| | | | |

Birthing a Stenciled Bathroom

I’m back with a bathroom update! I didn’t forget about it; I’ve been slowly working on it this whole time. Last time I updated y’all on the bathroom it was APRIL (holy cow) and I showed you the finished dresser turned vanity. Well, here is what it looks like today!

bathroom remodel progress

Yup, I stenciled it. We obviously did other stuff too, but this post is about the stenciling.  It took    f-o-r-e-v-e-r-, but it looks awesome.

So let’s dive right into the details…

First, I painted the bathroom white from tan.


I used Kilz to put a few layers of primer on it first, mainly because it’s a great primer AND it’s so much cheaper than regular paint. Then I finished it off with two coats of bistro white from Valspar. Painting things white always seems to take a ton of coats.

(On a side note, have ya’ll ever been in a bathroom without a mirror? It’s weird…way weirder than you would expect. You don’t realize how many times you look in the mirror without thinking until you look catch yourself constantly glancing at a patchy white wall expecting to see yourself.)

I chose the Fuji allover stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils as my design, it matches the design on my the quilt that I bought for my (attached) bedroom, and it’s subtle. I didn’t want an intense stencil mostly because I wanted to use turquoise paint, and I was planning to do every wall in the bathroom. The likelihood of the bathroom looking crazy was already high, better to stay on the safe side.

stencil & quilt

 I decided to try something different stenciling-wise… instead of using paint I would use a sharpie. I wanted to try this because when I stencil I have to stop and start constantly. I’ll start stenciling and my kids will need something, so I’ll have to stop, clean my roller or brush, get the kids whatever they need (or play with them, cook something, clean up a mess, break up a fight…) then I start over only to have to clean out my roller again five minutes later. So I thought it might be nice to just cap a sharpie as cleanup. Also, sharpie stenciling would look PERFECT. I quickly discovered sharpies didn’t work…they just aren’t wet enough. Fail #1.

Plan two – paint pen. I was sure I was a genius. I bought a couple from Hobby Lobby for 2.99 a pop and started stenciling. It was great…it went fairly quickly, was clean, and looked like perfection. Then, when I was about halfway through ONE STENCIL my paint pen dried up. Not good. I did some quick math in my head and figured that it would cost me nearly $100 to stencil the entire bathroom with a paint pen. Dang it.


Plan three – Mix up some of my own paint from leftovers and roll it like normal. I mixed my paint (free!), taped my stencil to the wall, and rolled it. It went so quickly! Then I removed the stencil, and it looked horrid. I forgot to take a picture, but we have very dramatic texture on our walls, which makes stenciling really difficult. This was fine when I did the birch forest stencil in my hallway, but the fuji stencil isn’t as forgiving. So I painted over it again.

Plan four – Use the stencil brush.


This takes WAY longer than rolling but is much more precise. You dip your brush in the paint, dab it off so there isn’t too much, and tap it onto your stencil. I also decided that I hated the previous turquoise paint I mixed and went and bought “pure turquoise” from Behr (Home Depot) mixed at 50% strength.


And then, I stenciled. For hours…for days…for forever.   And I was almost done with the first wall.


I sent that above picture to a few friends to see if I could get away with just stenciling the main wall, or if they thought I had to stencil the whole thing. Everyone said the whole thing, and one of them (Kelly) compared stenciling to childbirth. She is totally right, both are painful and terrible while you are doing it, but as soon as it’s over you love the result so much that you forget about all the horribleness and want to do it again.

(Well sorta, I still shudder when I think about my 33 hour almost drug free labor with Elijah.)

And so, I stenciled on.


Stenciling flat walls isn’t so bad, really, but corners are the worst. I tried to bend the stencil into the corner, then when that didn’t work I took a little brush and tried to hand paint them in, but those looked all distorted and ridiculous. I cursed my corners and wished I didn’t have so many in my bathroom. Then I thought “Screw it, I’m just going to skip the corners.”  The second I decided just to leave them blank I felt better. I took a deep breath. I swear the air smelled sweeter than it did a second before. Suddenly my arguing kids sounded fairly cute rather than painfully annoying. A butterfly landed on my shoulder. Life was good.

Just forget the corners

After I finished stenciling (hooray!) Adam put in new trim & doorframes, then he made a small countertop for the half wall and a sill for the window.

Since I had already made all the mistakes possible the first time around staining and sealing them was flawless this time. Then we painted the doors, trim, ceiling…then I caulked everything and basically did a ton of stuff that no one wants to read about but is really important.

Use a 1X6 board as trim...cheap and simple.

In case you’re wondering, the new awesome trim is a 1X6. That’s it, just a board. Cheap, simple…perfect.

