Easy DIY: Painted Oars

Our House

These painted oars are such a fun and easy DIY! I’m always on the lookout for accessories and decor items for the lake house. A few months back I’d stumbled on some gorgeous artisan hand-painted oars that were really unusual but were upwards of $300. Each. GULP. So I figured, why not turn this into a DIY? And I am SO happy with the final product! Apparently you guys are too, because the photo I posted on Instagram had a ton of comments on it!  So here’s how it all went down. Keep in mind that I didn’t exactly photograph this thing as a step-by-step DIY, so apologies in advance. As always, my mantra is just go with it.

Detail of hand painted DIY oars for lake house - www.pencilshavingsstudio.com


  1.   unpainted oars
  2.   washi tape or painter’s tape
  3.   acrylic paint
  4.   paintbrushes or foam brushes
  5.   gesso (optional)

I sourced the unfinished wooden paddles from Nautical Seasons. From what I could find, they had the best price and the sizes that I wanted. I ended up purchasing 4 of the 46″ paddles, and they are perfect. I envision these being mounted on the wall in the living room at the lake, so I wanted them to be pretty sizeable.  Grand total was just over $100 and they arrived very quickly.

The next step was to get an idea of what I wanted them to look like. The hardest thing about decorating a beach or lake house is keeping it from getting too crazy theme-y. But I realized I was initially attracted to the artisan paddles I’d found because of their bold designs and different color schemes and my gut said to go with it. So I sketched out a few ideas for the designs and assembled a bunch of acrylic paints that I’ve hung on to for years. My color palette stayed pretty tight with a total of 5 colors.  If you wanted the final product to be super glossy, you could definitely mix some gesso into the acrylic.

ONE IMPORTANT NOTE: keep in mind that once you’ve applied paint to the unfinished wood, you are committed. So there’s kind of no turning back on this one. You can definitely touch up any errors once you’ve pulled the tape up, but fend those errors off by taping it really firmly. And obviously, wear clothes you don’t mind getting messed up as acrylic also does not come out of fabric. Like, ever.

Detail of hand painted DIY oars for lake house - www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

I used washi tape to tape off the designs after penciling out the initial designs and then got to work painting with foam brushes I also had laying around. Initially I was a little underwhelmed with the finished product and then realized that they were too simple; they needed more detail, more color, more lines. So I threw caution to the wind after the first layer dried, and started adding other lines and layers. And then when I finally pulled all the tape off, I was thrilled with the final product.

Detail of hand painted DIY oars for lake house - www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

They’re not perfect, but then again, I’m rarely ever about perfection when it comes to a DIY. They’re bold, colorful, and I can’t wait to get them up on the walls. The raw wood against the bright color is the perfect balance to me and will play off the natural wood accents throughout the living room.

pencil shavings studio carlton landing-8

DIY: Painted Oars by Pencil Shavings Studio www.pencilshavingsstudio.com

I’m sure if you are way craftier than me that you could finish out the project with some kind of varnish or stain or something. And wouldn’t these be fun in practically any color scheme? ::sigh::  Maybe I’ll go into the paddle-painting business. 🙂

with love,

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