Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hand-Painted Moroccan-Lattice Wall Stencil

Way back in February, I decided my own home needed some attention.  When we first moved into our house 4 years ago I was 8 months pregnant, and whatever I was going to do had to be done quickly.  We gave the main floor a quick, neutral paint-job to make it live-able, and then I spent the next 3 years mentally toiling over just what I wanted to do with our space.  I finally settled on a plan about a year ago - but finding the time to implement it was proving impossible.

Finally, I decided to give myself priority for once and work for myself.  I shut down Metz Interiors for a month in order to focus on my own home.  My plan was to work like a mad-woman during that month and get most of it done then get back to business as usual - but things didn't quite work out that way (things never do!).  After a month of being closed I had to re-open my business.  I had completed most of the work on the main-level of my house, but not as much as I had hoped, and have since been picking away at it whenever time has come available. 4 months later my house is still not finished - but some things are at least finished enough for me to share.

This hand-painted Moroccan-lattice feature wall on either side of my fireplace pop-out is one of them.  I wish I could take credit for the genesis of this idea - but I can't.  I saw it first on Pinterest here, and kind of fell in love with it.  I am picky about patterns - and have generally avoided them in the past (they're often just too busy for me).  Nevertheless I have recently taken a liking to more modern, geometric prints, and a big goal for my living room was to get over my pattern-shyness.

Image from littlenannygoat.blogspot.ca

I really liked the hand-painted wall-paper, Moroccan lattice idea - but knew that it would have to be contained, otherwise it would overwhelm me (ie: a whole room is just too busy for me).  I chose to strategically place it on either side of my newly installed fireplace pop-out (tutorial on that later),  where it would be present behind some cabinets and shelves I planned to install in the space.  Here it would be present, would help draw attention to the main focus of the room (the fireplace), but not dominate and overwhelm the room.

Why paint?  Why not wall-paper?  Well, here again, my own personal fussiness is to blame.  I could have gone with a wall-paper if I could find one with the pattern and colours I liked - but I like the ability to customize.  Painting was more work - but if I painted it, could customize the colours and pattern exactly to my space.  I liked that.

When I followed the Pinterest link I found I was lead to another site which offered a printable stencil. That makes things easy - but not custom.  I wanted a custom stencil that would make the pattern fit in my space exactly - so I made my own, manually - the old fashioned way.  It wasn't perfect, but it worked.  Here's how I did it:


For Stencil:
- 1 piece of poster-board
- Pencil
- Eraser
- Ruler
- Measuring tape
- Round dish
- Scissors

To Paint:
- 1 1/2" wide, angled paint brush
- 2 colours of interior-latex paint (main wall colour, and stencil colour)
- Damp rag


1) Measure the height and width of your wall (subtracting the width of your baseboard from the height).  Using the measurements, divide your wall into an equal grid of same-sized, vertical rectangles (do this on paper!  In my case I wanted 6 shapes across and 6 down, so I divided the width of my wall by 6 to get the width of the rectangle I would need, and divided the height of the wall by 6 to get the height of the rectangle I would need).   Cut a rectangle out of poster-board according to your measurements.

2) a. Divide the rectangle of poster board you have cut out into a grid by using your pencil and ruler to draw a line across the center of the horizontal axis and the center of the vertical axis.

b. Use a round dish or round object of an appropriate size to mark the outside curve of the middle of your stencil on the left side of the horizontal axis (take it right to the edge of the poster-board).  Repeat on the right side of the horizontal axis:

c.  Use a ruler to draw a straight line across the stencil connecting the top and bottom, right and left sides of the curve.

d. Use your ruler to draw 2 more vertical lines on your grid where the edges of the curves meet the straight, horizontal lines that connect them.  Use your ruler to draw a straight, horizontal line connecting the 2 new vertical lines, creating 2 narrow rectangles of equal size above and below the curved shape in the center of the stencil.

e.  Use your dish, or round object to create an inside curve on the right and left sides of the top and bottom of the stencil, above and below the rectangles you just created. (Make sure you leave a little straight stem at the top for the stencil to continue - this is something I didn't do quite enough, but would do if I were to do it again) 

f. Cut out your stencil:

3) Trace your stencil onto the wall.  I started by going across the top first from left to right, then went down the left-hand side of the wall from top to bottom, and then filled in the rest going from top to bottom, left to right.  As with my Argyle-Feature Wall post - it is important to keep in mind that most walls in most homes are not perfectly square, and do not measure exactly the same all the way across and all the way down.  This can throw off your stencil a little, so be prepared to fudge, and compensate things a little this way and a little that way as you go along.  You can use chalk-lines if you wish to help you keep things straight - but I found that I was able to more or less eye-ball it.

Just so this picture doesn't throw you off: to create a single-lattice pattern like I did the stencils should trace right up against each other (there should be no gap between them like in this picture - I screwed up the first time and had to compensate for it later).  To do a double-lattice pattern as shown on the other blogs, you'll want to leave a gap in-between the stencils, and trace your stencil in an alternating pattern, see below picture for double-lattice only.  This does effect your original grid measurement, and kind of throws things off for a perfect fit - which is why I didn't do the double-lattice.
For double-lattice only - you would trace your stencil in an alternating pattern like this - I DID NOT DO THIS, I went for a single-lattice for a less complicated exact fit.

