Posts Tagged ‘chalkboard paint’

Framed: A gilded chalkboard tutorial

Here’s what no one tells you about chalkboard paint. Before you get to start scribbling and writing on the surface…


Eleanor Roosevelt quote Gilded Chalkboard Frame


You must do nothing. But sit and wait, staring at that beckoning blackboard, conjuring up all sorts of doodles and drawings and inspirational sayings you could be creating in white chalk, colored chalk and any combo in between–if only, you didn’t have to wait three days* for the surface to cure.


Yep, that’s right. Three WHOLE days. When we painted the wall in our living room (which you can see here),  it was agony. I had stocked up on chalk and was so ready to make my mark. And then…I read the part about “Conditioning and Use” on the side of the Rust-Oleum can. Darn, darn, darn!


Rust-oleum paint


I’m not a good waiter. At all. But it’s not just the three days. Once the wall has cured, there’s conditioning left to do. The instructions add, “Before writing, condition the surface by rubbing the side of a piece chalk over the entire surface and erase. This will leave a coat of chalk dust that will provide the best erasability.”


What? Turn my pretty blackboard grey?


Yes. In other words, if you don’t want your first attempt at writing a line of prose with all the lines that turned out super slanty to become a shadow of failure permanently etched onto the surface of your chalkboard stage, you must wait three days AND condition.


Cured chalkboard wall


Sadly, the high drama of the super blackness goes way muted to a kind of swirly grey. If your squint your eyes it’s almost like an amateur abstract painting. Almost.



So when I decided we needed a gilded framed chalkboard to hang on the wall in our office, I was so happy to discover Home Depot sells these…

Home Depot Chalkboard Panel


Pre-fab black chalkboard panels! Not only do these mean no waiting three days for the surface to cure, but you don’t even have to prep and paint the darn thing yourself. Easy peasy. So they must cost a bundle, right? Hardware/craft stores like to punish lazy people. Nope, I’m happy to report at $6. 88 (before tax) for the 2′ x 3′ x 3/16″ panel, it cost less than it would to purchase an unfinished board with the same dimensions (those were $5) and a pint of chalkboard paint ($10 per pint). Quick calculation: $6.88 versus $15.  And don’t forget the value of not having to spend the time painting it and waiting for it to cure. Sold!


Gilded frame


Once I purchased my panel and brought it home, I measured the opening of my frame and marked the chalkboard panel for my cut lines.



Measure frame


With JB’s cautious presence and helpful hints about how to avoid pain and/or injury, such as “Use grips to clamp the board down,” and “Keep the strings of your hoodie tucked in or you could strangle yourself!” I cut the board using a circular saw.


Cutting the chalkboard


When the panel was cut to size, I popped it into the back of the frame. Then I hammered brads into the frame to keep the panel snuggly in place. The frame–a $20 Salvation Army score–was, thankfully, already wired on the back so I got to skip the step of adding screw eyes and wire.


Hammering brads


Back of frame with brads


Then it was time for hanging. And graffiti-ing.


The whole process took less than an hour before I was able to begin writing on my new chalkboard. One hour versus three days? Home Depot had me at prefab.


PS, I decided to conduct a test on the scrap I sawed off to see if I wrote directly on the chalkboard, without conditioning its surface by rubbing it with a side of chalk, if the marks would really etch. I hoped it wouldn’t because I prefer the strong black background of the unconditioned chalkboard to the grey conditioned look.


While I was at it, I tested chalk from Pottery Barn versus the 99 Cents Only Store.


Conditioning test


(You are my witness. I’d say the answer is:  the difference is in price, not quality.)


Conditioning test results



Ta da! They both wiped clean. Well “clean” in that grey swirly sense of a chalkboard. No etching after all! I can’t say if this is specific to Home Depot’s prefab chalkboard panel that had who-knows-how-long-to-cure before I purchased it or if they use a special paint that plays by different rules than Rust-Oleum. But, the bigger question for me was, could I ever entirely revive the board to the true black background I preferred?




Etching test results



*Note: Krylon’s Chalkboard aerosol paint only requires 24 hours for initial use but still recommends conditioning your surface with chalk after it has cured. While the aerosol is great for small chalkboard projects (I used it for a silver platter I turned into a chalkboard sign and was happy with the results), for painting walls be sure to use the brush and roll-on variety of chalkboard paint. Use a paint roller to apply paint to the body of your wall and a brush for the detailed areas such as where the wall meets the ceiling, the baseboard, and/or an adjacent wall that you don’t want chalkboard-ified.


Have you experimented with this? Am I only the only one who was duped into believing you had to condition your chalkboard (essentially turning it gray) or else it would etch?

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The Writing on the Wall: Our new chalkboard wall!

The wall in our living room used to look like this.


