I’m talking about those rustic barn board-style signs, which some stores are selling “ready to paint” for the atrocious price of $40 each. You know what’s a lot cheaper? Using old forgotten wood that’s been left outside.
We’d built a cover for our sandbox (technically a rock box) years ago, and somewhere along the way the kids stopped using it. I got sick of seeing it lingering in the yard, unused, so I asked my handy husband to cut it into scrap wood for me.
I stuck the pieces in a laundry basket — I randomly use laundry baskets for lots of things — and stashed them in my studio. Because the wood had been outside for several years, the boards had the perfectly-aged patina of barn boards: worn, weathered and utterly rustic.
Since I was tired of tripping over the laundry basket of old wood, I decided to “craft or get off the pot.” I sorted the boards into piles and ran all of them through my mitre saw* until I had bundles that were all the same size. Then I lined them up on the floor in rows until I had the skeletons of a few different signs …
Once I liked the order of the boards — making sure to spread out the really cool-looking, extra-weathered ones — I flipped them all over so I could drill into the backs of them. Using extra scraps, I screwed long lengths of wood down the back of each sign to join the individual boards together.
(It should be noted that when I ran out of long scraps, I thought it would be OK to connect one sign using many, many short pieces instead. It was not OK. It was wobbly.)
It was pleasing to see a couple of ready-to-paint pallet signs after ages of looking at a laundry basket full of choppy boards. I decided to start with the tallest one and make a sign for our front porch. But what was I going to paint on it?
I’ve seen people make nice ones that say “Welcome” running vertically down the boards, or turn the whole thing into a scarecrow with a hat (that reverses to be a snowman during the winter). I decided against a holiday-specific sign, and started searching Pinterest for “quotes about home” and “welcome quotes.”
I decided on this one, which was attributed to the book “Love The Home You Have.” “Our home should inspire us to go out into the world to do great things, and then welcome us back for refreshment.” Isn’t that a nice thought to have every time you get home?
I gave the front and sides of the sign a quick sand, mostly just to take off the dirt that was still clinging to the boards. Instead of finding a pretty font online and printing out the letters, like I sometimes do, I decided to freehand it.
I grabbed a piece of chalk and started writing the quote directly on the wood. If I messed up a word or decided it should be a different size, I just rubbed at the chalk with my hand and it faded enough to redo it.
I played around with a variety of different “fonts” to make it interesting, and it quite relaxing. There was a gap left at the bottom of the sign so I decided to add a house below the quote. And trees! And stars! I was really getting into it.
Then I dipped a small brush into a light greige paint (Fusion Mineral Paint’s “Putty”) and started painting over the chalk. I was listening to an audiobook at the time and totally zoned out — not being too fussy with each swipe and swoosh of the brush.
After all, I reasoned, this sign is going outside! It’s going to fade and get all weathered anyway. No need to do my best painting.
I switched to a darker shade (Fusion Mineral Paint’s “Ash”) to finish up the house. I liked how the darker paint looked against the wood — and perhaps didn’t feel ready to stop listening to my audiobook — so I slashed a bit of the dark grey behind some of the words for contrast.
The next morning, I sanded down a few areas again to distress the wording — which was pretty “distressed” anyway, from my casual approach to painting the day before. I slicked on a quick coat of Fusion Mineral Paint’s Tough Coat to protect it against the elements, and took it straight outside to dry.
They say the outside of your home should reflect the personality it has on the inside, and our home is certainly full of quotes — framed, pinned to bulletin boards, scrawled on chalkboards, painted on canvas, and even stitched into cloth. So it makes sense that our porch is now decorated with a quote of its own!