A blog about the restoration, remodel and renovation of a 1929 Chicago-style brick bungalow

Spell it Out

Back in June when we were at Elkhorn Flea Market, I contemplated buying a couple of letters, “a” and “e”, from a vendor. Being a graphic designer, it was mainly about the letterform instead of the meaning of the letters, i.e. I didn’t necessarily have to have a “P” and “D” for “Pete and Denise”. Ultimately they were a bit too pricey, so I took a pass and bought a vintage Danish carving instead.

We went to the flea market again last month with some friends. We usually park at the school but we ended up parking in a different area this time, at the opposite end of the fairgrounds. Almost immediately we spotted a booth selling a bunch of letters from old signage. If the price was right, I thought I may have found the answer for this very blank wall in our TV room (sorry, bad photo, but it’s the only one I could find).

blank wall

red lettersInitially I was going to buy 3 letters, but as I approached the vendor I spotted a fourth and got a nice discount on all four. Still, that pretty much used up all I wanted to spend so we browsed around a bit more but left after a couple hours.

Once we got home I cleaned them up, and here they sat next to the clock until I could find a way to mount them. Of course I could simply hang them by a nail, however the holes varied on the back of each letter so it was going to be difficult to hang them in a straight line. Besides, I was thinking that a shelf on the wall would be a better solution.

I looked at the usual suspects, Container Store, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, etc. but none really had what I needed, either in depth, length, or looks.

Then I thought a really rustic look would be cool. I found a couple on Etsy but really didn’t want to spend a lot of money.

So I thought about making one using the pallet on which our brick pavers arrived. (In case you didn’t know, there are tons of ways to repurpose pallets!)

Instead…we found a used fireplace mantel shelf that was the right length, right depth and right price. It’s hollow at the back with three holes on the top, so it’d be easy to mount a 2×2 piece of wood to the wall, slide the mantel over it and screw it down from the top to the 2×2. Of course it’ll be hit or miss, but you might be able to find a similar one on craigslist.

Here’s the 2×2 mounted to the wall. With our plaster walls, we had to use toggle bolts to secure it. It doesn’t look level in this photo, but it definitely is.

2x2 support

It could use a fresh coat of paint, but I have lots of other things to do before that will happen.


And, here they are! We had to put a nail in the wall for the “D” to hold it upright because it obviously can’t stand on its own.

decorative letters

letters from signage as wall decorAt first I was going to buy “RED” (since the letters are red, of course), but then I saw the “A” and thought it would be perfect for the TV room to remind myself that I should really be doing something other than watching TV.

After a while I’ll probably change it to spell DARE, because who doesn’t need a reminder to muster up courage to do something and to challenge oneself every now and then?

1 Comment

  1. Kathy on September 27, 2012 at 11:13 pm

    Totally love how this turned out. I wish I’d gotten to them first. Next year we’ll look for me.:-)

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