Established in 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

DIY-Destination Sign

It was my intent to share my latest project last week but Dorsey Dog got sprayed by a skunk before we were about to depart for Nashville. Nightmare. I'll post about that Doggie Drama another day.

Moving on. Some of you have asked, "Where do you come up with this stuff?" I'm a copycat. I'll see something and with Nick's help figure out how to make it with a touch of my own flare. This project's inspiration was pulled from May's House Beautiful along with several variations popping up on Etsy.

You can buy this here & it has the option to make a custom one.

I like to think that you guys are checking my blog religiously so here's the moment you've all been waiting for - the BIG REVEAL!


Our Version

Now for those who are interested on how to create your own, keep reading friends.

Head to Michaels and bring the list below to purchase the nuts and bolts:
24 x 48 inch primed canvas. $14.99 w/ coupon
2" inch stencils. $1.99 on Clearance
3" inch stencils. $0.99 on Clearance
4" inch stencils. $1.99 on Clearance
Jar of black acrylic paint.  $5.99 w/ coupon
Tube of acrylic paint (color: titan buff).  $8.99 w/ coupon
A spool of ribbon. $0.99
Grand Total:  $35.93  vs.  $295 price tag online
*Michaels always seems to have a 40% coupon on a full price item

Prep Work
Here we go!

It only took one coat 

Make a List, Check it Twice.
We created a list of every place Nick and I lived starting from birth until now. This is where you can get a little creative (i.e. instead of Cincinnati, we used the Queen City). This helps to switch it up. From there we taped together a paper "canvas" so we could see the spacing and make adjustments. This step is critical, I repeat critical.

We were working three different sizes of stencils so in some cases where we thought we'd use a 4" inch stencil, we had to swap for a 3" inch because there wasn't enough room. (As you can see with the Excelsior mishap below).

Dry Run

Paint & Patience.
Once you have your rough draft, it's time to paint. We created a system: I held the stencil, Nick would paint then we would wipe off the stencil and use the hair dryer to dry the letter. This is a one letter at a time project. 

The ribbon is used as a guide

Note: a sunny day, a big pitcher of lemonade, an iPod and a heap of patience are also necessities! Unfortunately, those you can't buy at Michaels at 40% off...  :) 

Slow and Steady

Note: As you work your way down you'll want to continue to re-measure to make sure the spacing is still accurate. The last thing you want to do is have your final city "smushed" at the bottom.

Hairdryer - hot for a few then switch to cool.

I'm not sure how many hours we spent on this project. It was a lot. We were able to complete half in one weekend and then moved our work station into our garage and finished the final cities over the course of a few evenings this week.

Final steps are finding the perfect spot for your new artwork, attaching brackets to the back and hanging. 

One more look.

Nick and I both agree that this is our favorite project that we've done. It is so personal and it looks awesome in person. 

If you want one of your own but don't want to put in the hours there are several spots online to get a custom one made. No I'm not starting this as my business so go here. 

HAVE A GREAT WEEKEND! Go out and make something folks! 


  1. I've seen it and it's awesome!!!

  2. I LOVE this!!! I don't think I am careful or patient enough to do it though....

  3. ummmmm can we place an order through you and paws?

  4. Fantastic, Emily!!! I saw you on Remodelaholic and had to stop over (since the first two cities are in my home state of MN!!) But also because this is the gosh-darn-cutest subway sign! LOOOOOVE it! Great tutorial too! :)

  5. I would be thrilled to create special steet / destination signs for anyone. I'm having such fun doing just that! Check out my affordable custom signs at


  6. Thanks so much for posting your process. I'm obsessed with these signs. I wanted to chronicle all the stops we made on a honeymoon to Australia and thought this would be a great way to do it.