A DIY Vintage Bus Destination Sign – Beach Cottage Exclusive!

Mon 25th, Jan, 2010

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So this is gonna be one of those long posts, ones where I ramble…you get bored and roll that mouse down through the pictures…while I waffle on…

It all started a long long time ago.  In fact when I was still in the Old Country.  I came across some old bus blinds in a junk shop.  Hmm, I’m likin those.  But I walked away not really sure what I would do with them.

Now, sugarbums, I would clutch them to my breast, do the treasure hunting dance and run, run, run as fast as I could back to this old cottage.  Put them on the wall, open a beer and stare at them, with my feet up, in gleeful thrifting ecstasy for a whole evening.


However, I have not come across real ones here in Australia, though I sure have not stopped looking for them, for four years.  Certainly I’ve come across imitations of them, I’ve seen them on Ebay & stalked auctions wondering whether to bid or not, viewed them on blogs and I’ve even seen them made into cushions.  Ahem.

I’ve come across them in shops in Sydney too, but since the real budget kicked in and is still very much in force right down under here in Beach Cottage Land, I haven’t even tempted myself by looking at the price tag. As with most things in my life, if I like it, it probably won’t be cheap. ( Edited to add:  since writing this post I found myself in a shop up the beaches, and spied the price tag of $1000.  Yes that said one thousand.)

What I didn’t expect, on my way to pick up the kids from school just before Christmas, was to see one quietly sitting in the corner of the most lovely florists that I pass regularly as part of my day to day life.  It sniggered beautifully at me from beside the stairs…

I stopped dead in my tracks, staring through the Christmas decorations and flowers.  Sigh.  Sigh.  Sigh.


I’ve been thinking about that unreal bus blind since then.

And then the other day, driving home from a sporting event, musing, I thought surely I must, somehow be able to make one myself.  Think out of the box.

So I thought I’d try black paint on an old frame and print off my own bus destinations.  Beaches ones.


And I did just that.  Printed off a fictitious bus route around Sydney’s beaches….

And stuck them to an old thrifted frame.


And placed it on the wall in the kicthen…

I love the almost retro feel to it, hinting of days gone by when one might run for the bus in T-Bar shoes and utility skirts, the hand-typed feel of the font, when people sat at a chair with a clunky old typewriter with a wheel and a ribbon not pulled a Blueberry ;-) out of their pocket…


And the days when people got on buses and trams…I remember as a young girl commuting up to the big smoke, transfixed by those iconic London buses…I lusted after their red forms queued up at the bus depot at Victoria, I loved their curved bottoms, with the platform for anyone to hop on as it lurched along…and the ticket inspectors, more often grumpy than chirpy and nearly always Cockney, but mostly offering the term of endearment (or not) ‘love’ to most everything they said….where you going love?…that’ll be 1 pound fifty pence love…you wanna get the Number Fifty Eight bus to there love…

There’s certainly none of that here, and perhaps I am some kinda nostalgic fool…alright I definitely am…I can’t deny this to me has some kinda vintage-life-gone-by appeal…somehow conveying a slower world of timetables, and shopping baskets, where one’s main concern was to set out for a ride on a bus.


I wonder what you think?  Don’t forget the new Entry Conditions of this tatty old beach cottage…no lurkers, hahaha!!

I have to say, it turned out a whole lot better than I thought it would.   I wondered how the black would go, but in fact I think it anchors things quite nicely…I love the way it’s nautical and a little bit whimsical…it kinda speaks to me old beach vintage days….coastal towns…salty breezes…sand sandwiches…

It was easy peasy, even for those with the patience and craft skills of a knat and best of all it cost me under $10, so I was, oh, approximately $990 in pocket.

You can find more pictures, and a step-by-step tutorial of how I did it here.

Hit that comment button people and lemme know


remember, ya saw it here first lol!

you can find other Do It Yourself Beach Cottage Tutorials, including an old vintage table in our bathroom here, some shutters I made myself out of fence posts here and an old wooden ladder I madeover here.

