Birdz of a Feather has upcycled some pretty interesting pieces with these unique stencil ideas. With a fresh new year, we’d like to inspire you with 10 of our favourite stencilled upcycles by showing you the befores and afters. Then we’ll throw in a few stencilling tips along the way for good measure. After all, this is a DIY blog! If you miss the link to the project, just click on any of the ‘after’ pictures for the full tutorial.
There’s a lot of projects to view in just one sitting, so bookmark this page and fly in again see them all!
Before and After Stencil Ideas
All the fabulous stencils you’re about to see are from Old Sign Stencils.
Before we get to it, don’t miss out on another unique idea from Birdz of a Feather. If you haven’t already, get your craft mojo on with us and subscribe! You can also follow us on Pinterest, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
We’ll start off with our cutest project, this winter-inspired DIY Gnome. What Hubs thought were scraps (after lining the bases of his refurbished sewing machines with grey felt), I turned into a Christmas Sweater stencilled hat and mitts.
And then I lit up the hat of our adorable, but mischievous, gnome. So much fun!
Stencil ideas Tip #1: Tools
When working on fabric, like this felt, don’t limit yourself to only one stencil tool. I used a foam dauber (lower right of picture) to get the paint on quickly. Then I dragged the paint from the stencil onto the fabric with a natural bristle stencil brush to fill in the gaps. Either one of those tools alone would not have been as good as the two of them together!
Tea Caddy Upcycle
Hubs and I drink loose leaf tea now and we don’t have a use for a tea caddy that holds tea bags.
So it got a makeover with Argyle as a wooden planter box for Christmas poinsettias.
Stencil ideas Tip #2: Holding the Stencil
I never use spray adhesive to stick the stencil onto a surface. That stuff will fry your brain. The more Earth friendly option is these mini clamps and painters tape.
Some girls love to receive flowers. However, I love when Hubs surprises me with a curb side pick du jour like this toboggan he found this past summer!
I’m crazy about HBC point blanket stripes so let that inspire this Christmas Sleigh Decor for our front hallway.
Stencil ideas Tip #3 – Get Double Mileage from Your Stencils
Stencils can add up, so one of my tricks for maximizing their use is to make the stencil component double-sided on a reversible sign.
We’re in a tiny house and don’t have space to store short-term decor items (i.e. Christmas). So the ‘Sleigh Rides‘ stencil on one side of the sign turns into simply ‘Rides’ on the other side. That’s so I can display automotive theme decor on the shelf. And that little trick stretches this toboggan upcyle from a seasonal Christmas theme to decor that can be displayed all year long. We definitely won’t be taking this down!
By the way, if you crochet, you can get the free crochet frog pattern for Gabriola frog!
Think outside the box when you upcycle with stencils. The wooden shelf display you see below was actually a floating wall shelf.
We re-imagined it by adding MCM-style legs. So now, it acts as a platform. Decor items always look more important when they are raised onto a pedestal, don’t they?!
Stencil ideas Tip #4: Using Big Bold Pattern
You don’t have to make your paint effect solid! Use restraint when stencilling a big bold pattern like the Buffalo Check below. Here, the paint is applied with a light touch, so looks subtle. But even a subtle effect can have a big impact.
Hot Cocoa Bar Sign
We stencilled three upcycle projects to bring together our Hot Chocolate Station. The last component was this unwanted neon letter ‘I’ (not working). Like a few of our stencil ideas, this one bends the ‘rules’.
Now transformed, our Hot Cocoa Bar sign is the crowning glory! Not that we need a beacon to draw us to the Hot Cocoa Bar :)!
You saw the shelf earlier, but we also stencilled a handy little tray with Christmas Blend Hot Cocoa to complete our vignette in the kitchen.
Stencil ideas Tip #5: When is a Stencil Not a Stencil?
Did you ever consider that you don’t even have to paint with a stencil? Such is the case with this upcycled letter ‘I’ turned on its side! Instead of using the stencil in the traditional manner, trace it onto vinyl, cut it out and stick it to the plexiglass. Then light it with LED Christmas rope lights from inside the box. A bright idea!
Refinish a Coffee Table
We’ve updated several vintage sewing machine tables, but this is the first time we get to refinish a coffee table made from one.
The orange tone has to go! So we sand off the finish and beautify it with two stencils (Antiques and Argyle).
We can’t wait to enjoy our new coffee table with friends and family; here’s hoping that the vaccine program is a success and 2021 gets us back on track!
Stencil ideas Tip #6: Celebrating Antiques
With some research, we found out that this treadle base dates back to circa 1910. So on special pieces like this, celebrate a historic find with a customizable number stencil like this and get that date right on there!
Tiered Plant Stand
Another garbage find, Hubs rescues this one just before going into a dumpster!
I can’t think of a better way to display poinsettias than in large numbers, like our tiered plant stand DIY.
Stencil ideas Tip #7: Play with Your Stencils!
The houndstooth stencil is meant to be used as a 1-step process. But by playing around with it, I discover that applying the stencil again to fill in the blank spaces creates a three-toned effect: black, white and wood. Doing this offsets the houndstooth pattern slightly and you get a cool outline of original wood showing through that makes the pattern pop!
Old Wine Box
Ever wonder what to do with an old wine box after you drink the wine? Don’t toss it!
Create more poinsettia Christmas decor with this tongue ‘n cheek display. Stencil the box with ‘Joy Ride’. Then just ‘roll with it’ – using an old roller skate to hold one of the poinsettias atop the box.
