brush and floss bathroom

I never met a yard sale or an estate sale or a garage sale or a tag sale that I didn’t like.

But my favorite?

The side of the road sale.

The stuff you can find is amazing.  Like broken down chairs someone is throwing away or architectural moldings or doors or drawers or beds or giant 40 pane windows.

Or wood.

Discarded, chippy, left out in the rain, worn a little by life kind of wood.

brush and floss s

A while back the wood was having a blue light special.

I found a pile of it.

Scattered and tossed and calling my name.

brush and floss sign

I gathered it up and took it home and planned out the projects.

I thought I’d start with a sign.

It was so easy.  Sign making 101.  Simply trace chip board letters with a pencil and fill in the outline with paint.

I’ve shared an easy sign painting tutorial before here and here.

brush and floss ampersand

The sign turned out better than I ever imagined.

The wood was so chippy and layered with age and it looked so….well….so authentic.

As if it came straight off of a farmer’s fence.

brush and floss wood

I hung it up on the wall and stood back and admired it and told it that it should be in the sign hall of fame and I don’t think it could get any more amazing if it tried.

And then I forgot about it.


Until one day I walked by and saw a little dust underneath it on the table.

“Dust,” I thought.

Where did that come from?  Did I forget to dust?  Was the table taking up a collection?


Not even close.

It was my sign.  My authentic, chippy, distressed, left out in the rain sign.

Apparently some creepy crawly friends thought my sign was a bargain, too.

brush and floss edge of sign

I screamed.

And grabbed the wood and ran outside and yelled all the way to the trash can and spent the next day sanitizing every inch of the space and muttering about sales and shopping and what was I thinking and that I needed to think again.

And now?

I buy my wood new and make it look old.

And make sure I don’t invite friends home after shopping. 🙂

PS  This sign is not the one from the post.  That sign never stuck around long enough to have its picture made.  🙂

PPS  I found a great tutorial for cleaning old wood here.

Sweet Tea July 21

I’m heading to Tennessee tomorrow and I’ll be at The Cherry Pit Quilt shop located at 115 Bruce St, Sevierville, TN from 2:00-4:00 handing out fabric and samples and yummy snacks.

If you are in the area, I’d love to see you there.

Want to know how to decorate your home for free?
Click here to get my FIVE BEST secrets.


  1. Image for Randi Randi

    Super cute signs! And they are much better without the creepy crawlies, I am sure! I do have a lovely pile of old fencing in my garage, but no bugs so far. Just splinters. Gotta watch for those with old wood too! Have a lovely day!

  2. Image for Barbara Moore Barbara Moore

    How could anyone in Sevierville, TN stay away from a store named "Cherry Pit Quilt Shop"??? #beststorenameever.

  3. Image for Barb Barb

    Oh, you poor soul. BUgs and worms and things that go boo in the night. I think I would have tried to bleach the boards or sprayed them with vinegar, even soak them in the back yard pool and dried them in the hot sun....I never found oa piece of wood I didn't like... It reminds be, forgive me please... The worms crawl in the worms crawl out, you know the rest.

  4. Image for Karina Aguon Karina Aguon

    I have always had that fear about old wood!! Yikes!! Any plans to visit a quilt shop in the Nashville / middle TN area in the near future?

  5. Image for Becky Becky

    Karianne, you sure have bad luck with creepy crawling things. When we built our house we started pricing and looking for mantels for our two fireplaces. Most were to pricey and too new looking for our farmhouse style. When a friend said he had old barn beams he thought would work I was thrilled. I also was a little scared of a bug issue. Those amazing worm holes that I loved, well, I realized they had to come from, well, worms. So we made some calls and did some research before bringing them in the house. We got the same answer several times. Power washer. My husband loaded them on the back of his truck, drove to the car wash, power washed them and brought them home to dry. I did put a coat of clear sealer on the one beam to bring out the wood grain but the other one we left natural. That was 25 years ago. No bugs and they are one of my favorite things about our house. Oh, and the best part, they were free. Yep, our friend didn't want anything for them. He got them when helping another friend tear down an old barn. I do love your signs, I've always wanted to try that.

  6. Image for Patricia Patricia

    My father in law found a fabulous piece of driftwood- 30 years ago. It was kept in a dry area the entire time and this year I finally dared to seal it bring in in the house. I hope, hope, hope there won't be any latent hibernators. I just couldn't bring myself to apply bleach to it.

  7. Image for Amy K Amy K

    Do you think you could "cook" the wood first like you do pinecones before using? I think that might work actually.

  8. Image for Ellen Ellen

    You are the best story teller ever! I was positive the pictured signs were the ones in the story- until the end. I even thought that the space at the side of the last photo was where the bugs came out- until the end. Love, love, love your stories!!! Your story telling is only equaled by your creative talent. Those signs look as though they were made from repurposed wood- beautiful. Thank-you for a delightful morning coffee break- you never disappoint!