{ and if you want some more vintage bus blind inspiration, go and see Michelle, at Retrophenia tell her I sent you and she’ll give you a nice little discount }

and thanks to Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for her Met Monday event

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98 Responses to “A DIY Vintage Bus Destination Sign – Beach Cottage Exclusive!”

  1. Kimberly Knoess says:

    Okay – here goes:
    1) I’m so happy the suspense is over!
    2) I love, love, love it!
    3) I admit that you educated me on what a bus blind is(head down and looking ashamed)
    4) I’m so disappointed that you aren’t giving the sign away, but you could make a fortune selling these!
    5) I really like the black
    6) Any chance I could get the strawberry and spinach salad recipe?

  2. Flick says:

    I did not roll through! I read the whole thing and loved it all. I love the finished product, I thought it was one you saw in a magazine!! I have old Melb. tram timetables, which are huge, but gorgeous and it reminded me of them, black with the white lettering.

  3. alaurajane says:

    I loved reading your post,, and yes I read it all….lol great job on your Bus sign board.. it looks so wonderful on your wall, love the bus photo… have a great week….


  4. Janelle says:

    ok, so I have seen these in magazines for like you said, hundreds of dollars…even $1000!!! It looks fantastic and what a great idea. I grew up going to the northern beaches for summer and I love looking at your board remembering all the times I spend over there and the fun I had. Lovely way to reminisce. xo

  5. D says:

    I love it! You did good.

  6. Donna says:

    That looks pretty darn good. And so simple…you are really clever! I might even give that a go. Cooler here today as well…thank heavens. Have a good one! Delurking Donna from Brissie

  7. Blythe says:

    Fabulous… Even from the sunny Gold Coast, it makes me miss Sydney beaches. Even though I was an Eastern Suburbs girl, still love the Northern beaches! xx

  8. Carla says:

    fantastic idea sarah! I’ve seen these in magazines too but being as skint as it sounds like you are at the moment it is out of the question!

    However I think I can manage a project like that, I was thinking of doing something similar with the “keep calm and carry on” poster I lust after or even the updated one “Panic now and freak out!” or my fave “Procrastinate now and panic later” or maybe all three!

    So good on ya for thinking outside the box ;o) certainly got the juices flowing around my mind…….

    carla x

  9. Alicia says:

    wow that is fabulous! I have seen a few on my travels around Aus this last month and you are right, really silly prices. Think I will give one a go myself but with the yarra ranges in mind. YAY!
    Time Worn Style

  10. Rene says:

    Oh Sarah I love it and couldn’t for the life of me figure out what it was going to be yesterday when you gave us a peek. As always here at Beach Cottage, looks great!

  11. DeAna says:

    I qualify as a lurker, I think, as I check your blog every day, but have only commented once.
    I’m like you, a do-it-yourselfer. Much easier on the pocketbook, and a satisfaction that comes only when you can say “I did that”.

  12. Megan says:

    I love this idea!

  13. Kerri says:

    Hi Sarah

    I’m a definite lurker but my new year’s reso is to comment more, particularly on blogs like yours. What i love about your blog is your generosity; you blog to share the things you love with the many like-minded souls out there – just like me! Love the bus scroll, and i have to say i’d be a bit peeved if i’d spent a motsa on an original, when there are so many copies around nowdays. Kinda makes you wonder whether it would even be worth spending up big on the real deal – no-one would even realise it was original! Thanks for sharing and keep the good stuff coming!

    Kerri x

  14. Hi Sarah


    Thanks for sharing


  15. Brigid says:

    Here in the States, the vintage NYC subway signs (seen in the movie Monster-in-Law) are very pricy. If memory serves, someplace like Pottery Barn was selling repros but too costly! Thanks for the tutorial-I am going to send link to your blog to a dear friend (a former NYC dweller) who has been coveting those signs-she is now going to have a little project!!!

  16. Lori says:

    Sarah, That is the coolest sign!! Love it.

  17. Karen Newton says:

    I live in beautiful Carlsbad California (North San Diego County) and just LOVE your blog. This was the best idea and I’m already thinking of creating a beach bus line sign myself. Thanks for the inspiration.


