Thursday, August 11, 2011

Chalk It Up

This project has been such a big hit in our house.  I love it because it was easy, hubby loves it because it was cheap, and kids love it because it's so much fun!  Actually, this is such an easy DIY project, you could probably figure it out just from photos alone.  

I love the look of chalkboards in the kitchen.  I have seen them on islands, refrigerators, pantry doors, you name it.  They are so stinkin cute and so functional!
I am not normally a huge fan of having the chalkboard paint applied directly to the wall.  Except in this example, because it looks amazing!
I really wanted one for the kids to use, so I wanted it to be big enough for all of them to use at once and I wanted it hung low enough for them to comfortably reach.  I thought it would be a great place to color, or practice spelling words, etc. 
I love seeing it in a chunky frame or a painted serving piece, something 3 dimensional and unexpected.  I was browsing through my favorite spot - the 90% off aisle at Hobby Lobby - and found big, chunky frames for 90% off!  They have them there quite a bit, often times a customer will order a custom frame and it doesn't work out for one reason or another so HobLob will mark them way down since the odd size is hard to resell. 
I knew I wanted one for a breakfast bar area between our kitchen and family room, it's really too narrow for bar stools so it's been a big empty space, making it the perfect home for a framed chalkboard.  I found a chunky, gold, ornate frame, the biggest one I could find to fill that space.  The one I chose was originally $280 marked down to $28!  Next stop was Lowe's, I was able to find a smooth, thin piece of plywood and they will cut it for you to the exact size you specify. The frames are marked with the size of the opening, not the size of the entire frame.  So my frame opening was 31" x 40.5", and their cuts are so exact, it fit like a glove.  Particle board or plywood or something similar will not work because the wood will start to splinter as it gets used and erased numerous times, ask me how I know!  So, on my second trip to Lowe's I purchased a piece of hardboard, it's the dark brown stuff used to make pegboards but it is completely smooth with no holes in it, it was about $9.  The piece I chose is actually dry erase material on the opposite side so when I get sick of all the chalk dust I can flip it around and they can color with dry erase markers instead.

Getting the chalkboard surface was just a simple can of spray paint, $8 at Hobby Lobby.  It is also available as a brush on paint, but that takes more effort.  Next, I stapled it into place in the frame inset.  I was trying to use what I had on hand and my staples were not long enough to go all the way through the hardboard and into the frame, so I stapled them perpendicular to the edge of the frame.  You can see in the picture that one prong of the staple is in the frame and the other prong is in the hardboard, I just put about a million of those suckers in and I'm confident it's not going anywhere, even if the kids are coloring too hard.  I hung 2 heavy duty picture hooks on the wall and added 2 D-hooks to the frame itself and it was ready to install.
Next, you have to "season" the chalkboard.  Just rub the side of a piece of chalk all over the board and cover it thoroughly, then erase.  Skipping this step will leave your little artists first masterpieces permanently etched on the chalkboard.  
I am thrilled with the finished product!  It took a few hours of my time (most of which was waiting for the paint to dry) and $45.  I think it looks great in the space and is also a fun, functional item that has a big impact on the room.

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