Chalk it Up
Tinted chalkboard paint. Cool, right? Just Us Four blogger Shannah Coe thought so. She'd been looking for accessible way to keep track of her family's day-to-day activities that also worked with her kitchen decor. "When I found I could tint the chalkboard paint to any color I wanted, I knew the larger parts of the command center would be chalkboard because it would make it so easy to add/change things on our calendar and menu," says the mom of two. "Of course, you can't have chalkboard on the wall without a place for kids to play too so I made sure to put the notes section at their height for fun!"
TIP: Before you start with your chalkboard paint, be sure to do a coat of the paint in the color that is already on the wall first so you'll end up with the nice crisp lines on the different sections!
What a find! Photographer and blogger Katherine Marie scored this enormous 8' x 4' schoolhouse chalkboard on Craigslist for just $20, and turned it into one-of-a-kind organization center she keeps in the garage. Each of her four kids has space for a communication binder, personal artwork, a tiny bucket, and a hanging grab-and-go bag (not shown). A daily home binder holds receipts, coupons and notes, while daily clipboards hung along the top hold outgoing mail, checks, permission slips and whatever must be dealt with that day.
TIP: Ditch the dust! Liquid chalk markers are more precise, less messy and dry (and erase) like regular old chalk.
There’s no one right place for a command center. Megan Duesterhausm transformed a tiny, unused corner of her entrance hallway into this bright and cheerful spot. From to-do and chore lists to totes and shoes, there’s a place for all of life’s mess: bins (from Target) for things that can't be tacked up; a magnetic board for quick pin-ups; a sticky board for task items; family file folders, and more. "I love, love, love looking at pretty, organized spaces,” says The Homes I Have Made blogger, who in addition to being functional, wanted the space to be fun, fresh and happy. “I first picked a color palette (turquoise and yellow) that worked with the rest of my house and then coordinated everything in that color scheme as I went along. Nothing here was overly time-consuming or difficult. One piece just built upon the next.”
TIP: Give a lot of thought to WHAT needs organizing and the best way to organize those things. There is no point in going through the work and trouble to set it all up if it doesn't 1) do what you need it to do, and 2) it's too difficult to maintain!
Start your own organization center by mounting an assortment of handsome magnetic boards to your wall. West Elm's 12" square bamboo board is both sustainable and smart. It comes with 4 magnets for pinning notes and dangling keys and small accessories, plus a dry erase pen for jotting memos, to-do lists, weekly menus, etc. It also pairs perfectly with the store’s sleek stainless steel board.
GET IT NOW: Magnetic Boards, $24-$32, at westelm.com
Mixed and Matched
Oh So Chichi blogger Jamie is mom to an active little boy, runs a home business, teaches dancing, volunteers, and does it all living overseas with her military husband. "I needed to find a way to bring order to the chaos," she says, so she crafted a pretty plaid dry erase board, scooped up magnetic boards and chore charts on Etsy.com, and created a too-cute meal planning board. (She hung everything using 3M's amazing Command Picture Hanging Strips). Finally her family could visually coordinate their schedules in one central location. "It really became a communication hub."
TIP: Build something that will be versatile and don't be afraid to modify or tweak your command center after the fact. Chances are you'll identify certain components that may work better for your family after you've experimented with it.
Change is good! Designer and SAS Interiors blogger Jenna Burger's stylish Central Command Center is the latest of several incarnations designed to keep her family organized, on schedule, and to know where they’re going when. “The space for a CCC doesn't need to be large, but instead functional and centrally located.” Her strategically situated version (“kinda close to the foyer and kinda close to the kitchen”) is accessible and its good looks make it easy on the eyes. A painted chalkboard, which makes the whole space usable, backs thoughtful, fun and functional touches: framed inspirational quotes; pretty clipboards holding chore charts, grocery lists and more; key boxes for misc stuff; mounted mason jars for pens; and DIY calendars made from picture frames (painted white to pop against the black).
TIP: Two calendars are definitely better than one! Add an extra month to your CCC so you can jot down important upcoming dates and plans.