Here comes the part where I bombard you with “after’ (ahem, progress) pictures…

Bathroom remodel progress - dresser turned vanity, wooden accents, turquoise stencil
athroom remodel progress

(I have some cool DIY shelves planned for the blank spot above the toilet.)

bathroom remodel progress
bathroom remodel progress
vanity before and after

In the next couple of posts, I’ll be sharing tutorials on the mirror, light, and backsplash.

bathroom remodel progress

After looking at all those beautiful, clean, perfect bathroom pictures you might be under the false impression that I have my crap together. Allow me to remedy that and take a picture of what lies just beyond the bathroom…

The truth

Feel better?

Similar Posts


  1. First of all… the bathroom is looking great. Second… “a butterfly landed on my shoulder…” I LOLed at my desk. Third, I’m so glad my house isn’t the only one that looks like the toddlers have taken over :)

  2. I found your blog when I was looking at curtain how tos. I spent several hours reading your blog (umm, er, it’s a secret because I’m supposed to be working on MY projects). The best parts of your blog is that you share your mistakes and your writing style is interesting. I get so very frustrated when things don’t work out the first time, often want to walk away (and my back storage area attests tot he fact that I do). It’s good to see someone carry on and figure out a work-around. Very inspiring. Keep up the good work. Love your posts.

    1. Thank you Deb! I get frustrated too and have to walk away…I always come back though. It’s like I can hear the failed project mocking me… I can’t let the project win!

  3. I love the new bathroom! You are so talented! And might I jut add, I love that you keep it real by showing us that your house is actually lived in. Thanks

  4. Hi Ashley, love, love love your stenciled bathroom walls! I wish I had done this in my bathroom, I wallpapered in there and let me tell you, although it was faster and easier to do, it was way more expensive and I get embarrassed to show it off since it is not looking so good now, all the seams are pulling away and I know someday, I will be removing it and I will consider stenciling it. I know it will last and if I get tired of it all I have to do is paint over it ! You have done an outstanding job here and glad you let the corners go… love the butterfly remark LMAO!
    Thanks for that!…until next time..;)

    1. That’s a bummer about your wallpaper! Stenciling will definitely hold up and it would be easy to paint over…although the thought of painting over it is a little too much for me handle right now, haha.

  5. Love the stencil!!
    How’d you handle behind the toilet? I really want to repaint my bathroom, but getting that area behind the toilet done is holding me back!

    1. We removed the toilet :) Not just to stencil though, we had to remove it anyway to do the trim and replace the wax seal. However, I have the perfect answer for you…just put a garbage bag over the tank and use a roller to get behind it. Works like a charm!

    2. To paint behind the toilet I wrapped my toilet tank in Saran wrap– use a brush to get as far in as possible( my tank is quite close to the wall, so a roller doesn’t fit)– then you can take off the wrap and toss it in the trash. I used to ask hubby to remove the toilet every time I painted a bathroom. So hubby is thrilled at this new way that works great.

    3. Did you know that the toilet tank is only attached by two bolts? Just shut the water off to the toilet, and flush the water from the tank. Unbolt the two bolts and remove the tank. Goes right back on in one minute!. Easy Peasy!

      1. I just went a looked at my toilet….and it is one solid piece. But if you have a two piece toilet then removing the tank is a great idea!

  6. Hey… I luv luv the color combo that you pulled from the quilt…. Can you tell me what color the green is that you used?? Have a great week-end… I jsut foudn your blog like yesterday–so I’m excited to look over it this weekend in my spare time in between a few projects tht I haev going…

    1. The dresser/vanity color started out as “frog” by Behr (Home Depot)…but it was a little neon-y so I added some brown craft paint to tone it down a bit.

  7. Love your bathroom! Ah, I feel like butterflies are landing on MY shoulders looking at it… virtually.
    It’s great that your boys can be playmates for each other. :) Do you DIY when they are playing/napping, usually? I’m going back to work in a few days (ehhh), so I’m in a pickle about DIY-blog-life balance. The pretend world in my head paints picture of me coming home from work to home-pre-school my 3 year old, work on getting our apartment together so we stop misplacing everything, and building furniture for friends. (Hah)

    Your writing is such a pleasure to read. <3 Thank you, as always for keeping it real.

    1. I wish they were playing in that picture…Elijah was freaking out because Levi ‘wouldn’t share” the Xylophone thing….which he has never cared about until Levi was playing with it. But they are playmates…well, it’s about a 50/50 fight/play ratio. As far as time, that’s my biggest struggle. Finding time to DIY is the easy part, finding time to do the rest of it (all the computer stuff that goes along with blogging) is the hard part. When I DIY usually my boys are right there with me, helping. Ahem…”helping”. I might attempt to distract them with an activity (depending on the project), and honestly sometimes I just turn on a DVD. I try to reserve nap time and post bedtime for the computer work, since I *try* not to be on the computer too much when they are awake.

