Jun 6, 2011

{DIY: Pottery Barn Knock Off "Vintage Keys"}

“If you want a thing done well, do it yourself.”  -Napoleon Bonaparte 

I needed something for a wall in our kitchen eating nook, but wasn't sure what to put in that spot.  So, after some looking for just the right thing, I decided on this...
Source: potterybarn.com via acharmingnest.com on Pinterest


...and for only $329 it could be mine...all mine.  One problem, I really don't have $329 to spend on this type of art piece for my home.  So, I decided to DIY my own, with a twist (and with some inspiration from one of my favorite blogs: Susie Harris). 

This by far has been my longest, most time consuming project, but once I got the hang of it, the process didn't take that long.  Here is how I did it...

1.  I bought a piece of birch 1/2 inch plywood in 4x4 foot sheet.  This cost about $20 from Lowe's.  I had them cut the piece to a 3x3 foot square.  I had them cut some other sizes out of my piece of birch plywood for other projects I have planned.

2.  Measure six 5 inch squares going across the board.  I drew lines with my yard stick.  Then I did the same going down the board.

3.  Then I traced a cup in each square to make circles.   Just try to use a cup that fills the square nicely.

4.  Paint the circles black.  I used regular craft paint, stuff I already had.  It has a flat finish, which is good for the next step.  Make sure you use a good brush for this so you can get sharp lines around your circle.  I like white or yellow synthetic angle brushes for this task.  Also, don't worry if it isn't perfect...nothing is EVER perfect, right?

5.  On my computer, using "Century Schoolbook" font in 180 size and in outline, I typed the ABC's with numbers and symbols.  The symbols will need to be in smaller font because they are sharing a circle (I used 72 font).
6.  Using a yellow or white crayon, I scribbled the back of the printed out letters.  Just like this post on making signs without a fancy letter machine.

7.  Center the letters on the black circles and trace.  Hopefully, some of the yellow or white crayon will transfer to the black.

8.  Now, you just paint the letters with white craft paint.  This felt like it took forever, but I tried to do a row at a time, and before I knew it the project was finished.  So, just hang in there and again, NOTHING IS PERFECT, so just keep on keepin' on, even when you think it looks terrible.

9.  Once, the letters were dry, I dipped a cup into white paint that I had poured onto a paper plate.  I then placed the painted cup onto each circle, trying not to make it look perfect, and trying not to make complete circles at each press.  This step makes the circles look like vintage typewriter keys.

10.  Once the paint dried, we created a wood frame out of  1X2 inch "firring strips" and nailed it in place. Firring strips can be bought at Lowe's for about $1.  They are in the back of the lumber area, and are usually sold in packages of 8ft. six packs.  I only needed one for this project.

11.  Then I stained with Minwax's English Chestnut stain (my favorite stain) and then sealed with a coat of poly. 

Once it dries, you will be ready to hang! 

Materials Needed (that we didn't already have):
  • Birch plywood piece (about $23)
  • 1X2 Firring strip ($1)
  • TOTAL:  $24
That's a savings of $305!  I'm gonna pat myself on the back for that one!  I just saved my family some money and added a great piece of art for our kitchen nook by DIYing this Pottery Barn art myself!

Just so you know...these are the materials needed that we already had, but you will need:
  • nail gun with nails
  • stain of your choice
  • black and white craft paint
  • various paint brushes
  • various sized cups or glasses


  1. um, amazing - how creative! i don't think i'd ever have thought to use cups to make circles. and, i've been super nervous to try the color on the back & trace from the front.

  2. I've seen several variations of this over the past few months, and yours is definitely my favorite! It really looks like the one from Pottery Barn. Awesome job!

  3. Thank you so much! That means so much.

  4. I think yours is much better! I want it! :) You have a talent and a great eye.

  5. This website is great. I would like subscribe, but I only follow websites that have the option of subscribing via email. I don't see that feature available on this website (unless I am missing it). Any chance it can be added?

  6. Under her introduction, there is a choice you can subscribe by email. I just now noticed the choice to subscribe by email is right below the comment box as well.

  7. LOVE! You have an uncanny ability to turn ordinary supplies into stunning pieces of art. I too have seen a few variations of these floating around blogland, and while they are all wonderful, I truly think yours is as close to the original as one could get. I would have never thought of using a cup to make the white semi-outline in the circles. I've never tried using crayons to transfer an outline to dark surfaces, chalk has been my go-to and works flawlessly. I may try the crayon on specific projects though to avoid the chalk dust :)
    Beautiful work, thanks so much for sharing such awesomeness!

  8. This is gorgeous! We've got to get you a Cricut! You can cut the letters and shapes out of vinyl OR cut stencils out of vinyl for the quick hand-painted look!

    Can you come to my house next?? :)

  9. THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH! I totally just did this, it turned out great, and so cheap because I already had most of the supplies. Your instructions were so clear and easy to follow, and I loved the crayon tip! I used a white paint pen (because I am so not an artist) for the letters etc. and that made it a little easier for me. Anyway, thank you!!

  10. love what you did, it looks just like the original! i would love to feature it, if that would be ok with you please let me know.

  11. I tried this but their is a typo ...It's not six 5 inch squares... It's six 6 inch squares.

  12. unbelievable!!! and what a thorough and well-explained tutorial! thank you for taking the time to teach us :).

  13. I love this! Saw you featured at The Cottage Market.


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