Download free templates. Cut "Dead & Breakfast Inn" sign, backing, and "Vacancy" sign boards to size, referring to the templates. Assemble the signboard with screws on the back.
Mix a 1:1 solution of water and gray or dark brown latex paint to create a color wash. Dip a trim brush into the wash, wiping off the excess. Drag the brush lightly along the wood surface to give it an aged look. (Let the texture of the wood to show through the paint.) Let dry for 5 minutes.
Dip the second trim brush into white latex paint to pick up a scant amount of paint. Dry-brush white paint on areas where you want the color to be the lightest; let dry. Dry-brush dark brown around the edges of the boards; let dry thoroughly.
Trace the text designs from the downloaded template onto tracing paper. Transfer using graphite transfer paper. Use a pencil to darken the graphite lines if necessary.
Use a liner brush to paint the lettering onto the board in black acrylic paint.
Insert the eye hooks to the top of the board and attach to the chains for hanging from the signpost.