A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family
A Little of This & That… Renovating, Decorating, DIY Projects & Family

Maker’s Space, Part 2: Building the Multipurpose Art Boards

Happy Monday! A while ago I shared two special spaces in our home – I’ve been affectionately calling them ‘maker’s spaces’ because they’re two creative spaces in the house that we’ve set aside for the girls. Sadly they often become stacked with toys to put away (in the case of our table) or slid behind nursery gliders and baskets (in the case of our boards) and I have to remember that they have to be seen to be used!

But, when they are used they are so loved. (Mental note to keep them clear from here on out.)

As a reminder, the two spaces are a designated kid’s art table + chalkboard wall in the hallway (including mini chairs, unlimited rolls of paper and a small-but-big-enough ottoman that holds a ton of art supplies):

A Maker's Space, Part 1 | Organizing Art Projects for Kids | PepperDesignBlog.com

And the second is a set of four art boards (two different project surfaces on each side of two different boards) that stack up against the wall in the girls’ room:

Building Art Boards | Chalkboard, Whiteboard, Magnet Board, Dress Up Mirror | PepperDesignBlog.com

I thought I’d take a moment today to share how I built the art boards. I think that they are such a clever way to encourage creative play while also keeping art surfaces discreet in that this-won’t-take-over-the-room sort of way.

I originally spotted a chalkboard made in this style on Pinterest (can’t find it now to link) and brainstormed what kind of surfaces I could cover four different areas with. What emerged was: a chalkboard and on the opposite side a whiteboard (which we use with removable stickers to make imaginary scenes), and a magnet board with a dress up mirror on its opposite. Other ideas might include a felt board or even boards that lay flat when in use for legos, a train table…

Nursery Artboards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Okay, now to breaking down the steps to make each.

Let’s start with the easiest – I found the chalkboard and whiteboards at Lowe’s (I’ve seen them at Home Depot, too) in the exact size that I was hoping for (24×36″). I simply applied a healthy application of liquid nails to the back of one board and sandwiched the back of the other on top. Clamps left on over night secured the two together.

Nursery Artboards | PepperDesignBlog.com

One side is chalkboard, but if you flip to the other you’ll have a whiteboard:

Nursery Artboards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Liv uses the chalkboard to practice letters, teach her teddy bear preschool class and to draw signs and designs that she wants to move around the house (it’s great for me, too, if I want to create a sign like a dinner menu for a party or welcome note/sign for a birthday).

The whiteboard is kind of cool because we use them with reusable stickers (like these) to create fun scenes. An outline of a house + stickers of chairs and tables turns into a play house, an outdoor scene (drawn with whiteboard markers) becomes perfect for reusable flower stickers. To clean, just baby wipes and a mini spray bottle of water.

Nursery Artboards | PepperDesignBlog.com

The second board – which also stacks against the wall and tucks away when not in use! – is a magnet board on one side and a dress up mirror on the other.

Girls' Room | PepperDesignBlog.com

This guy was more challenging to make but well worth it. The finished measurements were: 24×36″ mirror framed on a 36×48″ piece of plywood on one side, and a 24×36″ piece of tin nailed to the other.

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Materials: 24×36″ mirror, 48x48x1/2″ plywood cut to a 48×36″ size, 48x48x1/4″ cut into four 36″ pieces, 24×36″ piece of tin, paint, sanding block, liquid nails, 1/2″ aluminum nails, wallpaper, awl and hammer.

I stumbled across a perfectly sized 2×3′ mirror (I could have always modified the frame measurements if I hadn’t though) and designed a board + frame around that size. By adding a 6″ frame all the way around the mirror, my final measurements for the board were 36″ wide by 48″ tall. That was convenient because you can buy a 4×4′ plywood sheet at a pretty inexpensive price and have it cut in store to remove that extra foot.

The plywood for the base of the board is 1/2″ thick and for the frame, 1/4″ thick. I had the second piece of plywood (1/4″ piece) cut into four 36″ pieces (one for the top and bottom and one for each side).

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Home improvement stores can never really give exact cuts because of the type of saw that they use (which is meant to handle big cuts over precision). When I got home I had to correct the cuts so that the edges would all be flush (no splinters for the kiddos!).

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Then with the mirror temporarily in place as my guide, I simply applied liquid nails to the edges and adhered the 36″ border frame into place.

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

For a very flat surface, I recommend allowing the boards to dry with clamps in place for at least 24 hours. You might notice that I’ve sandwiched my actual mirror board pieces between two scrap pieces of wood to prevent any indentation from the clamps.

