Creating a dramatic focal wall in your home is a great way to introduce a breath of fresh air to a room that has become stale. Not only does it enliven the space, but it’s relatively easy and inexpensive. There are tons of really great, high quality stencils out there today, ranging from the minimalist to the ornate. We purchased our stencil from Royal Design Studio, which has a great selection of designs to choose from, though a quick search will pull up a number of options. The most important factor when choosing a pattern is how much labor you are willing to put into this project. Because we are often our own worst enemies, we chose a highly labor intensive design. However, the results are amazing and totally worth the sweat equity we put in. Be forewarned, the most valuable lesson I learned from this endeavor was patience. It’s a virtue, they say.

What follows is a brief overview of how it’s done and the supplies you will need to create your own accent wall.


  • Stencil brushes
  • Paint – basecoat and stencil color(s)
  • Paper Towels
  • Paper plates
  • Damp cloth – for stray paint blobs
  • Painter’s tape
  • Ladder
  • Stencil
  • Drop Cloth


If you have a textured wall, like we do, you will have create a flat surface to stencil on. (If this isn’t an issue for you, move on to step two.) We used skim coat (it’s a bit like spackle), which is available at any home improvement store. It’s an easy process. Simply use a trowel to apply a thin layer of skim coat until you have a level, even surface. After it has completely dried, sand the wall smooth. Make sure you wear a mask and eye protection as the creates an enormous amount of dust.


Apply your base coat. In order to save time, choose a paint and primer in one. When determining the amount of paint you will need, keep in mind that if you had to skim coat the wall, it will be very absorptive. Count on having to apply two coats. The paint, we chose, Pale Palomino, had a satin finish. I loved the name, how could you not?

Once you have a solid base coat you can proceed to the fun stuff!


Get ready to stencil. Depending on the type of stencil you use, you will have to choose the best starting place. Our stencil included an additional border stencil that is designed to butt up to the top of the wall for a seamless transition to the ceiling. For this project the stencil was started in the middle of the wall and we moved left and right to complete. Use your best judgement on this.

The accent paint we chose had a glossy finish to help create contrast. Many websites will tell you to use paint made specially for stenciling, like chalk paint, though we found this to be an unnecessary expense. The trick to a neat, professional finish it to apply the paint sparingly. In this case, less is most definitely more. Pour a small amount of paint onto a paper plate and lightly dab the brush in it. Then, using a paper towel, remove the excess paint from the brush. Now you are ready to apply the paint to the wall.

Gently dab the paint onto the wall using a stippling motion. Don’t paint in an up and down or circular motion, as this will create a mess and cause the paint to bleed underneath the stencil. As you complete a section, allow the paint to dry before moving on the next as the registration marks will have you overlapping on your previous work. Proceed in this manner until the wall is complete.

This is where patience comes in. In total honesty, it took us several full days to finish. Had we only chosen one accent color I’m sure it wouldn’t have been much faster, but we knew that the results were going to be awesome if we took the long road.


Make sure that all your edges are neat and that there are no stray globs of paint or messy lines. Take a very fine paint brush and apply your basecoat to cover any mistakes or stray marks. This might seem somewhat OCD, but trust me, after the effort you have put in to create your accent wall, a few minutes of scrutiny to make sure it’s perfect is well worth it. At this point, you probably have no desire to touch this wall for a decade.


The final step. Pour a glass of wine, sit back and relax. Your wall looks amazing and you totally earned it.