diy marquee letter tutorial

Marquee Letter DIY

Hello, dolls. I’m finally ready to share one of the many (more to come later) projects I’ve slaved away on in preparation for our newest addition, who I am affectionately calling Peach Baby. We’ve been hard at work getting the nursery ready with projects ranging from making an adorable little baby-sized coat rack, painting the nursery, refinishing a changing table from a consignment shop, and more. (Seriously, lots and lots more, but one thing at a time.)

Now, being a gal who was born and raised in the South, you might think I love a good monogram…. I’m here to tell you that’s not necessarily the case. One or two is fine: maybe on a bracelet or something, but monograms all over the place: not my thing. I know my initials, I don’t need constant reminders. There is an exception, however, and that, my friends, is the marquee letter: the only monogram you’ll ever need!


A friend of mine from grade school, who is a supremely talented designer and very successful blogger, posted a tutorial on a marquee letter a while back that I made sure to take save for later. You can check out her blog, The Hunted Interior, here. I did take some liberties, but I stuck with her general idea. Here’s what you will need:

marquee letter diy tutorial

  • wooden marquee letter
  • paint
  • bistro lights (string of 25)
  • spade drill bits (can’t stress this enough)


I know once people see the words “drill bits” they panic and figure it will be easier to just order the damn light. Don’t. One of these lights can go for upwards of $200, like this one, which is lovely, but I did this one for around $50.

The letter: The first place you can save money is where you order your wooden letter. Don’t buy the first one you see. Shop around. I scoured the internet until I found a 15-24 inch tall letter for under $30. (Coincidentally, the shop I used is gone… Or at least, I can’t get the website to pull up now, so I guess it was meant to be.) So, shop around.

Paint: I ordered a little can of a lovely pale aqua, one of the many colors we’re using in our nursery because I didn’t want the letter to be too loud. It was about $9.

Lights: This strand is from Target (string of 25) at $12. Remember to consider the length of strand with the size of your letter. Note that I doubled up on lights because the strand was too long to only line the middle of the letter in one column.

Drills: Oy. The drills. I thought that the existing drill bits I have would be fine, but they weren’t big enough. Then I went out and purchased hole saws, like I’m some kind of damn expert. Guess what, they didn’t work… But I have them for later. (To do what with? I don’t know. Details.) Then, I tried larger drill bits, but they were for masonry. Whoops. So there’s that. Then finally, I got spade drill bits. SPADE DRILL BITS. It was like the Heaven opened and choirs of angels began singing as I finally sawed through the P.


Now that you have all your supplies, you need to measure out your lights and mark your letter where the holes need to go. Once it’s marked and ready to go, check it again. (Big D would call that an “idiot check.”) Measure twice, cut once. It’s a saying for a reason. Remember to take size and shape into account. The P I used doesn’t have room in some places for lights so there are three bulbs in mine that hang down the back and aren’t included in the letter. (No biggie! It’s hidden so no one would ever see it.)

You’ll need to plan ahead as to where your letter will go. I knew I wanted mine propped on a dresser and not hung, so what the back is doing and how many lights dangle weren’t a problem for me. If you are planning to hang your marquee letter, consider the back. You won’t want a back that is flush, you will want a back that allows space for a lot of cords and the back of the lights.


marquee letter hole markings     marquee letter drill holes     marquee letter paint


So, you marked your letter and now you can drill. Just measure the drill bit you are using will allow enough room for the light sockets. After you have drilled all your holes, you may need to do a bit of sanding and clean up work. It’s pretty easy. Just make sure the part you are painting (I left the back of mine unpainted) is free of any splintering and wood flecks. You will want a nice clean area to paint, so the paint sticks. After painting, let your letter dry over night. Always a good idea.


 diy marquee letter tutorial     marquee letter light string     marquee letter P lit up

Now for the fun dull and laborious part. You must unscrew all the bulbs, place them into the holes, and the screw the bulb in. It takes a little while to do, but don’t pat yourself on the back once you think you’re done because you’re probably not done yet. The lights should be screwed into their sockets very tightly so all of them to light up. I celebrated too early and when I plugged it in the bottom half lit up, but none of the other bulbs were twinkling. Bummer. Just go through bulb by bulb until they all light up. (This is a long process and it will get hot. Also, it hurt my fingers.) Just keep going until it looks like this:


DIY marquee letter


You’re almost done! See all those ugly cords? We don’t want those things within sight, so using the clips on the bulb sockets, take the pieces of the cord that are showing and tuck them under. Once that’s complete, hang (or prop) you letter wherever you decide. (Word to the wise: Unless the bulbs you purchased are “run-cool” bulbs or you have a dimmer switch of some kind I do not recommend leaving this bad boy on long. Too much heat.)


Peach Baby’s marquee letter is propped on an old dresser that I refurnished and converted into a campaign dresser. I didn’t take any before pictures of the dresser and I’m still on the lookout for some eclectic hardware options, so you don’t get to see the whole piece just yet. Sorry, folks. (Plus I’m still not settled on which knick-knacks will be featured along with the marquee letter on the dresser.) TADA!

diy marquee letter tutorial finished product


Be sure to keep up with House of Frost on TwitterFacebook, Instagram,Pinterest, and Google+.


4 thoughts on “Marquee Letter DIY

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s