Mom's Favorite Chair Makeover With Raised Stencil Tutorial

I tried a new stencil technique that adds gorgeous detail to furniture. You may have seen furniture with this technique online and like me, itching to give it a try. I decided to start with a smaller piece to get some practice and I can't believe how easy it is. So I thought I'd share a tutorial in case you want to try it too and did it on Mom's favorite chair makeover with raised stencil design.

Raised Stencil Tutorial Chair Makeover

Mom's Favorite Chair Makeover With Raised Stencil Tutorial


This chair belonged to my Mother and she was so proud of her thrifty find during a shopping trip with her sister. It was one of her first purchases after Dad passed away and she moved into an apartment. I think she paid something like $4 for it. She paired it with a sofa table and used it every night to put rollers in her hair and every morning to do her hair and makeup.

Sadly, seven years later we moved that chair into her room in a secured dementia unit at a designated assisted living facility. It was such a depressing place and in an attempt to inject some personality and charm into that dreary room, I gave her chair a makeover.

Raised Stencil Tutorial Chair Before

When we moved her again a few years later to a long-term care facility I noticed the chair had suffered some damage and was no longer safe to sit in. I brought it home to repair and there it sat.

Raised Stencil Tutorial Damaged Chair Leg

After she passed I put the chair aside with the intention of giving it a makeover one day to use as a prop for my furniture makeover photos. That day has finally arrived and it feels like a piece of Mom is and will always be hanging out with me on the blog.

Raised Stencil Tutorial Mom's Favorite Chair

Before I get into the how-to, today is one of my favorite days of the month. It's Furniture Fixer Upper Day where myself and five talented furniture painting friends come together to breath new life into six pieces of furniture. Links to all the makeovers are included at the bottom of this post.

For last months challenge, I transformed a plain wood dresser that had been in my family for over 30-years with a Geometric Stencil Makeover.

I've included affiliate links in this post so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. See my disclosure policy.

Raised Stencil Tutorial Chair Makeover

Raised Stencil Tutorial Chair Distressed Details

Raised Stencil Tutorial Chair Makeover

How to add a raised stencil to furniture

I used the same floral stencil that I used on the pretty Mint Green Nesting Tables and Antique Wash Stand makeovers.

Raised Stencil Tutorial Embossing Plaster

Apply the stencil

  1. Spray stencil adhesive onto the back of the stencil and wait about a minute before setting it onto the furniture.
  2. Depending on the pattern, stencil from the center outward. I didn't because I placed the floral pattern randomly.
  3. Apply embossing plaster with a putty knife and spread it across the stencil evenly. I used a light creamed honey embossing plaster but it comes in multiple colors.
  4. Remove the stencil and wait until it hardens a bit before applying the next stencil.
  5. Wipe the back of the stencil with a wet rag or baby wipes to remove excess embossing plaster.
  6. Once the stencil is finished, let it cure overnight to completely harden.
  7. Sand the embossed stencil smooth with a sanding sponge to remove any clumps (like the ones along the top rail in the photo below). 
Raised Stencil Tutorial Embossed Chair Rail

Paint the raised stencil

The goal with a raised stencil is to enhance the raised details. To do that you want to paint the piece in two colors; a dark base coat and a light top coat that will be distressed to show the dark color underneath. This is how I painted mine...
  1. Because my chair had already been painted, I chose a dark charcoal Trigger Metallic Accent Cream (not an affiliate link) by Country Chic Paint. It dries fast and rock hard, making it the perfect base for distressing. With the accent cream, you must have a painted base that has dried at least 12 hours.
  2. You could use dark chalk paint for the base color but you'll need to let it dry thoroughly for good adhesion when distressing.
  3. For the top coat, I used Simplicity White chalk paint also by Country Chic Paint. 
Raised Stencil Tutorial Metallic Accent Cream

Wet distress technique

The wet distress technique is perfect for distressing furniture indoors because there is no dust, unlike using sandpaper. It's also a great option for distressing pieces with a dark painted base because it will not sand down to the bare wood. Here's how you do it...
  1. You'll need a bucket of lukewarm water, a rag, and a scouring pad.
  2. It's important that you distress BEFORE the top coat completely dries. No more than an hour and no less than 15 minutes. 
  3.  Dip a rag into the warm water and wring out so it is damp but not soaked.
  4. Lightly rub the rag over the raised stencil details and along the edges of the piece. Don't apply too much pressure or you risk removing the dark base coat and getting down to the bare wood.
  5. If some areas are more difficult to distress, apply more pressure or use a wet scouring pad.
  6. It's important that you rinse your rag/scouring pad often. 
Raised Stencil Tutorial Wet Distress Technique

Helpful Tip: 

I tried using both an old t-shirt rag and a piece of 100% cotton. I personally preferred the 100% cotton because when wet it is more rigid, like sandpaper. I felt I had more control over the amount of distressing. It's a personal choice and you may want to test both to find yours.

Protecting the finish

You will need a clear protective finish for the top coat. I used clear wax applied with a round brush. If you stencil something like dresser drawers that receive a lot of wear an tear, you may want to use a Tough Coat Clear Finish or polyacrylic. 

Raised Stencil Tutorial Chair Rails

New fabric on the seat

Recently I bought this handy upholstery staple remover tool on Amazon. I was shocked at how much quicker and easier it was to remove the gazillion staples. No more bleeding fingers!

For the new seat fabric, I salvaged a white linen drapery panel that once hung in the master bedroom.

Raised Stencil Tutorial Drapery Panel Fabric

While I liked the simplicity of the white linen, I wasn't fond of how plain the seat looked. At the last minute while staging the photos, I added some white upholstery braid (gimp) that I had in my stash and attached it a with hot glue gun. Much better!

Raised Stencil Tutorial Chair Seat Fabric

Mom's Favorite Chair Makeover

Have you ever done a raised stencil? If not, did my tutorial inspire you to give it a try? If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask in the comment section below or send me an email by pressing the Contact Me button at the top of the blog.

Mom's Favorite Chair Makeover
Raised Stencil Tutorial

Now let's take a look at how my talented friend's in the Furniture Fixer Uppers group transformed these furniture pieces...
Furniture Fixer Uppers Group August Before

Press the links below to see the after photos and tutorials...

I share my projects at these fabulous link parties.



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