DIY Wallpaper with a Stencil: Wallpaper Alternative

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Choosing the right wallpaper alternative can make all the difference when it comes to refreshing your home. Imagine achieving a wallpaper-like effect without the disadvantages of actual wallpaper. Let’s talk about a fantastic and cost-effective method I tried out recently: using a stencil to mimic a wallpaper finish. You’re spoilt for choice with various options, like the delicate floral wall stencil with a prominent large flower like I chose. The beauty lies in the stencil design, which allows for creativity and personalization. Whether you’re a DIY enthusiast or just looking for a weekend project, creating a DIY wallpaper alternative with a stencil might be the transformative touch your space needs.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

wallpaper alternative that we used in our dining room was floral wall stencil to add detail and a moodiness to the space
Shop the dining room: Stencil, Art, Rug, Chandelier, Curtains (similar), Dried Hydrangeas (similar), Dining Table is antique, and decorative items are mostly thrifted.

The Allure of a Wallpaper Alternative

Traditional wallpapers, while beautiful, can sometimes be on the pricier side. But who says you can’t achieve that wallpaper-like effect without breaking the bank? Enter the world of stencils! A creative wallpaper alternative that’s both budget-friendly and offers endless possibilities.

Why the Wallpaper-like effect over Traditional Wallpaper

Opting for a wallpaper stencil over traditional wallpaper offers initial application advantages and long-term benefits. We’ve all heard the horror stories of trying to remove old wallpaper, the endless scraping, the residue, and the potential damage to the walls. It’s a time-consuming and often frustrating process. On the other hand, if you ever decide to change the look created by a wallpaper stencil, all it takes is a fresh coat of paint. No fuss, no mess, and certainly no headaches.

wallpaper-like effect was created in our dining room using a large flower wall stencil

Choosing the Perfect Stencil Design

For my dining room, I was keen on a floral pattern. I had a wallpaper selected, but I didn’t love the price or the colour options! I explored various stencil designs and finally settled on a floral wall stencil that caught my eye (and looked similar to the wallpaper I initially wanted). But not just any floral pattern, a large flower wall stencil that was intricate yet manageable for the room.

Achieving the Wallpaper-Like Effect with a Stencil

Now, how does one achieve that seamless wallpaper-like effect using a stencil? It’s simpler than you might think! With patience, steady hands, and the right paints, the stencil design can be repeatedly applied across the wall, creating a continuous pattern reminiscent of traditional wallpapers.

diy wallpaper with a stencil in our dining room with beautiful designer chandelier and antique table! I got a wallpaper-like effect in this space without the disadvantages of wallpaper

DIY Wallpaper with a Stencil: Tips for Success

For those eager to try their hands at DIY wallpaper-look with a stencil, here are a few tips to ensure a successful project:

  1. Preparation is Key: Ensure your wall is clean and free of any irregularities.
  2. Take Your Time: Rushing can lead to mistakes. Take breaks if needed, and ensure each stencil application is dry before moving on.
  3. If you’re working with multiple colours, let the first colour dry thoroughly before applying the next.
  4. Less is More: Avoid overloading your brush or roller with paint to prevent bleeds.
  5. Test: Always test your colour and stencil on a small hidden patch before starting the entire wall.
view of our dining room with bookcase, chandelier and antique table with wallpaper alternative stencil design on the walls

PRO TIP: Not sure what paint sheen to use? Learn more here.

DIY Instructions: Creating a Wallpaper-Like Effect with a Stencil


  1. Wall stencil (I love the ones from this Etsy vendor – where I got mine)
  2. Paint (I used Natural Cream lightened 25% + White Dove)
  3. A small dense foam roller or stencil brush
  4. Painter’s tape
  5. Level or laser level
  6. Paper towels or rags
  7. Small paint tray or disposable plate
using a stencil to create a wallpaper-like effect on the walls


  1. Preparation:
    • Clean your wall to ensure it’s free from dust or grease.
    • Lay down drop cloths or old newspapers to protect your floor from paint drips.
  2. Position Your Stencil:
    • Start from a corner or a focal point in the room.
      • If your stencil comes with a separate top stencil, start with that to go around the top perimeter of the room.
    • Use a level to make sure your stencil is straight.
    • Secure the stencil using painter’s tape if your stencil is not a peel-and-stick.
how to use a stencil
  1. Painting:
    • Pour a small amount of paint into your tray or plate.
    • Dip your foam roller or stencil brush into the paint. Ensure it’s evenly coated.
    • Roll off or dab any excess paint on a paper towel or rag. This prevents paint from seeping under the stencil.
    • Gently roll or dab the paint over the stencil. Use a light hand; multiple thin coats are better than one thick one.
  2. Repositioning and Continuation:
    • Once you’ve painted over the entire stencil, carefully remove it.
    • Align the stencil next to the previously painted section, ensuring the pattern matches up. Secure with painter’s tape.
    • Repeat the painting process until your entire wall or desired area is covered.
a progress photo of my diy project using a larger flower wall stencil to create a design
  1. Touch-Ups:
    • After covering the desired area, check for imperfections or missed spots.
    • Using a small brush, touch up areas where the paint might have bled, or the coverage isn’t even.
  2. Drying and Finalizing:
    • Allow the paint to dry thoroughly according to the paint manufacturer’s recommendations.
  3. Clean-Up:
    • Clean your stencil with warm, soapy water and let it dry flat.
    • Clean brushes, rollers, and trays immediately to prolong their life.
cozy and warm looking dining room with beautiful patterned walls
Shop the dining room: Stencil, Art, Rug, Chandelier, Curtains (similar), Dried Hydrangeas (similar), Dining Table is antique, and decorative items are mostly thrifted.

Looking for details on the paint colours in my home? Learn more here.

Wrapping Up

One of my best decor decisions was opting for a stencil design to create a wallpaper-like effect in my dining room. I love the large flower wall stencil I chose to create the wallpaper look I wanted! It’s a beautiful wallpaper alternative that’s cost-effective, customizable, and oh-so-stylish! So next time you want to refresh a space, consider DIY wallpaper with a stencil. Happy decorating!

dining room with bookcase and antique wood table

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