License Plate Map Wall Art

Let’s face it — we Remodelaholics generally DIY because we love it, but we also really love saving money while getting *exactly* what we want, right? It’s really the best feeling to know that you’ve got a designer look for much much less! Today’s #DeckTheWalls guest, Angela, saved several thousand dollars by making a knock-off version of a one-of-a-kind piece that was a perfect fit for her son’s room. Check it out:

Save thousands of dollars and get the designer look for around $100 with this easy DIY license plate map!

DIY License Plate Map + Wood Art
by Angela from Blue I Style

Hi there, Remodelaholics! I know you love DIYing and saving money as much as I do, so I am ecstatic to have the opportunity to be guest posting today, sharing one of my all time favorite projects with you – one that saved me a whopping $3,760 for just a couple hours work!

Easy DIY License Plate Map (for around $100!)

But before I get to the tutorial, let me quickly introduce myself. My name is Angela and I blog at Blue i Style. I am an attorney turned stay at home mom to my two and three year old sons. My passions are all things artistic, and my house is my palette! It’s a constant work in progress – decorating, organizing, DIYing, and generally making things pretty, while at the same time keeping it a fun and safe place for adventurous little boys. And of course, I’m always on a budget {aren’t we all?!}

Angela at Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

Last spring, I came up with a grand vision of the “big boy” room I wanted to create for my older son – a menswear inspired space full of vintage details that incorporated mementos from all of the men in our family. I wanted it to be a space that he could grow into for many years to come!

Older Boy Bedroom with DIY License Plate Wall Art by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

Every aspect of this room was a labor of love, with no fewer than 18 DIY projects ranging from the hand-painted argyle wall and hanging play tent topped in men’s neckties, to the leather belt drawer pulls and the shelves hung from the wall with men’s belts. I call the room his Vintage Preppy Little Man’s Lounge, and you can read all about it on my blog, including my tips for designing a room that can grow with the boy.

From the moment that I started planning this space, there was one piece art that I knew would be the perfect addition to my son’s room – a license plate map of the United States. For years, I had been admiring the Reclaimed License Plate Map on the Uncommon Goods website – a one-of-a-kind, handmade work of art, with each state cut from an authentic license plate and mounted on a cedar background. But the $3,900 price tag was a total deal breaker!

 

DIY License Plate Art Inspiration by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic
screenshot from Uncommon Goods

But not being one to take no for an answer, I was determined to find a way to create my own version of the map for my son’s room. I didn’t have the time or patience to collect and hand-cut 50 license plates to create my own map from scratch, so I started considering alternatives. I found a few license plate map poster prints, and I came across a couple other versions that were printed on stretched canvas. But none of these options would give me the look I was going for. I really want to create a vintage, collected feel in my son’s room, and I realized that the texture of the wood backing in the original map was a key element.

Finally I found a license plate map option on Amazon that I really liked because the image is powder coated onto heavy gauge steel and cut out in the shape of the continental United States. This map comes in two sizes, and I selected the larger size (35 x 21 inches). Last spring I paid $117 for the map – but now the price has been reduced to $87.98! Even at that price, this was still a bit of a splurge, but since it would be the largest piece of art in my son’s room, I decided to go for it!

 

License Plate Map for DIY Wall Art by by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic
via Amazon

Because the map is printed on metal, it is totally flat and lacks the texture of real license plates, however, there are shadows and highlights on the printed map that add some appearance of dimension.License Plate Map for Wall Art by by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

In order to take this printed, metal map and give it the look of the high-end, one-of-a-kind inspiration piece, I wanted to mount the map on a real wood background. We could have easily purchased new boards from a hardware store, but I really wanted the aged look reclaimed wood, so we got our hands on a slightly weathered pallet, with boards that were naturally distressed, including nail holes and cracks. Best of all, the pallet was free!

How to Upcycle a Pallet into License Plate Wall Art by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

I determined how much wood I wanted around the edges of the map, then we removed the boards from the pallet and cut them to the desired length. We considered several options for holding the boards together, including the possibility of using additional pallet boards to build a frame on the back, but we ended up deciding against this idea because it would have added too much depth. The side of this art is art is one of the first things you see when you enter the room, and I didn’t want it to sit out from the wall any further than necessary. Instead, we opted for a metal strapping product called “flat punched zinc” that we picked up at our local hardware store.

