DIY Marquee Letter & Renter-Friendly Curtains {Sarah M. Dorsey}

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hey there! I'm monica 

I pride myself on making amazing style and design accessible for everyone, regardless of location, budget, or ability! My design philosophy is rooted in authenticity + attainability - If I can do it, you can too! My work has been featured in countless publications, but I take the most pride in homeowners that have been personally inspired by my DIY ideas and have tried something in their own homes!

learn more about ME + MY BIZ

Happy Tax Day Everyone!  As a blogger tax time stinks- it’s like 6.4 million 1099s, and to top it off this year I’ve worked full-time for 3 different companies… umm yeah, not sure how I survived, but hey, I’m here in one piece!  Taxes were kinda painful this year, but I’m all for them as long as they go towards fixing the 25,000 potholes in my town alone!  🙂

Today is the final link-up for CWTS and we’re excited to see your Home Decor project! Link up at the end of Sarah’s tutorial and we’ll pick a fav. and feature it on Sunday! Thanks for playing along each week!

The fabulous Sarah M. Dorsey is back today, and just a quick reminder that Sarah is the Original Creating with the Stars Champion! She amazed us last season and has had such a successful year of blogging.  Make sure you’re following her blog and you’ll be blown away by her projects.  I’m always amazed at the high quality she delivers- I’ll be honest, occasionally I take a shortcut and do something the easy way on a DIY project, but I’m pretty sure Sarah doesn’t even know what that means! Ha! She is top notch all the way!  Today she’s sharing some fun projects that she’s completed for her current, temporary office.  Thanks again for sharing with us Sarah!  We love you!!

The 2013 CWTS Champ!

1.  Sarah {Sarah M. Dorsey Designs} & Brooke {All Things Thrifty}

(Sarah, her hubs, and cute pup!)


Last week, David and I moved to a Tennessee on a 6 month assignment (for David’s job). Even though we’re only here short term, I still wanted to make it our own. For my office, I added renter friendly draperies, an accent chair and a large marquee letter.

Here’s my new office!

DIY marquee letters are nothing new (just to name a few .. here, here, here) but it’s one of those things that I HAD to try. I just couldn’t get it out of my head!

DIY Marquee Letter

Here’s our version!

Materials needed // 2’x4′ – 1/2″ Plywood/MDF (we used 1/4″ but the screw placement had to be exact, which made it difficult. // 6″ aluminum flashing // clear globe string lights // spray paint // small screws // fast drying glue // caulk

Tools needed // jigsaw with fine wood cut blade // drill with 3/4″ bit // painters tape // sandpaper // tools to bend flashing (wood block, metal spackle took)

1. Print letter on 8.5×11 and project it on 2’x4′ MDF or Plywood, trace with pencil (I have this projector. If you don’t have a projector, free hand, if you’re comfortable or get it printed large at a local printer)

2. Cut letter with jigsaw. Try to be exact as possible, this will help later when applying the flashing.

3. Lightly sand edges

4. Measure bulb placement – find the center and then space them equally. Ours were 4″apart.

5. With 3/4″ bit, drill holes for lights.

6. Push the lights from the back and secure lights from the front with a strong, quick grab glue. Apply caulk from behind to stabilize and seal the sockets.

7. Since our MDF was fairly thin, we added a few wood blocks to help stabilize it. This also lifted it off the ground so that the flashing was centered on the sign.

8. Get ready for paint. Fill in socket holes with tape.

9. Spray paint the front of your letter.

10. Apply your flashing. For the corners we bent using blocks of wood, a metal spackle tool and clamps.

Note: the flashing is very sharp, so we recommend that you wear safety gloves. We opted out since it was hard to handle with gloves on. We did cut ourselves ..

11. Mark where the flashing hits the MDF and drill a hole for the screw through the flashing (also pre-drill your hole in the MDF) Secure the flashing with small screws.

12. Fill in the gaps with a quick drying caulk. First apply painters tape to the flashing for easy clean up.

13. Drill a hole in the bottom for your cord. Apply a rubber gasket or caulk to protect the wire from the sharp edge.

14. Install hanging hardware. We installed a 1×3 board at the top with a notch for the screws to sit in.

15. Wire your light!

Plug in and enjoy!

Marquee Letter Tutorial

Next, we added additional seating with a rattan chair. We lightly sanded, wiped it down with a microfiber cloth, primed and painted a light mint, Valspar mellow spring (it took two cans).

The chair came with a removable plywood seat that we upholstered in this fabric.

I love draperies, but since we’re only here short term, I didn’t want to take the time to hang a rod (and fix it upon moving out) so I used 3M clear hooks for a temporary solution. They are fixed, so I can’t open and close them (easily), but there are translucent pull down shades, so it’s not needed here.

Modern Desk  Stripe Chair

First I added a black tassel trim to Ikea Lenda white panels (and added a hidden tab for a cafe rod for future use, tutorial here). I sewed, but permanent fabric glue is a great option for those without a sewing machine.

1. Measure desired height, place piece of painter’s tape.

2.  Measure spacing. For my 54″ wide panel, I spaced mine 3″ apart.

3. Place 3M hooks according to directions on package.

4. With upholstery thread sew a couple of loops on the back of the panel. (confirm placement for height taking into account hook placement.

5. Hang your panels on the hooks!

Renter Friendly Design Ideas

Love this test-tube-like bud vase, found at a local vintage shop!

Practically my entire office has been DIYed, here’s a few of the other projects! commercial to custom credenza with overlays // black and white striped upholstered chair // x-leg desk // gold geometric lamps // marble lamp base out of baseboard tile

I love how my office is coming together! Having an organized place that feels like me is a great constant as we’ve been moving!

Thanks so much for letting me share a few projects this year! Feel free to visit my blog and say hi! If you’re new, I’d love to meet you!


Now it’s your turn to share your Home Decor Project!

The comments +

  1. Always the best stylish ideas! So good

  2. Where did you find the black tassel trim? I’ve been wanting to DIY the Serena and Lily tassel curtains but haven’t been able to find tassel trim that isn’t completely gaudy! That trim is perfect.

  3. It’s absolutely gorgeous, as always! Great job!!!

  4. […] **Linking up with East Coast Creative** […]

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  6. Auralee says:

    Sarah is so insanely talented!!!

  7. […] Creating with the Stars at East Coast Creative […]

  8. […] I’m linking this up to East Coast Creative […]

  9. […] linking up with East Coast Creative on this post!  Go check out their awesome site.  They host an awesome blogger contest and even […]

  10. Thanks for another awesome link-up! The winners this year did such an AMAZING job. I am totally in awe of their work! And I have gathered so much inspiration from all of Sarah’s projects and from the work of the other contestants. I can’t wait until next year’s competition! Now, fingers crossed I win that amazing vacation 🙂

  11. Amber says:

    I have loved following your blog! I started following after the CWTS contest because I followed Lindsay! I always look forward to your posts each day! 🙂


  12. […] forget – you still have time to link up your own home decor project for a chance to win a Ryobi prize pack and a feature on EC2 this […]

  13. […] Sharing with: East Coast Creative Blog […]

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  16. Stephanie says:

    What font did you use for your Marquee Letters? i really like the style of it but find that all of the ones I try will end up being too thin in some places.

  17. Koen Bolder says:

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    What thickness did you use for the aluminum flashing?
    Is aluminum flashing the same as lead?
    Because i’m looking for the dutch word for this material.

    I’d like to hear from your.

    Thanks in advance.

    Best regards,

    Koen Bolder
    The Netherlands

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