Kim’s Makeover: Adding a stencil to a rug

Looky looky, I stenciled a rug!

Stenciled Rug

Here was the situation I found myself in literally days before the big reveal for Kim’s makeover.  I reeeeallly thought the room could use a rug, but I only had $40 left in our budget.  So what’s a girl do?

A.  Spend hours on this website trying to find the perfect rug for, ahem…40 bones.  (Even with their 75% off sale…the cheapest I could find was $120)

B.  Try to figure out a way to get a rug (even if it meant going over budget) without Sam Sam the budget man finding out.  (chances are slim on that one)

C.  Make something work…as Tim Gunn would say

D.  Do all of the above

If you guessed A…nice try and I am glad that you know Rugs USA has quite the deals.  However, as great as they are, chances are, you will not be able to find a 5×7 rug on there for $40.

If you guessed B…you are close.  I did thoroughly consider doing this.  I was out of options…I had literally thought of everything.  I even schemed up a way to sew multiple rugs together to make my own rug, but even that had me going over budget.   Why oh why can their not be an IKEA anywhere close to me???  And it may have been on the thirtieth trip to Lowe’s in a matter of a few days that I contemplated walking in the house with one of their rugs going, “look honey, I went $75 over budget…but it’s worth it” or “$75?  That’s a dinner out…we could sacrifice a dinner out for this rug.”

If you guessed C…you know that I am one stubborn gal and will not back down easily from a challenge.  (Or you just put two and two together seeing as how I told you in the first line of this post that I stenciled a rug. ;)) But, this rug really had me at a loss.  Right as I was about to grab an expensive rug and throw in the towel,  I saw this bin labeled residential carpet remnants…and I saw this wonderful sign.

$24.98!?!?!?  I saw the solid navy and I swear I heard angels singing.  I had a moment where I am sure that I looked like a cartoon character rubbing their eyes in disbelief as I glanced back and forth between the label on the rolled carpet and the bright yellow label on the bin.  Did you guys know that they have this at Lowe’s???  How had I not known about this???  All of the carpets in the bin were great basic rugs in a variety of colors, all for $24.98!?!?

So, for all of you who guessed D…way to go.  For those of you who didn’t pick it…fyi always pick all of the above if you are unsure.

Now, I might add that I really wanted to find a rug with a pattern on it…I know, I know, talk about high maintenance.  I had seen many stenciled rugs out there in blog land, but many of those had been sisal rugs or indoor/outdoor rugs.  Could you even paint a low pile rug?  Standing in the stencil aisle at Hobby Lobby, the doubt started creeping in.  What if the paint makes the carpet stiff and scratchy?  What if I screw this carpet up…the one I’ve been searching for…the one that actually fits in my budget?  I mean it’s not terrible to just have a solid navy rug?  

Going out on a limb, I grabbed the stencil, some white acrylic paint, and foam roller brush, presented my 40% off coupon and was out the door.  And let me give away the ending…I L-O-V-E it!  Couldn’t be happier.

For those of you with questions…the stencil is so easy to do.  There are little triangular marks that you can mark with chalk to line up the pattern and therefore, keep it even.

If you look closely, you can see the chalk marks in the picture below.

I also had some temporary spray adhesive on hand that I sprayed on the back of my stencil because it was so intricate to ensure no bleed through.

But, my main concern was whether or not the painted stenciled part would be soft.   I’m telling you, it was still soft. The texture of the paint was no where near scratchy, but it was slightly rougher in feel than the carpet itself.  However, I would still define it as soft and it still had some give to it.  Would I do this again?  You betcha.  You cannot beat that rug for around $35.



Now, to address the big elephant in the room.  I am sure that many of you are probably noticing the big ole bright stenciled spot in the middle of the rug.  Can we say “Dale” moment?  Again, if you are just joining me I tend to have these moments that my mom and I lovingly call our Dale moments.  You know the lil red nosed chipmunk…you know how he tends to be, well…well, he just is not the brightest little guy.  So, if we mess something up or make a mistake, we just say, “oh I just had a Dale moment”.

