My World of Tile vintage sign-painted sign

vintage-sign-paintingI made three trips down to World of Tile during their liquidation sale. In the wake of this once-in-a-lifetime, bittersweet adventure, I was so exhausted that I never did write about all my loot. My favorite purchase: Seven (and there were 12 in all, read on!) great big, never-used vintage signs — all hand-painted by sign painters from back in the day. I recently had one of the signs framed, and I hung it up in my mudroom. The photos don’t do it justice, but here’s a try.

Viewing tip: Once page fully loads, click on any image and it should double in size on your screen. If the plugin is working, you also should be able to click the right or left of any photo to proceed forward or back in a slide show. To return to the story, click somewhere off the photo or hit Escape.

vintage-sign-paintingSo how often do you get to write: “I styled the mud room yesterday”?

vintage-sign-paintingAbove: The muddy coral colored chairs are vintage, nabbed out of an estate sale years ago. They are very comfortable and fit the space perfectly. As you can see, the sign coordinates the two principal colors in the room — the aqua of my Geneva kitchen cabinets and the coral of the seats — perfectly. Also, In all the years the mudroom has been in place (we carved it out when we renovated the kitchen about 10 years ago), I have never had any art hanging in that spot. Voila! The Retro Decorating Gods delivered this gift unto me.

vintage-sign-paintingThe chrome canister next to the mudroom seating holds Astro’s food. The vintage rag rug is estate sale loot, too. 

vintage-sign-paintingAbove: Hard to see exactly, but the frame is a simple L-shaped piece of molding that sits around the sign — the picture molding is wide enough that you can create a gap between the edge of the art and the start of edge piece of the sign. This is one of my favorite framing solutions for textural art. The sign has been laminated onto thick black board. There is no glass — we wanted to see the texture of the hand-painting. The friendly team at Miller’s Art Supply in Pittsfield, Mass., did the framing. I love them. It was a little under $200.

vintage-sign-paintingAbove: I recently found this Lagardo Tackett whale cookie jar at Finder’s Keepers, a wonderful little vintage store in Lee, Mass. If you’re nearby — even, driving along the Massachusetts Turnpike, it’s five minutes off Exit 2 — be sure to stop in. Have lunch across the street at The Starving Artist Cafe. Or, if it’s dinner time, the lasagna at Timothy’s is wicked awesome.

I keep Astro’s doggie treats in the Lagardo Tackett cookie jar. The jar makes me very happy, while the cookies makes him very happy. Dear Husband love the World of Tile sign. Everybody’s happy!

Above: Even the boots are vintage. You can find everything at estate sales!

The story of these wonderful signs

vintage-sign-paintingYes: There were 12 of these signs! Over the course of my three visits to World of Tile, I probably spent… 20 hours… going through all the rooms — an estimated 100,000 mostly underground feet of them (!) — multiple times, poking into every corner, nook, cranny, and even the rafters some times, too. During my second visit (I think it was), I met up with my friend Brie Dyas. She is a mega-fan o’ the vintage, so I had tipped her off to the sale, and she went multiple times, too.

vintate-sign-painting-1She and I were poking around a small, sort of hidden room full of lots of stationery supplies. Way up top of one shelf she spied something long and flat wrapped in kraft paper — it was almost invisible because the color of the kraft paper was the same color as the wood shelf. I hiked up, pulled down the stuff that was sitting on the bundle and handed it to her to move away, and then carefully brought the big package down.

We peeled back the kraft paper … and both had the wind knocked out of us. Pristine World of Tile hand-painted by sign painters signs! We bought them, of course, and split the stash between us. I accidentally got seven, while Brie has five. I may be up for selling the rest of mine, but shipping will be a PITA, since they are fragile — the substrate is some sort of heavy posterboard and the front will dent and rip and stain easily if not handled with care. In fact, on my seven signs, none of the fronts is “perfect”, there are scratches and what not. But you know me: I love me my patina, the imperfections are what make for the perfect!

vintage sign paintingvintage sign paintingI scored many other bits of advertising ephemera from the World of Tile sale. In addition, the images above were in a small four-panel brochure that Ben Sander aka Brini Maxwell found a hand full, nabbed and mailed. I was so excited about them that on his next trip to WOT, Ben nabbed me a big box full! Thank you B aka B — that was SO KIND of you! As you can see from the scanned closeups I made from the brochure, World of Tile was giving the sign painters lots of business back in the day. Oh, to have seen it in its prime. Give me a time machine — this place, circa 1960 — will be on my list!


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


Get our retrolicious free newsletter.


  1. midmichigan says

    Geez, that’s a very cool sign and it goes well. Those boots were really popular and they were well made too. I had some for years. I think I remember the company embossing their “Red Ball” logo somewhere on the boot, maybe the back of the heel or on the sole.

