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Antique Sign DIY

antique sign diy

I’ve been wanting to try this antique sign DIY for quite some time, and I’m glad I finally got around to it because I love how it turned out!

This antique sign DIY has been calling my name! Ever since flipping thru the pages of one of my favorite design books, Nora Murphy’s Country House Style, I have been obsessed with her sign! It has the New England charm that I love an all of the authentic chippiness that makes a space feel storied and warm!

I’ve studied this sign for a while and while I know this particular one is unique and authentic, I’ve always thought that I could easily recreate something similar. There are so many products these days that allow you to layer, antique, age, chip, etc. a piece that you really can’t mess it up… I think, in this instance, the less perfect the better!

Watch this video on YouTube.
Antique Sign DIY Video Tutorial

When originally contemplating this sign DIY, I figured I would need the help of a jigsaw. However, after thrifting the other day, I came across this souvenir spoon rack and the shape instantly reminded me of my favorite antique sign!

The spoon rack was only $5.99 so I scooped it up and thought this was the perfect opportunity to give my antique sign DIY a shot! Below I’ll walk you thru how I took this thrifted piece and turned it into a beautiful antique sign replica!


Antique Sign DIY Spoon Rack from thrift store


dresser with plant and sign

Antique Sign DIY – Materials Needed

• Souvenir Spoon Rack (If you don’t have one or can’t find one, you can always purchase a piece of wood, trace your desire shape and cut it out with the use of a jigsaw)

• Old Picture Frame (old picture frames are a dime a dozen at the thrift store and cost only a couple dollars. Opt for one that is larger than what you need, as you can always cut to size. If you find one the exact size needed, even better!) If you don’t have an old picture frame, you can purchase an inexpensive piece of moulding from Home Depot and they can trim to size for you!

• Milk Paint – White and Gray

Sanding Sponge or Sand Paper

Wood Glue

Mini Projector – Also fun for Summer movie nights!

• Stencil (if you don’t have a projector or want to purchase one, you can also have a custom stencil made from Etsy shops such as this one)

Testors Enamel Paint

Calligraphy Pen

Milk Paint Finishing Oil

Antique Sign DIY – Step by Step

Step One

Start by prepping the spoon rack. Remove the racks and also any nails that might remain. If there are any high point on the board you can sand these down to achieve your desired look.

Antique Sign DIY - using screwdriver to pry off the rack
Sign with racks removed

I wanted mine to look as old and authentic as possible, so I left any remaining imperfections on the wood.

Step Two

If needed, cut your frame size to fit the sign board.

Antique Sign FIY picture Frame
As you can see, my frame was a little long, so I cut it down to size for the final piece.

Step Three

Start with the white milk paint and apply multiple coats until you can no longer see the board underneath. This can take 3-4 coats with a white milk paint.

Antique Sign DIY white milk paint

In between each layer, I use a special technique that helps the sign to achieve a beautiful cracking effect called crazing. It’s very simple to achieve! Simply grab a hairdryer, set it to a high heat setting and dry the wet milk paint with it. The hot air will hurry the drying process along, creating a beautiful patina!

cracked and crazing in white milk paint

Once the sign board is painted, paint the frame pieces as well.

Step Four

Using a scraper, credit card or whatever tool you have on hand, gently scrape away any milk paint flakes that are pulling up from the board. This process creates that authentic chippy goodness!

chippy paint on antique sign

Note: If your piece chips too much, you can add a milk paint bonding agent to the paint.

Once the white coat was complete I mixed up a small amount of grey milk paint and used a dry brush technique to gently add dimension and depth to the sign.

dry brush technique on the antique sign diy project

Note: Dry brushing is quite easy and it’s best not to over think it! Simply take your brush, gently dip it in your paint and then brush off the majority of the paint onto a dry rag. This will remove most of the paint from your brush. Next, gently graze your brush over your sign with a light hand and that’s it! You’ve mastered dry brushing 🙂

Step Five

Create your sign and trace it onto your board using a pocket projector and a pencil.

antique sign diy mini projector

I created my sign in a free program called Canva. There are tons of font options to choose from and it is easy to use. Once created, you can project the image directly from your computer, or send it out to have a custom stencil created for your project.

projected sign on board

Step Six

Using the Testor paint, a thin paint brush and a calligraphy pen (if you have smaller font sizes) fill in your traced sign.

stenciled antique sign
painted antique sign diy

Step Seven

After the paint had dried, I used a find grit sand paper and gently scuffed up the sign/letters, taking care not to smear the paint.

Step Eight:

Once you have antiqued your sign, do the same process to the frame pieces and then glue them to your board.

Step Nine:

Seal all that chippy goodness in with a milk paint sealer, display and enjoy!

milk paint sealer
materials for antique sign diy

I love how this simple antique sign diy replica turned out! It’s quaint and charming just like you would find in old New England, yet it is customized to our little Colorado farm and barn 😉

dresser with plant and antique diy sign
room shot with sign
close up of sign on dresser
bedroom shot with sign
antique sign diy finished product


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close up of vintage apothecary chest with wooden bench vignette

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  1. Such a beautiful & Unique idea!!! Now I’ll be on a mission to find an old spoon rack when I go thrifting

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