  18. really easy and so effective! looks great

  19. Christine B says:

    That looks Fantastic – what a great job you did! I am very impressed with all that you do and it is so nice that you share it. Love coming to your Beach Cottage via your Blog , it is always so nice and summery- like being on holiday!
    Here is a Dressing to add to a plain salad to make it divine! sorry it’s a bit late.

    Herb Dressing

    In Whizz-
    2 eggs
    ¼ Cup Wine Vinegar
    1tsp salt
    1 tsp sugar
    1tsp Mustard
    ½ Cup fresh herbs – I gather about 2 cups of fresh ones to chop up - Basil, parsley, mint etc
    1 clove garlic
    Chop/Whizz these ingredients together then add
    2 cups oil slowly.
    Put in a gorgeous vintage jar and keep refrigerated.

  20. Lyn says:

    See I told you I knew…it looks great but can you tell me something..what is going to happen to the beautiful painting/print you replaced this with???? waiting to see just what you do with her…
    Have a great day Sarah

    Lyn xxx

  21. Bambi says:

    Oh,darn I was going to guess a Vintage Bus Destination Sign on your last post but I just didn’t de-lurk!!! :o)
    Well, not really….but I do love it!!! I really turned out great!

  22. Bambi says:

    Ooops….meant to say “It” really turned out great!
    That’s why I do better as a lurker!!!

  23. Alison Gibbs says:

    OMG what a clever girl you are.
    It looks fabulous. I am off to see the tutorial.

  24. Megan says:

    Okay – sorry – but I’m still confused. What exactly is a bus blind? Is it on the bus? Is it in the bus station? You see — I’m here on the east coast of FL where we don’t have public transportation — well at least not that we can figure out, so I have no idea what you are talking about–but the pictures are great–and I love reading your posts so maybe that’s all that really matters. I think I’ll check out that tutorial and see if it clears things up for me.

  25. carol says:

    Never seen anything like it here in the States! When I was a little girl we used to take the bus while shopping, but no one does that anymore. Brings back good memories for me too!

  26. Kathy says:

    Lovely. I see these things around Melbourne, too, with hefty pricetags and usually from trams rather than buses. Because trams generally traverse the inner suburbs, my local version of this would have a much more gritty, industrial feel about it (unless you displayed the southern destinations of the number 96…lol…). I love how you’ve made a beachy version.

  27. Love it!!!! Perfect and way better than a Dell From Hell public event sign! ;o) I really want to make one of these – and I think I just might!

  28. Daphne says:

    wonderful wonderful wonderful :)

  29. Mel says:

    You clever chicken – you are in love with them like me! Did you see the one i made out of the tea towel?
    I just bought a few more – cushions i am thinking?? Email me if you want the ebay seller’s name /details etc as they are only 15.00 each. shabbybeach@hotmail.com Cheers, Mel xxx

  30. Michelle says:

    OH I was right ! Awesome job Sarah I might have to try it myself!

  31. Isabella says:

    Oh goodness, there is just no end to your brilliant mind! I just love your blog, Sarah. I too do not comment enough and thank you for showing us all the lovely things you do. I know it must take a lot of time to write, take photos and share, but I for one appreciate it so much! As a child, I lived in a university city of 200,000 in the USA Midwest. For just a thin dime each, my friends and I could ride all over town on the city buses, even transferring to another bus at no extra cost. What a heady feeling of independence for a young girl! I’d like to make a sign like that with names from that city, my hometown. You have one of the most inspiring blogs out there!

  32. Vicki K. says:

    That looks fabulous! The black is so stunning in your white surroundings. I was most surprised when you wrote about painting the whole frame – glass and all. Well done!

  33. Sarah, it’s darling! THanks for posting!


  34. Pam Mundy says:

    Ok, you have convinced me to de-lurk. LOL! Hi, I am Pam. I subscribe to your blog feed and adore your blog. You inspire me daily. Thanks!

  35. pendy says:

    Love it (the possibilities of getting on that bus!!!) and love the black.

