Birch Tree Stencil and Tips

Well I finally went for it last week and started stenciling the walls in the nursery.  Do you ever have those projects that seem like they are going to be huge and really ambiguous so you put them off?  That's how I felt about this, but I'm happy to report I was wrong!  Don't get me wrong, it was definitely a big project but very manageable.  It's totally doable for anyone.  All you need is a little time and patience.  

Ever since we found out we were having a boy I knew I wanted to use the silver birches allover stencil from Olive Leaf Stencils.  It was the starting point for the design board for his room.  I've always loved the Cole and Son Wood Wallpaper, but it would have cost me a small fortune to do that in this room.  So I knew I could get a similar look for a fraction of the cost using this stencil.  

Let me give you a little peek at the before of the room.  We hadn't touched this room since we moved in since we hoped we would be able to use it for a nursery one day.  The walls were the same builder basic white that is in other areas of our home.  It's not bad, but the undertones weren't right for this space.  I really wasn't thrilled about painting the whole room first, but thankfully my mom and husband came to the rescue and helped a ton with this step.  I chose to paint the walls and ceiling Sherwin Williams Pure White.  I can't tell you how glad I am that I did this.

So again, here's the before.

I learned a few things along the way that I thought I'd share with you guys in case you decide to tackle this yourself.  I have to say that this stencil is very forgiving which makes it so much easier to work with.  Since birch trees in nature aren't perfect and are a little more organic, the stenciling can be the same way.  So don't worry if it's not perfect!  I promise it will all come together in the end. 

First, I set up a little station in the bathroom with my paint, foam roller, and a stack of paper towels.  More on this in a minute.

Then I started in an inconspicuous corner of the room, behind the door, to make sure I didn't completely mess up.  I was amazed at how easy it was!  I used a laser level to make sure everything was even.  If you don't have one it's well worth the $15 investment.  I can't tell you how many times I've used this thing.  (I have this one)

Then I taped down the edges with painters tape.  If you are concerned about getting things super crisp you can use spray adhesive on the back of the stencil and skip the tape.  I was a little worried about the adhesive showing up on the white wall and yellowing over time so I went the tape route instead.  It was definitely easier and worked just fine for me. 

You want to make sure you don't oversaturate the roller with paint.  Less is more when it comes to this project.  Even if you have to do a few coats it's better to start lightly and add multiple thin layers.  So dip your foam roller in the paint and then roll off some of the excess on the stack of paper towels.  (see first picture)  Roll gently over the whole stencil and then repeat if necessary.  Slowly pull the stencil off the wall.  

I can't tell you how excited I was to pull it off and see how well it worked.

I continued to work my way around the room following the same process.  I started in the middle of the wall and waited for that to dry.  Then I would do another one right beside it and while it was drying I would do the top and bottom portion of the previous section.  This allowed me to not have to wait several minutes for each section to dry before moving on.  I also slightly staggered the stencil from side to side.  

I taped off the baseboards and ceilings to avoid getting paint on those areas.  Of course I still made a few mistakes so I just touched up those areas afterwards.  I also just sort of bent the stencil to make it work along the edges and top and bottom since it wasn't an exact fit.  Once again don't worry about it being perfect.  You won't be able to tell!  

A few other things to keep in mind.  I originally planned on using black or a dark charcoal gray.  I changed my mind because I was worried the high contrast would be a little too busy with me doing all four walls.  I'm so glad I did because it was also much easier to stencil with a lighter color.  And in case anyone is wondering I used Sherwin Williams Windstorm.  I really love this shade of gray.  It's gray with just a touch of warmth to it to keep it from being too blue.  I also washed the stencil about halfway through each wall.  You'll realize when it's time to do this.  You'll have to start pushing harder to get the paint to go through the stencil and the edges won't be as crisp.  It's well worth the effort it takes to quickly clean it.  I found the easiest way to do this was to let it soak in the bathtub for a few minutes and then I could peel large sections of paint off it and rinse it.  Since I used a water based paint it came off pretty easily.

Overall it took me three days to finish.  I tried to do a little more than a wall a day and it took me about 5-6 hours each day.  It went by pretty quickly and was well worth the effort!  

So in summary, since I realize that was a little wordy...

Now that this part is done everything has really started coming together.  We picked up a light at the West Elm outlet this past weekend and I found a great rug at Homegoods.  Just a few more projects and it will be done!  I can't wait to show you the end result!  If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments and I'll do my best to answer them.

*I was provided with a stencil for review, all opinions are 100% mine.


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