Fruit and Luggage Labels for Vintage Backyard Decor

 Posted by on Mar 21, 2016 at 8:15 AM
Mar 212016
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Fruit and Luggage Labels for Vintage Backyard Decor

by Tam Francis

1950s paint ad, couple painting their house vintage backyard ideaI don’t know about your part of the world, but here in the southern U.S. the weather is turning warmer, and people are planting and sprucing up their backyards. I wanted to share one of my favorite projects. How to make a boring wood fence beautiful and add a little vintage backyard decor.

Our house was surrounded by a plain slatted-wood six foot fence. I wanted to grow vines or something pretty to cover the faded grayish brown wood, but hubby said vines would rot the wood faster and increase our water bill–which was true, by mid-summer we’re on water restriction.

I had to find something else to inspire me and keep with my 1940s, 1950s theme inside and out.

outfield vintage ads

Vintage Outfield Ads

The Inspiration

I happened to be watching an old movie with a baseball scene and noticed the ads painted on the wooden fence surrounding the field. I’d always had a thing for old luggage labels, (buying reproduction ones to decorate my scruffy vintage luggage). I had an epiphany. What if I painted them six-foot tall on my fences, like the ads in the movie?

Off to the internet I went. While looking up luggage labels, fruit crate labels popped up. I was instantly smitten. I’d always been a crafty girl, sewing, cocktails, baking, and of course dance, but I was no artist. I had to find the kind of labels I could paint.

How To

But how to get them on the fence parts to paint them. Like I said, I’m no artists, but I could paint by number. I found an old overhead projector. Picked out blocky, simple designs, and waited for dark. After much trial and error, I found it easier to paint the background with the solid background color first, and then draw on the design with a sharpie. The pen flowed better and didn’t get stuck on the raw wood.

The next morning I would wake to see how my tracing went and begin my mural journey. As I grew more comfortable with the process, I picked out harder designs. I even got the kids into it, letting them paint the big blocks of color. Not bad for a non-artist, and it made the backyard so much more inviting and interesting. Everyone loved to take pictures with the murals as a back drop.

Puerto Rico label vintage decor

Original Vintage Label

puerto rico mural vintage decor

Finished Vintage Backyard Mural












Vintage Backyard Mural Supply List

  • Wood Fences
  • Overhead projector
  • Scanned luggage labels
  • Craft Paint
  • Discount gallons of house paint
  • Cheap brushes
  • Rollers for background
  • Sharpies
  • Tape
Cal Oro butterfly label vintage backyard

Original Fruit Crate Label

caloro mural vintage backyard

Finished Vintage Backyard Mural










Helpful Tips

  • Start with easy color blocked pictures
  • Buy up discount gallon paint cans
  • Paint solid background first
  • Tape transparency to overhead
  • Use paint-pens for detailed outlining of letters
  • Wear bug-spray
  • Make an outdoor cushion to sit/kneel on

It took me about 5-7 days to complete each one, if I worked on them for 4-6 hours a day. Before we moved, I had completed almost a dozen murals. Now, you can create your own vintage backyard decor.

southern special vintage label

Original Vintage Label

southern special mural vintage backyard

Finished Vintage Backyard Mural








Hopefully I’ve given you some easy, fairly inexpensive ideas for making your dreamy vintage backyard.


How do you make your outdoors reflect vintage style? We all love the old iron furniture, but what else do you do to make your lifestyle extend to vintage backyard style? Anyone have a victory garden? Interesting sculptures or accessories? Have you ever used the repro luggage labels? Where else do you fit vintage living into your life?

Tam Francis, authorTam Francis is a writer, blogger, swing dance teacher, avid vintage collector, and seamstress. She  shares her love of this genre through her novels, blog, and short stories. She enjoys hearing from you, sharing ideas, forging friendships, and exchanging guest blogs. For all the Girl in the Jitterbug Dress news, give-aways, events, and excitement, make sure to join her list and like her FB page! Join my list ~ Facebook page

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  8 Responses to “Fruit and Luggage Labels for Vintage Backyard Decor”

Comments (8)
  1. Hi Tam – did you do those in your Texas backyard too? I saw the ones in Calif and they were way cool :)

  2. Just gorgeous !! I need to find a vintage large chicken or rooster design to put on the back of my barn, or sheep or veggies :) You are very inspiring !

  3. Does this mean you are going to turn our weekly writers’ critiquing circle into a Tom Sawyer Painting Party?

    That is a great post and I bet your yard looked fantastic with the painted fence.

  4. Neat! Invite me over to see it one day. Okay.

  5. Tam – I’ve done a post just for you (posted a photo of my vintage label). Come see!

    • Please post a link of your label. I’d love to come see and am happy for others to link to you :). And I did want to include more photos, but it would make the post too long. I will make a gallery of all of them and link to it. How’s that sound?

  6. I really can’t express how much I love this – it makes me want to dance around the room. How excellent!! The combination of vintage-ness, the beauty of the labels themselves, plus the fact that you so brilliantly figured out how to get the label design onto the fence, and the wonderful aged colors you chose… WOW!

    My only regret is that you didn’t post a photo of the fence in its entirety… I’d like to see what it looks like with all the labels running alongside each other! If you can manage it, please do!

    I have a special vintage label, framed, hanging on our livingroom wall… it’s for Valencia oranges, Caledonia brand, and it’s got a lovely tartan background with purple thistles across it. We named our cottage “Thistlebright”, to honor our Scottish heritage, and that label is one of my favorite decor items.

    Another wonderful thing your label fence reminds me of is the scene in “It’s a Wonderful Life” where Mary has put up all those vintage travel posters in the old Granville house, to make a honeymoon place for her and George Bailey, and the two cops helping put up the posters “of all the places George wants to go”.

    You are definitely a “sister from another mister” in my books, girl. I’m so glad I found your blog! Feel free to pop on over to mine sometime, if you get the notion. There’s some vintage-osity going on there, too.

  7. Those look awesome! Love it!

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