  36. Kim Michael says:

    Fabulous! Simply Fab, You deserve a beer after saving all them $$$$$.Cheers! Kim

  37. Bella Casa says:

    Well…since I hadn’t ever heard of a bus blind before {I needd to start traveling more} I couldn’t have been more wrong with my guess of your transformation. I do like what you’ve done with that frame and picture very much. It suits your house. Yet another great idea for the beach cottage!


  38. Julie-Ann says:

    Sarah it is fantastic. They are so popular. We have several people on the Decorating Forum looking for them but they were all so expensive.

  39. Kat says:

    I have wanted one of these for forever, but have cringed at the price tags! Thanks SO much for the info on how to make one!

    Kat :)

  40. Honor Bowden says:

    Wow!!! Well done. I love that you’ve made it your own… nice blog by the way, have been reading for a few weeks now. : )

  41. Mona Baldwin says:

    What a HOOT!!!! You did a great job, and I expected no less from you when you said you made it!!! I am smiling at you and for you..warm loving hugs from Vermont!! Mona

  42. Gina says:

    Hey Sarah – Love It!!! And the story why you love it so much…

  43. desiree says:

    well done Sarah…! the picture of the trolly reminds me I want to go back to Lundun….

  44. *Alex* says:

    So fantastic! I love it, I will have to make one of my very own from your tutorial. Simply lovely.

  45. I am totally bemused….!

    what tha?

    I have admired these signs in our local shop/s over the last couple of months…
    & featured in magazines…

    BUT never dared to buy any as too expensive…let alone I dont NEED ANYTHING MORE in my house..

    You are truly ONE CLEVER CHICKEY BABY!!!

    love it….xx andrea

  46. Tiff says:

    Now that is cool. You have inspired me to do something similar with an empty wall in my place. Thanks : )

  47. Amy says:

    GREAT idea. I have lusted after a sign like this for a few years at least. This is by no means a promo, but the ones I really dreamed about are available at http://www.printdolls.com.au/page/the_prints.html – very pretty, but also very expensive. Far outside my “first home owners budget” actually. This post may just be the inspiration I needed to get creative and MAKE something for my home! Thanks!

  48. Nadine says:

    Brilliant idea. I love it!

  49. Paddy says:

    You are a generous genius


  50. Maria Carr says:

    Love your blog. So glad I discovered you!

  51. Mary Harper says:

    Hi Sarah,
    Fantastic idea! You are so clever. Look forward to more wonderful ideas.

  52. Linda Jacobs says:

    Thanks for adding that picture of the bus to help explain what a bus blind is for us in busless areas!

    It reminded me of riding one when I visited England back in ’05.

    I love the names you chose, too! I remember some of the towns we drove through: Yanworth, Fossecroft, Perrots Brook, Ampney, Chippenham, Chicklade. Hmmmm….I’m thinking I might have to make a bus blind, too! I’m off to your tutorial!

  53. I am jumping up and down with excitement.
    I LOVE these things and have them on my wish list for this old living room when it gets fixed up. This is positively the absolute coolest project I have seen anywhere in a very very long time!!!

  54. Barbara the CT Granny says:

    Lurker here. I love all the things you do with nearly nothing so I start my day here with you. I’m a grandmother in Connecticut in the US so I have quite a few years accumulation that I can ‘shop’ without leaving home. Thanks for all your inspiration.


  55. Dleahy23 says:

    So I was really wrong in my guess. I am so glad I was. I have never seen one of these before. Here in the states the buses only have one sign( which is usually wrong). This would be so fitting here at the Jersey Shore as all the beaches are right in a row. Thanks for the great idea I’m off to read the tutorial. As usual Sarah… brilliant!

  56. siggie says:

    Wow, I learn something new every day. Never knew until today that bus blinds are such a sought after vintage item! (makes me wonder where I’ve been sometimes)

    I love the ingenius way you came up with an alternative to spending 1000$ for one. Your comment about thinking outside the box hits the nail right on the head. I’m going to take it and run with it!


