Thursday, April 25, 2013

Finishing Touches: Nursery Curtain Stencil

E's room has been a work in progress from the word 'go'. Beyond generic ideas like 'paint the room a bright colour' or 'get a comfortable chair to do nighttime feedings in' I never really had a vision for what it would look like. So, to some extent, it feels a bit hodge-podge to me. Though I do like the way it's coming together.

First, I painted the walls in B&Q's Sunflower yellow. After that, I picked out a lampshade and some curtains to go over the window. Those curtains that were hanging when we moved in were horrendous. After that came the roller blind, the POANG chair from IKEA, the TROFAST shelving, also from IKEA, the cot, and eventually the wrapping paper backing on one of the BILLY bookcases. It seemed like the room was all coming together and was basically finished. After all, we'd long had a baby sleeping in that room by the time I finally decided to jazz up the bookshelves. But there was still something missing for me.

just a bit...boring.
I'd bought the plainest, least expensive curtains I could from John Lewis. I'd already bought new curtains for our bedroom, and in that same trip I was grabbing a set for the bay window in the living room as well, so I needed to get something that was simple, that wouldn't make the room feel too crazy, and that wouldn't break the bank 3 sets of curtains later. But over the nearly 2 years (wow...) those curtains have been up I've gotten tired of how plain they were and wanted to dress them up a bit.

After checking a bunch of fabric painting tutorials online, this one from Ela's Smile gave me the confidence to just go on and get it done. The hard part would be deciding on colours and a pattern for my stencil.

I sketched and searched for weeks trying to decide on something that I wouldn't dislike as soon as I saw it. I also needed something that was within the limited confines of my skills since I was committed to making my own stencil. Hence the reason that although I adore this Hygge & West wallpaper, in the end, I voted against trying to recreate it as a stencil for E's bedroom curtains.  Those clouds were just too convoluted. Le sure would have been pretty, though.
by Julia Rothman via, Hygge & West

The colours stuck with me, though, and so in the end I wanted to find something that would fit a red and turquoise colour-scheme. What did I come up with? Umbrellas.

It took me ages to come up with the right sort of material to make my stencil out of. I needed something that wouldn't deteriorate and fall apart when covered in wet paint. I know that the tutorial I linked to above mentions getting stencil sheets from a craft store. Since my nearest decent craft store is in Basingstoke, I just cut the stencil out of a plastic folder from a stationer's store. 35p, FTW!

I first designed the pattern in PowerPoint and fiddled around with the slides to see if it would look good as a repeating pattern. (I initially thought of having a row of all red followed by a row of all blue.) I asked the Husband for his opinion and we decided on the alternating pattern of open red umbrellas and closed turquoise umbrellas.

So with my stencil designed and cut (I printed my PowerPoint design then cut the folder with an Exacto knife with a cutting board underneath for safety.) it was time to get cracking. After a brief trip to B&Q that involved watching Sarah & Duck on my phone at the paint counter, I had my colours, so once a convenient nap time came around, I got to work!

How to Stencil Your Curtains:
- lay out the newsprint underneath of the curtain
- get the curtain as flat as you can
- make sure you check your spacing!
I traced my pattern lightly in pencil. That way, I knew how far apart to space them.
I didn't trace every umbrella: just the top row and left column. I could position
everything else off of those.
- dab the sponge from edge to edge - almost like a rolling motion.
- just get enough paint to wet the fabric: don't overdo it!
I was fine with a bit of patchy colour once the curtains were hanging up.
If you're not, though, let it dry a little and then do a second coat of paint.
- periodically clean the back side of the stencil to keep from spreading too many smudges of paint where you don't want them.
In progress.
This project has turned out brilliantly so far. E loves his new curtains and keeps pointing to the open red umbrellas saying, 'That!' very loudly. I love that they bring the turquoise of the roller blind more into the bright colour scheme of the rest of the room. The whole look seems to have come together around the primary four colours of E's toys: red, yellow, green, and blue.

Oh, and here's the breakdown of everything:
Tester pots of paint: £2 each (£4 total)
Plastic folder: £0.35
Old sponges: already had them. Though you can snag a cheap pack at Sainsbury's for less than £2
Painting time: 2 hours

So there you have a cheap and easy way to update any boring textiles sitting around the house. It's projects like this that remind me why I enjoy doing DIY so much!


  1. Love the stenciled curtains!! I think your little man does, too!

    1. Aw, thanks Kim! Yeah, he's enamored of them. Proves it was a job well done!