Backyard Mural Inspiration

Our house used to be a store. How cool is that?! We’ve been wanting to pay homage to that somehow when decorating the house. We have been on the hunt for an old grocery store sign for the kitchen (the storefront was originally built as a grocery store) and we want something barbershopy to reflect another one of the former businesses. (so if you come accross an old (cheap)barbers pole, let me know!)

Another aspect of old stores that I really love are ghost signs. Ghost signs are those old faded ads on the sides of buildings often advertising beer, liquor, cigarettes etc. I wish wish wish we had a ghost sign, but sadly we’re too close to our neighbors and have no walls that face the street. Sad face.


There is however a graffiti mural on the side of our garage that faces our neighbors yard. I love the idea of also having a mural on the side of the wall that faces our backyard. I don’t have any graffiti artist friends however and the painter friend I do have is incredibly busy and successful with his fine art career (go check out Martin Wittfooth’s work, it’s amazeballs.)

I also wanted something…well…cool. I didn’t want a sunflower and happy dancing children mural. I wanted something that I’d like to see hanging in my livingroom.

So… Now what? Stencil something? Design a mural on my own? Contact a community outreach program and see if they have any teens who want a canvas? Gah I have no idea. Then it struck me, a ghost sign! A great idea if I may say so myself. So I started researching and pinning.

But…wait…how do I make it look like it’s been there 50 years? I have NO idea. I could not find a faux ghost sign tutorial anywhere and had no idea where to start. It needed to be fairly durable (as it’s outside), but not look perfect and new. I contemplated using Elmer’s wood glue to try to do a crackle effect then sanding the paint. Or painting the mural then pressure washing the whole thing to try to wear off most of the paint. Or doing the design in chalk and then clear coating it, but really I was up a creek and had no idea where to start.

So the project sat for a few months until one day El Granto and I spied a can of dark grey flat exterior Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint in the ‘oops’ shelf at home depot. Usually the oops shelf is full of colors such as baby puke and mustard. However this looked like a pretty warm dark gray and it was priced at $9 (regularly $50+). We tossed it in the cart and decided to give it a try on the garage.

Two days later I was reading Centsatonal Girl and she posted about chalk paint. Hrrm…chalk paint? Could that work for my old worn looking ghost sign? I dunno! So I sent an email to the chalk paint people  and my local retailer and awaited their response with baited breath. (No really, I sat there watching the computer like a 14 year old girl waiting for a boy to txt her.)

All I can say thus far… is my Mom is heading out Saturday to pick up a can of chalk paint for me, and I will be putting on a coat of our $9 oops paint on the garage wall this weekend. Wish me luck!


Author: Kristen

Kristen & her husband El Granto & their Vizsla Odin live in a converted Storefront in downtown Toronto.

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