  57. Melissa says:

    Sarah, Love this idea, but I’m so not crafty. Please excuse the following questions: you mentioned the type of font, but what size did you choose so that it shows up so clearly on the wall? Also, did you make your background print color black in order for it to turn out this way and did your printer just naturally leave a white border around the paper as it printed? Apparently, I’m not crafty OR computer savvy!!

  58. Kathy says:

    I. LOVE. IT. ’nuff said.

  59. jane says:

    so many ideas are waking me in the wee hours of the night (morning?) and i try to figure out my next project for homesweethome. do you ever rest? entertaining, painting, shopping or “researching” what is out there…so impressive.
    i lived in gidea park for a bit (a village of romford) and took the bus here and there (but mostly the tube to the city). what i fondly remember: the greens, with cows and public footpaths everywhere. through the traffic. and the signs for the bus to home are pure comfort! in fact, your sign caused me to google your area for the beaches you list. saw some beautiful photos, (not as nice as yours!) so i feel i got a tour of your area. sigh! lovely!
    i have an old ladder like yours, which i am considering placing in the guest bathroom. (right now it is in the yard) (aging) have you secured it to the wall at all? doesn’t look like it.
    and i’m thinking about shutters for my ALUMINIUM windows. (atleast they work, silver lining and all…) this is long enough for several lurkers to get credit. sorry! jkj

  60. Love it! I haven’t commented before either, but I’m here all the time. (I’m shy, hahaha) Can’t wait to see what else you’ve got up your sleeve :)

  61. Quinn says:

    I love it in your kitchen! Though I wouldn’t have known what it was…..

  62. desiree says:

    Love it! What a great idea–

  63. Wow, Sarah! Perfection again at A Beach Cottage!

    I remember hopping aboard buses to get to work in Shreveport, Louisiana, way back long ago. Somehow, not the same as the one above!

  64. Sharon Forward says:

    Hi Sarah
    Again another brilliant idea! It looks great and like I said once before, I went the opposite way round to you – an Aussie in good ol’ England so I get where your coming from on both scores. Thanks for emailing the other day I felt quite priviliged lol and yep decorating with a budget and thrift store finds is um interesting. If I get fed up I just have a look at the good ol’ beach cottage pictures to cheer me up and more inspiration. K
    Keep up the good work!

  65. Sam says:

    I love, love, love this!!! It looks classic, nostalagic and the black and white just goes. There’s a pub in Sydney – I forget which – where I saw some old tram signs high up on the wall – I liked that – this reminds me of them.

  66. What a little ingenuity and paint can do!!!
    Good for you!
    I too have been looking for old bus or train schedules. (here in the USA) Not very affordable for me, either.
    I’m about to do mine on wood.
    I’ll let you know how it all turns out…

    p.s. I am SO envious of your weather right now. I could use a little sand between my cold white toes.

  67. fairmaiden says:

    It’s fabulous! I like how you put it…”it sort of anchors things”…I liked all your ramblings here, such perfect use of words, like reading a favorite book. All of your nostalgia of the Old Country, “love, this, and love, that” so romantic really. It’s not like that here, in the States, either. We could sure use some of that here.

  68. Andi says:

    I didn’t realise you meant destination roller blinds when I began reading. I thought you meant those corrogated blinds the drivers used to let down at night on the window between the cab and the passengers. I thought ‘what’s she want one of those for?’. Now I understand. Your board looks really good. How about a London one for old times’ sake? xx

  69. Kristina says:

    “The treasure hunting dance.” Love it! I am intimately familar with that one, it feels so good.

    Sweetfern Handmade

  70. Carole says:

    Well done you. Chanced upon your blog today – so glad I did. You know the old route masters are gone now. They are sadly missed.

  71. Judy says:

    Hi Sarah
    Loving it!

  72. Lara says:

    Well, aren’t you crafty! LOVE that sign. So glad to find your blog–it’s beeee-u-ti-ful!

  73. Mel says:

    I hate that my comments on your posts are so repetitive BUT… I love it!!! I think a bit of black anchors a scheme :)

    Mel xxx

  74. Jenstc2003 says:

    So lovely! Your projects are always an inspiration and this is no exception.