I was so excited when I got home that I immediately jumped into stenciling & my “brian” (what I call my brain when he’s on vacation) failed me.  I quickly realized that the rug soaked up a lot more paint than I thought and seeing as how I had no time to run back up to the store for more paint, I took the bottle and added water to it to thin it out a bit…and kept right on stenciling.  And that’s my Dale moment…staring me smack dab square in the face.  So, learn from my moment.   I highly recommend thinning out your paint.  Not only will you get better application, but a little will go a long way…just make sure you do this before you do one “excited” application of the stencil!  All I can say is thank goodness that Kim’s coffee table was going over my Dale spot.  Problem averted.  Happy Ending.

If you are new to Scout & Nimble and would like to see all of Kim’s makeover, click here to check it out!


147 thoughts on “Kim’s Makeover: Adding a stencil to a rug

  1. I too thought it was intentional. I think it adds so much texture and interest. It would be very flat if it was all the same intensity. Great look.

    • Thanks Jane! Wow so my Dale moment turned out to be a good thing! I love that! Now I wish I would have done a few more on the rug! It’s good to know so many people like it so I can make a mental note for next time! I appreciate it!!!

  2. Are you kidding me, you didn’t mean to make one spot the focal point, and you didn’t do it on purpose? Don’t tell anyone else…you could sell those for a lot of money because they are so cute and not so machine made looking!! Great job!!

    • Laura, your comment made my night! Thank you for the compliment & from this point on, my lips are sealed…I’ll reply, “yep totally did that on purpose…”. 😉

  3. I have been looking everywhere for a tutorial on how to pain a low pile rug. Totally going to do this. I have a rug that doesn’t go with my living room, so I hope I can redo it with acrylic. I agree with the others, the first thing I thought when I saw the brighter spot was, “wow, I love that it’s not all the same!”

  4. Just saw this on Pinterest and immediately hopped over! I thought the bright one was intentional too! I like it! This is SO smart (and pretty!). We got a cheap rug at Target last weekend for $80 for the kids playroom that I don’t even really like but it was the cheapest 5×7 we could find…I’m totally kicking myself now!

  5. Love it! We’re rebuilding our house and I was thinking some sort of rug for the living area… for some reason, I have it in my head of a big hand print with the henna tattoo design on it. Pretty sure that won’t have a stencil for it though!

    • Thank you! You know I was looking at Royal Designs Studio the other day & they have a bunch of new stencils that are slightly imperfect to mimic a hand painted design…many are inspired from African textiles…they are gorgeous, you may want to take a look, although I think a hand painted design would be so unique!!! Good luck!

    • Megan, you can clean the rug the same way as you did before! The vacuum will not hurt the stenciled part at all. As far as tougher stains, I would test a spot a cleaner maybe in the corner to make sure it doesn’t fade!

  6. Honestly, your “dale moment” i thought was clever and interesting before i knew it was an ooopsy. I love it! It made the entire rug project

    • Jill, I just used plain old acrylic craft paint & watered it down so it wasn’t so thick. It worked great & went on so easy. I think it really helped the rug stay soft, too, where the paint was applied. I have seen people mix the paint with a fabric medium, too. I think the paint was a total of $3-4 from Hobby Lobby. (I got the larger size) Let me know if you have any other questions!

      • Silly question…what did you thin it out with? Please don’t laugh, LOL! I’m new…

      • Bonnie! That is great! No do not feel bad, I just yesterday told a friend that I needed Facebook for dummies because I had no clue how to share a link!? 😉 we learn something new everyday, right? I poured some of the acrylic paint out & then mixed some water into the paint bottle. I shook it up & added more paint or more water to get the consistency I wanted. It was just slightly thicker than what water would be $ thinner than a “gravy”. I hope that makes sense! I also found it really easy to apply with a sponge roller! Hope this helps! 😉

  7. I like the brighter spot too. I was thinking how creative that was, and how I would probably never THINK of doing that. LOL

    • Thanks Ed! I didn’t think of it either! Total accident! I thought it was a huge mistake, but everyone really seems to like it. Don’t you love it when that happens? Happy accidents.

  8. Do you have a photo of the actual stencil that you used? I’m a visual learner (LOL!) and as much as I love the rug, I can’t envision the stencil for some reason.
    BTW – just like everyone else, I love your happy accident. It adds to the character of the rug.

