Have you ever drooled over arabesque tiles and wished you could afford them as a backsplash for your kitchen?

Well, there is a dirt-cheap way you can get the backsplash of your dreams using stencils. The cost may be low, but beware: doing stencils around objects and in tight spaces is never as easy as HGTV makes it look.

However, it is doable if you follow a little bit of advice from an experienced “tile painter.”

Here are some tips I’d like to share from my own experience painting arabesque tiles in my kitchen.

The magic of a great backsplash

Before I tell you how to do the tricky work of stenciling a backsplash, I have to show you what my kitchen looked like before, and why this was a project I had to follow through with no matter the frustration.

Behold the yellow eyesore! It stresses me out now to look at this picture. And though the work made me cry and cuss in my head, I am SO glad I did it. Now, every time I glance at the kitchen, I feel a skippy-happy jolt. And a deep calm.

I’m not just OK with my stenciled kitchen; I love it.

How to use a stencil in tight spaces

Here is how I thought the project would go: paint a light grey over the yellow, take a stencil, tape it to the wall and sponge on an off-white paint in the open spaces. Remove the stencil, move it over (and up or down) and repeat.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

That’s how I started. Under the top cabinets, leaning over the counter awkwardly, pressing the stencil down with my left hand and sponging with the right. Release the stencil, move it, and… there’s no place up or down or left or right that the stencil will fit without bending and leaving unmanageable gaps between itself and the wall. In other words, sponging paint into the spaces of the stencil only works when the stencil is completely flat against the wall. Which, in tight spaces like a kitchen backsplash, is about three chances in eighty.

The work-around that took five times as long as it should have (but was oh so worth it)? Use the stencil only to draw the pattern on the wall. Then go back in with a small brush and do the outline of each arabesque shape with paint, filling them in with a larger brush.

You’ll have to sustain a non-magical pose for days while you slowly trace that stencil on the wall, but you’ll get an extra-crisp pattern as a result.

The real fun part begins when you add fill paint and watch the wall come alive. Ain’t those arabesques purty?

One last advice for achieving your dream backsplash: line up a couple audiobooks to help with the insanity of the project.

Thanks for checking out my blog. If you liked this project, check out what we did with the plain cased opening to the kitchen by adding a rustic country door frame.

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