Keeping Your Family in Touch

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Estimated Time: 
4-6 hours including average drying time
Build a Message Center for Your Busy Family



Let's face it: busy schedules demand so much of our time and attention, it's difficult to keep track of our own time, let alone know what everybody else is doing! Wouldn't it be nice if you had a central location for family members to keep in touch? A place where you can stay updated on holidays, doctor's appointments, sporting events and school and social functions? With a little paint and a few simple tools, you can.

Creating a family message center is a great idea for busy families on the go. This multi-functional space entails creating a "magnetic" chalkboard using specialized magnetic primer, chalkboard paint, and decorative molding. It's the perfect locale for the family to tack up messages, grocery lists, leave reminders, even hang the art of your budding Monet. The best part about this project (besides the fact that it's simple and inexpensive) is that it can go anywhere in your home!

Project Steps

Step 1



Start by marking off an area on the wall for your message center. You want the entire area to be no less than 2 feet by 2 feet to make sure you have enough functional space. (You can also make the center a rectangle, similar to a bulletin board). Use a level to guide you as you draw your lines for your "frame" to make sure they're straight.

Step 2

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Next tape off the area you just marked with painter's tape on the outside edge of your lines. This will ultimately be the "frame" of your new message board, so take this opportunity to assess its shape. Are all of the lines straight? Do you have enough functional space in the middle to use for notes and the like? You might consider leaving the tape on the wall for an hour or so to see if you really like the location and size.

Step 3

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Using a roller or a paint brush, apply a coat of the magnetic primer to the inside of your square. You'll need to apply about four coats to get the most of the "magnetic" feature. Be sure to allow each coat to completely dry before starting the next. Read and heed the manufacturer's instructions as to drying times, how to apply, and any safety concerns, such as ventilation, etc.

Step 4

After the last coat of primer has dried apply the chalkboard paint. Usually you will need two coats for proper coverage. Again, be sure to let each coat dry before applying the next.

Step 5

Once the chalkboard paint is dry, remove the painter's tape. Next, measure the outside edges of your square (or rectangle).

Jane Tip: If you want the frame of your message board a certain color it's best to paint the molding before mounting it on the wall.

Step 6



Ready to use some geometry? Mark the molding with the measurements you took from the wall. These marks will represent an inward cut of 45 degrees. The corner cut is also known as the "miter" or angled cut. Be sure to cut the miter with the larger part of the molding facing inward. This extra space will create a chalk ledge later.

Step 7

Carefully cut all four pieces of molding using either a compound miter saw or a miter box and back-saw combination.

Step 8



To hang the molding, start from the top. Use your nail gun to secure it in place. Most molding is fairly light so you only need to place nails about every 6-8 inches. But if you want extra adherence you might first run a bead of construction adhesive (like Liquid Nails) along the back side in an "S" pattern before nailing it in place. Before you pull the trigger, make sure the molding is straight with a level.

Jane Tip: If you are using a nail gun, the tool will countersink the nails for you. If you are hammering by hand, use a counter-setter to push the nail heads beneath the surface.

Step 9

Continue to work from the corners out, pressing the next piece of molding snugly against the corner of the last one you just mounted, and then nail each piece in place. Make sure the pattern of the molding lines up.

Step 10

Don't worry if the corners aren't completely perfect. Little cracks can be filled with wood putty or spackle. Fill the nail holes with wood putty or spackle using your finger or a putty knife.

Step 11

Once the filler dries, sand the surface until it is smooth. Retouch any spots with paint if needed.

There you have it! With your new message center your family will be able to keep track of upcoming birthdays, soccer practice and vacations. Display your kid's artwork or good grades with a few magnets, freeing up your refrigerator. Add a filing system and a computer and you have a mini-office. The message center is also great for children's rooms, giving your kids a blank canvas to exercise their creativity. We hope your new message center will keep everyone in tune and organized, giving you more time to spend with each other.

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1 comment


I did this to the pantry doors in my kitchen and it's a great way to stay on top of the kids and also a great place for my grocery list.
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