Living Room Wall Before




It needed a little somethin’ somethin’. At first I thought that might be grasscloth. But my budget told me otherwise. It said, “Keep looking. You can find something for less money.”


As the painter’s tape in the photo might lead you to (correctly) guess, paint won this contest. But first, there were other contenders.


Like a photo mural wall!





I saw this wall graphic at McConnel’s Ice Cream on State St. and thought, “Bingo! I’ll use a black and white photo, have a company blow it up to the size of our wall, and we’ll stick it up with wallpaper adhesive.”



JB likes jazz so I toyed with the idea of an old, grainy photo from a jazz club. Like this, but less French. Romantic, oui?


French Cafe KissImage via French Culture


The concept that a photo could give the illusion our wall actually receded in space, and thus make our living room appear even larger, was intriguing. But when I considered that photos with persons might also give the (somewhat creepy) impression that strangers were hanging out with us in our living room, I nixed the plan of having people in the photos.


And switched to nature themes. Like a road leading to nowhere.


Road to Nowhere 2

This is actually a wallpaper which you can find here. But it felt a bit desolate.



I do like this birch tree wallpaper, but it is already everywhere….





So I considered a natural version of it, like this.



Birch treesVia Fine Art America


Alas, it felt too wintery to feel right in spring and summer. Darn.


Nothing seemed quite right. I was like the Goldilocks of wallpapers. And I was still stymied by not knowing if I used a photo I took myself, who could blow it up to 10′ 3″ wide x 8′ tall we needed for our wall without blowing our budget at the same time.


REIThis is the photo mural behind the counter at our local REI.  It’s fabulous and fabulously large, but a wee bit dramatic for everyday living room viewing.



In the end, chalkboard paint was the winner. Yes it has been done. And then done some more, but the scribbles and art we’ll draw on it will be our own. Also, while we’re still in the remodeling phase and making up our minds about permanent choices, something that is less of an investment, easily changed–but fun, nonetheless–felt right.



Here it is in all its graffiti glory: our new chalkboard wall…


Chalkboard Wall After


I like that now we can write humongous To Do or Reminder lists.



Here’s the very first thing we wrote on the wall after a late night viewing of the, oft underrated, film Karate Kid.


Chalkboard Miyagi2 copy


My assessment of having a chalkboard wall?  Not only is it entertaining, but it feels like having a rotating art installation in your own living room. And at only $20 for the two coats we needed for our wall, the price came in at “Heck yeah!”


Note: I don’t think we’ll do this, but it did occur to me that we could add crown molding on all sides and paint the molding a metallic gold, thus making the wall read like a gigantic gilded picture frame with a chalkboard center.



Gilded Molding

Like a minimalist’s version of this. If you’re game, you can buy the molding here.



But, for now, I think we’re treating this wall as a “Let’s see how long we like this” element, so adding molding wouldn’t be so wise. Without the addition of gold molding, we can rest easy knowing the day we decide we need say a white wall on which to adhere a black and white photo of a rambling road, we can change the wall–with the stroke of a brush!


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Design trends of 2013: A year in review of the good, the bad, and the had-enough-of-that!

Looking back at 2013, which design directions are worth keeping and which shall we veer away from?

Where does the time go?  Like 2013, the year that up and left in a flash. It may be gone, just like that, but many of the designs it brought us are still on trend. Of course it’s too soon to know, for example, if burlap-everything is here for the long run, or is about to run out of thread. Will the fad of driftwood-grey furniture be all washed up this time next year or is it a new classic? What we need is a crystal ball. Instead, we’ve had a year-long glut of mercury glass.
For now, it’s too early to predict the design styles of 2014. They’re still just buds, yet to bloom. Perhaps they’ll take seeds from 2013 and combine to form a hybridization of haute design. Or maybe grow in the direction of offering us something entirely new. While we wait for the nascent styles to unfurl, let’s revisit those of the past year–the good, bad, and sometimes just plain ugly—to determine what worked and what should be weeded out for the New Year and new design beginnings!
The writing on the wall: As someone who has just painted the largest wall in our living room with (black) chalkboard paint, I have officially joined the masses. Call me a lemming, but also call me the proud new owner of a wall that is not only scene-stealing in its dark-hued, high drama, but the stage it sets for ever-changing messages and doodles runs the gamut from subtly entertaining to uproariously, gut-clenchingly funny. Plus it was about 2,000 times (give or take a zero) less expensive than the grasscloth wallpaper I originally had my heart set on. This win-win is causing my heart to beat in my chest in that cartoony sort of way with big love for chalkboard walls. But, mark my words, the day it feels too trendy, I’ll change it–with the stroke of paint brush.
Chalkboard Bed Wall
Via MyNottingHill.Blogspot
Lessons learned: The first time I saw what is referred to as schoolhouse lighting (you know the bulging, frosted white globes that look like they were salvaged from schoolhouses circa the 1920s but are now reproduced en masse?) my eyes bulged in appreciation. Second time: same thing. Thirty ninth time, I thought, “Thank goodness we were not ready to do our kitchen renovation when these made their first appearance or I might have fallen prey and would now rue my decision to choose a light I know at least thirty nine other people have.” To be fair, the very first one I saw was sourced from an actual classroom and it was very cool. But now the majority on the market are just made to look old and that faux vintage inauthenticity is leaving me longing for the bell to ring on this trend.
Open Shelving
Via House Beautiful
Heads up: While I’m no proponent of taxidermy or animals being hunted for such purposes, I am overjoyed that no animals were killed in the making of the faux antlers and animal heads that have become the trophies of modern décor. However, these stylish stag (and rhino, ram, etc.) heads straddle the line between, “Nothing was hunted or killed, but mimics something that was” which, in turn, makes me straddle the line of, “Are these great or terrible?” After seeing far too many deck the walls of fashion apparel stores this holiday season, the verdict it in: I’m hunting for something else to decorate my walls.
Okay, I actually love this. That bear does have a beard, right?

