Chalkboard Paint Door

2015 went out with a bang. In the course of one month, Anne and I proposed to each other on our 7-year anniversary, drove from Philly to Chicago and back to spend time with Anne’s family for her birthday and Christmas, hosted my family in Philly for a post-Christmas/engagement/New Year’s party, and made delicious fried pork dumplings as a last hurrah of the year. Phew!

January is all about recalibrating and figuring out what is and isn’t working. What wasn’t working toward the end of last year was working long hours six days a week, not feeling focused on one task at a time, eating too quickly, being absorbed by social media, and generally feeling the holiday frenzy.

This year I’ve decided to focus more on uni-tasking (read an amazing article on it here), as well as taking time to cook, bake, knit, and continue teaching myself to sew. I’ve rearranged my work schedule back into five days a week (for now) so that Anne and I can fill our time off together with home projects and celebrating our engagement!

Our latest home project was revamping the inside of our front door. It was feeling pretty sad and overlooked, and I thought that chalkboard paint would be both practical and really fun. We didn’t need many supplies for this project, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to spice up a little piece of their home. Below is the tutorial!

Chalkboard Paint Door


  • 180-grit sand paper
  • TSP spray
  • Rag or paper towel
  • Washi tape or painter’s tape
  • 1 quart chalkboard paint in any color
  • Wooden paint stirrers
  • 2-4 foam brushes
  • Chalk
  • Eraser

Step 1: Take the door off of the hinges, and place it on a tall, sturdy table. Use 180-grit sand paper to thoroughly sand the side of the door to paint. Insure that the surface of the door is smooth and free of any large bumps.

Step 2: Use a rag or paper towel to spray TSP onto the door. This spray will remove all dust and debris from the door, creating a clean surface for painting. Cover door edges and metal hardware with washi tape or blue painter’s tape.

Step 3: Open the can of paint and mix it with a paint stirrer. (It is beneficial to keep the paint stirrer nearby to stir occasionally as you work.)

Step 4: Apply paint to a foam brush. Create even strokes of paint that go with the grain of the wood. Cover the door with one full coat of paint, and let it dry for 4 hours. (If the foam brush begins to disintegrate, discard and use a new brush.)

Step 5: After drying for 4 hours, apply a second coat of paint and let dry again. The door is now ready to be put back on its hinges!

Step 6: Wait three days before continuing this tutorial, as the paint needs to set. Then, prime the chalkboard paint by using the long edge of a piece of chalk to cover the entire door with chalk. Take the eraser and erase over the whole thing. This is a critical step for chalkboard paint so that the first thing you write doesn’t imprint. Your door is ready to be used! Leave important messages, write down a favorite quote, or lay out your week of meals. Having this board in our kitchen (where our door opens into) is going to be so much fun. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

How To Install Picture Ledges

The Pope came to Philly last weekend, and the whole city was on vacation (#Popecation). Highways, bridges, city streets, and most of the public transit system around here was shut down for three days. Anne’s school had a “cyber day” on Friday, and I was home from work. Although millions gathered to see the Pope and hear him speak downtown, we ultimately decided to go into full-on hibernation mode and work on our new apartment. There was a lot to be done!

In preparation for the Pope’s visit, Anne and I bought our first power tool: Ryobi Reconditioned 5.5-Amp 3/8 in. Corded Variable Speed Reversing Compact Clutch Driver. We know what approximately three of those words mean, but I now go by the nickname Ryobi-Wan Kenobi regardless. We were really excited about it because: 1) it came with a matching tool bag to store it in, and 2) we’ve wanted to put up picture ledges for a really long time. It never happened in our last apartment because our walls were practically cement, so hanging anything was always such a headache.

If you’ve been thinking about buying an electric drill/driver, but haven’t known what kind, style, or brand to get, look no further. The Ryobi we purchased from Home Depot was the perfect tool for our job, and we are really excited to continue using it for other projects we have in mind. It was incredibly affordable and easy to use.

DIY Picture Ledges


Step 1: Gather all of the items you are thinking about displaying on your ledges. On the floor, test out possible layouts, and determine the height you’d like between the ledges.

Step 2: Choose what wall the ledges will be hung on. Use the Stud Find app to locate all of the studs in that region, and use washi tape to mark the found studs. Using studs to anchor your ledges, rather than just patches of drywall, will make them more secure.

Step 3: Make sure your couch, lamp, and side table, etc. are in their usual spots. Mark the floor with washi tape to know where to put the furniture back later. With that complete, decide how high above the couch you want to hang the lower ledge. Note that it should be at least 8-10 inches higher than the back of the couch.

Step 4: Align the three holes in the bottom ledge with the marked studs in the wall. Use the Ryobi to drill in the middle screw. Then, use the Level app to make sure the ledge is level before driving in the second and third screws. (This step definitely calls for two people. Invite a friend over to help, or work together with your significant other or roommate.)

Step 5: Test the height of your items on the ledge. Add 4-6 inches of wall space above the tallest item to know how high to make the next ledge. Repeat Step 4.

Step 6: Once both ledges are securely drilled into the studs, step back and congratulate yourself. You did it! It’s time to fill your ledges with frames and other mementos. Here are three tips Anne and I thought up to help create a beautiful display:

  • Choose a color scheme. With so many items close together, things can start to look hairy pretty quickly. We decided on black, white, and blue (with a few small pops of color). Common colors will help everything look a bit more refined and cohesive.
  • Choose frames with varying heights to add visual interest.
  • Layer your frames. They are begging to be layered! Set one frame slightly over another to create a more chock-full look.

This project took us three hours from start to finish. Not bad, all things considered! It was our first project with Ryobi, and I honestly can’t wait for the next. The Stud Find app is also a lot of fun to use. We found ourselves checking for studs all over the apartment, just because it was so fun to hear the “ding” go off. What a thrill!

We’re excited to have installed something permanent in our apartment that will allow us the flexibility to alter our display. I like knowing that we can always add in new finds, or swap items out for different seasons. Installing these ledges was a big first step in settling in here, and I can’t wait to see how they will change over time.