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

The sanding block comes in handy at the end of the project as well to grind down any edges, corners, or splintering wood.

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Next up was striping the board! I removed the mirror and got to work with layers and layers of striped paint. No method to the madness, just painting, drying, taping, painting, drying, taping, painting…

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

As long as I really pressed my painter’s tape (using frog tape here) along the edge in place, my lines turned out okay. A little bleeding here and there but nothing I was too concerned about or couldn’t paint over again. I also painted the edges for a uniform look.

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Side one, done! Paired with a dress up basket, this little gem yields to hours of imaginary play.

Nursery Artboards | PepperDesignBlog.com

The other side of the board was a plain piece of plywood for a while…

I knew that I wanted to create a magnet board, but I actually had the hardest time coming up with a background design that I thought would look nice in the girls’ room with their starry wallpaper and all of the other crazy patterns that are already going on in that space. I sat on the idea forever and finally, during a Spoonflower browsing session, came across a fun zig zag/chevron design that I dug. I reached out to the artist and she was AWESOME enough to create a custom color palette that pulled out some of the colors in the room (thanks again, Christina!). You can purchase the design here (also, kudos to Spoonflower for allowing you to buy custom-sized wallpaper rolls now).

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

To apply the wallpaper to the board, I first used a straightedge and exacto knife to cut the paper to size. The Spoonflower label gives instructions for application (you can check out my installation review from the girls’ room) which includes dunking in water, ‘booking’, and another straightedge to help remove any bubbles (for a project as small as this I use a paint stick) followed by wiping up any extra glue that may have seeped out of the side.

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Next up was attaching the magnet board (which is actually a piece of purchased 24×36″ tin from the home improvement store) with aluminum tack nails. (Helpful tip: you want to be sure that your nails will not puncture all the way through the board before hammering them into place.)

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Hammering the aluminum nails directly into the tin was near impossible, so plan b was to first poke holes into the tin with an awl every 3″ or so.

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

The very last step was to create cute learning magnets to hold up artwork. I found fabric alphabet letters on Etsy and thought that they’d be perfect for practicing words and sounds. To turn them into magnets, I simply cut up some of those flat promo magnets that we had collected from the mail (you know, the pizza menus and what not) and hot glued them to the back of each of the letters.

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Building the Art Boards | PepperDesignBlog.com

Building Art Boards | Chalkboard, Whiteboard, Magnet Board, Dress Up Mirror | PepperDesignBlog.com

Finished! I’m so happy with these boards and I think that they’ll get years of use. I might add to them as we go (felt board, cork board…) or maybe even make a pair of chalkboards for T to have her own when the girls play in this little corner together.

Thanks for hanging in there for this lengthy post :), I’m happy to have this project finally documented. Have a beautiful day!

PS more on that maker’s space part 1 and where to find that fun flamingo print. Now to find a solution for lots of little craft supplies (pouf balls, popsicle sticks, beads…) for the kid’s table.

If You Have Some Extra Time…

Good Eats: Flower & Bumblebee Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing | PepperDesignBlog.com

Above is a fall take on these iced flower cookies (except with black sprinkles in the center – which I love!). This past week we’ve been squeezing in work during off hours on a small studio rental that we are hurriedly getting ready for a new tenant, which means a little rest and family time might be in order around this casa for the weekend (including a date with our favorite pumpkin patch). Hope you enjoy your weekend, too!

If you have some extra time:

5 ways to encourage creative ideas.

How to (properly) roll cuffs via Jenna Lyons.

An awesome fall button down (to practice said cuff rolling) – this one, too.

5 questions to ask yourself when decluttering.

A fall cardigan (love this in black).

A cheeky vase I’d like for my desk :).

The challenges and thought process behind designing a book cover (from a designer that has thought up over 600 of our favorites).

12 words that even smart people get wrong (for the grammarist in each of us). ‘Affect’ and ‘effect’ still makes me pause and think… for a while.

Growing up my step mom wore these types of dresses all of the time. I’m surprised and a little happy that they’re back.

A happy place to do laundry and an awesome nursery ceiling.

A few of these comments hit home for me, especially in these last couple of months of a ‘surprisingly expecting’ pregnancy (but a happy one at that). I thought Sarah Ridenour did a nice job of summing up what harmless, off-handed comments most moms with 2+ probably don’t want to hear…

A heel I’d love to wear, a lipstick color I’d like to try, a sweater cape I’m digging, an artist I am appreciating (make that two).