Hit the Spot
Tired of never being able to find important bills and papers, Hi Sugarplum blogger Cassie Freeman carved this charming Family Drop Spot out an unloved corner nook, freeing her kitchen counter from the junk piles cluttering up over valuable counter space. "All I needed was an unused sliver of wall to create a full-blown family command center!" she says. She added a small shelf to hold a charging station and a cup of pens, a cute memo board to hold invites, meal planning ideas, etc., and wall files labeled using adhesive metal tags (yes, crapola is a category). "Now my counters are cleared, and everything is contained in one tidy, easy-to-access spot!" Best of all, the total cost of the project was around $50. And, she got her kitchen back.
TIP: Go through your papers and files once a month or so, and clean up the outdated items.
Landee Anderson couldn’t help but notice the wasted space on the side of her fridge. She’d also longed for a command center, and had tried to make it work in several different places with no luck. Inspiration finally hit. “The two thoughts came together and then it was just a matter of how to make it work in that space,” says the author of the blog Landee See, Landee Do. The trickiest part was finding sheet metal large enough, but after some clever sleuthing, found what she needed at a heating and air company. “They have machines to cut duct work and they can do it for you! I gave them the exact measurements of that area and they had it all cut for me in a matter of days. They even rolled the edges so it wouldn't be sharp,” she says. “After that it was just a matter of gluing magnets on the backs of anything I could get my hands on.” Frames, files, mini-buckets and more all finally found a place to perch.
TIP: Source creatively!
This adorable hanging command center grew out of a recycling challenge for Earth911. “I had to restyle a kitchen item into something useful," says Get Crafty blogger Staci, “and it just so happened I had a cookie sheet-sized bit of open wall in my kitchen. It was right next to the windowsill where I had been laying my grocery shopping list, so a kitchen command center in that spot was perfect!” Using chalkboard paint, acrylic paint, a silver Sharpie, a mint container (to hold chalk), some ribbon and a few other things, she completely upcycled her old cookware into something super cool. “And, the components are flexible enough they can be changed to suit whatever the crafter has available.”
TIP: Stick to a cookie sheet that’s on the thin, cheap side. The added weight of magnets, clothespins, pens and a grocery list would make a heavy one too difficult to hang.
Is it wrong to covet thy neighbor's command center? Or steal "best of" ideas from others? Of course not! Especially given how gorgeous McKenzie Guymon's version turned out (LOVE the vinyl stripes!). "I was tired of having lists and calendars all over my house. I wanted one central location where I could find everything I needed," says the Girl Loves Glam blogger. "I looked at several different command centers and found inspiration from each of them. I measured the space I had and figured out a way to fit everything I needed, in that space. I used plywood, a paint sample, dollar store picture frames, and Command Strips to make it all come together. I have had it for over a year now and still use it daily! It is really easy and inexpensive to make too!"
TIP: Go Glam! Steal Guymon's style by printing the menu, to do list, calendar, grocery lists, and cleaning list. Snag the pretty chore chart at the blog Simply Kierste.
Inspired by Girl Loves Glam's creation, I Am Momma Hear Me Roar's Cheri Heaton decided to give it her own unique, rustic spin. "I am an organization nerd. It makes me ridiculously happy to have lists and calendars and now I love having them all in one place," says the mother of two boys and a baby. To create her organization station, she cut aged wood (formerly a fence) into slightly different lengths and attached them using scrap and a nail gun. A old metal Ikea strip holds magnets from Target; bottom hooks were added to hold keys; frames were spray painted to match and the dry erase board was just sitting around.
TIP: Consider screwing it directly into a stud to secure to the wall (it's pretty heavy with all the stuff on it).
The Big Idea
Organized doesn't have to mean totally neat freaky. For example, Angie Kraeske’s be-ribboned, burlap beauty keeps order with just enough "mess" to charm. "I had seen some great ideas on Pinterest and wanted to put my personal touch on it," say the author of the blog Postcards from the Ridge. So the design savvy mom revamped a 4’ x 4’ bulletin board she'd picked up years ago at a yard sale for $5, then added some mail bins, dry erase boards and a recycling bin (made from actual recycled newspapers), along with some other “just for fun” items. “Once I decided on the project and gathered the materials it was a really simple project, completed in a couple of hours at most."
TIPS: Before you go before you go out to find or purchase things, determine what you really need most--you might not need as much as you think! Check the attic, the basement, even the guest room - you never know where inspiration is hiding.