DIY Dead and Breakfast Sign

Welcome. foolish mortals, to the Lawrence Dead & Breakfast Inn.

Every good Dead and Breakfast needs a quality sign, and this one is no exception. All that was needed was a little paint and creativity to bring our Halloween theme to life.

Admittedly, this project can (and did for me) get a little expensive. I chose to go the pre-made route for a few pieces, but I want the sign to last for the foreseeable future. For instance, the post holding the sign is a newel post from Home Depot, which is priced $30 and up. Sure, I could have built something less elaborate using table legs and furniture feet (a path I started down but changed my mind), but I liked how fancy the newel post looked and decided to go for it.

Also – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I used a Cricut to make the sign template – however, you can easily use stencils or large alphabet stickers from any craft store to achieve the same effect.

Nevertheless, this project is super easy and can be done in one afternoon.

So, come along and learn how to make your own sign… if you dare…

Lawrence Made Dead and Breakfast Sign


  • Wood Post (used: newel post, Home Depot)
  • Wood Base (used: scrap piece of 1in x 4in wood)
  • Wood Signs (used: clearance wood signs, Michaels Stores)
  • Stencils or Cricut
  • Outdoor Paint and Paint Brushes
  • Masking or Painters Tape
  • Spray Acrylic
  • Chain (used: black hobby chain, Home Depot)
  • Garden Plant Holder Kit
  • Long Flat Head Screws to attach Base and Post
  • Screwdriver or Power Drill (the drill makes it easier)
  • Pliers (for opening and closing chain links)


1. Collect your materials. If you would like, prep your wood with sandpaper. I chose not to sand this project because the rougher the wood – the better for Halloween.

2. Paint all those wood pieces. This is by far the longest part of the project. Be patient and apply thin even coats allowing full drying in between. Globbing the paint on will only prolong the drying process and may cause the paint to bubble or peel.

3. Create your stencil. I used a Cricut to create my design, but as mentioned, store-bought stencils can achieve a similar effect.

4. Carefully place your stencil and tape off the edges.

5. Dab-Dab-Dab. Time to apply the paint. Remember to use a foam brush and a straight up-down dabbing motion while using stencils. Swiping the brush could cause the stencil to lift and/or the paint to bleed.

6. While the design paint is still drying, carefully remove the stencil. Waiting until completely dry may cause the paint to peel or lift, so always remove stencils when the paint is still mostly wet. Allow to dry completely and then touch up where needed. I had a little paint bleed between letters, so I went back through with my white to clean up the design.

7. Seal in the magic with spray acrylic. I didn’t use anything fancy, just what I had on hand. In fact, this type of acrylic isn’t designed for outdoor use. However, there are versions that are and I would recommend if buying for the first time specifically for this project to get the outdoor version. Allow to dry completely and don’t touch it! It’s awfully sticky until fully dry.

8. Now comes the fun part – the sign construction! Lay out all pieces and line up exactly how you want the sign to hang. The goal is to figure out where holes are needed to hang the chain. I lined up my sign with the outer holes of the plant holder and then…

…lined up where the Vacancy sign needed to line up with the big sign. A few pencil markings and I was off to the races.

8. Drill holes for the chain. CAREFULLY! Don’t drill a hole in your hand, leg, or other body parts. Oh… here’s me drilling away. (Messy bun for the win!)

9. Attach the plant holder to the post. Do this before attaching the chains so you have exact measurements for where the sign will hang.

10. Measure and attach chain. Determine the number of chain links needed to hang the sign in the exact position you would like and get to work! Using pliers, twist chain links to open, loop through the hole, and clamp with pliers to close. Be patient and watch your fingers.

Alternative: Instead of opening/closing chain links, you could use nuts, bolts, and washers to attach the chain. To do this, drill your holes the width of your bolt. Insert the bolt from the front. On the back side of the sign slide onto the bolt, in this order, the chain, the washer, and the nut. Tighten and you’re good to go!

11. Using the long screws, attach the base. I highly recommend not making the mistake I made… make sure you use flat head screws! I used round head screws, which isn’t a huge deal since the sign is standing on an uneven surface, but I’d rather not have to think about it. Take my advice – use flat head screws.

How cool did this turn out?! Not only was it crazy fun to put together, but I’m also quite proud of myself too. Plus, any day I can pull out a power drill is a good day.

Make your own and let me know how it goes!

Happy Haunting!

Jen LM Sign Off

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Lawrence Made Dead and Breakfast Sign

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