  9. Image for Jolyn Jolyn

    Won't power washing ruin that great old paint and weathering look? SURELY there's got to be a better way to rid weathered wood of creepy-crawlies than power washing.

  10. Image for Cecilia Cecilia

    I, too, thought those were the signs from your story. Then I had to laugh about the dust and bugs. Whee. Fun times. I do love your stories. Makes for a good laugh or sentimental tears. Hugs Cecilia

  11. Image for Michelle Michelle

    Hahahaha!!! I love, love, love all the twists and turns your stories take, and how I'm never quite expecting the final outcome. Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me cry, sometimes it warms my heart...but it's always totally entertaining!

  12. Image for Sherry Fisher Sherry Fisher

    Shoot, I just spent a week in Sevierville with my family (14 of us), in a big, beautiful cabin in the woods. Wish I had waited a week! xo

  13. Image for Gee Gee

    Hahahaha. Signs with friends. I can see you running to the trash can. But the signs.2 look pretty amazing . Happy midweek.

  14. Image for Linda Chauvin Linda Chauvin

    I can't believe I will miss you by two days!!! I am from New Orleans and going to Sevierville for vaca. I'm sure you don't remember but I met you in Alabama at Layla's and met your son and bought a 'grocery' sign. Anyway, I've been your fan eversince. I don't suppose you would leave me a packet at Cherry Pit Quilt Shop to pick up Saturday. My husband bets me you won't. I bet you will. Regardless, have a good time. PS. I'm still trying to get to Kentucky.

  15. Image for Carmen Carmen

    When I read about your "dust" and what it actually was I said aloud "Oh No!". I can see and feel your horror! Thanks for the tip on picking up old wood!

  16. Image for Susan Susan

    Oh would've been all bets off with me, too, had I seen that telltale frass underneath old wood I had brought inside, so I don't blame you at all for getting rid of it immediately. You can treat infested wood with something called Boron 12, but it requires that you drill holes in the wood in order to inject it...who wants wood with a bunch of holes drilled into it? Nah...your method is best...making new wood look old is the safest way to go...and you do an amazing job of it, KariAnne...these signs are fantastic! I love that you used a paint colour just slightly darker than the white gives a very subtle effect...Imma gonna havta try this one for myself! I'll be using new wood, too...I've got enough mouths to feed already without giving up my furniture to more...hehe!

  17. Image for Kris Kris

    I'm always fearful of bringing "friends" in to my house. :) We were in Gatlinburg in June ... if only you had gone to Sevierville then!!!

  18. Image for Miranda Miranda

    I've started avoiding old wood as well. Especially really old wood, as tempting as pretty old windows are on the side of the road. We've had a stressful experience with old lead paint since we purchased our old (but beautiful) home and now I'm super paranoid about it. There are lots of precautions you can take, but like you I'm just going to stick with making new things look old :) The bugs would have done it for me as well!

  19. Image for Michele Riggsbee Michele Riggsbee

    Oh my goodness, I've often thought about that with salvaged items. My other concerns would be lead based paint or bringing pressure treated lumber inside as that is what most old picket fences and some newer ones are probably made of! So taking new wood and making it look old is definitely a much safer solution. Love the sign, so perfect for a bathroom. I purchased the chip board letters recently and have gotten a few things to turn into just to find the time to do it. Take care!

  20. Image for Susan Takeda Susan Takeda

    That is what my wise husband always tells me when we see discarded wood by the side of the road. He just knows it is full of unwelcome critters.

  21. Image for Toni Toni

    I hate to say it but you have to be careful with furniture too.....a knew a friend who got a darling sofa free on Craigslist....wasn't long before she found out why! The frame was infested with some kind of wood beetle that began showing up once it was in her house....probably why it was free to begin with!

  22. Image for Polly Polly

    Cute story and cuter signs!! I have plans to see you in November when you come to Indiana!! Sooooo excited! Take care, see you soon!

  23. Image for Marian@ Gathering Branches Marian@ Gathering Branches

    Love those road side buggers! Yuck. But the replacement signs are great! I hope you have the best time at your sweet tea meet n' great! Wish I could go. Someday. Someday I'll crash your gig. Have a happy day friend, The Other Marian

  24. Image for Rosanne Rosanne

    That creepy crawling thing happening to me too! I bought the perfect recycled chippy wood buffet, you know the one..... Brought it home, filled it with all my treasures. A few weeks later there was a perfect little pyramid of sawdust. I swept it up. Next week the same perfect little pyramid of sawdust reappeared...then it dawned on me! eek! I sprayed that thing with so much bug killer! And now...haven't seen a perfect tiny pyramid in years!

  25. Image for Nikki Gwin Nikki Gwin

    While it would be awful if a ton of ants or something got all in your car, I do not shy away from old wood. Never! I just spray it with bug spray, outside of course, and then after a day or two wash it off with the water hose. Problem solved! And you don't wash away any beautiful old paint that way either. Your signs are great! :) gwingal

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