A useless kitchen space becomes a super-useful magnetic chalkboard spice rack

February 21 | Guest post by Amanda B.

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 11.14.57 AM

I had this odd space in my kitchen that I didn't know how to handle. I'd seen a few projects done where people used metal and chalkboard paint to create a magnetic spice rack and since I had a) no place for spices, and b) no better ideas for the weird space, I decided to go for it.

When Jason left, it looked like this.
When Jason left, it looked like this.
I'd heard that they'll cut sheets of galvanized steel for you at places like Home Depot. This is incorrect (at least, in my experience). I asked about it and they instead directed me to pre-cut pieces. Since the cubby hole was an odd measurement, I'd need something custom-cut. So, I turned to our trusty friend Jason. I gave him the measurement I'd taken, and he said he'd get a galvanized steel plate custom-cut for me. He also told me what kind of adhesive to buy — Liquid Nails.

A week or so later, Jason came over to help me install the steel. We decided the best method would be to just glue the steel onto the cork as we had no idea what we'd be screwing into or how long the screws would need to be if we did that. He used a whole tube of Liquid Nails to glue it on.

Next, I decided to break out the chalkboard spray paint we found at the hardware store. "Oh!" I thought, "This will make the project go so quickly!" I taped up the area all around the board, using cheap paper tablecloths that I picked up at the grocery store, for fear of getting spray paint all over the kitchen.

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I set the box fan in the window on high. I turned on the range hood fan on high. I cracked windows all over the condo. I was all ready to go! But guess what I didn't have? A mask. D'oh. So, I worked in short bursts and retreated to an open window every minute or so cursing my stupidity the whole time.

I finished the first coat, then waited the two hours before adding another coat. By that time, I knew I wasn't going to go through all that again, so I tore down the paper and resolved to just go buy some brush-on chalkboard paint. Hmph.

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This third coat was quick and painless. I used this neat little trick I found on Pinterest — a rubber band around the can to wipe the brush on so that you're not gumming up the rim of the can with paint. Brilliant!

After I was done, it looked like this:

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After the recommended three days (!) I was able to put up my spice tins and write on the board.

I bought these tins wholesale and glued magnets to the back of them. I found these cute Martha Stewart labels at Staples — they come off, which is useful. I got an orange fine point Sharpie and went to town!

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I found this chalkboard pen, which I thought was much neater than actual chalk!

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And then it was ready to use!:

No, I did not write "Wendy's" for Wednesday night, that was my husband.

I'm pretty proud of it. I'm glad I could make a useful space for our kitchen. Now my husband knows my weekly meal plan and it's not just all in my head, and I have a place to neatly store my spices!

  1. I'm trying to do this in our apartment. Need to pick up the metal plate still. It looks amazing! Congrats!

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  2. I like the steel by itself too! When I lived at home my Dad and I put up a sheet on my sliding closet doors and I put magnetic poetry all over it. It was fun.

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      • Dry and wet erase markers work best on very smooth surfaces like glass or plastic. You could put a piece of plexiglass over the steel and write on that.

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          • Clear contact paper. It's the poor-teacher's lamination. It doesn't work as well, but wet erase markers will write on it.

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  3. Ah, I definitely need to find a place that's logical for posting our meal plan. This looks great, good job!

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  4. OMG this is so cool. My BF wants to do this SO BADLY in our kitchen because right now the spices are a mishmash in the cabinet and it drives him BONKERS when he's trying to cook.

    ๐Ÿ™‚

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  5. This is awesome!! For anyone else who wants to do this, it would be a whole lot easier to paint the steel before gluing it to the wall. That way you wouldn't have to worry about taping up paper or even painters tape, opening up windows or paint drips. Way easier. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    • Great idea-I hadn't thought to paint it before putting it up! But I think I also wanted to be able to fill in any cracks between the steel and the frame. It's an old house, so that frame does not exactly have right angles! I didn't want any cork popping through on the edges.

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  6. This is so cool. I need you to come to my lakeside cottage and help me figure out some cool projects that I can do like this. I love your craftiness. Thanks for the inspiration.

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  7. Thanks, everyone! This project turned out to be easier than I thought and I love the results! I didn't even include that one of my favorite parts is that I can actually fit a tablespoon into these containers as opposed to all the weird and small spice containers I had before.

    I've seen around the interwebz projects where people painted their fridges with the chalk paint for a menu or message board or a big cookie sheet.

    Good luck with your projects!

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    • I'm super impressed and now I'm amazed at fitting in a tablespoon! Some of my little jars only fit a quarter teaspoon! PAH!!

    • A cookie sheet! What a good idea! When we first moved we bought a couple cheapo ones that rusted really quickly – but could be painted and used for this!

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  8. It really turned out great – nice work! I also have to admit – I had a bit of a "baskets moment" when you said you just bought the tins and glued the magnets on them – genius, ha!

    • If you want the bottoms to be flat, you might be able to take sheets of magnet-paper (they're paper sized and magnetic I literally don't know what else to call it), cut it to size and glue it on. Heck there might even be properly-sized round pieces with sticker paper on them for just such a project.

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