How to Decorate With Boat Oars

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Used boat oars have built-in shabby-chic appeal.
Used boat oars have built-in shabby-chic appeal. (Image: JudyDillon/iStock/Getty Images)

For a nautical theme, combine boat oars with a canoe or a display of sailor’s knots. You can also use boat oars in a mountain cabin, beach cottage or your home by the lake. Boat oars are appropriate in a variety of ways, both subtle and not-so-very, as staircase wall railings; a focal-point bedroom headboard, in conjunction with a wall-mounted canoe; or even as a curtain rod. Wooden oars, painted oars or stained oars -- use the ones that work with your home’s design scheme. Measure oars by length including their bladed ends.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape measure
  • Curtain rod mounting brackets
  • Stud finder
  • 8- or 10-foot long boat oar
  • Curtain rod fasteners
  • Two-by-four board, the width of the bed
  • Drill and bits
  • 3 1/2-inch wood screws
  • 2-inch wood screws
  • Staircase railing mounts
  • Fasteners
  • 1-inch wood screws

Boat Oar Curtain Rod

Measure the distance across the window or opening where you plan to use the boat oar in place of a curtain rod. Mark the locations on the wall.

Secure the brackets to either side of the opening so that the curtain moves unhindered across the boat-oar rod. Use anchor or toggle bolts or secure the brackets into studs after locating them with a stud finder.

Thread the curtain onto the oar.

Mount the oar on the brackets above the window, securing them with wood screws or fasteners.

Seaworthy Headboard

Measure the width of the bed and cut a two-by-four to this length.

Locate the studs behind the bed in the wall into which to secure the two-by-four to the wall with 3 1/2-inch-long wood screws.

Transfer the measurements to the lumber. Drill through the flat side of the lumber first with a small drill bit to fit the dimension of the screw shank. Drill out this hole with a bit slightly larger than the screw head, leaving 1 inch of wood. A two-by-four’s small side is only 1 1/2 inches thick. Secure the lumber to the wall.

Mount oars at alternating heights on the lumber so that the flat heads are standing up, with the shanks running behind the bed: a tall, then a short, tall, then short, repeated across the length of the board with the 2-inch screws, fastening them in two places on the lumber to keep them tight.

Nautical Railing

Add staircase railing mounts to the wall through studs or with anchor bolts to keep the railing secure against the wall.

Install the boat oar on the wall of a staircase to act as a railing.

Secure the oar to the railing mounts using the 1 inch or smaller screws; you don’t want the screws to pierce the oar.

Oar Decor Art

Locate the studs in the wall with the stud finder or move to Step 2.

Use toggle or anchor bolts to secure oars to a wall to create a focal point above a fireplace, a television or elsewhere in the living space or bedroom of a home.

Mount the oars so that the flat sides angle up, but crisscrossed to form an X-shape on the wall.

Tips & Warnings

  • The best oars are wooden -- unless you prefer plastic ones -- but you can stain or paint them to match your decor scheme as desired.
  • You can also layer more oars behind a headboard if you add a second mounting board above the first. Use oars of similar lengths and shapes for a uniform look.
  • Scullery oars are much longer.
  • Decorative boat oars make for interesting towel racks in the bathroom.
  • Always secure heavy objects or unwieldy ones such as boat oars firmly to the wall using anchor or toggle bolts or mounted through wall studs. As a railing, you don’t want someone pulling on the railing as they climb the stairs only for it to pull from the wall because of faulty mounting.

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