nest: chalkboarding

I love the look of well used chalkboards of all kinds from the beautiful Cy Towmblys to those little old school slates and I try to work them in whenever I can. At the moment, we don't have any huge chalkboard walls (though I'm considering it if I can find the right spot), but we do have several smaller options throughout the house. Chalkboards are great because the more you use them the lovelier they become and they are always changing, so you can always make a change when you want something new.  They are also a great way to work your child's creativity into your daily life. My daughter adores chalkboards, so we have several for her, but her favorite spot for chalk is always on the wall. 

Ten years ago, give or take, we moved from our apartment in Park Slope to a co-op in Forest Hills (that's in Queens for those of you who don't know). We looked for months for an apartment and we had found this one on the very last day we were going to look before giving up forever. It was the last apartment we were going to look at, and luckily for us, it was the right one. The apartment was a mess, literally, but as soon as we opened the door we knew it was the right one, despite the huge pile of trash in the living room. It was probably twice the size of our apartment in Brooklyn, had a doorman & an elevator (as opposed to the 4th floor walk up we were living in at the time), had 4 huge closets (vs the 2 mini closets we were trying to leave behind) and was half a block from the subway. The only thing that was smaller than our Park Slope apartment was the kitchen, but it had a super cool floor to ceiling sliding door that closed it off from the dining area. One of the first things we did was paint that door with chalkboard paint to turn it into a huge rolling chalkboard. It seemed like the perfect choice at the time, but pretty much everyone who walked in thought it was awful, horrible, ugly.  We loved it, so we didn't care. And then when baby 1 was born, he loved it too. Now, however, chalkboard walls are popping up everywhere. I think it's also an easy way to work black into your home in a way that doesn't feel as harsh and an even better way to work handmade, homemade real life art into your life. It's a whole lot easier to commit yourself to a personal art piece when you know you can just wipe it away if it's not quite what you were hoping for. And the beauty of a chalkboard is that more wiping away just adds that much more charm.

chalkboard3.jpg

If you want to create your own chalkboard wall, black or green chalkboard paint can be readily found at your local hardware store, Home Depot, craft store, etc. For something a bit different, colored chalkboard paint is available from Hudson Paint & Benjamin Moore or, probably best of all, you can even make your own with a bit of unsanded grout for that perfect color (see Martha Stewart's tutorial here). It's a great way to add some extra art space to a playroom or child's bedroom or for a very customized note space in kitchen or mudroom. And when you want to make an impact, a full wall of chalkboard paint, in whatever color you choose, and some fabulous drawings, be it your own or your child's, is a perfect, ever changeable solution. Not feeling like an artist, use your favorite quotes or use a stencil or projector to trace something amazing.

After you choose your surface and your paint, you're ready to get started. You'll want to make sure whatever surface you cover has a few coats for solid coverage and it works best if you do small areas at a time.  Once you're sure you have a good solid surface, don't forget to prep the chalkboard before decorating by covering it in chalk and erasing at least a time or two first.

If you're not ready to go full wall (which I love), a small section is great too or there are several options that offer the same look with a bit less commitment. We have 2 large canvases covered with chalkboard paint the are hung on command strips in our living room. Our children have decorated them and if the ever want to, they can make changes or even erase and start over. We do have 2 chalkboard areas in our kitchen as well. One is a small painted area above a small prep counter, which we use for notes & drawings. The second is my latest addition, a long strip of chalkboards contact paper on the side of a tall cabinet. I wasn't sure how well it would work, but it's really great. Super easy to apply, prep it the same way the peel it off when your're ready for it to go away. It's also far less expensive than most chalkboard wall decals and comes in an easy to size 6 foot roll. It's a fabulously easy way to get the look of a chalkboard wall without the serious commitment. I love the idea of chalkboard painted furniture with chalked decorations, be it an armoire, coffee table or old chest of drawers. (If you want a more permanent piece, be it wall or small, use a spay varnish for protection.) For your children, a painted play table, chalkboard wall decals or a wall mounted easel can also give you a way to work a chalkboard into smaller play spaces where a big easel isn't the best option. Vintage chalkboards in all sizes make great decor pieces for both little ones and adult spaces. And, if you're really lucky, there's always a Twombly. 

Chalkboard contact paper

Our 5 yr old's Yah chart, activity schedules for our 4 children & my sad attempt at a Minecraft Creeper for my 7 yr old. 

Here are several really lovely examples that I've pulled together from around the web:

Gorgeous chalkboard wall from Downtoearthnw.com

Gorgeous chalkboard wall from Downtoearthnw.com

via babble

via babble

lovely gallery wall from Emily Henderson

lovely gallery wall from Emily Henderson

lovely vintage chalkboard wall from Smile and Wave

lovely vintage chalkboard wall from Smile and Wave

in the office from a merry mishap

chalkboard fridge makeover from Keep Smiling

chalkboard fridge makeover from Keep Smiling

mark tuckey chalkboard coffee table via Pure Green

mark tuckey chalkboard coffee table via Pure Green

LOVE the full color, full wall designs (via design-59)

LOVE the full color, full wall designs (via design-59)