As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this home on the edge of town, this family, this neighborhood—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.

Friday, August 2, 2013

How to Make a New "Old" Sign

Last week I showed you our new COFFEE sign.

This week I thought I'd tell you how we did it.

I will tell you what we did, and what you can do...but there are no rules here!
Each new "old" sign will be unique...that's the fun part!
There are no Sign Police to tell you that you're doing it wrong.

So let's go!

Get a piece of wood.

The wood that we used for the COFFEE sign was an old board that was taken from Ron's parents' recently demolished chicken house. Ron remembers his father nailing it up, so there is a bit of family history in our sign. 

If you don't have an old piece of wood lying around your house, you can certainly use a new piece. If you want the "old" look, you can age your board with a hammer and an ice pick...just have at it until you think it's "old" enough! 

Cut your board to fit your space. I wanted mine to go in that little dead space between the cabinets above the kitchen sink, so I had Ron cut it 19" X 5".  You can make yours as big or as small as you want it. Remember, there are no rules here. 

This is the space I wanted filled.

Paint your board.

I had a bag of mustard colored milk paint that I have had forever and had never used. As much as I love the color mustard, I have never found a piece of furniture that I wanted to paint that color. (Some day I will...I am sure of it!)  The nice thing about this paint is that it was in powder form; it had held up over the years*, and I could mix only the amount I needed. I poured a little in a plastic cup, mixed in enough water to get the consistency I wanted, ignored the few lumps that were there (Miss Mustard Seed says that a few lumps in milk paint are okay), and painted my board. I only applied one coat of paint to allow a bit of the wood grain and texture to show. It was--WOW--brighter than I expected, but I knew that I was going to glaze it later, so I proceeded with the next step. 

Since there are no rules, you can use acrylics or any latex paint. I used acrylics for my lettering in the coffee sign. I used an acrylic paint for another sign I made this week, because I didn't have the color I wanted in a milk paint. On this one, I used a "sample" jar of latex paint for the lettering. 

* On the back of my bag of milk paint are these words: 
Oops! (But it really was just fine!)

Add lettering. 

Decide what you want your sign to say. 
Our sign was going in the kitchen, so we wanted something kitchen-y. Of course, when Ron suggested "coffee", we knew that was the one. The sign I made this week was a gift for someone who has a wonderful hand-carved decoy collection. Let the place and your own personality be a guide. 

Choose a font. 
I went to my computer and typed in my word, then experimented with font styles and sizes. I didn't want "skinny" letters, or ones that were too fancy. I printed some out and laid them on my board, until I was satisfied that the look and size were right. My choice for the COFFEE sign was Century School Book, 200 point. 

Paint on your letters. 
I did not have transfer paper (which would have made the process easier, but I wanted to do it right then and not have to run to the store).  Instead I cut out the letters and traced around them in pencil on my board.  

Then I painted them in...very carefully. (Practice first, and be sure to experiment with brush size and shape. It makes a difference.) Are they perfect? Not at all!  But I convinced myself that I was going for a hand-painted "old" look, and I believed me. (No rules.) 

After the letters were dry, I painted "shadows" in a contrasting color, shadows on the right and bottom of each letter's stroke.

Add any details. 
I simply painted around the edge in my two colors (the letter color and the contrasting shadow color), but you could add embellishments or a simple picture if you wanted. 

(I will feel better if you pretend not to notice any imperfections.)


After my paint was dry (not long...water-based paint dries fast!), I took it outside and sanded it. To create an "old' look, I sanded the corners well, and sanded over the face of the sign until...well, until it felt old to me. 

Lastly, I rubbed over my sign with Valspar Translucent Color Glaze in Mocha. This toned down the bright mustard color, and was definitely the finishing touch in aging the sign.  

Depending on the look you want, you could use an oil or wax instead of the colored glaze. Or you could omit the sanding/finishing stage altogether. You know the deal. No rules!  

The sign I made for my friend

So that is how I made my COFFEE sign. It's such fun to decorate with a personal touch, don't you agree? Whether you sew or quilt or cross stitch or paint, making your house uniquely yours is a another way to make your house a home.   

Oh, and if you make your own sign, can you send me a link or a photo? I'd love to see a sign that is uniquely yours!

Linking to: 
Home Sweet Home #131 at The Charm of Home
All Our Days Link-Up #99 at Allyson's All Our Days
Best DIY Projects of August at Beneath My Heart


  1. I'm pinning...I'll repinned if you've pinned. Great tutorial! Great look! Great gift idea!

  2. This iPad is about to take a flight!

  3. I love it! Thanks for the fun tutorial! I love that there are NO RULES and that it should just look good to you!


  4. I love it! The lettering is the part that is intimidating to me.

  5. I loved seeing how you did that! I wouldn't have thought to do the shadowing. It really sets the lettering off and looks great! Wonderful job, Cheryl!

  6. Thanks for the tutorial! You did a great job. And the shadowing makes such a difference. I used to do this kind of thing years ago and "aging" something is lots of fun because it is so forgiving. Even "mistakes" can just be the "aging" of it. Hope you are having a good weekend>

  7. I love this! I have a half-finished sign in my laundry room that you are inspiring me to finish - and possibly make another for that dead space over my kitchen sink. Great tutorial and I really like the results.

  8. Very good instructions. I think I could actually maybe make one. :)

  9. I love your new (old) sign. The contrasting color, sanding and glaze make a huge difference.

    (I'd love for you to share this post :))

  10. Oh I like the extra white line on your sign. Very cute! Stop by my Friday's Five Features and link up this post (and others)!

  11. I love your signs and I love the way you showed every detail on how to make the sign...I can never find the right fond and get it printed...thanks for all the help..come on over for a visit I would love for you to see my jungle, you are gonna love it...

  12. I came to visit via Charm of Home and really enjoyed your post. Thank you for the very interesting tutorial. I'm sharing this on Pinterest.


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