  75. Lesley Coleman says:

    Sarah – sensational what else. Lesley

  76. debbie says:

    Amazing, I love the bus signs. I am also amazed at how many people you have managed to de-lurk including myself. well done Sarah.
    I mangaged to pick up a tea towel of my local area in Victoria at our local Mitre ten for $5. I am just convincing hubby to make a frame. I was going to do it like a canvas but, now seeing the black frame is so stunning…………….

  77. Hi Sarah! Very cute the Bus sign. I’ve been folowing you on Facebook(maybe a week from now), but I’m now blogging too! It’s good to feel the warmth from Australia around here!
    Have a wonderful week,
    :-) Li by Creamy White

  78. Teri says:

    I clicked on over here from Met Monday intrigued by what a bus blind was (being from “acrossed the pond” from the “Old Country” and all). I love it! It turned out darling. I love the price tag as well.

  79. kathi says:

    oh my sarah….you have out done your creative self! i love it! but what i really love is that you figured out a way to get what you wanted with a budget in mind. AND that you created it yourself, which i love because it is truly YOU now. soooo inspiring you are!

  80. Autumn says:

    DIY art on the cheap–my favorite! I’ve got some old tools that belonged to my husband’s grandpa that I’m still figuring out what to do with them.

  81. Su says:

    Brilliant – love it, now off to look at your tutorial and copy LOL!

  82. Morning T says:

    I LOVE it Sarah~ bravo! I’m off to check out your tutorial now…the black looks fab with all of your white too. :-)

  83. Jackie says:

    Wow! it took me longer to scroll clean down to the bottom of the page to leave a comment, than it did to read the post lol

    Anyhow, love it love it! gotta ck out the tut!

    Thank you for a lovely post as always!

  84. Linda says:

    Sarah your artwork looks great!

    I also love the look and was lucky enough to find a black and white teatowel printed with lots of great Victorian beach towns, most of which we have enjoyed family holidays!
    Popped it into a white Ikea frame and hung it on our family room wall.

    I think it looks great and it is a relevent piece of art to our family!

  85. Linda says:

    Forgot to say the teatowel cost $6 and frame about $30

  86. Helen says:

    ohh I adore this idea, lets you pick your own destinations :D

  87. Cheryl says:

    I love your sign. These kinds of retro sign art are big nowadays. I really like the way yours came out. I am off to look at your tutorial.

  88. One word for you Miss Cleverpants….

    AMAZING !!!!!

  89. Alicia says:

    Love your blog and this idea! I have seen these too and think they are utterly charming! Thanks for the tips!


  90. Kristin says:

    I am in love with your blog, so happy I came accross you! Thank you, Kristin

  91. Puff says:

    Never would I have thought of this in a gazillion years! The creativity in you is just simply amazing!

  92. Sallie says:

    I have seen these at shows, but their prices are way above me. I was wondering if doing one using a white window roller shade would look authentic. The material the authentic ones are made of seems similar. At the Country Living Show, a dealer had made pillows out of authentic ones and covered chairs and ottomans with them for clients. Great looking but a bit pricey for that use and the real ones can’t be cleaned.

  93. Bob Lilley says:

    I love your blog! I was looking for some design ideas to flesh out my Luxury Homes page the other day and left rather disappointed. I came back to your blog for a totally different reason and – Voila – here is exactly what I was looking for!

    Nice work all the way around – content, theme, presentation!

  94. If you want to buy real estate, you will have to get the loan. Moreover, my mother commonly utilizes a auto loan, which supposes to be really reliable.

  95. So cute! Our cottage is under construction but mo ing in shortly. I love all of your DIY posts.

  96. Love this, I came across your blog and love it! It’s freezing in Canada right now and it makes me happy to see sunshine, waves and cottage living!

  97. Poppy says:

    Great idea Sarah. Reminds me of getting on what I thought was the right bus as a child. Only to watch the driver change the blind and therefore destination, 5 minutes or so into the journey. So I would have to get off and go back to the bus stop and start again. Not such good memories, so maybe I won’t be making one of these……………………