    • Izetta, I got the stencil at Hobby Lobby & it was so easy to use! I think it was called damask. I am also a visual learner. I will check & see if I have a pic of just the stencil & update it for you

  9. love the rug…I too loved the brighter spot…thought it was intentional….a great director once told me…. ” remember…your audience is always stupid…they have no idea how the show was planned!!!”

  10. Love the rug! I too thought that our “Dale Moment” was intentional! Have you ever seen those items with stenciling where the design is all grey accept for the one or two yellow designs they throw in there for contrast? I LOVE that!!! Wonderful rug!!!!

    • Good point Jessica! I had never thought if that, but I have seen those rugs & love them. I take it back, the variations were totally intentional! 😉 😉

  11. Love this! Great job! I headed straight to Lowe’s, bought a similar rug and plan in doing this soon. How much water did you add to the paint? I don’t want to get that part wrong. Again… Love your result!!!

    • Laurie, I guess I emptied about 1/4 of the paint out & filled that with water, shook it up & started painting. You want a consistency slightly thicker than water, but not as thick as a gravy. Aim for like a tomato bisque consistency!? I hope that makes sense. If its too thick add more water & if it’s too runny add more paint! 😉 you cannot mess it up, I promise!

  12. Love this! One little question…did you have to worry about frayed edges since the carpet piece was a remnant?

    BTW–I thought the bright spot was intentional, too! Looks great!

    • Nikki, great question! What is so cool about these carpet remnants is that they are bound! They bind them into different sizes, which is fabulous!!

  13. I actually really like your Dale area. I think it makes the rug much more interesting. This is a great idea and really looks gorgeous!

  14. I think it looks intentional. If someone ever comments on that, tell them you did it on purpose, “for a little panache.”

    There’s an old saying with bakers: “If it doesn’t come out right, call it rustic.” (My corollary: “If it looks really awful, throw powdered sugar on it!”) And if anyone tries to call you out on that, don’t invite them back!”

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  16. Hello! I just found this on Pinterest and I absolutely LOVE the Dale moment. I am definitely going to borrow this idea for my living room and maybe use the Dale moment as inspiration. Thank you!!

  17. I love how this turned out! It looks wonderful! My only concern is that acrylic paint is water soluble. Therefore, if the rug ever got wet, it would most likely be ruined. I would not use this in a place where it could get wet, like in a walkway near an exterior door. Maybe there is a different paint that could be used?

    • Nicole, if you are using one in an area where there may be a lot of water spilled, on shoes, etc…you can spray the carpet with a sealer to protect it. We did test a corner out to see what water or cleaner would do to it & I’m happy to say that neither affected our paint on the carpet, but we only did a smaller amount of water.
      You could use regular paint, spray paint which is oil based, or even fabric paint. I hope this helps!!!

      • Thanks! Those are great ideas! I would be looking to replace a rug that we have in a high traffic area that might get wet from shoes, etc. so those might be options for me!

      • We have used acrylic paint to do handprints on kids’ t-shirts. Once it dries, it doesn’t come off. In fact, I wash those shirts with the rest of my laundry and have never had a problem with it running or fading. HTH!

      • Do good to know Shannon! Thank you! The paint on the rug has really held up great. Hopefully it will be like your t-shirts!

  18. Beautiful rug! I love the one lighter spot! I thought it was planned out using two different paints! If I were to try making this rug, I would definetly include your “Dale moment”. Thanks for sharing!

  19. Love the rug, LOVE the ‘Dale’ spot the best! Not only is it a practical piece, its ART! II also would repeat your dale moment when I do this!! Thanks for the tutorial! ;-). Dawn

  20. I really like the rug you made and I think the darker spot where you started looks great. Like it was a signed painting. You did a great job.

  21. I think you should have a few more “Dale moments” at random spots throughout the rug. it would give it more depth and casual look. cute either way! 🙂

  22. O my goodness I thought the brighter spot was on purpose as well, it’s the first thing that caught my eye!!!! It creates a focal point and looks absolutely amazing!!!! By far this is the best tutorial I have ever seen!!!!

