Monday, December 17, 2012

Chalkboard gallery wall

I am sure we were all doing the same thing this past weekend. Grieving for the families in Connecticut. I felt pure horror when I heard the news and just could not stop crying, for a long time.

I hugged and kissed on my (newly) six-year-old boy a ridiculous amount, we did family things, we carried on through our weekend, but especially when I would look at my son, I was overcome with grief. Grief and joy. A weird and uncomfortable mixture.

Saturday evening, I sat in my office with my face in my hands, crying again, when I realized I had to figure out a way out of it. I was at a low I’m not sure I’ve ever been at before and I made a decision right then that I needed to do something.

Because I could. I am a lucky one who gets to function right now. So I decided to.

I tried watching TV, but the first movie I came to, the first scene, was a teacher in a room of kids. I tried surfing the net, but I was pulled to news sites instead. So while it may sound trivial, I decided to DIY. And it soothed my soul.

It was a project that had been sitting half way done for weeks, and I finished it. It was the only thing that quieted my mind. So I am posting about it today and will be posting this week. It doesn’t mean I’m not grieving, it just means I need to do something normal and I think others do too, simple as that.


I actually started this project the day after Thanksgiving, late at night. It had been tumbling around in my brain for a while and I had one of those it’s-ten p.m.-why-not-start-now? moments.

We have a little wall in our kitchen that I have BIG plans for in the future – until recently it held a couple Goodwill shelves and a small magnetic chalkboard for my son:

kids chalkboard in kitchen

There were a couple of problems with this cutie wall though – one, the magnetic chalkboard, although painted with no less than ten coats of magnetic paint, didn’t hold magnets well. They had to be supersonic and it’s hard to find supersonic magnets suitable for a little one.

That’s the thing too, the little one is getting bigger. He’s getting a little too big for that chalkboard – not in the way that he doesn't use it, but in that it was getting too short for him.

I liked putting his art up there, but you can see that it became either an art board or a chalkboard – it couldn’t really be both.

The other biggie was the shelves – they were becoming a bit of a hazard. We’ve had more than one visitor bang their head as they came around the corner, and I prefer to have my visitors unharmed, so the shelves had to go.

That left a great little wall with a light switch right in the middle – and we all know how light switches can mess up art for a perfectly good wall. :) So I took it all down and started prepping the wall for paint:

chalkboard in kitchen

This little space had a TON of holes – I’ve had two different frames around that chalkboard and I’ve hung numerous things on that wall over the years. I think I must have filled 100 holes:

Finally it was time to paint – three coats of chalkboard paint, that I already had from the original one on that wall.

I tried the whole foil in the paint tray thing and it worked beautifully. Doing this again for sure!:

foil lining paint tray for easy clean up

No mess, no clean up. Awesome!

When it was dry, I started the priming of the wall. Priming with chalk that is – I never did this with the smaller chalkboard and it always cleaned up fine, but I kept reading you were supposed to do it. And I’m a good blogger so I did it:

priming a chalkboard priming a chalkboard

I started with small pieces of chalk, which was a little maddening. Those ran out fast, and then I remembered I had sidewalk chalk in the garage. That worked like a charm – but no white chalk left for the Bub come spring. :)

I wiped it off, it felt like six or seven times to get all the chalk off, then we started playing – making list, drawings. And it sat like that for weeks, until I finished it up this weekend.

I knew I wanted to have the chalkboard, but I also knew I would want more than just the plain wall. I still wanted a spot where I could display the kiddo’s art too, so I came up with a plan that involved empty frames.

Usually I just start hanging things and don’t worry about holes in the walls, but this is such a narrow spot, I knew I needed to plan it out a little. So I grabbed my delicate FrogTape and put the dimensions of the wall on the floor:

planning a gallery wall

I added the light switch, but forgot the plug, which messed me up a little later. I picked out some frames from my stash in the basement and played around with placement:

planning a gallery wall

I had some small projects in mind to fill them so I picked some of the frames on purpose, others just because the size worked. I ended up moving things around a bit for the final result, but putting it all on the floor first helped tremendously.

I painted the frames with leftover chalk paint – both Annie Sloan (the aqua) and the CeCe Caldwell gray I used here.

