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DIY Stenciled Floors (Renter Friendly)

Reading Time: 7 minutes

This particular DIY project was inspired by urine. 

Wait, wait. Hear me out before you unsubscribe. 

Hurricane potty-trained waaaay early because she’s an overachiever. MisterE and I puffed up our chests and high-fived each other, as if her success had anything to do with us. 

At every budget committee meeting we’d shout, “And we don’t even have to buy diapers!” because there is no better way to end a discussion about money. 

But then Chief was born, and Hurricane realized she had made a terrible mistake. Being an independent, potty trained, adult toddler was clearly a scam. She watched with green-eyed envy as we wiped poo from Chief’s bum (and back, and neck, and hair… because babies, am I right?)

Who can resist this face? I use diaper changing as an opportunity to bond, play, and sing. They don’t stay this little for long.

She became annoyed when we blew raspberries on his tummy during diaper changes. She asked why he got to use soft wet-wipes and she had to use “hard tissue.” 

One day, she woke up at 2 am and screamed, “Mommy, mommy, mommyyyyy!” I jumped from my bed and practically teleported upstairs, convinced that she was being attacked by a mountain bear. 

“What is it?! What happened?!” I gasped as I crashed through her door. She smiled and said, “I need to go potty.” 

You have to understand that at the time this happened, this girl had been taking herself to the potty and back to bed twice a night for the past SIX MONTHS! 

In my groggy state I was, admittedly, less than the ideal parent. I chastised her for screaming in the middle of the night and told her to “go potty and get back to bed then! And you better not wake up your brother!” I’m pretty sure I wagged my finger, for effect. 

She was entirely unimpressed, so she stood up, crossed her arms, and peed on the floor. 

Some nights it’s cute that they share a room, but some nights Hurricane wakes Chief up to “talk” and I instantly grow another gray hair.

This was the beginning of many months of potty “accidents” all over the house. I rolled my eyes when I typed that just now, because anyone who knows Hurricane knows that none of those accidents were actually accidents. They were calculated manipulations – and I’m proud of her tenacity. 

My favorite potty “accident” happened on a day that she really, really didn’t want to take a nap.  

After screaming her nap protests and being ignored, she decided to pee in her bed. She then peed in the daybed that’s in her room. She climbed into Chief’s crib and peed in there too. I caught her shuffling to the guest room (holding the rest of her pee) so she could pee in the guest bed as well. 

She was, essentially, making sure there were no surfaces available for her to nap on. I can laugh about it now, but on that day I very seriously considered enlisting her into the army. 

On that same day I also realized that I was fighting a losing battle and I needed to change my whole approach to her potty time. 

I took the following steps: 

  1. I stopped having her help me with diaper changes. I cleaned Chief “in secret” so Hurricane wouldn’t see how much fun we were having on the changing table. 
  2. I started going to the potty with her again. I sang, told stories and read books while she sat on the toilet. 
  3. I asked her to help me decorate her bathroom, so it could be her own special space and look just the way she wanted it. 

If there’s one trait Hurricane has inherited from me, it’s the love of decorating! She jumped at the opportunity. We spent quite a few days looking at designs on Pinterest. 

This was a few months ago when she helped me update our fireplace feature wall. It was needed.

Truth be told, I spent most of that time convincing her that neon pink was a terrible color choice for bathroom cabinets, and a flowerbed in the shower was just not going to work. 

We finally agreed on a design and I started working at 4am one day while the household was sleeping. I get SO much done when everyone is sleeping. Seriously. Sleep more, guys

Ok, I’m not going to show you the entire bathroom remodel today; I’m just focused on the floors. 

I know, I know! I’m the worst!!! We’ve established that. 

But seriously, I’ve only got, like, 500 more words to use in this blog post so I can’t go over the entire bathroom remodel. 

I don’t know what to tell you, man, you’re just going to have to, like,  subscribe to my blog or something. 

Hurricane liked highly patterned floors, and it was easier to paint the floors than to replace the tile. Also, I’m pretty sure that if I’d told MisterE that I was replacing the tile in the kids’ bathroom, he would have laughed and divorced me. 

He wasn’t keen on me painting our perfectly pretty, well-preserved tiles either, so I had to get creative. 

Let’s jump into the supplies list: 

  • Clear desk chair mat (you might need more than one depending on the space to cover)
  • X-acto knife or Jigsaw
  • Contour Gauge
  • Chalk Paint in two (or more) contrasting colors
  • Polyurethane
  • Stencil(s)
  • Paint Supplies (trays, stir sticks, roller, brushes, cleaning cloths)
It doesn’t take much to make a big impact. Total cost, including both chair mats: $75

The process itself is super simple, but extremely tedious. 

12 hours of work summed up in 30 seconds, because this is the world we live in.

I first fit the chair mats into the bathroom and used the contour gauge to outline our baseboards, doorways, and commode. 

I then used the X-acto blade to very slowly and carefully cut the mats to shape using the contour lines as a guide.  

Did I say slowly and carefully? Y’all know that I just went ahead and did a hack job, right? “Impatience” is my middle name. Learn from my mistakes. Do better. 

Next, I took the cut mats to the back porch for a coat of white chalk paint. I let that dry for four hours. This project happened back in November and it was so hot on that day that the paint was pretty much dry in 15 minutes, but Chief pooped and Hurricane was hungry and the election results were announced and MisterE couldn’t find his gray socks with the blue penguins…

Can you tell I was suffering? Because I. Was. Suffering.

I then used the gray paint to stencil over the white paint, making sure to wipe the back of my stencil before moving it to a new spot. I only had one stencil and it was tiny, and it took forever. Y’all, it took FOREVER! It’s been four months and I’m still stenciling. 

Either buy a gigantic stencil, or buy multiples of the same stencil so you can get this done faster. Thank me later. 

Lastly, I rolled a coat of polyurethane over the painted mats. Just as I was rolling out the last of the bubbles, Hurricane made her way outside to see what I was up to. She got super excited and came streaking towards me. The instant her foot touched the very wet polyurethane, she slipped and slid four feet across the porch. Luckily she landed in the grass and only had a few scrapes. 

We now have a lovely, gigantic smear across the mat to remind us of her adventure. 

I took her inside for cuddles and a snack, then applied a final coat of polyurethane. I let things dry overnight, and the next day simply popped the mats into place! 

And here’s a sneak peek of the bathroom. Walls have been painted, countertop redone, and mirror framed, but we’ll get to that in another post.

Easy. Peasy. 

What I love about these mats is that they’re wipeable, durable, easy to change when we get tired of the pattern, AND they don’t hold on to the smell of urine whenever there is an “accident” in the bathroom. Also, they’re cute. 

For the record, there have only been three accidents in the four months since our bathroom project was completed. I’ll take my mother-of-the-year award now, thank you. 

So, I need your opinion. I still haven’t painted the cabinets in her bathroom. Should I go for the neon pink she wanted (keeping in mind that she’s a toddler and will probably hate pink by June), or should I pick a color that I won’t have to replace if we ever decide to sell this house?

Have fun!


Hi, I'm Chioma Ikoku, a spirited explorer and a peace-loving homebody. I founded Casa Diem Life to help you combine the excitement of travel with the comfort of home, because I believe that adventure begins at home.

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