  23. Do you think that spraying a mixture of bleach water could have the same affect??
    And the whiter area looks intentional.

    • Michele, you could try that. I don’t know if it would turn the carpet more yellow or white? & a random pattern caused by spraying bleach on it might be fun…the rugs are so inexpensive…why not give it a shot?!

  24. Oooohhh…I think you just changed my life! We’re in a rental house that literally has a stain on the carpet in every room and I’ve been hunting for 6, yes SIX area rugs for almost a month. I just can’t make a decision because they’re SOOOOOO expensive! I would really appreciate not having to take a 2nd job to cover up someone’s old stains. You’ve sold me on this. I’m going to Lowe’s and Hobby Lobby this weekend and I can’t WAIT to fix one room at a time!

    • Kristi, I love hearing that! You have just made my morning & good luck transforming your home! We lived in a rental so I know your obstacles! Another pattern that you could try that is so popular is big wide stripes! I think it would be easy to do, too. Have fun painting your carpets! 😉

  25. Very nice. I thought your “moment” was intentional, also. It would look really cool if you alternated the more saturated color and the watered down color. Or just a couple more random saturated color prints.

  26. Can I ask how long it took you to do this? Also, did the adhesive cause any problems with the areas that don’t have paint to hide it? This is a fantastic idea & I can’t wait to do some. In less than a month I am moving into a new home that has either wood, concrete or laminate flooring throughout the house. (NO carpet whatsoever). Two days ago I was pricing area rugs & cringing at every one.

    • I know, rugs can be so expensive! This project only took a little over an hour to do & then, of course, time to dry. It is such a simple & inexpensive project…plus you have so many options as far as patterns go! Good luck with the project & congrats on your new home!

  27. I have been looking EVERYWHERE for ideas on how to get cool area rugs for cheap… just moved in to a basement and trying to convert it in to a living space! No more cold tile! This is excellent! The “Dale moment” is what brought me here… very modern! So so excited to learn about Lowe’s carpet bits- I bought mine at Walmart for $20 and it feels like cardboard. I will try this and see if I can at least improve the looks!

    • I was really surprised at the quality of the ones at Lowes! & I’m so glad my Dale moment turned out to be a good mistake! ;). The other day, I noticed some even fluffier ones there in the bin. Good luck transforming your space!

  28. I need to cover some areas on a rug i am about to get from a friend who is moving- some of the colors don’t match. Her rug has squares of color and I need to cover or mask some rust colored squares. I was thinking about using fabric paint for better coverage. Did you use regular acrylic paint? What are your thoughts?

    • That would work great! & what an easy way to update the rug to make it work! I used the acrylic & it worked really well. But if it’s in an area that gets a lot of traffic or spills, you may want to actually go with the fabric paint or possibly even spray paint. The acrylic has held up great in the living room & is really only slightly rougher than the rug. Fabric paint might be softer? I know spray paint can make it feel rough, but it’s super durable since its oil based & you are doing such small spots that it might work depending on what’s covering the rug. Let me know what you end up using & how it goes! I hope this helps you decide!

  29. I havent read all the other comments so I dont know if someone already asked…. But have you spilt anything on it yet and tried to was it off?! Did the paint come off or smear?!

    • Katie, that was my main concern & I am so happy to say that it is still soft! If you are walking barefoot, you could barely notice the difference between the rug with & without paint. It was not rough or crunchy at all.

  30. Great tutorial, I have a beige rug in my den; bought new furniture and it does not go well it. I found a rug I really like bu the sizing is an issue, I think I will paint it instead. It is Berber though, not sure how soft it will feel. Gonna get creative. Thanks for sharing.

  31. I tried something similar, with acrylic craft paint, and it eventually wore off after frequent vacuuming 😦 I want to try again, any suggestions on what to do so that it will stay this time? You mentioned in another post about sealing it…what would you use?

    • Gwen, I would try spraypaint or fabric paint next time, especially if it’s in a high traffic area. Since spraypaint is oil based, I think it would stay on there fairly well. There is a sealer in a spray can that you can spray over your rug to protect it if you use acrylic again! Good luck!

