DIY Project: Motel Sign Night Light


With August coming to an end, it’s time to squeeze in those last-minute summer road trips! When I was younger, my family would go on summer road trips up and down the California coast. I remember day turning to night; my face pressed up against the window staring at the fleeting landscapes wondering when we’d get to our destination. Night was my favorite time. It was quiet and I would stare out at the city lights and the neon signs. Max had been talking about vintage Motel Postcards and reminded me of the glory of those old neon signs. I love me some vintage signage -the fonts, the shapes, the lights, Oh my!- but on the road they were my guiding lights. In this simple DIY Nite Light, you can bring the Road trip nostalgia home! Full instructions after the jump. – Mar



  • images (Great collection of Vintage Motel Postcards here)
  • printer
  • paper 
  • cardstock  
  • dollar store nightlight  
  • wire  
  • scissors  
  • wire cutter  
  • glue



1. Resize images keeping in mind the size of your night light (My ideal image size was around 3” x 3”) and Print, regular paper will do.

Glue to Cardstock   Cut it Out

2. Glue images to cardstock, (avoid gluing the bottom of your image) and cut out.

Cut 2 lines    Make the slit

3. Score two lines on the bottom of the cardstock (not the motel image) to create a slit for the wire

4. Add some accent cut outs that will shine brighter, we cut out “MOTEL” and used pins to poke holes where the marquee lights were

Wrap around twice Twist and Bend Slide wire in

5. Wrap wire around the base of your night light, twice for stability and twist the two ends together a few times

6. Bend the end of the wire up, and trim

7. Attach the sign to your night light, slide the two ends of the wire through the slit you made in the back (soo easily interchangeable)

Plug in and enjoy your very own Motel Sign to light your way in the night.




Love this! Munger Moss hotel is actually right down the road from me!


So cute! But I am afraid the bulb, low wattage though it is, could set the cardstock on fire. Check to make sure it is not getting too warm!

Mrs. Vallejos

ditto the cardstock / fire fears. Still – much potential. I adore signs from hotels of this era. We stayed at the Safari Inn in LA just because of it’s cooler than cool sign.

Diva T

So many creative things to make, so little time. Hey add some colored light gels too.


I live right by the klose in motel! it is super sketch, and for sale, if anyone is interested.


The paper/cardstock that close to the bulb would be my concern too, but this is really cute :)


I wonder if using a nightlight with a plastic cover over the bulb itself would 1) protect the paper and prevent fire possibility and 2) still let enough light through to illuminate the cutouts?

Debbie Lee

I LOVE IT!! I save special motel signs to! (1950s) Can you share the motel signs you used – (cropped and ready to print) as a pdf file? or would that be a copyright infringe? no since in reinventing the wheel! lol


Really nice inexpensive gift idea and/or project..even for kids. Calling all nieces and nephews.

Justin Ternet

Nice ! To spread the light, I usualy use a sheet of frosted transparent plastic, and make some mirors with aluminum foil. ;)