      1. 50/50 fighting/playing sounds pretty normal for sibling relationships, atleast in my experience, hah. Thank you for sharing a snipet of how you manage your time to blog and DIY. It helped me to know you do the computer stuff at night, which is something I really need to work on. My husband doesn’t quite appreciate that I spend our “home date time” hacking at a keyboard, though. :/ I’m just going to have to give up something, like sleep. =D

        1. Oh, Adam either…I get sighs and sideways glances, haha. At least I know he enjoys my company :) I usually work on the computer for and hour or so after the kids go to bed, then hang out with him for a couple, then get back on after he goes to bed (or get up early and work before the kids get up). It’s a challenge no matter how you do it.

  8. I’m reading through this post carefully because I’m about to try stenciling for the first time. Thanks for the tips and I’m amazed at how many times you patiently restarted. I’m only going to do 1 wall but its a big wall–and I’m not that patient. :)

  9. Your bathroom is amazing. I couldn’t wait until you showed how you got the corners to work with the stencil. What a great idea to leave the corners white I think it looks better than if you had managed to figure it out, it’s almost like framing for the walls. Glad to see your home gets messy, you should see mine right this moment. :-)

    1. I totally agree about the corners, you took the thought right out of my brain. I think the blank corners break it up a bit and look great.

  10. Love it Ashley. It has a very calming feel with the perfect brightness. Maybe a good place for mom to go and relax when things get hectic? About the ‘lack of mirror’…I know just what you were talking about. I have an old window-made-mirror above my kitchen sink (someone in their wisdom decided to put the sink on an inside wall…drives me nuts!) which I just took down to repaint (fail!) and the wall was ‘so dead’ without it. AND perfect houses aren’t homes, there is a difference!

  11. You did an INCREDIBLE job ! I’ve done stenciling before so I have the utmost respect for diligence & hardwork … it certainly paid off! I’ve learned a lot from your blog, THANK YOU!

  12. Good to know the sharpie and paint pens are over rated I have been planning to stencil a walk using that method. Thanks for sharing your mistakes/knowledge this will help me bypass all of that. The bathroom is gorgeous.

  13. Love Love Love your bathroom! Everything from the stencils, to the dresser, to the subway tiles! Where is the “rafflecopter” to sign up for the giveaway? I’m pretty new to this (but so glad I found your website!) I love how real it is.

    1. The rafflecopter should be at the bottom of the post….it takes a while longer then the rest of the page to load. Maybe try a different browser? If you still don’t see it let me know and I will manually enter you a couple times.

      And thank you!

  14. Wow – this looks like it took a lot longer than the 33 hrs of child birth – good on you for going the distance! You should have a contest like guess the number of jelly beans in this jar – modified to how many child births did it take to stencil this bathroom? My guess of all in would the equivilant of 2 child births = 66 hrs! I sure hope that bathroom remembers you on Mothers Day with a lovely bouquet of flowers or something! Love the behind the scenes picture of the boys – looks like no toddlers were hurt in the making of this tutorial- haha! ~ Kari

    1. Oh my gosh, I laughed out load reading your comment! I hope that bathroom remembers me on Mothers Day too…it should clean itself for the occasion at the very least!

  15. Holy Smokes! This might be the best bathroom ever! I’m a new reader, and generally more of a lurker than a commenter, but I just had to duck out to say WOW! Your patience is amazing, and the whole rooms looks so fresh and cool. And the corners totally look intentional, I never would have questioned it. Bravo! :)

    1. Carmen, you are too sweet…thanks for de-lurking for a moment :)
      P.S – I’m a lurker too, I pretty much never comment on blogs even though I read a ton.

  16. Your stencil work is amazing!! I thought it was wallpaper at first! I have entered your draw, of course your help & talents come with the winning stencil – right? :D

  17. Oh my heck – HOW DID YOU HAVE THE PATIENCE FOR THAT STENCILING? It looks beautiful! I love the entire bathroom, but wow, that was a lot of work and time you put in on those walls. I’m so glad they turned out so beautiful for you.

    1. I didn’t really have the patience, which is why it took me so many months. I would spend a day stenciling…and then actively avoid it for a few weeks. Glad to be done and glad it turned out well!

  18. Just want to thank you for your sense of humor. We all get frustrated doing the long awaited projects, then when we get into them, they are never as simple as we thought they would be. LOVE the comment about you having your crap together! That put everything into perspective for me. Thanks for your honesty. Now we all feel more normal.

