How to stencil: upcycle furniture for a Mid-century look

If you learn how to stencil, you can turn your eBay regrets into gorgeous pieces you actually want in your home. Use this step by step guide to upcycling furniture to find out how...

How to stencil: an upcycled sideboard is given a new look
(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

Want to know how to stencil. It's an easy but really worthwhile craft skill to learn, so that when you get a bit bid-happy on eBay, you can do so safe in the knowledge that you can upcycle that less than perfect find. 

We've put together this super simple DIY guide that will help transform a humble sideboard (or any cupboard or wardrobe) into a gorgeous statement piece in just a few hours with stencilling*. Switch up the colours and stencils to match your style and no one need know that your gorgeous new sideboard was just the result of a few too many wines and the irrational need to outbid @midcenturymoderngal67.

After more DIY and crafty projects? Head over to our crafts hub page for a load more inspiration...

You will need: 

Step 1: Detach doors and feet 

First step of upcycling your furniture is to take off the doors and if you can remove the legs too if you don't want to paint them. Then you can start painting the outside of the sideboard. We recommend using a small roller for this rather than a paint brush as you will get a smoother finish.

How to upcycle a sideboard step 1

Step one: Detach doors and feet 

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

Step 2: paint the doors

Remove any handles from the doors before you start painting. You can either choose to paint your doors the same colour as the rest of the cabinet as we have done or paint them a different colour altogether, just depends on the look you are going for. We reckon a white cabinet, or even a wooden cabinet, with deep teal doors (something like Rust-Oleum Belgrave) would look gorgeous with the gold stencilling over the top. 

How to upcycle a sideboard step 2

Step two: paint the doors

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

Step 3: how to stencil

Here's the good bit: how to stencil. Wait for the paint to dry before carefully aligning your chosen stencil on the doors. Use a small amount of masking tape to secure the stencils in place, making sure they are tight to the surface to prevent any of the paint bleeding out. Once that’s done, take your can of spray paint and spray away! If you are using paint, take a clean small roller and gently roll of your stencil. Don't put too much paint on your roller as if the layer is too thick it may bleed underneath the stencil. 

Top tip: As an alternative to masking tape you could set the stencil with a spray mount before laying it on the door. The spray mount keeps your stencil in place without leaving any residue or marks behind once it is removed.

Step three: spray on your stencils 

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

Step 4: paint the feet 

You could of course leave the feet of your furniture natural or paint them the same colour as the rest of the cabinet, but we've gone with gold to tie in with the pattern. 

Step 5: varnish the surfaces

Once you’re satisfied with the overall look, and the paint has dried, set your handiwork with a coat of varnish to protect against surface damage. You could also now switch up the knobs and handles to ones that match the new look of your cabinet (check out the gorgeous selection of knobs and handles from Anthropologie). 

How to upcycle a sideboard step 5

Step five: varnish the surfaces

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

Step 6: put your cabinet back together

Pop the legs and door back onto your cabinet and voilà. Style it up with lamps, vases and prints that match the vibe of your newly upcycled sideboard. 

How to upcycle a sideboard step 5

Step six: put your cabinet back together and style it up

(Image credit: Furniture Choice)

*DIY step by step thanks to Furniture Choice

Check out more easy weekend projects...

Hebe Hatton

Hebe joined the Real Homes team in early 2018 as Staff Writer before moving to the Livingetc team in 2021 where she took on a role as Digital Editor. She loves boho and 70's style and is a big fan of Instagram as a source of interiors inspiration. When she isn't writing about interiors, she is renovating her own spaces – be it wallpapering a hallway, painting kitchen cupboards or converting a van.