4) Now, on most of the other blogs I read about doing this they left it here and just started painting.  I'm a little bit fussier than that.  I like to have lines to paint within to keep everything even.  So I took my stencil, hollowed it out and then traced it again on to the wall to give me an interior and exterior guide to paint within (I probably could have done this in the first place - but it didn't occur to me at the time).

5) Once all that tracing was done, I was ready to paint!  The other blogs I read suggested painting the stencil using a small artist`s paint brush.  I started out that way - but it was taking forever - and the quality wasn`t great (paint was too thin) - so I soon switched over to using a house-painter`s method.   To do it this way it does require some cutting skills (ie: painting a smooth line around edges), which is I suppose why the other bloggers went with the artist`s brush.

Basically, I took a 1 1/2" angled paint brush, dipped it in paint about 1" deep, wiped the excess paint off my brush on the edge of the paint can, held my brush at an angle with the bristles aligned, and gently followed my pencil lines.  I kept a damp rag handy to wipe of the areas where I went over the lines (this was particularly useful for the square corners). Here is a less-than-glamorous video of me showing the process in action:

Once it was all done, I had to repeat it all again for a 2nd coat!  It was still a lot of work, but was way faster than using an artist's brush.

6)  Despite my best efforts to be careful on my 1st and 2nd coats of the stencil's themselves, a number of the outer edges did still require some touch-up.  Once the 2nd coat on the stencils was dry, I got to work with the same 1 1/2" brush, but using the main wall colour now to clean-up the outside edges of the stencils:

After touch-ups.

7) Celebrate the fact that you're finally finished, and admire how good it looks!


  1. Nice concepts. I'm inspired to do something like this.
    Ed of CustomCutStencilCo.com

  2. I love this. We plan to have book shelves on each side of our fire place and I want to do this. Tks a lot.
    P.s. it takes me forever to decide what I want on the walls. But not this time.

  3. ¡Que maravilla! La felicito.Cuanto he aprendido!
    Gracias!!!! Dios la bendiga.

  4. Wow that is pretty!! Looks like a TON of work though!

    I wanted to stop by and let you know I featured your blog awhile back. Its on the post Wednesday Weekly Review #23 if you want to check it out.

    Blue Eyed Beauty Blog
    Exercise Encouragement GROUP Blog

  5. This looks amazing. Great colours too. Not sure if I would have the patience to do this, but it looks amazing.

  6. I totally am giving you a round of applause for your creativity in making your own stencil AND having the patience to paint it all. It looks wonderful!


  7. wow that's so creative and beautiful thanks for sharing

  8. looks a perfect one and good color combination used!!1

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  11. It is beautiful and I admire you for taking this on but wouldn't it have been a lot easier if you'd made a stencil of your design. I'd really like to know since I'm about to do a wall in a similar pattern but plan to paint the wall in a metallic first then stencil over it with a flat paint pattern. Not sure of the color of the metallic but the room is dark and needs to be lightened up, I'm thinking a white pearl paint with a taupe overlay. Is there such a thing as pearl paint? Comments would be appreciated. Alice

  12. It is a beautiful, dramatic look and a courageous endeavor. However, as much as I admire you for taking this on wouldn't it have been a lot easier if you'd just made a stencil (having never done that myself)?
    I just bought a house where the dining room dark and to make matters worse, is painted a cocoa color which doesn't help. I'd like to brighten it up some by first painting the wall in either a silver or pearl white and then stenciling a Moroccan pattern overlay in a flat taupe color. Does anyone know if there such a thing as pearl paint or if anyone has done this. Comments would be appreciated. Alice

    1. I thought about making a different kind of stencil that I could just paint over with a paint roller - however, I had tried that before on a different project without much success. I attempted making a paint-over stencil out of poster-board, but what happened was that as the stencil became damp with paint it warped and lost it's shape. The paint also bled under the stencil and I had to go back and touch it up by hand anyway. It was messy and looked sloppy. I suppose it could work if you had a better stencil made out of a plastic material.

  13. Abby thanks for responding, just got it. About that stencil. I've been reading some sites and what I've learned is that there are various grades of stencil material and plastic doesn't work. It needs to be a good and heavy acrylic, bigger number millimeters. I can't recall what the problem was with plastic but I do recall there were quite a few. I read a lot on "The Cutting Edge" stencil site and it may have been there that I got this information. I know you're thinking, of course they're not going to "push" plastic if they sell something else. I get that but from what I've read from people who tried various other things, I believe that they were giving their own experience and not trying to sell anything, they were giving their reviews. I research the hell out of anything before I begin, it sure takes away from the time I could be using to do a project but that's just me.

  14. Abby,

    You have inspired me to do something similar, It took a little bit of time and patience, but the results came out fantastic!!! I didn't know how to publish it in your blog, but I have shared it with you and hopefully you wouldn't mind sharing my experience with your followers.

    PS: It was all traced and filled by hand, No stencils used.

    Thank you

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