Oui, oui, the writing is on the wall, y’all…and if these walls could talk, they would whisper in a French accent! How to Create a Chic French Script Stenciled Accent Wall shares photos of a fun DIY stenciled accent wall completed days ago in a guest bedroom as well as steps, and secrets for getting the look. The French script is only somewhat legible so the artfulness is all about its character and dramatic scale rather than the meaning of the words. Like the look of old French letters or documents? Try this inexpensive and easy DIY with grey chalk paint you can make yourself!
How to Create a Chic French Script Stenciled Accent Wall!
If you have stenciled before, then you know. It’s easy peasy, madame. However, the beauty of this particular project is what I did so the end result appears complex and as if you commissioned an artist or installed an expensive script wallcovering. I’m sharing the secrets!
Wanna give it a whirl? Give any wall in your home a little more character and increase the chic factor with this super easy DIY. My supplies included: a 21″ x 10.75″ stencil, a pouncer style natural bristle paintbrush, blue painter’s tape, and grey chalk paint.
I started the project using Annie Sloan’s Paris Grey but underestimated the amount of paint I would require! Since I didn’t want to put the project on hold, I successfully mixed up my own, and it matched beautifully. (I have made my own chalk paint many times, so if you have ever wondered how to make chalk paint, you’ll learn that today too!)
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Supplies: French Script Stenciled Wall
French Script Stencil
The description from Stencil Stash describes the stencil this way: “Taken from an old letter between friends, the text is only partially legible to add an evocative feel to your projects. Perfect for furniture, fabric, crafts and home decor.”
Repeating the stencil on such a large expanse meant reusing the stencil many times, causing the paint to build up on the stencil. While the mylar stencil cleans up easily with soap and water, it’s a smart idea to buy multiples of the stencil to minimize the amount of pauses in the process for cleaning!
The size of the XL size stencil I used is 21″ by 10.75″.
I used a pouncer paintbrush like this one for the project, and I liked being able to vary the pressure as I pounced. This helped me achieve a script look which seems faded in some areas and darker in others. This look also meant I could stencil imperfectly since I wasn’t going for uniformity or consistency.
I have used stencil brushes like these (below) as well, and they work well. However, for a project like my wall which took many hours, my more ergonomic paintbrush with the better hand-feel came in handy since it can be tiring.
This is the tape I use to hold my stencil in place.
Chalk Paint: 2 Alternatives
1. Inexpensive & Easy to Make Chalk Paint
To make one quart of chalk paint: Mix 8 Tbsp. calcium carbonate and 4 Tbsp water in a clean paint can or container which will hold a quart. Add more water if necessary a little at a time, to get a paste consistency. Stir in 32 oz. (4 sample pots) of flat or satin latex paint until smooth. Pour some of the paint into a clean container to use for stenciling (eases things a little), then cover and store the rest until refills are needed.
A couple of years ago, I discovered that the paint color I chose to paint our kitchen cabinets in the Arizona vacation house was strikingly similar to Annie Sloan’s Paris Grey. It’s called Behr Classic Gray, and I luckily I had it on hand to make chalk paint.
You can use any container to make the chalk paint, and I suggest having 2 containers available. Mix the paint recipe in one, then pour some into a second container for stenciling, refilling as necessary.
Homemade Chalk Paint Tutorial
2. Ready-made Chalk Paint in French Grey Tones
Here’s the chalk paint I started with – Annie Sloan Paris Grey. When I ran out about 1/3 of the way through and didn’t want to put the project on hold, I came up with a homemade solution that matched beautifully.
Optional: Folding 3 Step Stool With Project Tray
The project tray on this folding ladder makes a great perch for paint.
Instructions for French Script Stencil Wall
Paint the Wall With Desired Base Color
Make sure to have that base color on hand for any touchups you may have at the end of the stencil project. My base color is Benjamin Moore White.
Place the Stencil for First Section
I began at the top left corner of the wall, placing the stencil at the ceiling with blue painter’s tape to hold the stencil in place. No measuring…it went directly in the corner.