    • Haha, Michelle, I am too! I am happy to report that it does great with a vacuum! I have had a few comments of people saying that the acrylic paint fades over time. The one shown here has not, but I think I would almost like that look…one with a lil unevenness to it. I hope that helps!

  32. That dale moment looks intentional. Kind of like you did it to have a focus point on the rug. Just saying. I absolutely love this!(:

  33. Hi, I agree about the bright spots. Bring them out and be proud of them! I am a 2D artist and this focal point is just what I like to see as an artist and teacher. So how much do you thin out the paint? From the pictures it looks like a grey. Is that because it was thinned? That may be why it’s still soft, too!

    • Thank you Sue! I’m so glad I have an expert telling me my mistake was good! 😉 That definitely makes me feel better! I would say it was 1 part water to 3 parts paint. I think it appeared gray in some spots since it was on the navy rug. So what kind of stuff do you do? Do you sell any pieces?

  34. How much water would you add to a small bottle of acrylic paint to dilute it enough to paint with? Would the sealer you use just be a fabric sealer? I’ve never done anything like this before but I’ve been wanting a rug for my living room and the prices, like you said, are ridiculous. Hope I have time in the near future to explore this more.

    • Sarah, I used roughly 1 part water to 3 parts paint. It went on really smoothly & dried soft. There is a spray sealer you can use over the paint, but I would test a corner to make sure it’s goes on & dries soft. Kim’s carpet has held up great & it’s in her living room. Good luck!!!

  35. I bought a stencil to use in my bathroom to give it some panache. I could totally use the same stencil to the bathmat! love this idea!!

  36. Love your Rug!!! Again like many others posted…I thought the brighter spot was intentional and really liked it. I want to do the same type of “dale moment” when I get to my rug. In this house they are called “heather moments”
    Thank you for the idea!! cant wait to go bargain rug hunting!!!

  37. Hi! Great project! I have actually been looking for aCHEAP yet cute area rug for my family room (impossible untill now!!!). I have just a couple of questions…
    1) What kind of paint did you use?
    2) how long did you let it dry?
    3) will it stand up to wet traffic (I live in Washington state where it rains 9 months out of the year. While i dont plan on pouring buckets of water onto the carpet Im wondering if you think the paint would come off under wet shoe traffic?< i hope that makes sence.)

  38. Love this idea! May be a silly question, but how did you measure out the placement of the stencil? It looks so even on the sides. I would love to try this but I’m one of those people that get annoyed when things don’t come out looking even =\.

    • The stencil comes with markers that you can mark & line up every time you move the stencil. It looks intimidating, but it’s so easy! Before you start you have to mark the center of the rug & use a level to make sure your first stencil is nice & straight. After those two things it’s all about lining up the mark guidelines that are on your stencil!

      • This particular Q&A was particularly of interest to me cuz I’m one of those people too who thinks a project is a complete failure if things aren’t even & straight. Maybe I missed it but where did u get ur stencil? I tried Jo-Ann Fabric but THEY DON’T CARRY STENCILS!?!?!?!

    • Ooh ok that makes sense. I will definitely try this soon for our nursery that we’re trying to put together. Trying to save as much money on that as possible cuz diapers sure aren’t cheap! Thank you for replying =)

  39. You should stencil a similar color pillow and place it in the room somewhere. Look around for clearances at some major department stores.

  40. I love this idea. I wish I would have seen these a couple weeks ago before I bought myself a new rug. I will have to try it soon. I was curious if there was any problems with cleaning the rug? Does the paint come off? Does the paint fade?

  41. The bright spot look intentional! What a timely find for me. I’ve just spent hours, no, days, searching for the right rug – geometric in blue & cream – it doesn’t exist, at any price. You’ve solved my search – can’t wait to try it. Thanks SO much!! I’m bookmarking this page!

  42. I love the Dale spot!! I think it gives the rug a little something!! I actually have a large black area rug that I got from a family member for free.. and its just so plain… I am SOOOOO excited to do this!!

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  44. I think your Dale moment added style. When I first saw it before reading, I wow how creative to make some of the patterns bolder. Im gonna do it on my rug.

