Stenciling Furniture for a Unique Look

By Karl

Stenciling is one the most inexpensive ways to transform a piece of furniture. Supplies are minimal, and investment of your time is negligible.

Because there are thousands of stencils on the market, you can create almost any look using a stencil. From classy damask stencils to shabby chic flowers, there is likely a stencil to meet your needs.

Require a custom stencil? No problem; you can easily create it yourself (it’s easy, and I’ll teach you how!) Let’s explore ways to incorporate furniture stenciling into your home.

Stencil according to theme

One way to incorporate stenciled furniture into your home is by selecting a stencil theme (or maybe you already have a theme you love, and you just want to adorn it with a fitting stenciled piece.) Either way, stenciling by theme brings the room together in a subtle, professional manner that any do-it-yourselfer can master. And why not transfer the stencil to the wall or floor and really pull your room together?

Here are a few stencil theme ideas:

  • Sports theme
  • Garden theme
  • Nursery theme
  • Food theme
  • Fantasy theme
  • Beach theme
  • Love/romance theme
  • Nautical theme
  • Holiday theme

Stencil to achieve a specific look

Another fantastic way to make use of stencils is by stenciling furniture to achieve a specific look or mood. Dress up an over-loved side table with a fleur-de-lis stencil and immediately you’ll jazz up that ordinary dining room. Warm up your under used sunroom with a piece of furniture embellished with garden inspired stencils. Or give your home office the look of a vintage library using scroll stencils. Again, consider extending the stencil you’ve used on your furniture to the wall, door, or floor of the room.

Here are a few looks you can achieve with stencils:

  • Vintage
  • Classic
  • Shabby chic
  • Playful
  • Outdoor
  • Masculine


The first step to stenciling furniture is selecting a stencil and a piece of furniture that work well together. Hint: A chair with modern, sleek lines might not look its best when decorated with a country themed stencil. You’ll also want to consider if the stencil size is appropriate for the piece of furniture. So step back and consider if the stencil and the piece “work” together.

Next, select a stencil paint color. Color can play a huge role in the mood the piece gives off. Golds, browns and earth tones tend to give off sophisticated, formal vibes. Pastels emit calm feelings, while primary colors radiate with energy. If you’re going for a rich look, pair stenciling with other decorative paint techniques such as crackle painting. A crackle paint chair coupled with an antique flower stencil would really scream vintage! So take a look at the big picture; what feeling do you want your room to give off?

How to stencil furniture

  1. Prepare furniture. Be sure furniture is free of dirt and dust. Take the time to really clean the piece of furniture or your stenciling will be sub-par. Remove hardware if applicable. Tip: Apply a basecoat of latex paint if desired.
  2. Tape stencil. Secure stencil to furniture with painter’s tape. It is critical that the stencil adheres firmly. Tip: Before you begin to paint the stencil, confirm it is placed jus where you want it on the furniture.
  3. Paint stencil. Pour a small amount of stencil paint on to a paper plate. Dab a stencil brush into the paint, and then remove excess paint on a lint free rag. You don’t want to saturate the brush with paint. With a circular motion, brush the paint into the stencil’s cut-out design working from the edges of the cut-out inward (this helps avoid painting under the edge of the cut-out.) Have a separate brush for each paint color you’re using. Tip: Use a polyurethane sealer to protect the design if necessary.

Tools and materials need to stencil furniture

  • Drop cloth or other protective material for your work space
  • Painters tape or masking tape
  • Clean lint free rag
  • Stencil paint
  • Stencil brushes (flat tipped or domed)
  • Polyurethane (if desired)

How to make your own stencil

You’ll find an endless variety of stencils on the market today. It’s no exaggeration; if you can dream it, there’s probably a stencil for it. But, if for some reason you can’t find the unique stencil you need, don’t worry; you can make your own stencil. Here’s how.

  • Find a design. Printout a design you find on the internet, photocopy one you’ve discovered in a stencil book, or trace any design you like onto tracing paper. Tip: Remember, you can always enlarge or reduce the size of the design on a photocopying machine.
  • Cut stencil. Once you’ve found the design you want, tape the design to a piece of acetate. choose a piece of acetate that will accommodate your design and leave about a 2” boarder around the entire design. Using an Exacto knife or craft knife, cut out the design. It is a good idea to start with the easiest edges of the design first, and to rotate the acetate/design as you work- this makes cutting the stencil a bit easier. Tip: For the cleanest stencil, use a brand new blade, press firmly, and take your time. A poorly cut stencil will yield poor results every time.

Tools and materials to make your own stencil

  • Printout of a design, or design traced onto tracing paper
  • Tape
  • Cutting board, or other surface to cut out design on
  • Exacto knife or craft knife with sharp blade
  • Acetate

What furniture can I stencil?

You might wonder what furniture is appropriate for stenciling. Nearly every piece can be appropriate if the right stencil is used. Here are a few of the most commonly stenciled furniture pieces.

  • Cupboard
  • Cabinet doors
  • Kitchen table
  • Step stool
  • Chair
  • Changing table


The key to stenciling furniture is to have fun. It is a very creative decorative painting technique that leaves a lot to your imagination. Keep it simple, or go crazy with furniture stenciling. Whatever way you go, practice a bit of stenciling on a piece of foam board and your finished product with beam with delight.

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