Personalize your entryway with a distressed, hand-painted wood plaque

By Katie Kauss
Updated February 23, 2010 12:45 PM

“Beware of Dog” signs? So last century – not to mention unwelcoming! But walk up to a door with the words “Home is where your PUG is” and you know you’ll be greeted by lots of slobbery kisses.

Cincinnati’s Craig Leach, 63, is putting that message out there with his personalized plaques. Each sign is made using a wood plank and is hand-painted with primitive colors, creating a distressed look. He stencils or screen-prints the design onto the surface and then ages it “by sanding it and scratching it and putting some holes in it.” What’s new is old looking instantly!

Leach has been designing signs for 30 years, but it was only two years ago that he received a special request that started his pet project. “Somebody asked me to make one for their home that said ‘Home is where your golden retrievers are,’ ” he tells

But he immediately faced a problem. “I looked at it and I said, ‘Ya know, I can’t put golden retrievers on there,’ ” he says, referring to the length of the words. “But I can put dogs and cats in plural or singular.”

Then he began abbreviating breeds – Labrador became Lab, Pomeranian was shortened to Pom – on the 14.5-in.-by-9-in. signs and he found success with proud pet owners on eBay and others who discovered his personal Web site. His customizable signs recently became available on and so far, he says, business is booming.

Check out Leach’s Etsy shop to order a personalized sign (only $13!) for your home.

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