  45. Don’t know if you answered it or not already and I missed it, but what did you do for around the edge of the carpet to keep it from deteriorating (unraveling)

  46. Great idea! I really want to do this project, but I have some concerns. Would the paint hold up to spot cleaning? Kids carrying juice boxes and dogs with muddy paws worry me. Have you dealt with anything like this? Any tips or feedback? Thanks!

  47. I actually think you should have 2 or 3 more and call them “Dale spots” they are great … they can give alot of personality to the project!
    P.S. I am tryiong to convince hubby to do it ourselves! 😛

  48. Thank you!!! My budget is getting slimmer by the second and I needed an inspiration to help with my flooring needs. I have all hard wood floors and not enough money to buy rugs for every room. Now, I can get the look I want on the budget I have!

  49. I think this is WONDERFUL! I too thought your booboo was on purpose! So, now, I’m thinking what color area rug do I want in the guest room that I am putting together for my grandkids, what stencil do I want to use and what shades of color do I want for my “on purpose” Dale moments? I might have three.

  50. When I saw the photos I had to check it out. This rug is Amazing! the possibilities are endless. Great job! And I thought the brighter area was intentional.

  51. I’m painting a rug and so far I love the look, using acrylic paint mixed with fabric medium, but the painted parts ARE definitely hard and crunchy. I’m disappointed and not sure how to soften it, if its even possible. Now that I see your page it might be the water that kept it soft? But then you lose the bright white look. :-/ not sure if mine is salvageable.

    • Yes, I think the water really helps with that. Maybe try to stencil the rest with watered down paint & then will have a softer area? I’m sorry! I’ve had a ton of project fails, too! Welcome to the club! 😉 but hopefully you can salvage this one & just place the crunchy parts under a coffee table or something? Good luck!

    • That was my fear when I started this project, but I was thrilled when it was still soft. I did water the paint down a but, which helped the matter, but the carpet fibers still ‘moved’ & were surprisingly soft underfoot.

  52. This might be a silly question BUT does the paint start to rub off from people walking on it? I would like to make a runner for my apartment using this brilliant idea! Also, since accidents do happen, how do you recommend cleaning it if something is spilled on it?
    Thanks so much! It looks fantastic! I’ve been wanting a rug for a long time but didn’t want to hand out the cash haha

  53. Love your idea I am definitely doing this! I have concrete floors and pets,so expensive rugs are so now out of the question! Whenever I do an art project I always sneak something in that is imperfect to remind us that we are all perfectly imperfect! Cherie

  54. Thank you so much for posting this. I’m buying a new house soon and I’ll need rugs for the many hardwood floors. I would have been afraid the paint would be scratchy too, but having seen how your rug came out, I’m willing to give it a try. So many possibilities! (First saw this on Pinterest.)

  55. Thank you so much…I bought a rug a few years ago, plain black and decided against putting it in my son’s room because it would be a dirt magnet… I tucked it away. And just last night I was cleaning his closet and it resurfaced. I will be using this great idea creating a phenomenal rug for my bedroom I am currently revamping

  56. I LOVE this idea! I checked out Lowe’s website and couldn’t find the rug that you bought. Do you think it’s still there? I want to make a rug like this to put under my queen sized bed!

    • Anny, they have different colors because I think they just bind their remnants. I know it is something that may change on a day by day basis so you may have to go to the store in order to find them! Good luck!

  57. I love this! I have been looking for an inexpensive area rug to put in our newly re-decorated living room…and I already went over budget:( We also just got a new puppy and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on something that she will probably end up relieving herself on…So, I found a plain gray 8×10 rug at Big Lots for $60. As soon as the puppy is housebroken I am going to try this. I’m not very “crafty,” though, and usually these projects don’t end up working our for me. I’ve never stenciled before and this might sound silly, but do you need to wait for each area of paint to dry before you move the stencil to a new section?

    • Kacie, you don’t have to wait for an area to dry, just be careful to not smear the freshly painted parts by being gentle when you move the plastic stencil. I would wipe the back of my stencil to make sure it stayed paint free & would gently move it to the new spot. Just take your time & don’t rush the stenciling! You will do great!

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