Last Winter, we were asked to take part in our neighborhood’s Annual Home Tour. Since we’d only been in our bungalow for a few months and weren’t planning to renovate, the interior wasn’t much to look at. To make up for our home’s lackluster appearance, I decided to go all out on the front porch holiday decor.
I built the theme around a vintage-looking lodge sign I DIYed with some paint and a piece of MDF. Here’s how I did it…
The following post contains affiliate links. As an Affiliate Marketing Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases. This helps me keep the free content coming.
Thanks for your support! xoxo
By the time winter rolled around last year, our 1920s bungalow was looking a little sad and neglected out front. I knew I could make the front porch look more authentic and vintage by adding lots of greenery and Christmas decorations.
Once I added plush fabrics and vintage-style Edison cafe lights, here’s how the final Holiday Porch looked:
Our little bungalow looked even more charming at night –
You can see the full reveal with every little detail here: A Tennessee Christmas Porch: Decorations For Winter That Play Up The Nostalgia
GATHERING INSPIRATION FOR YOUR VINTAGE SIGN
Since I’m a Tennessee Native, I wanted to really honor all that my state has to offer in the Winter. In order to do this, I decided to incorporate an old sign I remember seeing in my childhood on trips through the Chattanooga mountains into my porch decor. It took some google investigating but I finally found a picture of the sign online:
This sign was a lot more intricate – and racially insensitive – than I’d remembered but I knew I could get the general look and feel of a roadside lodge sign for my front porch if I just incorporated a few of the details without trying to entirely replicate the entire thing.
If you’re looking for DIY vintage sign inspiration, I recommend a Google image search that includes the following: Your Locale + Roadside Lodge + Vintage. Here are some of the image results I got when I used this method:
Your vintage sign doesn’t have to be a lodge either. You can Google literally anything that matches your theme. For instance, here’s the search “Tennessee Vintage Candy Store Sign”:
And if I ever decided to do a Vintage Toy Shop theme for Christmas, I would absolutely style my sign after Nashville’s oldest and best toy store, Phillip’s Toy Mart. Their sign is so adorable:
Once you’ve landed on your theme and old sign inspiration, here’s how you can get your DIY sign to look authentic and old:
HOW TO DIY A VINTAGE SIGN THAT LOOKS OLD
MATERIALS NEEDED TO BUILD YOUR SIGN FROM SCRATCH
artist’s paint brush set
1/8” thick piece of MDF, cut to desired size
acrylic craft paints in desired colors
STEP ONE: Base Layer
Paint a base layer over the entire MDF board in white. This will act as a primer so your additional layers of paint will be vibrant and the MDF doesn’t soak them up. Allow to dry completely.
STEP TWO: Accent Color Layer
Next, paint the entire board in the color you want to be exposed during the chipping process. Choose this color by considering what colors would have been popular at the time of your sign’s original creation. You want this color to be in stark contrast with the rest of the sign. So if you plan to add black accents around your lettering, use a color that is bright. If you’re planning a red sign, you may want to consider using white or blue during this phase.
For information on historically accurate color ways, you can refer to Sherwin William’s Historic Collection.
STEP THREE: Base Lettering and Outline
Add your first layer of lettering to the sign by freehand or using stencils with a pencil. Then go over the pencil with a contrasting acrylic paint color. This color will be prominent in your sign so make sure it’s one you want to highlight.
I chose blue and then outlined the letters of “LODGE” in black for additional contrast.
STEP FOUR: Remove Random Layers of Paint
Once your paint has dried, cover the entire board with strips of painter’s tape. Press the tape firmly in place and then remove it all in one strip. This technique will allow for further weathering in the next step.
STEP FIVE: Faux Weathered Effect
Use a putty knife to chip away additional pieces of the accent layer. Press lightly and move the knife against the grain of the exposed paint stripes created by the previous step. This technique should remove your accent layer of paint in a way that looks like it’s been chipped off over time. Remember to remove some of the paint on the lettering as well in order to create additional weathered effect.
STEP SIX: Final Background Color
Carefully paint the entire sign with the color you wish to use as your background. Use caution to paint around your lettering so as to not cover it entirely. You can leave portions around your lettering exposed to the accent color for a more realistic look.
STEP SEVEN: Accent Lettering Base
Using a pencil, sketch your lettering by freehand. This will give a more authentic look. Then trace your sketch with your final accent color for contrast. I used red in order to contrast against both the blue and the yellow.
STEP EIGHT: Dimension
Add dimension to your accent lettering by painting a shadow in black around the bottom and left sides of the lettering. This will make your sign legible from farther away which is particularly important if you plan to use this as porch decor.
HANGING YOUR VINTAGE SIGN
I installed my sign on the front porch with a piece of chain. In order to do this, I drilled a small pilot hole in the top of the sign with a 3/16 drill bit. Then I placed a bead of gorilla glue into the hole and screwed the cup hooks in place before it dried.
The result was a sturdy sign that stayed in place on my porch all winter long!
Since the decor wasn’t overtly Christmas-themed, I left my porch decor in place until February.
I hope this helps inspire you to make your own Vintage Sign. Remember to pin this post on Pinterest so you can refer to it later. Just hover over the image below and click the little red P button.
I’ll be back soon with more ideas for decorating for the holidays. Until then, stay safe and sane. xoxo
RENOVATING HISTORIC HOMES ON A BUDGET ISN’T EASY
BUT I’M HERE TO HELP.
Commenting on this post is disabled so I can focus on our upcoming projects + client designs but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want to hear from you. Send me your questions and comments on Instagram by either commenting on my latest post or sending me a direct message. I really love to chat it out!
NEED MORE HOME IDEAS + INSPIRATION?
THESE ARE THE MOST POPULAR THIS WEEK:
YOU’RE MISSING OUT 🙁
Not all my updates are big enough to warrant an entire blog post.
To make sure you never miss a single DIY project or great deal, sign up for my weekly newsletter:
I won’t share your information with anyone. Ever. I promise.
* this site contains affiliate links + advertising*
I get a commission when you buy through my links that goes towards the costs of hosting this free tutorial site.
Site operating fees are expensive but my commission costs you nothing. thanks for your support!