How to Hang DIY Wall Art by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

Although I love the distressed look of pallet wood, some of the boards were a bit too rough. We selected the boards that were in better shape, and faced the “smoother” side of each board to the front, turning any large gouges to the back.

How to Create a License Plate Map by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

We used three strips of the flat punched zinc, and secured each board with a screw and washer. This worked perfectly to hold the pallet boards together, and added very little extra depth, allowing it to hang flush on the wall.

DIY Wall Art with License Plate Map by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

I really liked the natural color variation of the boards, and I strongly considered just sealing the wood rather than staining it.

Reclaimed Wood for License Plate Map Wall Art by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

After taking into consideration the other wood tones in the room, I decided that I wanted to give the background a bit more of a finished look by staining the pallet wood. I first applied one coat of pre-stain conditioner, then used a white cloth to remove the excess.

DIY Pallet Wood Background for License Plate Map by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

After allowing the wood conditioner time to dry, I applied one thin coat of Special Walnut colored stain. I didn’t want it to be too dark, so I wiped off the excess stain after only a minute or so.

DIY Wall Art with Stained Background by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

I love the way it turned out! I really like the color of stain we chose, and I love that the original, weathered character of the wood still shows through.

DIY "Special Walnut" Wood Background for License Plate Map Wall Art by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

After allowing the stain to dry overnight, I was ready to mount the map on the wood background. The map came pre-drilled with holes for hanging. The rivets around the holes are gold, so I selected some decorative upholstery nails with an aged-gold finish.

Secure License Plate Map to Reclaimed Wood Background by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

Stepping back to look at the metal map hung on the reclaimed wood background, I was thrilled to see that the texture of the wood gave the final product the high end look of my original inspiration piece.

How to Create License Plate Map Wall Art by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic
DIY License Plate Map by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

In order to hang the completed map on the wall, we attached two D-Ring hooks to the back.

How to Secure Wall Art to the Wall by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

The license plate map hangs above my son’s dresser, along with an illustration of the Denver skyline and two framed photos of dogs in suits {to go along with the menswear theme of the room, of course}.

DIY License Plate Map Wall Art by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic

 

License Plate Map Wall Art by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic
I always enjoy the challenge of create a high end look, without the high price. I think this map is the perfect example of how that can be accomplished – and it only took a couple of hours! Even though the metal map was not inexpensive, the wood was free and construction costs were minimal, keeping the entire project on budget. Let’s quickly review the supplies and costs of this project:

SUPPLIES & COST BREAKDOWN

  • Powder Coated Metal Map from Amazon – purchased for $117, now available for $88
  • Pallet Wood – Free
  • Hardware – $23.00 total
    • 3 Strips Flat Punched Zinc
    • Screws and Washers
    • 2 D-Ring Hangers
  • Pre-Stain and Stain (Special Walnut) – left over from a prior project
MY TOTAL OUT OF POCKET COST – $140
 
…but since the price of the map has gone down, TODAY IT WOULD ONLY COST $111!!!
Everyone loves a good side-by-side comparison, right? So let me show you how my finished map looks compared to the one-of-a-kind piece from Uncommon Goods, with its $3,900 price tag!
License Plate Map Wall Art Cost Comparison by Blue i Style featured on Remodelaholic
Now that’s what I call a successful high/low project! Just because you’re decorating on a budget doesn’t mean you can’t get the look you want – it just takes a little flexing of those DIY muscles, and I hope I’ve inspired you to do just that!

——————————————

Thanks so much for sharing, Angela! I am a big fan of DIY cost savings like that!

Visit Angela at Blue I Style to tour her home, and be sure to check out her amazing under the stairs playroom.

blue i style - Rock&Roll-Under-Stair-Playroom

But wait, there’s more!

#DeckTheWalls is still going strong — be sure to subscribe by RSS or email to get updates so that you don’t miss out on things like the easy art projects we have coming up!

Easy Brushstroke Art Tutorial by Bigger Than The Three Of Us for Remodelaholic

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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