DIY: Stenciled Backsplash

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I had a beautiful, unused stencil with a script version of the French sonnet, “Springtime in Paris” (it was originally intended for my sunroom curtains, and I decided I didn’t want visitors to be distracted by the writing).    At the same time I was being stubborn lacked creative vision when it came to installing a subway tile backsplash against my new vintage cabinetry.  None of the colors ever seemed right to me.

Inside of my mind the two projects finally merged, and it hit me that my kitchen already had a French Country feel to it (thanks to the Rust-o-Leum Cabinet transformation) and applying the stencil as a backsplash would not only be unique, but a perfect, and (hopefully) subtle accent!  So, a full-on vintage offensive in my kitchen commenced!

Here is the result:

I wanted a “wow” factor in the kitchen and I was willing to try something different that wasn’t permanent (like tile can be). I felt a zero-commit backsplash gave me the impact I wanted.  And if I sell and the buyers don’t like it?  They can tile over it.

Kitchen (before):

Step 1:  Choose your design by creating sample boards

Before I committed to a design, I created sample boards with several techniques for my stencil application.   I created four different designs and narrowed it down to two (dark stencil on light background / light on dark. Then I experimented with different sponge and cross-brushed techniques applying a metallic patina on both).   Since I was thinking “resale” I wanted to appeal to public opinion, so I put a post out on Pinterest asking their opinions who picked my final design.

Step 2:  Prep the wall & choose a color:

When I first moved in (2005) I hung a neutral wallpaper with a faux tile as my backsplash.  Of course, once it fell down due to daily kitchen wear and tear, I panicked and used Gorilla Glue on the wall to keep the wallpaper upright.  This is the gift that I left for myself:

Sooooo…now what?

Step 3:   Apply a spackle – that’s what!

Thanks to my poor planning and Gorilla Glue disaster, I needed an education on spackle…and fast!  I had never done this before, and ended up purchasing Homax Wall Texture that was VERY easy to work with (after 1.5 hours at Lowe’s I finally made a decision).  It doesn’t dry quickly so it gives you time to work with the product and create the texture you want:

 Step 4:  Paint over the spackle & patina

After letting the spackle dry overnight, I painted the spackled wall with a chocolate semi-gloss paint (the same paint I used on my loft handrails and balusters–that’s a future DIY post).  Once the base dried, I sponged on a Valspar bronze metallic paint, and quickly blended with an “X” criss-cross pattern with a combination of a dry paint brush and sponge brushes.   Here is the result:

Step 5:   Stencil application

This part was so fun and rewarding!  This was my first time stenciling, and I know there are many different techniques, so it’s tough to document this part visually.  Each time I lined up a verse, I would then use a level to ensure my letters didn’t go up or downhill, then apply tape…then roll on the paint!  I accidentally had a paint “glob” (see the second line…lesson learned), so I suggest you roll out your paint roller so you get the same consistency on the lettering.  It was easily fixed with an artist brush.

Voila!  Very simple, very cost-effective.  My entire kitchen remodel (including my Lumens lighting, and my new Roman shade from Select Blinds) was around $1200, and I submitted it to HGTV’s “Rate My Space” and it received very positive reviews!

Now…what to do with my sunroom curtains…


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19 responses to “DIY: Stenciled Backsplash

  • diaryofanewife

    Very interesting blog- really original and helpful too! Keep it up…all your tips will come in handy when we finally buy our own house someday!🙂

  • Lisa League

    Jeanette, I really like your technique for turning your Gorilla Glue goof into something that looks like you planned it that way from the beginning. A terrific job all around!

  • Jennifer Lewis

    I would like to try this. Can you please tell me exactly (name, brand, number) what paints you used?

    “I painted the spackled wall with a chocolate semi-gloss paint (the same paint I used on my loft handrails and balusters–that’s a future DIY post). Once the base dried, I sponged on a Valspar bronze metallic paint, and quickly blended with an “X” criss-cross pattern with a combination of a dry paint brush and sponge brushes.”

    Also, what is the name/color/number of the paint you used for the lettering?

    I have a two week break from school and I am going to attempt this, thanks in advance for all the help!

  • Jeanette

    Hi Jennifer, thanks for stopping by! Here is all the info you need. As for me, I used a lot of paint leftovers and sometimes mixed paints for the lettering, proof that you can’t really go wrong a shade or two off. The dark brown wall paint color is called “Fired Earth” Valspar Interior/exterior High Gloss Enamel Gloss Base 4 222151, 101-8??, 109-40.5, 113-1Y13, 214-1Y32. (wow, paint is complicated!!). It goes on very dark…nearly black so if that makes you nervous maybe try a sample of a couple of dark browns before you commit. The metal patina is from Lowe’s, look for Valspar Metal & Parina Glaze in Bronze. (this is the section where you buy cardboard sample boards). The lettering paint is mostly the color “Ticket Stub” Valspar Signature Colors Interior Sarin finish, 101-6.5, 109-2.5, 111-Y29.

    I would love to see pictures of your progress, you will love it.

  • Jennifer Lewis

    I’m glad I asked because I did think it was black paint. Although, I am not opposed to black. Thanks again for the info! I will provide photos of the process🙂

  • thegreensheep

    I love your creativity! I love the backsplash idea and result. I’ve been waffling there for the same reason — tile is so permanent. I did just pick up a handful of 12×12 floor tiles last weekend for $1 apiece at Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore and am considering cutting them in half for a 6″ backsplash. We’ll see. I also like your light over the sink (I also just bought one at ReStore ). And what have you used for your flooring? It looks great.

  • Jeanette

    Thanks! I did the stencil backsplash to just “see” if it might work for awhile. (Like my falling-down-wallpaper once did). It’s much more dramatic than I expected it to be, and I ended up loving it. My flooring was found on a drive-by (another story to post)…we literally passed it and I had to squint to read the sign, turned the car around and ended up walking in 10 minutes before closing and bought 20 cases of laminate…and it looks like real wood! Here is the brand:

  • Eugenie Street

    Hello from France! I’m not sure what a “french country feel” is, but your redesign is beautiful – and good choice on the poem!
    I love “le printemps” by Theophile Gautier, especially the first verse:

    Regardez les branches,
    Comme elles sont blanches,
    Il neige des fleurs

    Look at the branches,
    How white they are,
    It’s snowing flowers

    Cannot wait for the spring already!
    I’ll come back to this blog for inspiration (I too am constantly looking for DIY and decor idea for our french home see blog link)
    A bientot, and bravo!

    • streetwisediy

      Thanks for visiting, and your blog is lovely! It is definitely meant as a compliment🙂 Think of all the charming elements that could be stumbled upon in a French countryside farmhouse (such as exposed ceiling with large, architectural beams, exposed brick and stone, distressed finishes, wire baskets). My home was built very uniform like all of the other houses on my street, so now I’m attempting to make it a bit more rustic.

      I love the poem too…I’m resisting the urge to use it everywhere in the house!

      Here is a search I did on a website…some of the designs are very ornate but I prefer a simpler look.

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  • Kelly @ Eclectically Vintage

    Love the look – what a fun, unique idea!

  • Our $1600 Kitchen Makeover - Snazzy Little Things

    […] transformation, (Rust-o-leum paint, new lighting, new Roman shade, new butcher block island, stenciled backsplash, new floor) so sometimes it’s nice to take a gigantic step backwards and marvel at what it […]

  • Inspire Me Heather

    I love how your backsplash turned out, just beautiful! I’ve got this linked to my DIY backsplashes post too today, well done!

  • Connie

    That turned how perfect! Thanks for showing us🙂

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