  2. Jay says

    Before I read your commentary, I looked at the photo of the mud room and thought, that Pam has the eye for stuff; the sign is well suited for the space it hangs in and the sign colors coordinated with the room colors which naturally you went on to explain like wise. Advertising and promotion was different back in the day before computer generated graphics. Your patience in waiting to come across something suitable to hang on the wall paid off.

    • pam kueber says

      Thank you! When I bought the signs, I wasn’t even thinking where they might go — I just wanted that World of Tile ephemera! When I got home and started contemplating where one might go — this location was perfect!

  3. Marta says

    As great as the rest of your house is, I think I love your mud room best. Serious coveting going on here.

    Are the boots from the same company as Red Ball Jets? I remember coveting those back in the day, too.

    • pam kueber says

      Thank you! I actually have a little more decorating planned for the mudroom — stay tuned!

      I also need to dial up my photography skills / effort. These were all taken with natural light, which was actually quite dim. I added fill in Lightroom. I need to get out the light kit….

  4. says

    So great to see that sign out and displayed..and it fits in so nicely. Love your sharing the backstory of finding it too. What a fun adventure to be able to shop the closing of that store!

  5. lynda says

    Looks great. The fact the sign lets you “relive” the thrill of the bargains you found makes it even more fun. It just works in the space.

  6. says

    Those signs sure were a good find. I tell ya, it pays to look in the nooks and crannies, under fixtures, and behind stuff. You never know what treasures are hidden!

  7. Andi says

    Pam, I love this! Size, shape, color and proportion all add up to “meant to be” for this sign and your space—it *makes* that area! (Can’t figure out how to italicize or bold)

    Plus, the memories it evokes must be wonderful, if a little bittersweet. World of Tile never had a better friend than you!

  8. Scott says

    Love the sign, the mudroom, and the activity of styling the mudroom, proof that there is no area of our homes that are not worth our full attention.

    One of my obsessions (compulsions?) is vintage phones and phone books so of course my eye went immediately to the phone number, DR. 6-7750. Still using letters yet having the full 7 places helps triangulate the year a bit, but “DR” as you can imagine is a tough one to research.

  9. Carol says

    Love your mudroom and how you styled it. My DH has a collection of metal signs and a few cardboard advertising signs. All vintage with Nehi in the kitchen (Radar O’Reilly, grape), and the Lucky Strike guy in the den. There are many more, Uncle Sam Wants You and a fallout shelter sign in the hall. Snapshots of our lives every time we walk by them. I also love the repurposed cookie jar for the dog. When my Grandmother died, I requested her jadite fireking bowls from the kitchen. I had to have them because they were my bowls as a toddler when visiting her house. I remember eating cereal with a baby spoon from them sitting on the “highchair” that was white painted wood with a foldout step and shiny vinyl seat. Years later my amazing little dog Tessie ate and drank from them for 17.5 years. They are back in the cupboard and I eat snacks from them. Sorry for the ick factor, they were washed every single day! They are my HAPPY bowls and I will never be without them.

  10. 52PostnBeam says

    Pam I love all of this … except … except! That room is not styled until you remove the huge packaging label thingy* off the front of Astro’s food canister. Let the chrome shine in! Thank you.

    * sorry, paper labels on merch is a pet peeve, and if they aren’t removed early they can really get stuck…

    • Mike says

      Know what gets stuck labels off? Believe it or not: coconut oil. Yep, just rub it in, let it sit awhile (5 minutes or so), and the sticky gook will come right off. Tried it myself on the advice of a video blogger, and it works!

    • pam kueber says

      “a pet peeve” hahahaha

      yes, that label has been there… five years. i hear ya. i’ll put it on the list. shoot me.

  11. Mike says

    A seriously cool mudroom you have there, Pam. The photos of the samples reminds me of a long-gone paint store that looked pretty much like that. They mixed paint before the days of computer technology… and always mucked it up a bit. But that was the charm of the place, and there were sales people who were always too happy to help you. Good old fashioned customer service, huh? Another mid century modern classic, that.

  12. Mary Elizabeth says

    Great use of a vintage sign, Pam! It makes your mudroom fun and cool. Did a quick search to try to find the name of the exchange “DR” in Springfield, NJ, and couldn’t find it on the data base what it stands for or when it was replaced by the numbers. However, I was able to add other exchanges from the 1950s and 1960s that I remembered. If anyone is interested, search on “Telephone Exchange Name Project.”

  13. Joe Felice says

    There’s still a World of Tile here in Aurora, Co, but they don’t carry anything vintage or retro. Bummer. I’m ramping up to installing the diner in my dining room, and need 4×4 turquoise tile.

  14. Alan says

    Joe: Jasco tile, just down a ways from World of tile has 4 x 4 turquoise ceramic tile (other colors too). I’m about to go there to order about 200 4x 4’s myself in turquoise. I was there a few months ago. They have them. Alan

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *