I don’t know what it is about marking our height against the wall, maybe the visual movement through time. Maybe it is pride, maybe nostalgia, maybe fear of the future. I don’t know, you might have to talk to a shrink about that one; but, no matter the reason, I for one have been wanting one ever since Harper was pea-sized. When thinking about the nursery, her height marking the different stages of her life was always lurking somewhere on the edge of my imagination. Then, when she was old enough to stand it started taking concrete form.
I realized that we may not be in our little bungalow forever, so I wanted something that could come with us instead of markings on a door frame. Dark, stained wood made sense with the other elements in Harper’s room, but I wanted it to be a little more interesting than just a plank of stained wood. There are about 950 gorgeous DIY growth charts out there in Internet Land and I found several with the dark wood and the white stripe combo and fell in love. It isn’t gender-specific (in case there are more babes in the future), it is classic so hopefully will still look good in 20 years, but it is still a little bold and eye-catching.
Eric made this beauty with plenty of supervision from me, Harper, and Roo from the windows since sawdust and paint fumes are not exactly baby friendly. There are a few things that we would do differently if we made this again, so we’ll point you guys in the right direction. Now, without further ado:
RUSTIC GROWTH CHART HOW TO
- 1x8x8 piece of wood
- Wood stain in color of your choice (Minwax Wood Finish in Provincial used here)
- White paint in matte with primer
- Speed Square or ruler with right angle
- Painters Tape
- Number Stencils 1 – 6
- Foam Brush
- Temporary Spray Adhesive
- Mouse Sander
- Galvanized Wire for hanging pictures
- Wire Anchors
- Screw with Wall Anchor
STEP ONE: TRIM AND STAIN
We picked up a 1x8x8 of pine from Lowes for about $15 which Eric then trimmed down to 5 feet 6 inches long. He sanded the sides and edges down so they were nice and smooth.
Then we used the same stain (Minwax Wood Finish in Provincial) that we had used on the shelves in Harper’s closet which you can see at the end of this post. To apply, be sure to wear gloves and use a clean white rag that is unlikely to shed. Then simply rub the stain into the wood, being sure to move fairly quickly. Then let dry at least 24 hours.
Here’s a close up of what the wood color is. I wanted something light enough to still be able to write on with a black permanent marker.
STEP TWO: MEASURE IT OUT
Using a regular ruler, mark every six inches on both sides of the wood.
Next use your 90 degree angle to be sure you have straight lines at every six inches along the board. Be sure you also get the edges.
STEP THREE: ALL TAPED UP
Now you’ll need your painters tape. Place the tape along the line you drew on the STAIN side of the line. So when you come to the first line, place the top of the piece of tape along that line. At the second line, place the bottom edge of the tape along that line. Then place a piece of tape crossing out that section so that you don’t accidentally paint where you want the stain to show. Repeat along the length of the board and don’t forget the edges.
STEP FOUR: BRING OUT THE BRUSH
Now you’ll carefully paint your stripes onto the board. We used some ceiling paint we had lying around and I do like the matte finish. However, after needing 3 coats of paint, we recommend getting something with some primer in it to speed up the process.
STEP FOUR: RIP OFF THE TAPE AND START COUNTING
So this is where we failed to take some pictures but it didn’t actually work out that great so they wouldn’t have been very helpful anyway. I picked up these stencils from Michaels and a couple of the Martha Stewart “spouncer” brushes which is what we used for the wall stencil in the office. Each letter and number comes on its own card which measures 3.4 x 4 inches. I punched out the numbers 1-6, and had to use an exacto knife to trim up the edges a bit. I did like the number font choice so I would still recommend using the Martha Stewart even if you have to do some extra trimming.
After I had the numbers punched out, I gave them to Eric. He laid them all out and kept the distance from the left edge of the board and the white edge below even for each number. Then he taped them to the board and used the spouncer (again needing multiple coats of paint).
Even though this picture is after the board is already sanded, you can see the relationship of the numbers and the edges. (You can also see where the previous owner ran the car into the garage!)
TIP: This is where we want to change the instructions. Instead of taping the stencil down, I would get a can of the temporary spray adhesive and use that on the back of the card so that there is a much lower chance of paint seeping under the card. Eric would also recommend using a basic foam brush instead of the spouncer for better coverage and a smoother look.
STEP FIVE: SAND IN THAT RUSTIC LOOK
When Eric was done painting, I’ll be honest I didn’t really love the look. The white sections had heavy stroke lines from the paint brush and the numbers were kind of bubbly messes from the texture of the spouncer and where the paint had creeped under the template. Then Eric took the sander to the board for the rustic finish and everything came together. So if you’ve finished painting and feel like giving up, just wait until after you’ve run the sander over everything! It also lightened up the stained finish even more so I’m confident that we won’t have any trouble with using a black pen over this.
This part is pretty artistic and there’s no way to really describe how much sanding you should do. It’s really up to you and what you think looks good, just make sure you stop often and gauge if you’ve done enough.
STEP SIX: ADD THE HARDWARE
Eric debated on how to hang it because we want to make sure that Harper doesn’t accidentally pull this down onto her head. He ended up going with a wire loop since it seemed to have a little more flexibility. He used some standard galvanized wire and metal loops that came in the picture hanging kit that I got for college. He measured to be sure that both of the hooks were parallel with the top edge, then used pliers to cut the wire and tightly wrap the wire around the hooks.
STEP SEVEN: HANG YOUR GROWTH CHART
We ended up hanging the growth chart in the hallway instead of the nursery because that stretch of wall seems so blank and it looks so good out there! Measuring was a little bit tricky because the chart has to hang with the bottom edge exactly 12 inches from the floor, but Eric worked that out. Because there isn’t a stud in the center of that wall, we made sure to anchor the screw into the drywall. Then we just hung it up!
So that was Harper’s “Something we made” Christmas present, though we decided to wait until her first birthday to put her first height measurement on there. Thank goodness I only need to wait until Thursday because every time I walk past it I just want to grab that baby and mark her height.
I think she’s pretty excited too.