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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Pinterest Challenge: $5 DIY Vintage Sign

It's that time again!  The fearless ladies (and fellas) behind Young House Love, Bower Power, Centsational Girl, and Ten June announced this summer's Pinterest Challenge last week. I made some window art last summer, framed paint chip art last fall, and the always fabulous redneck Mason jar chandelier this winter, when Sherry and Katie were nice enough to ask me to host!  So I was definitely on board with a challenge this go 'round!

In the spirit of making over another bathroom, I decided to tackle something I'd pinned for my friend E's bathroom.  I included one sign option in all four of my mood boards for the room (which you can find on Polyvore:  option 1, 2, 3, and 4).

E had talked about wanting a cute sign to put on the door into her guest bathroom, so we knocked around a few ideas and ultimately decided on "The Facilities."  She thought it sounded fun but formal, and I think it fits her perfectly.  It reminds me of the line from Cake's "Short Skirt/Long Jacket":  "She's playing with her jewelry / She's putting up her hair / She's touring the facility / And picking up slack.  I want a girl with a short skirt and a lonnnnnnnng jacket."

This is a pretty simple project that took about two hours and cost less than $5 since we had a few things on hand already.  You'll need:
  • Wood.  We used a 24 x 6 x 3/8 pine board from Lowe's
  • Stain of your choice, plus gloves and a clean cloth.  We used Minwax's "Ebony"
  • White acrylic paint
  • Polyurethane, if you choose.  Since this board is going inside, we chose not to go the extra step with poly.
  • Printed stencil and Xacto knife
  • Hanging hardware

Planning and Prep
To decide what size board to buy, I eyeballed some measurements on our door and made a template to test the size.  I settled on 24" x 6".  It just so happens that Lowe's has pre-cut "craft" wood in that size.  I sanded the wood lightly along the edges and wiped it clean. Then I set up a staining area outside.  We'll pretend that the distortion on this picture was intentional.  Actually, it was super humid outside and fogged up my lens.  Blogger fail.

Work 10 minutes
Wait 2 hours
If you're a staining virgin, here's a great video about staining.  I used some Minwax Ebony we had on hand, but I didn't want it too dark, so I only did one pass.  Pine is a soft wood, so it soaked up the stain pretty quickly.  It also turned out a bit splotchy, but that wasn't a big deal for this project.  If you're a perfectionist, use a hardwood like oak, which takes stain better, or you can use a pre-stain wood conditioner.  This part of the project took about 10 minutes.

You'll want to work in a well-ventilated area, and wear gloves if you don't want your fingers to look like this later.  I wasn't too worried about it.  (Although please do be proud, Mom, that I haven't chewed my nails in weeks!)

It started to sprinkle just as I finished, so I scooted my project space back toward the house.  Someday we'll have a garage with a work space.  For now, we do all our stinky projects on the back patio.  The directions said the wood would be ready in 15 minutes, but I chose to wait two hours since it was so humid outside and I'd be painting over the stain.

Stencil and Paint
Work 1 hour
Wait 30 minutes

For the letters, I used a font called Neuton that I downloaded from I blew the letters up to 250 font in a regular Word document, and that fit the phrase on my 24" board.  Then I cut out each letter with an Xacto knife, leaving a bit of the A intact so the middle of the letter would come through.  Here's the stencil before I cut it (bottom) compared with my paper template (top).  This definitely was the most painstaking part of the project.

Tape the stencil down.  I used painter's tape along the edges so it wouldn't scootch around.

I held down the edges of my stencil as I painted.  You might try printing your phrase on cardstock, since it's a little stiffer to start.

Here's the whole guy painted.  I let mine dry for about 30 minutes before peeling the stencil off.

I had a few spots to touch up after the stencil came up, so I lightly sanded along the edges of the letters. See that spot on the A I mentioned?  It was easy to fill in with paint when I did the touch ups.

Here it is before and after I touched it up.  I then let the sign hang out overnight.

Install hanging hardware
Work 5 minutes
We used two picture hangers to make sure the sign stayed put.  Mr. GI measured 1.5" from the top of the sign and 4" from each side, and used that mark to center the hanger.  I'll let the pictures do the talking for this process.  You can find the hangers at Lowe's here.

Work 5 minutes
For extra credit, we used a tip E found on Pinterest and pinned here.  Use painter's tape (we used electrical tape) to mark the distance between your hardware, then stick it up on the door.  We made sure to take into account the distance of the hardware from the top of the sign.

This is officially the first project completed for E's bathroom, and we're both pretty excited about how it turned out.

You could also place a sign like this on the back of your toilet.  Isn't it cheeky?

The Breakdown
Our budget:
$3.09 wood
$1.48 photo frame hardware
On hand:  stain, acrylic paint
Grand total (with tax):  $4.89

Stain -- 10 minutes of work, 2 hours of waiting
Stencil and paint -- 1 hour of work, 30 minutes of waiting
Hanging -- 10 minutes for hardware installation and hanging
Grand total:  1.5 hours of work, 4 hours total

You know you want to continue the madness, right?  Visit the hosts' pages to see (and pin!) their projects, too:

Check out all our ideas for E's bathroom on our Pinterest board, and read a little more about our decor options.  We still haven't decided on the look for the room, so help us pick one by casting a vote!


  1. Love this!! Found you via Ten June's blog- saw you are in Athens? Me too! :)

  2. Looks awesome, Erin! PS: i can vouch to the painstaking use of an exact-o knife. So time consuming! And the smaller, the more difficult, ha!

  3. This is adorable, Erin! Just the right combination of classy and cheeky :) I made a piece of art for the bathroom last week after finding a great inspiration pic on Pinterest and love the finished product. Now I have several more great ideas for future signs thanks to you :)

    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Great job! I love the honesty about stain under your nails! LOL. That was a severe problem I had when I refinished our dresser. Oh the joys of DIY!

  5. I really love this!! What a great take on the inspiration project. :)


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