Welcome to Little Houses California…

california marquee diy wood metal lights

…Such a lovely place…(Oh no we’ll all have the Eagles song stuck in our heads this Sunday)

I had already been inspired by a few other fantastic blogs and this pile of lights at the Sacramento Antique Fair

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I knew I wanted a marquee for a blank wall in our living room. However I didn’t want letters or a simple shape. Until one innocent Sunday afternoon…

Margarita + Sunset Magazine = Random DIY project

california marquee 013 I fell head over heels in love with the California Marquee Sunset magazine featured. Unfortunately based on the size and quality of it, I surmised it would probably not work with our budget or even the size of our house. Therefore with a little liquid courage, and a whole lot of project scraps…Could this be done?

(Don’t worry I did not try to use a hand saw and tools with a margarita on board) I only traced a large California picture onto a piece of cardboard and cut it out.

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Then I traced the picture onto wood scraps we had left over from our previous fences and roof flashing backsplash. Making sure to number each piece on the back so I could put all of them back together after cutting.

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The next evening I hunkered down, and using a clamp and coping saw started the painstakingly long process of cutting out the shape of California by hand. (By the second shape I was asking hubby for a scroll saw or dremel for Christmas)

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Once all the pieces were cut out I put them back together again, flipped them over and lined them up. Then attached two more pieces of scrap wood to the back and drilled them together with hubby. Mistake#1: We should have used metal brackets instead of wood so the pieces would’ve laid flush and tighter together.

california marquee 009 (However we didn’t know how the project would turn out so maybe using scraps was the most economical at the time)

Next came the roof flashing, we cut the rectangles in half creating a 2 1/2 inch border surrounding the marquee. Be sure to wear thin leather gloves for hand protection when working with roof flashing. Then we hammered the roof flashing pieces into the wood with little nails. We also hammered the flashing gently to mold to the contours of the California coast.

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Mistake#2 -As you can see we should have taken off the barcode stickers with goo-be-gone, before adding the roof flashing.

We next found there were uneven joints between the flashing, so we added a second layer of flashing to certain areas, (bending it slightly to create tension, then clamped pieces together with a horse shoe nail)

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Mistake#3-Also we should have drilled the holes for the lights and picture hanging hardware at this point, before adding the metal but again we had no clue if this project was going to work.

With a string of cafe lights leftover from our wedding, we used 7th House on the Left’s fabulous tutorial for drilling out the holes, and installing them. Except we took out the bulbs not in use and stapled them to the back of the wood. (Careful to not staple the cord) We’re saving the extra bulbs just in case a light or two burns out.  Then we tucked the cord behind the wood.

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Adding picture hanging hardware, both at the bottom of California and top, we hung it in the living room and plugged her in. If you noticed, we strategically placed lights to represent our favorite California landmarks and cities.

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Of course its very unfinished and even a bit industrial looking, so we added a shelf  behind the couch and some items around the house to make it work. (Pssst…But it was also to hide the light cord)

diy california marquee living room decor california marqueeAll in all a very interesting, at times frustrating, and full of mistakes, but nice to have our own custom art piece made by hand. (And for nearly free…priceless!) Hopefully this inspires others to make their own custom art pieces.california marquee diy wood metal lights