Monday, March 21, 2016

Aspirational Chalkboard Wall of Doom

As you may recall, I decided to take an under-utilized wall in my kitchen and turn it into a pantry of sorts, with bonus chalkboard. Pottery Barn features several chalkboards and "daily systems" in their catalogs.  The photo stylists decorate the chalkboards with jaunty (though sometimes nonsensical) notes:  "Plan business trip to NYC!" "Drop off computer at apple store" "Family vacation, Paris" "Picnic in park, 1:00 pm" making it seem as if real people inhabit the Pottery Barn spaces.  Indeed, a never-written blog post idea of mine was to imagine the lives of these people who spend so much time going to parties, owning Apple products, and buying camembert.

I knew I had to have a kitchen chalkboard wall. We could write cheerful little notes to each other: Went for run! Stefan's birthday tomorrow! or use it as a shopping list:

Creme Fraiche

or else use it to list the week's menus:
Monday -  Kale/quinoa bake.
Tuesday - Tacos!
Wednesday - Salmon burgers with spinach souffle
Thursday - Foraged sorrel pesto bucatini
Friday - Quiche, deconstructed

We would be chalkboard people. People with kitchen chalkboard walls don't put things like cake mix or Franzia on their shopping lists. They don't eat ramen noodles coated in peanut butter and siracha for dinner either. I was half-convinced that if I had a kitchen chalkboard wall, I would be thinner and prettier and would stop wearing tragic outfits out of the house.  I would learn to write in artistic fonts and put some sort of clever saying on the wall; perhaps a quote from Shakespeare: Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers. (Romeo and Juliet)

So the plan was to paint the wall with chalkboard paint and then install the pantry shelves on top of it. Here's what Pinterest and the Pottery Barn catalog don't tell you about making a chalkboard wall in your house:

Once again, I failed to think of the unexpected, negative consequences of said piece of aspiration. (Note: it is a major responsibility of my full-time job to think of the unexpected, negative consequences of doing things.)

Anyway, I did all the boring wall prep and applied two coats of black chalkboard paint to the wall. Then we waited for three days for the wall to cure.  Once the wall has cured, you must take a piece of white chalk, hold it sideways against the wall and rub it all over the wall, completely covering it with chalk.  If you don't do this, the first things you write on it will never entirely erase.

Seamus and I debated extensively on whether or not you must use white chalk for this or not.  The internet was unclear, but I didn't want ghosts of blue or pink chalk on my wall, so we used white. This meant waiting an extra day because the local store was out of white chalk, so I had to order it from amazon.

Once you have coated the entire wall with an even covering of white chalk, you wipe it off again with a damp cloth and your chalkboard wall is ready to go.  Seamus did this part and when he was finished, for reasons that are unclear to me, he vigorously shook the cloth.  A mushroom cloud of chalk dust rose over his head and gently descended on the kitchen.  "But it's dustless,"  he said, surprised at my remonstrance. I pointed out that his hair and eyebrows were white.  Note: "low dust" in relation to chalk is a worthless claim.  Another thing pinterest doesn't tell you.  I really like my chalkboard wall, but now, there is never not a drift of chalkboard dust decorating the adjacent cookbook shelf, the baseboard, or the floor.

Here it is with our original experimental etchings.  Those eyes, which reminded me of the Great Gatsby paperback cover, and SUPER FINE supervised kitchen proceedings for quite a while as I worked on the shelf-building part of the project.

Part two of the painting phase of this project was to paint the bead board white.  I was really tired of the apple green, and the white looks better against the black chalkboard paint.

For reference,  here's how the wall looked before:


  1. I'm having flashbacks to the kids' easel/chalkboard that used to leave dust all over my kitchen and definitely did not make me look thinner.

    1. Ha ha! I don't look any thinner either. The chalkboard diet sucks.

  2. I've had a small chalkboard hanging on the wall in my kitchen for years - I bought it at an estate sale when we lived in Birmingham. It's not very big, so I've only noticed the chalk dust when clearing off the grocery list, which usually has things like "deodorant" and "saran wrap". Pretty sure that's not pinterest worthy or approved.

  3. We have a chalkboard wall at our house too. It's the wall below the chair rail in the kitchen (and above it I have a pinterest inspired picture wire for pre-school art--totally dust free that one). The chalkboard wall is quite dusty when we do a lot of chalking, which is why I think it's so absurd when I see these on pinterest in children's bedrooms. I'd do it again though. The value of the chalkboard has outweighed it's dustiness, and it's one of the few mess-generating things in our house I don't have an existential crisis about on a quarterly basis. The chalkboard wall earns it's keep, in other words, unlike my dogs, the backyard aka Mud Pit, and our dustbunnies (Ok, I guess the dogs earn their keep, but just barely...).

  4. Literally crying/laughing over the statement "We would be chalkboard people."

  5. My daughter has a chalkboard wall in her room. When we first got our new kittens, the two whitish ones kept showing up with areas of pink fur. It took a while for us to realize that they were rolling in the chalk dust at the base of her wall :-)

    The room looks nice with the chalk board and the change from green to white for the bead board.

    1. Our black dog likes to lean against the chalk wall, so he's typically walking around with the meal plan for the week emblazoned on his side for at least a few hours every Saturday.

  6. I'm confused... are you suggesting that Franzia is not real wine? ;)

    Your chalkboard is prettier than my magnetic white board, which is so non-kitchen-worthy that it's been relegated to the laundry room hallway where no one looks at it. Back when I homeschooled, it was filled with brightly colored spelling words; however, wet erase pens and chalk dust fail when it comes to diets.

  7. Looks good.

    But, note to self: Don't get sucked into a Pinterest project. No chalk in our house. The dust would be a problem for a couple of us.

  8. Oh, this cracks me up! You are spot ON about those blackboard messages in certain catalogs.
    Your project turned out so nice. We did a whole wall like that in the basement. Mostly for the boys to keep score on, but turned out to have lots of zombie pictures drawn on it, too. We are classy, classy people that way. I never could fathom WHY we have to rub the whole works down with chalk for it to "take" but yeah, we did that part, too.