Okay, I actually love this. That bear does have a beard, right?

Simply delightful: I still have a soft spot for the simplicity of snowy white Shaker-style kitchen cabinets combined with equally wintry white porcelain subway tile. Yes this look has been done, done, done, but the clean lines and pretty pairing of white on white is one of the brightest, cheeriest material combinations around and offers the perfect blank canvas for clients to make the look their own with accent pieces such as floor mats, dish towels and custom window valance.
White Shaker Cabinets
Via Indulgy
A bright idea dims: Yes, Edison style bulbs with their crystal clear glass bulbs and bright-burning, amber-colored tungsten filaments look awesome, but they were a little more awesome at the beginning of the year when we would see them here and there. Now that they are everywhere (the other day, I spotted them at both of our big box hardware stores out in the Goodland), I’m wondering if too much exposure will mean lights-out for this trendy bulb.
Edison bulbs
Via Lydony
Inside out: Open kitchen shelving was a big thing this year. Personally, I could take it or leave it, but usually recommend leaving it because it limits your upper storage space to items worthy of display—where, let’s face it, your treasured glasses, plates and color-categorized mixing bowls become defenseless targets for air-borne grease and dust that can hardly wait to cling to it. And let’s not forget that by relegating the upper storage space to the pretty pieces, all the less attractive, but still functional and vital-to-serious-cooking items, are forced to fit in close quarters in the closed-storage of your base cabinets. If this trend dies out, I will smile smugly and say, “If everything was meant to be on display we’d be in an aisle in Williams- Sonoma, not your home’s kitchen!” For clients who are adamant about having open kitchen shelving, I’ll add, “Let’s give you base cabinetry aplenty. You’re going to need it!”
Open shelving country living
Via Country Living
50 shades of gloom: People were up to their eyeballs in beige and along came the new neutral: grey. From fabric to paint it has been this year’s color darling. But since greys have undertones of green, brown, blue, pink or yellow–or some combination thereof–getting the right shade can be a challenge. If you don’t want your newly painted room to feel like a cloudy day every day, or so cheerfully blue that your living room is the color of a baby boy’s nursery, proceed with caution. But get it right and pair your gray with enough white molding for contrast and it can be stunningly stylish and glamorously moody. I think we can all agree grey is a lot less blah than beige, and that just might make it — as Sherwin-Williams declared earlier this year — the new black.
Gray walls
Paul Massey
Industic: I use this term to refer to “Industrial Chic” decor. This is very far from your aunt’s “Shabby chic.” Distressed wood, yes. But instead of faded denim and floral fabrics, we’re seeing burlap and metal—lots of metal. 2013 brought us zinc-wrapped desks and even beds, aged iron cart wheels on coffee tables, Tolix metal dining chairs and more exposed duct work and galvanized metal in restaurants and tasting rooms than you could shake a wine glass at. This stuff is solid, masculine, and with all those industrial materials, bound to last and last. But as far as the look’s longevity, my advice is that a piece or two is unexpected; anything more becomes fast becomes gimmicky.
Industrial kitchen
Classic color: Black paint is the little black dress of front doors. Everything looks good with it—even old-school brass hardware (now that’s one comeback we can likely count on). Many times I pass a house and think, “If they just painted the front door black, that would be a good place to start.” The good news is that I saw a whole lot of doors painted black in 2013. Now if there was one way to tweak the black painted door for 2014, I’d say add just a dash of white to the black paint for a dark charcoal that will still give the wow factor, but will soften the black and set your door apart.
Black door
Via Decor Pad
What trends are you guys still loving or ready to say, “That was so 2013!”?
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Note: This post was adapted from my column, Design Intervention, in the Santa Barbara News-Press