I wear many hats. Aside from being a wife, mom, freelance writer and interior designer I’m also a volunteer librarian!
I won’t go into all the details …but basically our library is shaped like an octagon with lots of windows all around (even skylights above). Because of how the library is used now, compared to when it was first constructed (several decades ago) there are a couple of windows that we no longer want or need. But what to do when we librarians have a very limited budget? The goal is to spend on books for the kids, not on decor, staffing or construction materials, if we can help it. Then it hit me: Chalkboard paint!
Not only could I paint it myself but the supplies are affordable enough that I could contribute them. Plus it would also be visually fun for the kids and a great way for the staff to advertise the library’s theme of the month or upcoming events like our book fair.
To be honest I was a little worried about how the paint would adhere to the windows. So I made sure to prep them by thoroughly washing them, then using (high grit) sandpaper to slightly scuff up the window followed by another cleaning to make sure they were free of dust. It took three coats to properly cover. I let it cure and the next day I wiped the entire dry painted surface with chalk and used a clean dry rag to both rub in and wipe the chalk all over the surface.
I just completed the project yesterday – I apologize for the two bad photos which I quickly snapped using my phone (I will try and get better ones next week), but I think you get the idea. In our story-time area where we read to the children I drew two popular book characters -yes, I drew The Cat In The Hat and Clifford, not too shabby for someone who is NOT AT ALL an artist!. The other side of the window is also painted with chalkboard paint, and that’s where the staff can write announcement, events or messages.
Thanks for checking in,
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The (bla-bla) Backstory:
When we moved into our new home three years ago I quickly painted the mudroom the same (custom paint color created by me!) pale lime green as the kitchen. Mostly because I had a lot of paint leftover and I was exhausted: I had spent the previous 4 months designing, planning, contracting, building, budgeting, putting in 16 hour days and even tackling some projects myself like levelling the garage before the concrete was poured, installing the thermal barrier sheet in prep for the basement floor and even sanding, priming and painting our entire home. I was tired. Really tired. And I just wanted it all to be done and over with. To move in, unpack, get the kids settled and start reconnecting and living as a family again (did I mention our temporary living arrangements were my in-laws basement?). So I painted the kitchen and then took the paint color right into the laundry room and literally moved on with my life.
But I almost immediately regretted it. There is zero naturally light, and so the green, which looks ‘spring fresh’ in the kitchen, just felt like the color of ‘sick’ in the laundry-mudroom. Which of course makes sense now, because I was actually sick n’ tired at the time I was painting the laundry-mudroom (roll eyes at bad joke here). Lol!
I thought many times about changing it, but what color? I got paint swatches and browsed Pinterest for inspirations but still, I had no idea. Then, over the summer while mopping the room’s slate floor, it hit me. The color inspiration had been there, all around me -all along: Black & White. Duh!
With the room’s charcoal slate tiles, white cabinets, white appliances, black coat rack, grey counters, white trim and ceiling, the black and white accessories I already had … it suddenly became obvious to me that I should just paint out the entire room a fresh glossy white. I’ve mentioned before that my fave white paint is Behr’s Ultra Pure White in gloss. Every white painted surface in my home is this color, and I always seem to have a leftover can hanging around. Best of all, because this room receives a lot traffic (and dirty soggy outerwear), I became giddy imagining how great it would be to have everything painted in the same white-glossy-easy-to-wipe-clean-and-do-paint-touch-ups-color. As an added bonus I knew this would kick start me into properly finishing and organizing this room once and for all.
#1 Just Plan it:
#2 Just Paint it
Inspired by the black & white color theme my mind raced at all the possibilities for accent colors (hot pink or aqua?). Except, when I really stopped to consider how this space was being used (backpack drop off, mail station, dog diner, laundry area, seasonal clothing storage and accessory closet). I realized that all of our family’s stuff already had plenty of pattern and color. A bunch of super cute colorful accessories would only end up getting lost in the shuffle or worse -just add more visual noise to the space. Keeping it simple was key.
I decided to continue with a monochromatic palette adding a little warmth in the form of saddle toned wood with hits of gold.
- Before back-to-school arrived, I emptied the laundry-mudroom and gave the ceiling, walls, trim and doors a new paint job (of course, I filled any holes, sanded and primed first!). It took 4 coats (5 coats in some areas). Not because the green paint was too dark, but glossy paint can be tricky like that. It’s not as forgiving and for a really rich deep perfectly glossy painted surface, a little more effort is required. It only looks great if you can build up those glossy layers of paint (not convinced about going glossy yourself? Click here for more).
- I replaced the cabinet door handles for some unique ones I found at my local hardware store (Hudson Hardware) which I spray painted gold (yup still loving the gold, more on that here and here). The gold ties in really nicely by picking up on the warmth of the wood accessories.
- Finally, I had a little leftover chalkboard paint from the guest-game room makeover (more on that project here) and I thought it would be a cool, not to mention free, back-splash idea.
#3 Just Organize It
Aren’t those labelled-wall-mounted-metal-wire-storage-baskets (that’s a mouthful) fantastic? I found them at the MAXI grocery store around the time we were just moving in. I love how they taper at the bottom so that they don’t take up too much space. Aside from storing the obvious seasonal accessories they are also great for hanging sunglasses and the fact that air can circulate through means damps mittens get the chance to dry. Everyone in the family has their own, even our Siberian Husky, Kaya! Best of all, they sell for about $6 each.
A shoe horn, compact umbrella, bottle of insect repellant and a tube of sun screen are out of sight thanks to the woven basket above the coat rack and the three large wicker baskets above the cabinets house my scented candle addiction. The wood box (made by my grandfather) hides take-out menus.
Decorative bowls and small planters can be re-purposed for organizing misc items like gum, pocket change, message pads and pens.
Serving trays are the interior decorators’ go-to trick for making items look neat and pulled together.
I only purchased four things for this space -all of the other items I shopped my own house! I used up a leftover can of Behr paint in Ultra Pure White, but had to buy another can for $34.99 at the Home Depot. The cool (earring inspired) cabinet door pulls for were $4.99 each. I scored the mirror at Bombay for $25 (down from $299) and the black and white hounds-tooth laundry basket was $16.99 at HomeSense (also known as HomeGoods depending on where you live). It’s also worth mentioning that the black coat rack (also purchased at HomeSense, 3 years ago) is actually designed for displaying a tea cup or mug collection, but when I spotted it I knew it would work perfectly for the mudroom.
The 101: Before decorating any room, be honest about how you use it. A monochromatic color scheme is a perfect backdrop to a multi-use space. Small rooms are great to experiment with fun door hardware.
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