Swimsuit and Towel Rack from Reclaimed Wood

diy swim suit and towel rack with barn wood

To our guests at our little cottage lake house, this will be a swim suit and towel rack, quite simply a place to hang dripping wet beach items so they don’t get my floor all wet (I’m thankful already).  However, to those in my immediate family, this towel rack has a bit more meaning.

scrap wood upcycled

This piece of wood has been laying at the base of a tree, overgrown with weeds, for well over ten years.  As soon as we dug it out, my sisters and I all remembered where it had come from.  Our cottage is half a block from a little lake, and years ago, you could claim the area of lake near your home and put in your dock.  For years, my dad put our dock in the same space, and one year he built a bench on the shoreline right in front of our dock.

After doing this for over 15 years, a “beachowner’s association” was formed, and regulated all shoreline activities.  They made us remove the bench and then created a “dock waiting list” for anyone in the community around the lake.  Once we purchased the house from my dad, we lost all dock rights (it only can pass between spouses, not children) and now we are on a waiting list – a waiting list that is about 15 years long.  Yep, perhaps when my girls are in high school we’ll have a dock.

But for now, we consider ourselves blessed to have a property so close to a lake.  Plus, we don’t really even have a real boat, so a dock might not be as useful for us as it is to some.

Right, back to the towel rack.  This piece of wood was the back to the bench my dad built.

diy swim suit and towel rack 2

So now, it sits on display on the side of the house – a fond memory and a functional way to keep things tidy around here!  (I know, there is blue paint on the screen door.  That door is one of the last things that needs to be replaced, so we didn’t worry about neatly painting around it.)

scrap wood coat towel rack white wash

Here’s how it all came together.  I started by whitewashing the board.  There are lots of different ways to whitewash, but for this one, I dipped the tip of brush in water, dipped the brush in a little bit of white paint, dipped the tip of the brush back in the water, and then painted it on the board.  When it firsts goes on, the color usually looks whiter than when it starts to dry, but if you think it looks way too white, just brush on a little more water.

hand lettering on signs

I free-handed the text with chalk, and then painted over it.  Two coats of polyurethane will help it to withstand the outdoor elements.

scrap wood with schoolhouse hooks

I love the look of these 1920/30s style hooks, but because I didn’t have any in my current collection, I bought new ones at a hardware store for $1.50 for a pack of two.

spray paint metal hooks doorknobs

Because they have a metallic coating, I roughed up the finish with 50 grit sandpaper.  Although spray paint advertises as “self priming”, I find that it sticks much better, for much longer, when I sand the surface first.  I use this same technique when spray painting doorknobs and vent covers, and the paint seems to withstand use fairly well.


spray paint metal hooks

I spray painted the hooks (use a piece of styrofoam or drywall to stick the hooks into so they stand upright) and then screwed them into the wood.

DIY swim suit and towel rack with scrap wood

DIY swimsuit and towel rack

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