Friday, February 13, 2015

Teacher's Pet

I'm so excited to be back to share with you all a project that I just love!
The dining room, or dining area is actually a better term, is a shared space with the living room. Truth be told...I hate, let me repeat, H-A-T-E, shared living / dining spaces. I don't know why I've come to have this aversion to spaces such as these but I guess this is just one of the sacrifices of living in a small apartment. Our dining room, or lack thereof, has gone through quite a few changes since we moved in almost a year ago. It's so hard to find a style or look for the dining room that flows well with the adjoined living room without the 2 spaces being #twinsies. Not fun. So because of this little dilemma, this small space had undergone a few makeovers in our short time here.
When we first moved in, we painted the dining room wall a deep, dusty blue. I've been digging the deep, rich, blues for a while now and couldn't wait to try out the color pallet in our new back then apartment. I was instantly in love but as the weeks wore on I quickly fell out of love...not because of the deep blue hue we had chosen, but because our apartment gets very bad natural light so the darker color made the whole space feel claustrophobic and small. So a few months ago, I decided to paint over it with something lighter and it's completely brightened things up in here, up in here, you know, like that one song...
When we decided to paint for the 2nd time, I went with big, bold white & grey stripes and I love, L-O-V-E them! Shout out to the best mom ever for helping me out (hope you're reading this! You better be!). Anyways, since painting the stripes a few months ago, the wall has sat empty and totally needed something. I've been searching for a big giant mirror to hang on the wall because mirrors are great to reflect light areas that don't get a lot of natural light but dang, giant mirrors are expensive. This chick ain't rich folks. So I set out to DIY a giant mirror but dang, I ran into quite a few issues and haven't got around to overcoming them so...onto Plan B!
While perusing Pinterest I ran across this baby that I totally fell for and ding...light bulb moment. I just had to have it.

So Plan B quickly became DIY-ing a giant-ish chalkboard to hang above my $4 Thomasville buffet that's still waiting to get refinished (we'll talk more later on how awesome a deal this buffet was).

I loved the look of this chalkboard coffee bar wall above the grey buffet but knew I didn't want an entire chalkboard wall because I felt we'd go right back to feeling like we lived in the batcave if we did that. So. I took this inspiration and put my own apartment-friendly-un-batcave-like twist on the idea.

To start I made a quick trip to my local home improvement store and picked up a sheet of 4'x2' MDF for around $6. I also picked up a 1"x3"x10' piece of trim board (used for baseboards) for another $6 smackaroos and a can of black chalkboard paint for $10. Then I got to work.


First step was painting the MDF board with the chalkboard paint. I brushed on the 1st coat but then rolled on all other coats with a high density foam roller. Using the roller gave it a smoother finish overall but if you decide to use a brush, be careful not to over brush as the paint seemed to dry quickly.

Also...be sure to mix your can of chalkboard paint THOROUGHLY before applying. When I first opened the can, the paint inside was blue. At first I thought I grabbed the wrong color (because chalkboard paint does come in many awesome colors) but once I began stirring I realized that a lot of gunk (not sure what else to call it) had settled on the bottom of the can and the more I mixed, the blacker the paint turned.


Chalkboard paint requires a 4 hour dry time so once I completely covered the MDF in chalkboard pain I waited 4 hours before applying my next coat. All in all I did 5 coats and I'd recommend at least 3 at the very minimum, more if you have the patience. The thicker the coat of chalkboard paint the easier it'll be to write on.

Fun little tip when you're painting something that requires multiple coats with long dry times in between - wrap your brush or roller in a plastic bag or Ziploc and stick it in the refrigerator. Totally abnormal to have a paint brush in the fridge, yes, but the paint doesn't harden and therefore you don't have to wash the brush/roller after each application while you're waiting to re coat.
While drying, I set out to make my frame. With the help of my handy boyfriend, we cut the frame pieces down to size. I have visions of chopping off my thumb so I haven't worked up the courage to do this on my own so I stand at a safe distance and snap pics while he operates the thumb slicer. 
We (I mean he) cut 2 pieces at and 2 pieces at for the frame.
If you don't have access to a saw at home, your local home improvement store can cut them down to size for you. Once all our frame pieces were cut I got to work distressing the wood. Because I like to buy perfectly good wood and then beat it up. To distress the wood I used a hammer, the can of chalkboard paint and even a fork. Don't worry, I washed the fork.
You really cant mess this up. It's totally random and to your liking. Just ding, dent, scrape wherever you want or not at all. You're the artist here!
Doesn't look like much here but once the stain takes hold, it'll bring out the grain and all those cool distressed imperfections you created.
Next up stain! I used my favorite of all time, Minwax Dark Walnut.
I went over each board with a generous amount of stain and let the stain soak in for 15 minutes before wiping off the excess. I always find that using old cut up t-shirts works well for the application and wiping off but the stain can be applied with a brush as well but it's kinda a pain to clean up afterwards. And don't forget to wear your rubber gloves unless you want stained hands and fingernails.
See what I mean about the stain bringing out the distress markings as if they had always been there?! Love!
Moving on...
At this point you can wait an hour, see how you like the color, re coat if necessary or just let the boards dry. Dry time is 4 hours. I chose not to re coat because I loved the look on the 1st pass so I waited the allotted dry time.
Next up, putting together the frame! For this part I used my new Kreg tool that I got for Christmas to drill me some pocket holes on both ends of my 2 side pieces of the frame to help screw this frame together. All in all I think it's a pretty nifty tool and cant wait to get better at using it. The possibilities are endless with this thing.
I wont go through all the nitty gritty of how to use this but you basically start like this:
and end up with this:

I then used a little wood glue on both ends, butted them up against the horizontal pieces of the frame and screwed everything together as shown on the diagram below:

If you don't happen to have one of these tools, you can still make your frame by nailing or screwing all the pieces together from the top and bottom. The exposed screws would give it a really cool industrial look!

Once your frame is all put together, now it's time to put the chalkboard backing on. I put a bead of wood glue down on the entire inner perimeter of the frame like so...


 Then I centered the chalkboard piece over the frame opening and nailed it down with 3/4" finishing nails.

This part was a little tedious but not too bad. It would've gone way faster had I had the right length nails for my nail gun but I didn't and didn't want to make another trip to the store so I did it the old fashioned way.


 Last step in fabrication of this bad boy is attaching the hanging hardware. I picked up some large d-ring hooks at the hardware store, measured down 6" from the top of my frame and screwed the hardware in using 3/4" wood screws.



And fabrication is complete! 3 cheers for a job well done and the newest addition to our dining room wall! Ain't she a beauty?!


 To prepare your chalkboard before using it, you'll need to season it. To do this simply take a piece of chalk and lay it on its side and rub the entire chalkboard with it.


 After wiping off the excess chalk dust, you're good to go!

I think the chalkboard is the perfect addition to this once empty wall and perfect to display the menu for special occasions or the use it to display the drink list for our makeshift "bar" that hangs out below.

 Now that we have something cool displayed on the wall, its time for a new light fixture that doesn't interfere with the line of sight! The chalkboard is just the start to some changes/additions I have in mind for this weird space but I think it's off to a great start. And now that I have a fancy new chalkboard, I better start brushing up on my chalkboard art skills! Check back soon for chalkboard art tutorials...till then, enjoy the weekend!


 Project Cost:

MDF board - $6
Chalkboard Paint - $10
Trim pieces - $5
Stain / Glue / Nails - already had on hand
Total Project Cost - $21.00

Not too bad!