Thursday, September 8, 2011

Weathered 'Guest Cottage' Sign

Please join me in welcoming MJ from 517 Creations today! Check out this great tutorial she has to share with us...

My name is MJ and you can usually find me blogging over at 517 Creations.   I have the greatest job in the world: being a stay-at-home momma of my wild and wonderful little boy. I'm married to a youth pastor, which often make for such a fun (and crazy) life!
517 creations
I'm excited to be blogging at Lemon Tree Creations today!  The ladies of Lemon Tree always have such fabulous projects...I'm totally flattered to be included!

One sure way for our mailman to make my day is for him to leave a Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, or Ballard Designs catalog in our mailbox!  I love browsing through the catalogs, pouring over the pages, and circling items I’d love to buy if I had a million dollars.  But, let’s face it…I have Pottery Barn (and Ballard) taste on a Target budget!

To remedy this, I have started creating “knock offs” of some of my favorite items from the design catalogs.   My favorite "knock off" so far has been my Ruler Growth Chart.   Pottery Barn always draws me in with fabulous accessories...and they did it again a few months ago!  I was browsing on the Pottery Barn website and saw this sign and loved everything about it.   I loved that it was worn, distressed, and vintage-looking...but didn't love the price.  It's listed as "sold out" on the website now, but I think it was well over $100.  I will just enjoy looking at their inspiring pieces for free and create my own!
The nice thing about this sign looking worn and distressed is that it doesn't have to be perfect!  That is definitely another plus in my book.
I'm going to take you through the project step by step...or at least the steps that I used.  I'm sure you could do things differently, but here's what I did to make my version.
First, gather your supplies:
  • a board cut to whatever size you'd like your finished sign to be.I went to Lowe's and bought a 1x8x4.  I wanted something substantial, but not heavy since I'll be hanging this over the guest bed in our home.  I was in luck because the wood that I wanted ended up being the cheapest of this type!  It was a little less than $4. 
  •  a variety of paint brushes (I used a sponge brush to paint the board and small artist's brushes to paint the lettering, but use whatever you have on hand)
  • paint of choice (I used several different "white" acrylic paints, as well as brown and black)
  • sand paper or a sanding block
  • stain or watered down brown paint
  •  a copy of the phrase you'd like on your sign
I painted the board white, with a little tan and brown paint mixed in...just so it wasn't stark white.  I didn't worry about sanding the board before I painted, because I knew I'd be sanding it later.  If your board is splintered along the edges, you might want to hit it with a piece of sandpaper before you start to avoid splinters!
While that paint was drying, I opened up my trusty Photoshop Elements and did my best to recreate the fonts and look of the Pottery Barn sign.  I made a canvas that was the same size as my board and sized the phrase to fit.  (I ended up using Edwardian Script for "guest" and IFC Railroad for "cottage".)  I printed this out actual size, which ended up printing on 4 sheets of paper.  It required a little trimming before I taped it together, but it was an easy step!

Once base coat dried, I painted some lines down the length of the board.  I liked that look in the Pottery Barn sign, so I did my best to mimic that.  I basically painted a straight line with brown paint, but wiped off most of what I painted....just leaving a faint line in the background.
I laid my printed phrase out on top of the board, lining it up exactly where I wanted to, and just traced over the phrase with a ball point pen using a good amount of pressure.  Because the board I used is soft pine, the pressure of the pen makes a faint outline of your letters.
Now it's time to paint your letters!  I found it best to use very small brushes and really taking my time during this step.  I don't have the most steady hand, so I took it slow.  It only took me about 25-30 minutes to trace and paint all of my letters.  Remember, we're looking for a vintage look so don't worry about it being perfect!
Some of you might be wondering why I started painting from right to left...I'm left-handed and always end up smearing my work if I paint from left to right.  :)

Now it's time to give it more of that worn look!  I let my sign dry overnight and then sanded down the edges with my sanding block.  I also sanded the words down a bit in some places.

I used some stain that I had leftover from my Ruler Growth Chart project to add a little more dimension to the sign.   I wiped it on and then wiped it off very quickly. You could easily use some watered down brown paint if you don't have any stain at home!

The only step left is to add some sawtooth hangers to the back of your sign and find a great spot for it!
If you have any questions, ask away!  I'd love to help! :)

Thanks again to the ladies of Lemon Tree Creations for letting me guest post today!  I'd love it if you popped on over to my blog to see what I'm up to!

Wow! What a gorgeous sign. Thanks MJ for coming by to guest post with LTC today. 
We are still accepting submissions for fall and holiday projects. Have a fun fall, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, or any other great project you'd like to share with the Lemon Tree Creations readers? Email submissions to We can't wait to see what you've been working on!


Bluefield September 8, 2011 at 7:54 AM  

Beautiful! Love it. What a great idea to trace the letters! I have a project I've been dreaming about, but haven't started because I can't figure out how to do the lettering. Maybe this will work.

brlracincwgrl September 8, 2011 at 1:56 PM  

I love this! There's a sign I spotted on Etsy yesterday that had the "weathered" look and this is the perfect tutorial to make it myself! Awesome!

Thank you! :).

Karen September 8, 2011 at 2:03 PM  

Wow! It looks great! You did such a great job painting the lettering by hand. Love it:)

Erin A September 8, 2011 at 8:25 PM  

This is gorgeous!! I am extremely impressed that it only took you about 30 minutes to carve and paint the letters!! I've used that technique before and it took me an hour to paint. Maybe I'm too much of a perfectionist, but still.

The result it perfect. Thanks for sharing it with us!!


Rachel September 12, 2011 at 2:22 PM  

where did you get that bedspread?? i have been looking everywhere for one just like it!

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