Stencil ideas Tip #8: don’t limit yourself to the stencil!
I reused the Sleigh Rides stencil by covering up the ‘s’ on the end. Then I custom-printed a few versions of ‘Joy’ on a piece of acetate to see what looks best.
I cut my chosen stencil from the acetate the old fashioned way (by hand) and stencilled it on. Nothing like a little ‘Joy Ride’ to add some fun to your decor!
Soon after our first lockdown ended, Hub found this milk can at the Salvation Army Thrift store.
I’ve always wanted to upcycle a milk can into milk can decor. But this one was full of dents and dings. After developing a new trick for stencilling challenging surfaces, it looks pretty great in our backyard with mums! However, I was still unable to stencil the date at the bottom of the milk can because of condition. That’s why I used the Antiques stencil again on the coffee table you saw earlier :).
Because the weather has turned, now the milk can resides inside sporting a poinsettia for the winter season!
Stencil ideas Tip #9: using unexpected tools for challenging surfaces!
They say necessity is the mother of invention and this project proves it! My amazing tip for stencilling challenging surfaces is to use a stylus with a makeup sponge. The stylus acts as an extension of your fingers to hold the stencil down as you dab the paint on with a sponge.
Wooden Sled Decor
This is our second wooden sled decor upcycle this season. This toboggan is older than our previous vintage toboggan – and better built (it has screws instead of staples)!
Isn’t the Snow Day stencil bright and cheerful?
Stencil ideas Tip #10: get creative
We’re bending the stencil ‘rules’ once again by using burlap paper instead of paint as our paint palette. Just like the hot cocoa bar sign you saw earlier, you can stencil outside the lines by not really stencilling at all (save for the snowflake on the mitt).
Bonus Project – Rocking Chair
Although I was going to stop at my top 10, I can imagine this rocker adorned with an HBC blanket and snuggling up in front of a roaring fire this winter! So this painted rocking chair made the list!
The best thing to come out of lock down was my morning walks with Hubs and ‘shopping the curb’. That’s where we found this cute antique rocker.
Timing is everything though. Fusion was launching a new milk paint and I managed to get my hands on a package pre launch. I not only rediscovered my love of milk painting, but hemp oil as a finish! The combination of the two is so silky smooth – unlike any other paint finish!
Doesn’t the grain sack stencil look sharp on the back of the slat? One day I’ll get around to making a seat cushion for it!
Stencil ideas Tip #11: How to Avoid Paint Bleed
Nothing’s worse that spending time stencilling only to discover that the paint seeped right under the edge of the stencil and ruined your hard work. The way to avoid paint bleed is to stencil with very little paint on your tool. Whether I use a foam dauber or stencil brush or even a roller, I blot my tool of choice onto three layers of paper towels to remove most of the paint.
Here’s a few more tips to avoid paint bleed.
- Use a paint stir stick to test your paint before moving to the work. If it’s too wet, offload it some more. If too dry, dip back into the paint and offload again.
- Start in the middle of your stencil and work out to the edges. You’ll offload most of the wet paint that way before hitting the edges where paint bleed is more likely.
Pin our Stencil Ideas for Later
We hope you found our stencil ideas inspirational and will give one or two a try! Pinning is always welcome and appreciated!
Funky Junk’s Old Sign Stencils
All the stencil ideas above are created with Old Sign Stencils.
[If you’re looking for some of the stencils we used, we’ve got you covered (disclosure): Clicking on the affiliate links below, means we may receive a commission from Old Sign Stencils. But don’t worry, you don’t pay a cent more and it helps us make more unique crafts to share with you! Thanks for helping to support our blog!]
- Christmas Sweater
- Sleigh Rides
- Buffalo check
- Hot Cocoa Bar
- Christmas Blend Hot Cocoa
- Snow Day
- Grain sack stencil
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Hubs and I wish everyone all the best in the New Year!
These are all such amazing ideas and transformations!!
Thanks so much Kristin!
I never seen to have much luck with stencilling and I end up distressing the finished piece just to hide my oopsies, so I really, really appreciate all your tips Sara. And I ‘m still a little gobsmacked how you always manage to think outside the box with your repurposing ideas. So creative
The best trick is hardly any paint on the brush – if it isn’t wet, you can’t have an ‘oops’ – lol! Happy holidays Michelle!
So many good ideas here! Love the Hot Cocoa sign.
Thanks Libbie; Merry Christmas!
Loved looking at the transformations, Sara. Beautiful ideas. Merry Christmas ♥️🎄♥️
Glad you enjoyed them! Merry Christmas to you too! ♥️
Love your ideas! Definitely gets me into holiday spirit
That’s so great to hear! Happy holidays 🙂
It’s so fun to go back and look at all of your stencil projects. Your ideas and creativity amaze me.
Thanks so much Meegan. Happy holidays!
So many great ideas Sara, stenciling is on my list of projects to try. A big shout out to the green frog, it gets my attention every time. lol
You should try stencilling! I’m curious to see how you might steam punk it up – lol! Yes, Gabi is quite the attention getter! She loves to sneak into my after shots :). She may have made it onto Santa’s naughty list but she probably wouldn’t mind getting black coal. She’d just turn it into charcoal sketches.
So many wonderful projects. Hard to pick a favorite. The vintage toboggan find on the side of the road is right up there. Saving all of these. Have a very Merry Christmas
Thanks Brooke! Have a Merry Christmas!
Love all these projects. The gnome is adorable and love the antiques stencil.
Thanks Cindy! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!