When I was in high school, I saw a news segment about the Neon Museum in Las Vegas. Two things resulted from me watching that: 1) I had to go to Las Vegas to see this place, and 2) I had to own a vintage marquee letter.
Well, I haven’t yet made it to Las Vegas (it’s on my “30 Things to do Before 30 List”), and I’m still holding out for the perfect vintage marquee letter. The ones I find are always either too small, not the right color or over $500. When we were busy putting the finishing touches on the covered patio, the console table was in dire need of something extra – something fun with personality and a pop of red. We needed a marquee letter!
I came across bunch of DIY tutorials online but most of them were made from foam or cardboard. I wanted something a little more durable and something that would be easy to clean – especially since we wanted to use it in the covered patio area.
Then, I found the jackpot in DIY marquee letter tutorials from Kristen over at The Hunted Interior. Be sure to check out her blog, it’s awesome. Kristen found a great resource for unfinished wooden letters on Etsy (here). Some paint, a string of lights and we were in business. I don’t think I was even finished reading her post before I clicked the “Place Order” button for a letter B. With shipping, it was about $50 – a lot cheaper than the finished marquee letters I found online. It came in the mail a few weeks later, and I was immediately in love! It was huge – a bit bigger than I imagined – but it was perfect.
To start off, I marked the places where the lights would go using little tag sale stickers. While playing around with the placement, I was continually checking the spacing with my mini tape measure.
Greg drilled the holes where each sticker was with a 3/4″ paddle bit. It’s really important to drill from front of the letter, toward the back, because when you’re done, the back will have some major splinters.
Once all of the holes were drilled, I prepped the letter for paint by spraying a light coat of primer all over the front and back of the letter. Since this was going to be for the outdoors, we primed both sides to protect the unfinished wood.
As for the color, we were going to a big pop of red, so we chose Rustolem’s Royal Red in a high gloss finish. I love this shade of red because it’s not too bright, and it’s the perfect “vintage” red – which was the look we were going for.
For the lights, we picked up a box of frosted globe string lights. There were 25 lights on the string, but since we only had to make 23 holes for the lights, we just tucked the extra two lights in the back and unscrewed the bulbs just enough that they wouldn’t light up. Attaching the lights to the letter was super simple. All I had to do was take out the bulb, put the socket on the back of the letter and reattach the bulb from the front. And just like that, we were all finished!
Isn’t that easy?! I’m completely crazy about how it turned out and love seeing it when we go in and out of the house.
I love how the frosted globe lights show up so well against the red letter, too. It looks good during the day when the lights are off and even better at night when we turn it on.
Overall, Greg and I are totally thrilled with the results. It’s easily the number one thing our friends and family point out when they come over. I can easily say it’s one of our favorite SemiDIY projects to date.