How to learn self-control (turns out it’s a trait that can be honed, just ask the children – who are now in their 50s – who participated in the psychological ‘marshmallow test’). I’m trying the test out on Liv ;) and the habit-forming suggestions on me!

Ignoring the above, I’m breaking the meal norm and making this super-comfort food tonight :-).

PS if you’re in the San Diego area, here’s more on Summer’s Past Farms, that pumpkin patch we love! 

Best Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

You guys. You must try this recipe. I probably say that about every recipe that I post here, but sometimes I come across something so delicious that it is worth sharing with big, enthusiastically waving arms, jumping jacks and a happy grin (just to, you know, get it some more attention).

You know I’m a big fan of making sweet breads (they’re maybe the world’s best comfort food to me) and I was so over-the-moon happy with how this particular batch turned out. I’ve played with many a bread recipe in the past but this one is a slightly modified version of all of those – it is moist and flavorful with just the right amount of cinnamon. It’s not over powering in a too-much-pumpkin sort of way, it’s topped with a crystalized sugar crust and the chocolate chips make it the perfect dessert or afternoon snack (though we’ve been enjoying for breakfast, too!).

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

I have been waiting so patiently for grocery stores to stock their canned pumpkin! Who knew it was so seasonal?

Mmmmm pumpkin bread is everything fall should be and so much more (sort of like when the fall line-up at Starbucks arrives – then you know that the season change is official).

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread

Ingredients:
2 ½ c flour
1 t salt
2 t baking soda
1 ½ t cinnamon
½ t nutmeg
3 c + 1/4 c (for topping) sugar
4 eggs
1 c vegetable oil
1 large can (30oz) of pumpkin
2 c chocolate chips (optional)

The simple steps: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two loaf pans (or about 3 12-count muffin pans) by lightly dusting flour all the way up the edges.

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

Blend together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg, set aside. In a large glass bowl (or mixer), beat eggs and add 3 c sugar. Mix in vegetable oil and pumpkin.

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

Scoop dry ingredient mixture into wet ingredients one cup at a time and mix well. There will be A LOT of batter so a large glass bowl is easiest :-). I’m sharing the big batch version of this recipe because I’ve never understood small batch recipes – if you’re going to make something delicious and tasty, best to make at least a couple of loaves for sharing! (or midnight snacking)

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

We love chocolate chips in this house and add them to everything. The more the merrier. Feel free to omit if you’re making a morning bread or are not a fan though (walnuts or pecans might make a fun addition instead). Or how about chocolate and nuts??

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

Pour batter into loaf pans or muffin trays. Hint: I love the idea of adding a crystalized sugar topping so I’m a big fan of generously sprinkling sugar as a final step onto almost any sweet bread batter. I also add just a few more chocolate chips to the very top of the loaf so that the chocolatey gooey-ness is visible when they come out of the oven.

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

Granular sugar is awesome, white sugar works well enough for that crust. Bake for 45-60 minutes (I choose to underbake just about everything but that’s a personal preference) and pulled this guy out early when a toothpick test revealed a moist and almost cooked center.

Can you see the crystalized sugar on top? It’s what’s making much of this loaf lighter in color. So delicious.

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

Mini loaves would make a really yummy gift for the neighbors (wrapped up in wax paper and tied with baker’s twine for extra points), and muffins a fun snack for school.

What makes this bread so delicious to me is the consistency. It’s not at all dry like traditional pumpkin breads (at least the kind you might buy at a coffee shop or pre made in a bakery) and reminds me more of a cross between a carrot cake and a banana bread density-wise. But of course with that amazing pumpkin taste.

Best Pumpkin Bread (with chocolate chips) Recipe | PepperDesignBlog.com

Happy baking! Do you have any sweet bread tricks that you’ve discovered? When I’m trying to make a ‘healthier’ bread (like these farmer’s market muffins) I cut down on the sugar a bit and add extra veggies. When I’m going for YUM I double the sugar and add extra chocolate :).

Baking is second on the list of favorite mommy-and-me activities (first is our craft afternoons), I can’t think of a better way to spend an hour than with Liv and me in aprons (and T tasting everything) while covered in flour!

More good eats (including two yummy fall recipes: maple oat bars and apple pie pops) and a baby shower with a pumpkin ‘up, up & away’ themed cake at its center. I often refer to dessert breads as ‘sweet breads’, but don’t worry, I’m not talking about those sweet breads! I ordered them at a restaurant once by accident… Lesson learned.

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