The amount of space on the stencil before the script begins was just right, easing things considerably!
Pounce & Stamp with Brush
With a small amount of paint on the brush (use a paper towel to pounce off the excess), I pounced it over each letter of the stencil with one hand, moving left to right, while holding the stencil flush with the wall with the other hand.
I used sort of a stamping effect to get the paint through the delicately cut script of the stencil. As a result, it was a noisy process, and our son studying for the bar exam was not blessed by the resident woodpecker.
What About a Paint Roller?
Why take time to pounce and not just use a paint roller over the stencil? Two reasons. First, the script is very fine so it’s tricky to get the paint through through the stencil with a roller. Second, I wanted it to look as imperfect, faded, and authentically hand-written as possible.
Achieve a Varied, Aged Look
By varying the pressure (or even amount of paint), you can achieve a desirable imperfect quality. If you were aiming for uniformity and a more wallpaper-like look, you might want to take more time and care to apply the same amount of paint and pressure. With my method, you can certainly relax! Even if some of the script looks smudged, globby, or barely there, it’s the look we’re going for!
Reposition Stencil for Next Section
To reposition the stencil for the next section, I carefully lifted the stencil and tape and placed it to the right of the first section. I chose not to use registration marks or a level, but rather eyeballed it, using the ceiling as a guide. sliding it to the right with each section, and for the last section at the corner, bending the stencil and hold it in place.
Don’t worry about perfectly ending a line of text since you can always paint over it at the end! After the first row, you can choose to stencil sections horizontally or vertically. You can also use a level or laser lines for more precision, but my walls are imperfect anyway, so using the ceiling as a guide for that first row and working off of it worked best for me.
Clean the Stencil
In case you decide to stencil a large wall as I did (mine is more than 15 feet), after a number of sections, the paint will become too thick on the stencil to continue. As a result, it’s smart to have multiples of this same stencil on hand so you always have a clean one!
If you are working with a single stencil, it’s sort of a pain yet necessary to stop and clean paint from the stencil before continuing. I cleaned mine in a large laundry tub sink, allowing the water run to over the stencil and with circular motions, removed paint with a rag. Then I dried it with an old beach towel…well worth the effort!
Stencil the Bottom Row
When I got to the bottom of the wall where there is baseboard, I wanted to leave the same amount of space as the sides and top. It was easy to eyeball it, and after placing the stencil, I placed painter’s tape over the stencil above the baseboard…consequently, I knew at which line to stop.
Where Can You Use French Script?
The beauty of French script (especially when it’s partially legible like this stencil) is that it is neutral enough to be at home anywhere. You can certainly stencil a bathroom wall, a wall in the dining room, the back of a bookcase, the inside of a cupboard, a tote bag, a canvas, a seat cushion and even a mirror. In case you had not noticed…I have stenciled many mirrors!
Remember the French script stenciled canvas I made for a bathroom in our Arizona house? I painted the canvas Behr Classic Silver (very similar to Annie Sloan Paris Grey) and stenciled on a creamy white (Valspar Salute).
In fact, just to make sure I wanted to tackle the whole wall, I used this stencil on a recycled vintage framed canvas. That way, I could hold it up and see if the scale of the lettering was pleasing. Here it is:
Stencil Project In Process
You can see I decided to work from top to bottom after the first two rows…however, it’s your call.
The French script wall certainly reinforces the room’s identity as a European country inspired space which includes a full size bed, desk, piano, reading chair, and French settee.
I am indeed taking my sweet time decorating this bedroom and hasten to even call what I do decorating. What I enjoy is a collected, evolved, unfussy, non-contrived, effortless French inspired look…a look arising from time, creativity, and treasure hunting.
The settee is a $10 find from Goodwill I transformed with Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter paint (even the fabric), an old French boutis quilt, and also linen pillows.
Since I use the bedroom as a studio, the space is frequently in disarray! Indeed, dropcloths, art table, paints, giftwrap, half-painted thrift store finds, fabric, and paints are staples in here.
It is definitely still evolving, and I’m glad at least one wall is finished!
Peace to you right where you are.
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