Create a Household Message Center

For the cost of a quart of paint, this household hub for notes, lists, and appointments can be yours.
Amy Bickers Mercer

Donald Trump may have apprentices shaking in their designer shoes when he announces "You're fired!" after each leadership challenge, but I remain unimpressed. Come to my house, Donald, and manage daily family life with school-age children. Now there's a challenge.

Who has a dentist appointment and when is it? Which school project is due on Friday? What do we need from the grocery store? Where are my car keys? What's my name again? It's all a swirling cacophony of needs, wants, and "I-gottas." Who can keep up with it?

Here's an idea to cut the chaos: Create a household message center in the kitchen, where everyone is bound to show up at least once a day. It's as simple as applying two coats of chalkboard paint to a blank wall.

Step 1:
Select a smooth wall surface, ideally near the telephone. (Note: A textured surface won't work well because you have to be able to write on it.) For a smaller chalkboard on a larger wall, tape off a square or rectangle. Sand the entire surface, and clean with a tack cloth. Prime the area, and allow it to dry completely.

Step 2:
Apply a thin coat of chalkboard paint, and allow to dry thoroughly (about four hours). Apply a second coat of paint.

Step 3:
Wait several days, and then condition your chalkboard by rubbing the entire surface with a piece of chalk. Wipe off the excess chalk with an eraser or soft, clean cloth. The remaining coat of chalk dust will make future erasing easier.

Once you have your chalkboard wall completed, consider adding some organizational products. We hung corkboard and a letter bin for mail. We also attached two hooks to hold key chains, backpacks, and purses. We placed them low on the wall to encourage my children to hang up their things after school. A shelf above keeps cookbooks on display without taking up much-needed counterspace.

MATERIALS

  • sandpaper
  • tack cloth
  • paintbrush
  • primer
  • chalkboard paint
  • chalk
  • eraser or soft, clean cloth

Sources:
Chalkboard paint is by Rustoleum, black finish; telephone is Grand Phone in red from Pottery Barn, www.potterybarn.com; corkboard and letter bin are part of Daily System by Pottery Barn.

This article is from the March 2005 issue of Southern Living.