Our next Deck The Walls guest has such a lovely style and when I fell in love with her awesome aged wood hotel-style sign, she very graciously agreed to re-create it and share the tutorial, as she had just shipped the original to one of her readers who just had to have it! Yes, it’s that kind of project 🙂 Give Melissa a warm Remodelaholic welcome:
DIY Vintage Hotel Guest Room Sign
by Melissa from A Prudent Life
Hi Remodelaholic readers! I’m Melissa and I’d love some of you to come to Oklahoma and pinch me so I know it’s not a dream that I’m HERE sharing a tutorial with you today. My blog is A Prudent Life, and I focus on projects that make our home more organized, beautiful, and well..less generic! It’s a newer construction home, so we’re always looking for ways to add character without breaking the bank. I love occasional splurges, but most of our projects are friendly for every budget.
The tutorial I’ve got for you today is also a budget friendly solution to our lack of wall art. This time it’s in the guest room. I was asked to stage a piece of furniture in a creative way for a company’s online idea book, which was a huge honor and terrifying at the same time. I came up with a plan to use a kitchen buffet in our guest room, repurposing the wine storage into towel storage.
The flaw to my plan was that we didn’t have any artwork to hang above the piece. And we didn’t have any money set aside to spend on the guest room. I was sad. I was confused. I did what so many of us do and headed out for some retail therapy. Thank goodness they’ll let you browse stores without checking your budget at the door.
In a vintage market, I saw an old metal sign that said “Please check in” with a fun pointing hand. Perfect for a guest space! Except it was half the size I needed and expensive. I continued my browsing, but kept thinking about that sign. What if I could replicate the feeling of it, but bigger, and cheaper?
It worked!!! After a little testing, I had the perfect artwork AND I had trial-and-errored my way into a really easy technique for aging wood.
Whew, sorry for the longest preamble to a tutorial ever, but here we go!
- 3 – 5″ wide fence pickets (untreated)
- 1 – 3″ wide fence picket (untreated)
- medium grit sandpaper (an electric sander is very helpful)
- 3/4″ wood screws
- 2 – screw hooks
- 2 – hook eyes
- brown spray paint (I used Rust-Oleum Expresso)
- blue spray paint (I used Rust-Oleum Midnight Blue Satin)
- medium or dark wood stain (I used Rust-Oleum Dark Walnut)
- white spray paint for stencil or regular white paint if you are painting freehand
- D-Rings & wire for hanging
Fence pickets are my new favorite material for signs.They are thin, light, and CHEAP. Just make sure you avoid the treated pickets, you don’t want those chemicals in your house. I’m sure costs vary, but ours were $2.67 for the wide planks and $1.67 for the 3″ piece. Very affordable! When you are picking out your pieces, make sure you dig through the pile at the home improvement store looking for pickets with character. You know the pieces you’d never build a fence with because they are cracked or have big knots? Grab them!
We had all the paint, stain, and hardware from other projects, so make sure you check your own stash before buying anything new. The total project cost will vary quite a bit depending on what you have on hand. I’d estimate the range being anywhere from $10-$50.
Once we gathered our supplies, the first step was cutting down the pickets to size. Our sign is 35 1/2 wide, which minimizes wood waste. You can get two pieces 35 1/2 wide out of one dog-earred picket. The great thing is that we are going for a rustic sign, which means the cuts don’t have to be exact.
Once we had six planks, we laid them out on the floor to see how they looked. Try to put the pieces with the most character at the top and bottom, while leaving the more standard pieces in the middle. This will make stenciling easier!
Once we had a plan, we numbered the back and started sanding down all the planks. An aged sign wouldn’t have crisp corners, so you’ll want to round all the edges a little. The front doesn’t have to be perfectly smooth, but make sure you’ve sanded away any loose pieces to avoid splinters.
Then it’s time for the magic aging process. Start with a light layer of brown spray paint. It doesn’t have to be perfect or even. I love projects with imperfection as a goal!
Next up, it’s back to the sander, again giving extra attention to the edges. It’s even okay if you can see the bare wood in some places. There is NO waiting needed between painting and sanding, who has got time for that?
When you are done sanding, go over all the boards with the blue spray paint. You guessed it, sand again after applying the blue paint. I promise, this is the last time you have to sand!
You should be looking at your boards seriously questioning the process about now. Don’t worry, everything will be okay!
Even though the boards look sketchy, it’s time to attach them together. Make sure the boards are in the order you want and flip them over. Cut the 3″ picket into two pieces, then attach them to the back as braces. Use 3/4″ wood screws, being cautious not to drill through the front of your sign.
With the sign stable, it’s time to either paint your design with a paint brush, or use a stencil with spray paint. We made a vinyl stencil, then used tape and magazines to make sure everything that was supposed to be blue stayed that way.
If you go the stencil & spray paint route, light coats are best. I always carefully remove my stencil as soon as I’m done painting, while the paint is still damp.
It’s looking better, but the last step is like the secret sauce! It’s time to grab the stain, a clean rag, and a piece of thick paper or plastic. Dip the cloth into the stain and then blot most of it off before firming rubbing the stain cloth on your sign. It’s not a traditional wipe on, then wipe off stain application. I really work the stain into the wood. You can build the stain up as much as you want, so start as light as possible to avoid making it too dark. As with the other steps, imperfection is good!
The last little task was making the sign extra unique by hanging the bottom piece of wood using screw eyes and hooks. To keep up the vintage feel, I painted the hardware before screwing it into the sign. I layered on a few different colors until they looked old.
Here’s a close-up of the hooks.
And here is the finished product – can you believe a few hours earlier this was brand new fence pickets?
I can’t wait to try this new faux aged wood technique on more projects. Using a patterned stencil on a square sign would be another fun piece of art. I think I’ll try that next!
Also, if you would like one of these guest room signs, but don’t have time to make it yourself, I have more! I sold the original right off my wall to someone who emailed me about it. Since I had to make another one for us, I decided to make three extras to sell in my Etsy shop. Use coupon code REMODELAHOLIC for 15% off!
Thanks for sticking with me through this LONG post! If you aren’t sick of me, I’d love you to come visit me at A Prudent Life to check out my other decor and organizing projects. Thanks to Cassity and Justin for letting me hang out here today!
Thanks so much for joining us, Melissa! I love when projects work out like that!
Click right over to A Prudent Life, because you are going to love what Melissa has to offer! On top of her awesome real-life organizing ideas, she can make any space beautiful — even a pantry or garage! (Really, I want to move in to her garage….)
Deck The Walls has more to come
like this easy industrial frame.