It’s a busy world we live in, and keeping yourself (and/or your family) organized can feel like a Herculean task at times. Creating a command center in a high-traffic area, like the kitchen, will set you up for success.

Enter: the chalkboard organizer. Not just for classrooms, chalkboards offer an erasable surface that can be customized with various lists, calendars, notes, or memos—and easily changed. But what if you don’t like the standard black or green color options? Not to worry, with one simple ingredient, you can easily customize your own chalkboard paint in any color you want.

I happened to have an old black chalkboard that I decided to repaint with a moody plum color, but you don’t necessarily have to use an existing chalkboard. Any flat surface will do—an old picture frame or mirror, a scrap piece of plywood, or even a wall or cabinet. Paired with a hanging rack rail, I now have a central place in my kitchen to hang items like my purse and reusable bags, as well as keep track of shopping lists, tasks, and appointments.

Ready to get organized?

Steps

Step

1

Since my old chalkboard had a frame around it, I decided to stain it a different color (feel free to skip this step or paint it instead of staining). I started by taping off around the edges of the chalkboard, and then used a soft rag to wipe a coat of wood stain onto the frame. I used a stain color called “Special Walnut.” Let dry for an hour, and then remove the tape.

Step

2

To create your custom chalkboard paint, mix 1 cup of any water-based paint (like latex or acrylic) with 2 tablespoons of unsanded grout. I found that using an 8-ounce paint sample was a great strategy because I could have it tinted to any color that I wanted, and I didn’t have to pour it into a separate measuring cup. I simply added the grout right into the sample pot and stirred. Be sure to stir until all of the lumps dissolve.

Step

3

Lightly sand the surface that you’re painting, and wipe away any sanding dust. Then, paint an even coat of your chalkboard paint with either a paint brush or roller. Let dry for two to three hours. Note: If you’re using an old picture frame or mirror, you can either paint directly on the glass, or paint the backing piece.

Step

4

Once the first coat is dry, paint a second coat to ensure full coverage. Let dry overnight.

Step

5

Now that your chalkboard is dry, you’ll need to prime the surface before using it. Priming helps eliminate any “ghosting” where you can still see chalk marks after erasing them. Simply turn a piece of chalk on its side and rub it all over the chalkboard until it’s completely coated in chalk.

Step

6

Use a soft cloth to thoroughly wipe away the chalk. Your chalkboard is now primed and ready for use.

Step

7

Hang the chalkboard in a high-traffic area—like the kitchen, mudroom, or entryway—and mount a hanging rack rail directly underneath it. You’re all set to get and stay organized!

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DIY

We are no strangers to DIY home renovations at Semihandmade. After all, that’s where the idea for making doors for IKEA kitchen systems came from. So naturally, we had to dedicate an entire section of SemiStories to celebrating our design community’s ingenuity, from DIY kitchen ideas to thinking of smaller details like rattan glassware and easy-to-make wall hangings. Don’t just take it from us: we’ve tapped the best in the business. Anita Yokota shared her best trick for a $20 bathroom renovation, Jessica D’Itri Marés shared her favorite spray painter, and Jenna LeBlanc showed us how to give wall-to-wall storage a custom touch. Maybe you’re just dipping your toes in the world of do-it-yourself, in which case we recommend starting small: try your hand at making your own speckled candle holders, for example, or give your greenery an updated home with pretty stacked planters. If you have a handy side (maybe you’ve put together DIY kitchen cabinets or are not afraid to use a power tool), we have projects for you too: painting a hand-painted mural is a fun way to give your favorite room some life or maybe you’re game to try putting together your own TV cabinet like Sarah Sherman Samuel did (PS: she saved thousands in the process). Experts, we’ve got you covered too: from learning to tile and grout your own backsplash to painting your cabinets without a hitch, we have plenty of DIY kitchen renovation ideas to keep you busy. We don’t stop at the kitchen either: from wall-to-wall media centers to fluted doors made for playroom storage, you’ll find ideas to improve every room in the house