Several years ago, I found myself overwhelmed with the task of working full-time, managing a household, and keeping up with two teenage children and their schedules. I had one child in high school, one child in middle school, two different band schedules, tennis practices, show rehearsals and let’s not talk about social events. It was exhausting.
I was scrolling through Pinterest over breakfast one morning (please tell me I’m not the only one who does that), and I found a pin for this build-your-own daily system by Pottery Barn. I was instantly smitten. I loved everything about it: the white board calendar, the cork boards, the spots for mail and magazines, a place to put your pens and markers. Everything except the price.
I don’t know about you, but I have Pottery Barn dreams with an Ikea budget.
No matter how many times I did the math, I could not justify the expense of this beautifully organized system, even if I had the perfect wall for it in my kitchen.
Our house was built in 1849, and the original house was added on to, at a time that no one is exactly sure of. My kitchen is part of that expansion, and was in the middle of a remodel in the 1980s. That remodel was never completed before we bought our house in 2001, and I’m ashamed to say our kitchen is still a bit of a wreck to this day. However, I have come to realize that life still needs to go on while you work on updating and renovating your house. The kitchen is not only the first room you enter when you walk into our house, it is one of the rooms we spend the most time in. So, with that in mind, I decided that, somehow, I needed a way to put a command center in my kitchen.
A few Google searches, several trips to the kitchen with my measuring tape, and a couple of clicks on the web later, and I felt like I had won the lottery. Here’s what I decided on buying:
A white board calendar. I use my white board calendar as part of my monthly meal planning routine. Having this calendar posted in the kitchen cut down on repeated, “What’s for dinner?” questions, and also allowed other people to step up and take responsibility for making dinner. Mine is by Quartet, and is 24″ by 18″, which includes the frame. That model isn’t for sale any longer, but this model is frameless, and is the same size.
Cork boards. I have two of these vertical cork boards, one on each side of my menu board. The one of the left used to house our school district’s yearly calendar. Now that my children are in college it houses an inspirational quote and some cards I have received in the mail. The one on the right houses our weekly cleaning schedule, and some important business cards along with the phone numbers for all the town offices. I bought mine from Improvements.com, and after four years, it seems they aren’t for sale any longer. The ones I have measure 12″ by 19″, but these boards by Quartet would match up nicer with the 18″ calendar board.
Slotted organizer. I use this organizer to store current editions of the two food magazines I subscribe to. When I am done with the issues, I remove the recipes I wanted to save, or enjoyed trying from the magazines, and put them in my “to try” holder, or into my cookbooks. There are a bunch of different kinds of organizers like this on the market now, many which have little shelves, and key hooks. I already have a place to organize my keys and the few pieces of mail that don’t get dealt with when they come in the door, so I didn’t need those features. The ones I have also came from Improvements.com, and again, are no longer available. The closest ones I could find are these, but not in white. Although, if white isn’t your color scheme, that wouldn’t be an issue. Also, your command center, doesn’t have to match mine either.
Large cork board. I love the idea of family photos in the kitchen, but hate having them stuck to my fridge. I thought, why not get a bulletin board, that way I change the photos out on a regular basis? This was a DIY project. I couldn’t find a cork board in the size that I wanted with a white frame. I searched high and low and when I finally got frustrated enough to quit, I had a brilliant idea. I could buy a picture frame, take out the glass, and put in rolled cork over the cardboard insert. It was so easy. I use flat thumb tacks and make sure I’m gentle when I push them in, and so far it’s been fine. Once a year or so, I go through and update some of the photos, and others have been there since I first hung this display in 2012.
Giant initial. I didn’t want to put another slotted organizer on the other side of the photo display, so I purchased an 18″ raw wooden R, which is the first letter in our last name, and painted it white. I then sealed it with a bit of wax, and hung it on the wall. The R hung a little crooked, so a dab of poster putty keeps it straight.
This is what the whole thing looks like in our kitchen. When you first enter the door from our porch, you can either go straight back into our family room (the newer part of our house), or take a left into the dining room, which leads to the original house. This display is on the wall that leads into the dining room. It is right next to my stove, and has been one of the most well used upgrades we’ve made to our kitchen in fifteen years.
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