Decorating a large space in a new home can be tricky. I envisioned filling the space with fall decor but dreaded hanging decor that required putting more holes in my wall with each new season. Originally I wanted a large custom sign in the space but thought, “Will I have to keep replacing the sign with others that were identical sizes to prevent more holes?” So I wondered, what if bought a pre-made sign, painted over it to custom make my own idea, allowing me to change out the letters with each new season? For this project, I went for more of a chalkboard style. Using a pre-made board, the entire project required 5 simple steps, took about 45 minutes, and cost approximately $25 since I already had many materials from a previous project.
Pros to altering a pre-made board
- Zero storage. If there is just one sign that hangs up continuously, you never need to store it.
- A variety of items you can decorate the front. I honestly didn’t know what I wanted on my board until after I started painting it, then the idea of painting a wreath hit me! I’ll share later how many different ways I’ve found that I can use this one board.
- Fewer holes in the wall. And did I mention no more rearranging decor items on that same wall each season?
- Low cost and quick turnaround. This project can be completed on a modest budget in a single afternoon.
- premade sign
- painters or masking tape
- acrylic paint
- matte varnish
- Cricut or Silhouette machine
- Cricut or Silhouette mat
- 631 or 651 vinyl (any color)
- transfer paper
- weeding tool
- measuring tape
Tip: You can recycle supplies used from the DIY painted pumpkin project. (See the tutorial here.) I used my favorite acrylic paint color: Italian Sage by Folkart.
- Purchase the right sign.
Begin by measuring the space you want to fill, then head to Hobby Lobby. Signs can be found throughout the store and the one I picked on this day came from the baby/nursery decor section. Be sure to wait until signs are 50% off (which is almost every other week) and grab one that is the right measurement and frame color. Pay no attention to the sign design since you are painting over it, but you should select one that has a completely smooth surface. (To my surprise, the first sign I purchased included slightly raised letters. So, I had to sand the board down before I started painting. Actually, my sweet husband sanded this….teamwork for the win!)
- Prepare and paint the sign.
Tape off the edges with masking tape over the areas you don’t want to paint. Apply 2 background coats and wait to dry before applying a coat of matte interior & exterior varnish next. This will prevent the transfer tape later from pulling up any paint with it.
- Design the board image.
While the paint is drying, begin creating the image for the top of your sign in Cricut Design Space.
Tip: I found a wreath png I liked on Etsy and uploaded the image to the size I wanted on my board. Unfortunately Cricut doesn’t allow any image to be cut larger than a 12” by 24” size, so I had to slice the image in half to make it two smaller images.
- Cut, weed out the design, then pick up the stencil left with the transfer paper. This part of the tutorial is similar to the front doormat DIY tutorial that you can find here. If you decided to create one larger image like mine and had to slice it in half, place them back together like a puzzle and use some tape on the back of the transfer paper to stick them together as one piece. Measure your image or images centered to the board and begin to rub the vinyl flat onto the board. Peel back the transfer tape.
- Paint inside the vinyl stencil.
Paint using 2-3 coats with your letter or design acrylic paint color and allow some drying time in between.
Tip: Holding the paintbrush vertical and dabbing straight on top helped with any paint that started to bleed.
- Peel back your vinyl stencil, voila!
What I loved about painting a fall wreath was that if I changed my mind on the image, I can cover it up with my faux wreath! It fits perfectly on top to completely conceal the painted image. When I get ready for a season change, I’ll just paint over the fall wreath image and repeat the process. If I switch back to the painted wreath, I think I might order a large laser wood word or hot glue a fabric bow to add on top. I just love the possibilities. Some other options could be layering multiple garlands, or using my stencil idea but using just chalk instead of paint. Hopefully this would just wipe off and prevent me painting another background layer. I’m not the most patient painter, after all! 🙂
Now, if you’re looking for a sign that has any level of design complication or simply want to leave it to the professional sign makers, I have a list of qualified and extremely talented friends that I would LOVE to refer you to!
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