I absolutely LOVE how this wall turned out!:

chalkboard gallery wall

I didn’t want to fill it up too much because I wanted the kiddo to have room to use it. I’ve already started using that area above the switch as a spot for the grocery list.

It’s functional, fun and pretty, and I just love it!:

DIY chalkboard gallery wall

I know chalkboards are SO trendy and the thing and are everywhere, but I’m always late on trends. And actually, if I think about it, I created the original little chalkboard five years ago, waaaaaay ahead of the trend. So I’m both in front and behind of the trend…yeah, that’s it! :)

Here’s a look at this spot, before and after:

chalkboard gallery wall   

I loved the before too, but it just wasn’t working for us anymore. Now the Bub still has a place to draw, I have a spot for lists, and I can showcase art and fun stuff (like during the holidays).

And I’ll share how I’ve made it into a gallery wall for the Bub’s art soon too! It’s so easy to change the art out and I love having the whole wall to show off his schoolwork and pictures.

So there’s the project I finished up this weekend – it made me smile a real smile and my boy helped me along the way. Both very good things.

Are you on the chalkboard wagon? They really are too fun and I don’t see them going anywhere anytime soon.


  1. Sarah, I'm feeling the same. Walking away from the bus stop with tears in my eyes this morning. I'm also seeking a little relief in the form of everday life and craftiness, etc. Love how this wall turned out!

  2. Love the before but the after is just wonderful!! One question.. is your wall textured? I know it's better to paint chalkboard on a smooth surface, which is what's kept me from painting a whole wall in my home!

  3. MePlus, our walls are not textured. I think it would be a bit harder to do a chalkboard wall on this on heavily textured walls. You could try a little spot and see how it works!

  4. Love it! I'm looking around my house wondering where I can have a chalkboard wall... What AS paint is the aqua? Provence?

    And i think all moms are sharing grief this weekend. I didn't want mine to even go to school today, but living in fear isn't an option. Trusting in The Lord today more than ever.

  5. Your wall is beautiful! I love how you can decorate it for the holidays. And thank you for sharing your kind words on the matter... it's so easy to live in fear. We all need something to quiet our minds and soothe our souls right now.

  6. This project turned out so fabulously! It's nice to have something to distract ourselves

  7. I think you have been right on trend all along! As newlyweds my husband and I drove home to Colorado for our first Christmas... while visiting we drove up to Estes Park for a day of sightseeing in the height of winter. REad empty stores (the ones that were open) and deserted streets... perfect to enjoy the scenery. We ate lunch at a cafe with chalkboard tables... (only customers in the place!!) and that was 22 years ago!

    I love how your wall came out! :)

  8. Timely post! We just made a big (about 4' x 5' maybe? I am bad w/ dimensions :-) chalk wall in our loft room, near the kids' "homework station". So far they've used the heck out of it!!

    My husband the eternal skeptic was afraid of the chalkdust, and while there has been *some* it hasn't been as bad as he expected (it has been a bit worse than *I* expected, but I'd never admit that!)

    I almost skipped the whole let-it-dry-48-hours-then-prime-the-entire-wall-with-chalk thing, but I'm a rule-follower so I did it by the book. You're right - sidewalk chalk is THE way to go for the priming task.

    I'm curious what brand of chalkboard paint you used. We used Benjamin Moore - I'd read good things about it online, but it was a pricier than the usual Lowes/HD brands. One thing I noticed is that it had ZERO paint fumes.

  9. The before is very functional, but the after is AWESOME!

    Great work! You are so smart!

    hugs x

  10. So glad you posted this. I have a similar wall and debated putting up shelves because I was worried they would be a hazard. I think I'll skip the shelves and try something different. Love your idea! I don't care how trendy chalkboards are, they are so fun :)

  11. I am totally on the chalkboard craze! I loved the before, but I love the after too!

  12. Oh, I love it Sarah! It looks amazing. It makes me want to find a wall to do this on immediately!

  13. What a perfect-and functional-addition to your kitchen! I love how you added the frames. Just 2 weeks ago I did a large chalkboard wall in my kitchen, too. I want to add some frames now! Looks great!
    Here's the link to mine if you want to see it-

  14. I love how this looks! Great idea with all the frames - it will be so fun to change up!

  15. I love this Sarah - we have similar one in our kitchen too, and it gets a LOT of use (and is even narrower!). Who says you can't do big things with small spaces?