  19. I love how the walls came out! I just spent the day stenciling an old coffee table thanks to your inspiration and directions and I love it! I’m looking forward to doing a dresser and maybe my bedroom door (if the husband will let me) ~ LOL.

  20. Ashley! Love the stencil! Yours painstaking hours were well worth it :-) Who cares about the corners! You can even put a piece of corner trim down the seams if it ends up bugging you that much. It would look like you meant to do that!

  21. Hello! My name is Katy and I am the social media coordinator for KILZ brand products. Your bathroom updates look great! We are happy to hear that our primer helped you and we would love for you to share your experience with our products by writing a review. Simply click on this link, select the product used and write/submit a review: http://bit.ly/WpAXp6

    We appreciate the feedback! If you ever have any questions on our products or on your next painting project, please contact us directly at [email protected]. Thanks!

  22. The bathroom looks gorgeous! So clean and fresh. It’s frustrating to have to start over, but I always think it’s worth it to finally get it done right. I think leaving the corners blank was a stroke of genius!

  23. This is wonderful :) Turns a bathroom into a special space!

    I have a question. You talked about not using a roller because you have to work so intermittently, and it’s annoying to constantly clean it out (I agree!!). Whenever I paint, I always wrap my brush/rollers in saran wrap when I’m finished or taking a break, and stick them in the fridge. Then I take them out to use later and they are as good as when I stopped working.

    You probably know that trick, but it has added years onto my life that I would lose if I had to clean out my rollers all the time!!! :)

    1. You can also put the whole roller or brush into a Wal-Mart or any plastic grocery bag, as we are painting our ceiling after taking down popcorn ceilings. when my shoulder can’t take anymore, I stick the whole roller handle and all in plastic grocery sack and put in frig, handle sticking out, wrap it around a few times, done. Trash the bag and use another for next painting.

  24. OH I love the whole project. I just came across your blog for the first time tonight. THANK YOU PINTEREST! Did you saw the counter was done with flooring? Is there a tutorial or post on that? I love my bathroom, but this makes me want to remodel something. Thank you for sharing.

  25. I am on my, I hope, last day of stenciling my office. I say office, it’s really a crap room, I mean craft room, it’s where I can go make a mess and shut the door behind me. I stenciled one wall in our old home and loved it so much, I thought it would be awesome to do the whole room in our new house. I was wrong. Even though I have not worked on it none stop, it is taking forever. I wish I had skipped the corners but doing them last, the section at the floor is worse. I use stencil adhesive and even though I swept the floors there is now crude stuck to my stencil. I have cleaned my stencil 3 times, not the easiest thing to do, (equal parts oil & baking soda, put it on with your hand, let it set a few minutes and then use a plastic scraper to remove all the gunk, aka adhesive. Wash with soap and water and hang to dry.) And every now and then use a baby wipe to clean paint build up on from of stencil. And I use a damp sea sponge to apply my paint. Those are my hints, good luck to anyone trying this and have patience!!

  26. I just found your blog a few nights ago & I’m loving it. Every time I read a new blog I love, I get back into the mood to work on the house. Thanks for all the great ideas!

    I was also going to recommend the plastic bag trick. I paint a LOT and it’s a lifesaver! And I had another thought. Would you be able to roll the paint on if you’d sprayed the stencil with repositionable adhesive?

    1. So glad you’re enjoying the blog! I thoroughly enjoy writing it :)

      I’ve never used spray adhesive before, so that actually didn’t even cross my mind. I don’t know if it would have worked…we have a crazy texture on our walls (Mexican drag, I think? Monterrey drag?) so who knows. I wish I would have thought of it though, cause these walls took me forever with the brush!

  27. I love the bathroom!!! Vanity dresser is lovely! The walls are gorgeous and I will NEVER do it, but live vicariously through your bathroom!! Best part… the reality that lies (or plays, or destroys, or LOVES) in the other room!!! So cute

  28. I had some of the same issues you did. I am just starting a project in my bathroom and the roller smears too much, the stencil brush takes forever and still seeps a bit and takes lots of elbow grease or multiple coats to get the coverage I wanted. I finally tried a small artist liner brush and holding the stencil tight just painted it on. I was using white acrylic craft paint. It went on much easier and less work and better coverage with less seepage. My stencil was one that had small skinny lines and it worked great.

  29. This looks great! I attempted to stencil a bathroom too, and after the paint didn’t give me precise lines, I ended up tracing the stencil onto adhesive vinyl, cutting each individual piece out (hundreds!) and using the stencil as a template on the wall to show me where to stick the vinyl cutouts. Totally a crazy-long project, but turned out fantastic!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *