Faux Pallet Sign Cornice from Styrofoam

I am part of the Make It Fun! team.  I received compensation and complimentary products in exchange for creation of project ideas.
I first saw this barn wood window treatment on At Home on the Bay when we were in the process of moving into our new house.  We just have the one window in our kitchen, and I knew I wanted something similar for that window.
Since there is a light fixture above our kitchen window, I needed a cornice instead of just a barn wood sign.  That  meant there would be a little bit of building involved.  It wouldn’t be incredibly difficult, but it was enough to make me put the project on the back burner for a while.
When I heard that our October Make It Fun! design team project was to make a faux pallet sign from styrofoam, the gears clicked into place.  Instead of harvesting, cleaning, and building a cornice from real pallet wood, I could use my Make It Fun! foam to create a light, power-tool free cornice.  I really wanted it to look like real wood though, so I knew I had to get the process just right.

To make a Faux Pallet Cornice, you will need:
measuring tape
StyroCutter Plus tool or serrated knife
medium grey paint
dark grey paint
printer paper
masking tape
accent color paints
foam connectors
First I measured my window to get an idea of what size the faux cornice would need to be.  As it would happen, the size of my Make It Fun! foam was the perfect size for our kitchen window.  The foam sheet I used was 36 7/8” by 12” x 1”.


I decided to make the 12” width of the foam into three 4” boards.  I marked off the measurements, traced the lines, and cut the foam with my StyroCutter Plus tool.  The StyroCutter easily and cleanly cuts through the foam, but make sure you wear a mask and work in a ventilated room because it gets stinky.  You could also use a thin serrated knife to cut through the foam, but be prepared for a bit of cleanup afterwards.
Whichever method you use, do NOT fret over achieving perfectly straight lines.  The slight imperfections in your cutting line will add to the realistic look of your finished project.


Next I used a paint stick to apply Smooth Finish to the tops of the foam boards and the visible ends and sides.  The Smooth Finish gives the foam a smooth finish (go figure) that is easily paintable.


After the Smooth Finish dried, I painted on one coat of Valspar’s Montpelier Ashlar Gray paint, a warm gray color.


I painted the tops of the boards and the visible ends and sides.  I missed one board end when I was applying the Smooth Finish.  You can see the difference that it makes when it comes time to paint!


When the first paint coat dried, I mixed up a 1:1 ratio of Martha Stewart antiquing medium and Old Village Antique Pewter paint.  I brushed the mixture on, and then wiped it off with a paper towel IN ONE DIRECTION.  By wiping the antiquing mixture off in one direction, I added the impression of a wood grain to my foam boards.


Without letting that first antiquing coat dry, I applied another coat, this time a 1:1 mixture of the MS medium and more of the Valspar paint.  I brushed it on sporadically along the boards, and wiped it off immediately.  Again, I wiped in just one direction to give the appearance of wood grain.

The antiquing process not only adds depth to the boards, but also brings out any imperfections on the surface of the foam boards.  Any uneven application of the Smooth Finish or any dings or dents in the foam will stand out more.  That’s a good thing!  Pallet wood is uneven and rough; you want your foam boards to be too.


Once the antiquing was done, it was time to attach the planks to each other.  I used a piece of (real) wood to serve as a guide to make sure the foam planks were lined up straight.


I added Foam Glue to 5 toothpicks and inserted them along the interior side of the bottom plank.  I also ran a bead of Foam Glue down the length of the plank.  Then I just pushed the planks together, wiping off excess glue with a damp paper towel.  The toothpicks and glue kept them together securely.  I repeated the process with the top plank.


To hold the foam boards together while the glue dried, and to give the whole piece more stability, I stuck some strips of white duck tape to the back of the foam.
I wanted to add a quote to our cornice, and when I saw this graphic from EatSayLove on Etsy I knew it was perfect for our kitchen.  I always have Pandora on while I cook or bake, and the kids and I dance around and sing.


I wasn’t brave enough to freehand the quote myself, so I taped together some printer paper to serve as a template for the sign.


I sketched out the placement of the quote on the printer paper, and then traced the letters onto the foam.


By applying pressure when tracing, you will leave an impression of the letters in the foam.  I was too heavy-handed here and made deeper impressions than I needed to.


I used those impressions as the guide for painting the quote onto the faux pallet boards. 

I went back with a detail paintbrush to add shadows to the lettering in Old Village’s Navy Blue paint. 
I hit a few spots of the sign with some sandpaper, and then I wiped on a bit of Old Village’s Golden Oak gel stain and quickly wiped it off again.  The whole sign got a coat of Martha Stewart’s Satin Finish to seal and protect the paint.  I chose a satin finish over gloss because I still wanted a weathered look for the cornice.  A gloss finish just wouldn’t have worked as well.
Scrolling back and forth between the last two pictures, you can only see a very slight difference, but I think the added steps were worth it. 


I used my reclaimed wood plank as a reference, not for color, but for texture.  At this point I was pretty satisfied with the look of the faux pallet wood.  I was worried that if I did any more distressing, it would look overdone. 


I measured the distance from the wall above our kitchen window to the point where I wanted the cornice to hang.  I cut that measurement (9 inches) from another 12” wide styrofoam board.  Since my cornice hangs in between two sets of upper cabinets, I wasn’t too concerned with how the side pieces looked.  I gave them a coat of Smooth Finish and paint so they wouldn’t be stark white, but that’s about it.

If your cornice will be visible from all sides, I suggest cutting the side pieces into planks, and giving them the same antiquing and distressing treatment as the front of the cornice.

I used FloraCraft’s foam connectors and foam glue to attach the side pieces to the front of the cornice.


I rigged up a very sophisticated system to hold the sides in place as they dried.
I originally tried to hang the cornice using only picture hanging strips, and it fell down in two days. Urg.  With a little McGuyvering, I found a better solution.  I added some Foam Glue to four floral pins and pushed them into the back of the cornice (the part that would attach to my kitchen wall).
I measured the positions of the floral pins and marked those spots on my wall.  I hammered some nails and picture hangers into the wall to coincide with the positions of the floral pins on the cornice.
Then I climbed into our sink and oh-so-carefully hung the cornice on the picture hangers.  I used some 3M strips to keep the cornice firmly in place.


It was a bit of a trial and error process, but I am so pleased with the final result!
For reference, this is what the Mad House kitchen looked like when we bought the place. 


I think the faux pallet wood looks pretty convincing, and the cornice looks great over our kitchen window.  The sentiment of the sign is perfect for our fun and functional kitchen too.  If you live in a rental, this is a great way to add some character to your home without leaving permanent damage as well.
So, what do you think?  Would you tackle this faux cornice project?

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Thanks,  Jessica
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