DIY Antiqued Wood Photo project

I love this project, I’ll say that right up front.

The style might not be everyone’s, but I love it. I love the antiqued look and how the sepia/BW photos give it a rustic old feel. It literally goes with NOTHING in my home, but it was fun to make and so cute.

The idea for this came as I scoured the internet for Valentine’s Day projects for my husband. I came across the site that listed 30+ great ideas for projects to make a man. Ultimately I settled on this one from It was just what I was looking for: unique, fairly simple (I’ve never mod podged before or distressed anything!) and cute. While I for sure took inspiration from this great project, I did do things slightly different to fit my desires because, well…that’s what I do!

Things you’ll need:
Wood block
Mod Podge matte finish
Paint (I used two colors but you could use one and natural wood)
Laser cut wording design
Paint brushes
upholstery embellishments
Picture mounting hardware (if desired)

Let’s Get Started!

Head to your local craft store and pick up your materials.

I spent about $20 at Michaels for everything, I’d imagine Hobby Lobby or Joann have the same items with fairly close prices. Also, most craft stores have coupons frequently to save some extra money.

The first thing to do is decide what color is the color you want to show through when you “antique” it. For mine I did dark underneath and light on top. If I had it to do again, I probably would’ve reversed it and just let the natural wood show through. When you decide, paint the wood with your bottom color.

A nice base color but applied unevenly. Since I was trying to make it look aged anyway, I didn’t mind.

I only did one coat of the under color, and let it dry fully before moving on. At this point I decided not to follow the previous suggestion of using Vasoline to cover parts of the under color before painting the top. I tried it on one side and found the vasoline difficult to remove, and the spots it left didn’t look like organic wear, but weird blobby holes in the top color. (See below) So I did the spotty coat of gray and then painted a thin coat of white on top, taking time to wipe off the surface to thin out the coverage. That sounds weird, but remember you WANT it to look aged and weathered.           

After wiping down some of the white color, you can already see the beautiful almost marbled effect. (Keep in mind the top will be covered by photos so the previous Vasoline spots are no big deal.)I was super stoked! After the white layers have dried, I gently sanded the top and sides a bit to help the under color show through even more, and I especially sanded all of the edges.

Next step is to gather your pictures and decide how you want to lay them out on your board. After laying them on the board, I really didn’t like the colored ones, they looked odd against the gray and white of the board. There are multiple ways to do this, from one picture to a full overlapping collage. I decided on six that would fit around my laser-cut word “family” (which I painted grey and glued down earlier).

*side note here: I did not like the sharp edges of my new pictures on the antiqued board. Seemed (again) to not fit. So I “distressed” the photos a bit by rubbing the blades of a pair of scissors back and forth along the edges to wear them a bit. I also used a bottlecap. It roughed the photos up nicely and gave them a better worn look.

Once you have them laid out, paint a layer of mod podge on your board, and on the backs of your photos (I laid them face down on wax paper to do this). Then you will lay them out on the board and smooth them down. I learned some great tips about using Mod Podge from After they dry–about 20 minutes or so–paint a good coat across the surface of the pictures and board top. I did not paint over the “family” sign, but around it. Make sure to cover the photos, especially the edges. I let this completely dry for 24 hours before doing a second coat. Mod Podge dries clear, don’t worry 🙂

After its dry, I took some leather hardware accessories that I found at Michaels and used those to decorate by hammering them into the corners of each photo.

Once this part is done, add the mounting hard ware and voila! You’re done!



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