Thanks to Royal Design Studios for providing the products for today’s post; all opinions are 100% my own!

Around here it’s consignment season. That means that it’s the perfect time for me to find wonderful bargains on children’s clothing and slightly worn children’s furniture.  I love scouring the rooms filled with cast off children’s treasures to see if there is anything worthy of a good upcycle.  Last sale season, I found a step stool that was perfect for the boys’ bathroom. It cost just $4, and the finish on the wood was a little faded, but I thought that it wouldn’t take long to fix it up.

I brought it home with me, and proudly showed my purchase to the Mellow Man. He raised one eyebrow, and said, “Can’t you finish a few projects before you get started on anything else?” I think that this is the mantra and plea of the spouse of every DIY/craft blogger. Of course, my response, “It was only $4,” is likely the retort of every DIY/craft blogger.

My Mom Made That: Upcycled Stenciled Stool

You see, I knew all it needed was a coat of chalk-style paint, and a detailed stencil pattern to make it beautiful.  I’m trying to build an ocean theme into the boys’ bathroom.  The Monkey loves sharks, the Mellow Man loves Lighthouses, and the tile is blue– it just seemed like an obvious choice.  To go with this theme, so I wanted to find a sea shell stencil.  I first heard about Royal Design Studio at the Haven Conference.  Last year I got to try out their Wallternatives in the Big One’s room.  Their stencils are stunning, they have so many lovely designs to choose from.  (I’m still trying to talk the Mellow Man into letting me stencil our dining room— please Honey?!)

My Mom Made That: Upcycled Stenciled Stool

Before starting with the stencil, I painted, with the Little Monkey’s help, the entire step stool with a chalky-style white paint.  (Royal Designs Studio is an authorized retailer of Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan, so you can purchase it there.)  Chalk style paint generally only requires one (or maybe two coats)– however, if your eager two-year-old helps you, you are likely to need a third touch up coat.  That extra coat was worth the fun that the Little Monkey had “helping Mommy!”

After I got the white paint on the step stool, and it dried, I lightly sanded and smoothed the entire stool.  Then I took a very lightly damp rag, and wiped the stool to remove the excess dust.

My Mom Made That: Upcycled Stenciled Stool

I had found a perfect stencil pattern at Royal Design Studio– the Perch Shell Pattern Stencil. (I used the craft size.  There are several different sizes, but you don’t really need a big sheet if all you are doing is a children’s step stool.)  I also picked the brightest and bluest stencil cream around–the Royal Blue Stencil Crème.  The bottles come a 2 ounce and 8 ounce size.  I got the small container, but I still have almost a full bottle left over.  A little goes a long way with Stencil cream.  I also used the 3/8”Stencil Brush.

The last time I stenciled was probably ten years ago when I was helping my mother stencil a border in her bedroom. It’s been a while, so was really nervous.  However, I did it, and I love how it turned out.  I followed all of the information that came with the stencil, and knew that I could redo mistakes.  (There is also the Basic Brush Stenciling Tutorial at Royal Design Studio website.)

My Mom Made That: Upcycled Stenciled Stool

I did make several mistakes along the way, but you know what– I learned why I made them and stopped making them.  The biggest mistake you can make (as can be seen by that Perch shell in the upper left corner of the picture) is not offloading your paint enough when stenciling.  Using too much paint isn’t going to help.  It is so important to use a little paint and then build more paint up on the stencil slowly.  If you are too generous with the paint at the start it will smear.

So, what did I do when I messed up?  Oh, that was easy.  I used a slightly damp, lint-free rag and wiped away the blue creme.  I touched up the area with the white paint, waited for it to dry, and then restenciled it.  Since the stencil was positioned in the exact same place, the mistake was completely erased!

My Mom Made That: Upcycled Stenciled Stool

If you look at the final stool, you can no longer see the 4 perch shells with excessive paint and smearing.  Can you seem them in the picture above?  I can’t!

I do want to mention another challenge for this particular project.  On the bottom step, the step meets the bottom of the next step.  It was very difficult to paint those shells up again the edge.  To do this, I waited until I had painted everything else.  Then I carefully folded the stencil to create a loose right angle, and pressed it against the edge of the step.  I used very little paint, as I really wanted to be extremely careful.  I dabbed the stencil creme into place.

Finally, after the stencil creme had dried, I covered the entire step stool with a coat of wax to seal the chalky-style paint and stenciled pattern.

Stenciled Stool After

I am so thrilled with how it turned out, and I’m feeling much more confident about stenciling!  I can’t wait to try to do it again!

What tips and tricks do you have for stenciling?