We’ve all been there. Well, most of us anyway. We see something we like and there is an almost audible gasp. We want it, we need it, we love it…not necessarily in that order. Said item can be a pair of shoes, a piece of jewelry, or the perfect little black dress. And while I like shoes, jewelry and black dresses, what usually spikes my “I want it” meter is something for the home.

I have been known to swoon over the fabric aisle. Finding the perfect wingback chair can send me breathing into a paper bag. But what really gets me excited is seeing something I like, and then figuring out how to get a similar look for less.

Case in point. I have been seeing these beautiful signs that say things like Gather, Home, Family, and other meaningful sayings. I really love the ones where the words are printed on cream linen and framed in a vintage, chipped window frames, replete with patinaed hardware. But alas, these babies are not cheap. The ones I want are between $200 and $450. Yikes. Short of selling a kidney or depriving our children of an inheritance, this kind of investment doesn’t really make sense to me. So, I try to figure out how I can follow the trend by doing a workaround.  .


Luckily, I am married to one handy guy. He has a woodworking shop area in our garage where he makes things like wooden boats, and most recently he’s working on an ukelele. I mean, Wow! When I want to make something, I go out into his scrap piles and find what I need. For me, it is like my own private candy store.

Last week, I bought a silver sign that says gather in a cursive script. I thought if I mounted it to a piece of wood, it would satisfy my desire for one of the more expensive. Off to the scrap wood area, where I found a piece of maple that was just right. My husband cut it down to size and sanded it smooth. I tried three different stains to find something that would work where I wanted to hang it, which is above the mirror in the dining room. After trying all three, I landed on Honey Oak, which is deceiving, but the maple is so hard, it doesn’t really look like oak in the end.

After staining the piece of wood, it looked a little dark. So, I went all “mad scientist” and concocted a mixture of cream acrylic paint, some shimmer, and a glaze. I put that mixture on, ragged it off, and ended up with exactly what I wanted.

Then I attached the gather sign to the board. These little signs are fun because they come with little plastic “straws” that you can put on the back sign of the sign, put the nail through the sign and then the straw, allowing the sign to sit proud of the wood. This is optional, of course, but it creates an interesting dimension doing it that way.

When discussing this project with my artistic mother on the phone this morning, she suggested using brass screws instead of the galvanized ones that came with the sign.  It was just the kind of small, quirky detail I love.  Thanks, Mom!  (It’s hard to tell in the picture, but the brass pops against the gray metal).

After attaching the sawtooth hanger to the back, the sign was ready for hanging in the dining room. Now, I am in no way trying to say that my humble little sign looks anywhere near as cool as the ones I was drooling over.  It would be nice if it was longer, but I had to keep it portionate to the size of the metal sign.  In the end, the finished product is something I am proud of, and if word signs go out of style in a few years, I will have only spent $14 for our little Gather sign, and hopefully will still have both of my kidneys.

When you start to think of ways to get a similar look for less, it becomes a game of sorts. And while I will never be able to make a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes, I can make a simple sign that evokes a smile every time I peak into the dining room. And that is good enough for me.

Good tidings,


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