stencil looks fantastic! I want to do a gloss on flat stencil sometime in the distant future, and I will definitely be using your tips when the time comes. As for my celeb male crush…Darren Criss. I loved him first as a musical Harry Potter, and he’s stolen my heart again as Blaine on Glee (I will admit to being oddly jealous of Kurt sometimes.) I also have a thing for Channing Tatum, no explanation necessary. And before I go, I harbor a strange obsession/girl crush on Zooey Deschanel. She’s just 1000 different kinds of awesome in an awkward sort of way.

  9. says

    This looks amazing!! It’s my favorite thing you’ve done as well. I agree that a slightly darker grey on the lower half would look great too! Enjoy your new walls!

  10. says

    It turned out so great! The price of the stencil was definitely worth it. You may have achieved a similar look using 3 smaller stencils but that would have been a nightmare. I’d love to see some of the yellow/green in art/accents.

  11. Marie in Colorado says

    You did a fantastic job! It looks great! Just out of curiosity, how did the actual stencil sheet hold up? Was it good as new by the end? I’ve used some that held up better than others.

    • says

      Oh yes it held up really well! It’s super thick plastic, so it didn’t tear or rip or anything. It was definitely full of paint (on the front only, just from dabbing) when I was done. But mineral spirits got it pretty clean. Not perfect, but definitely reusable I think!


  12. says

    I really should get on ordering that Domino Book of Decorating before it’s out of print forever! Is it amazing?!

    Also, the stencil looks fabulous. This might be a stupid question, but what’s the benefit to doing a stencil over a similar wallpaper? That you can paint right over it?

    • says

      Oh yeah- it’s a great book! I probably flip through it every few months or so. As for the benefit, yes I think that you can paint over it (since it’s just one thin application) and the cost (since wallpaper can be hundreds of dollars per roll).


  13. says

    wow, it turned out so so gorgeous! i definitely have a crush on your office. also, totally my current favorite thing in your house!

    my celeb crush (besides eric, who is extra dreamy) is james mcavoy… and lee pace. depending on what i’m watching.

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