    I'm with you on being so unbelievably sad too. I still am today - and it's rainy and miserable outside, which makes it even worse. I have a 1st grader, and cannot bear the mere thought of what Newtown is going through. Thank you for your post, and I'm glad you found a diversion that we can all appreciate. :-)

  16. love you. this is exactly what i needed. just to sit back and read some diy stuff. i have been in a terrible depression about this whole thing since i heard the news. thanks for spreading a little happiness on the internet.

  17. Ooooo! Me likey! It creates such a bold contrast!

  18. I totally just got up off of my rump and looked around my home to see where I can add a chalkboard wall....hmmm....thanks girl! ~Kim

  19. Definitely on the chalkboard bandwagon - this looks GREAT! I have to ask though, where is that ceiling light from that looks like is in your entryway?? Love it!

  20. Sarah, your post is so fun and cheery. Just what we all need right now. The chalkboard wall is wonderful and the artwork makes it even more fab. Tell me about the stag head. Is that card stock? cardboard? I love it all!

  21. Wow! That wall turned out great. I like the picture frame layout, too.

    I personally feel that it is good to see positive “pretty” things in a world so full of evil so we are reminded that there is still good in the world. I do think these times call for simpler posts with an acknowledgement of what is going on in Connecticut by sharing our sorrow. When we continue on immediately after without a thought about the tragedy on our blogs, it seems kind of shallow. In a way, I feel we have a responsibility as “public” spokespersons.

    With that said, I so appreciate your words as well as your chalkboard wall!

  22. I love me a good chalkboard. Yours looks fabulous Sarah.

  23. Just love your Chalk Gallery Wall!! I think I have a new project to work on...

  24. Love love love it! So much better than before!
    Have a lovely day!

  25. I am with you way ahead of the trend. I love chalkboard paint! I have a framed spot in my kitchen did this 6 years ago! My kids love it too, we pained the front of their closet doors in their room...your wall reminds me of that!

  26. I have a quart of chalkboard paint just sitting around waiting to be popped open. I just don't know where to paint it, yet. I wish I had a wall like that to put it on!

  27. I love this idea and I believe I will start on this today I have a wall just like that in my kitchen it now has a clock on it that I painted a couple of years ago and its needing an update also thanks for
    sharing .....

  28. I love this wall, really, really do. I am now logging off to see if there is somewhere I can make this work in my house. :)

  29. LOVE seeing that you're up and posting ... and this project is 'da bomb. Sometimes, just trying to be normal is hard and I completely get it. I follow your blog everyday and it's nice to see everyone in 'blog-land' get back into the swing. Take care!

  30. Beautiful project, beautiful message. Thanks for sharing your method for coping...I think we all could use it.

  31. I love the new wall! I can understand getting involved in our normal daily things to break from the grief...doing it myself.

    What keeps jogging me back into fear is the 3 threats (2 schools, 1 church) that have since been made here in CT. Thankful nothing has come of them, but a threat alone right now is a bit much.

  32. Super cute. Just wondering if you'll be adding a tray or cup for the chalk & eraser? Upside down drawer pulls work great for both.

  33. I keep thinking I want a chalkboard in my house, they're all so funky and creative, and then I remember a teacher and I wonder at my rationale! I could write on one all day...

    Nevertheless, love your wall!

  34. Great Ideas, I like the before and the after. I especially like how you decorated the new wall for the holidays.

  35. This is so pretty! I love the idea of having the chalkboard as a backdrop to artwork. Such a great idea.

  36. Having switch board in the middle of the wall can be irritating at times. I do have the same problem and I'm planning to put up wall decals there. But your work is making me rethink

  37. Have you tried using the wax paper technique for hanging your frames? Honestly, I feel like it's one of the best things I've learned off a can just google it or it's here on my blog too...(it's really good when you have odd other "things" like thermostats on a wall.)

  38. I really love the after. Like you I'm often in front of and behind trends. I'm just now doing some little chalkboard projects in my house.

  39. Haven't met a chalkboard wall I didn't like, and yours is no exception! I really like the arrangement of the frames. I'm doing something similar in my son's room, but I was going to put the frames next to do the chalkboard.... now I may have to rethink that plan... I like yours!


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