Thursday, February 3, 2011

Down with chalkboards

As an HGTV junkie, I feel compelled to talk about a design trend that I don't get. Namely: chalkboard paint.

When it became popular a few years ago, I thought it was a neat idea. "Oh look! You can paint a little message board right on your kitchen wall! What a great place to write grocery lists!"

Adorable, right? From

That lasted about 30 seconds. Then I contemplated actually *writing* my grocery list on a chalkboard. Am I the only one who gets chills whenever I write on one? It's not worth the trip to Goosebump City when I just want to jot down that we're out of Diet Sunkist.

I'll admit, there are some cute applications for chalkboard paint out there. You could do a colorful chalkboard mural in a kid's room and let them draw on the walls, for instance, and I do kind of love the chalkboard globes I've seen. But as a public service to anyone contemplating one of the following projects, I'd like to point out some potential problems.

Chalkboard dressers and other storage pieces:

Again, adorable! From
It's not that these storage pieces aren't cute, because they really are! The problem is, every time I needed, say, some markers or stickers from this craft dresser, I'd reach for the drawer, brush one millimeter of a fingernail against the surface and OH GOD NO CRAFT TIME IS OVER.

Another version of this same problem? As soon as your kids figure out how annoying the nails-on-a-chalkboard sound is, scratching it just to drive each other (or you) crazy will be their new favorite game. So maybe that mural in their room isn't such a good idea after all.

On to lamps:
The whole point of the chalkboard paint trend is to write and draw on it. So why would you put this paint on a fragile object that will fall over as soon as you try to do that? This same issue goes for vases and wine bottles, which I've also seen.

And a personal note to whoever wrote this particular lamp message: You probably shouldn't encourage too much drinking and merry-making in a house with chalkboard lampshades. Before long, it'll be "Heyyy, wherezzzachalk? OK, lemme draw you a pisshure. Imma draw a pretty heyyy, whyzza lamp fall over? Izzat a fire?"

Kitchen cabinets and backsplashes:
Design Sponge
For the cabinets, the same "can't touch them without wanting to die" issues apply here, and that's a problem for cabinets that you touch 50 times a day. If I had to risk scraping a chalkboard every time I wanted a bowl for ice cream, I would weigh about 30 pounds less. Which... hm. Now I'm rethinking this.

For the backsplash: yes, it's customizable. Yes, it's easier to draw a new pattern than re-tile when you're tired of it. And yes, you will have chalk dust in ALL OF YOUR FOOD! Mmmm. 

I really do think chalkboard paint is a great *concept*, and I don't want to discourage anyone from being creative. In fact, if you've used it, please comment here and tell me how it went! I'd love to see photos... just as long as I don't have to actually inhale any chalk dust.


  1. I'm with you, the sound and feel of chalk boards creeps me out. Whoever invented dry erase boards is a genius!

  2. With you on the chalk, but I would be interested in trying the chalk MARKERS. That's what they do the signs with at Starbucks and stuff. If it were a felt tip marker, then I'm back to square 1. Texture heebie jeebies.

  3. I've heard they have dry-erase board paint! Now THAT I could get behind.

  4. If you were writing on actual classroom black boards, the screetching sound might be an issue. However, the texture of chalkboard paint is just THAT. Paint. It doesn't make a screetching sound anymore than the paint on your walls.

    Also, chalkboard markers are a dream and only erase with a damp cloth...perfect for kitchen cabinets, drawer fronts, etc.

    As for lamps, I giggled at your comments but I think a pretty quote on a lamp should would be nice.

    As an HGTV addict, you should know that current trend with chalkboard paint is MOSTLY for AESTHETICS in many instances (which is why Pottery Barn sells chalkboard rocks...pahleeze!). So a chalkboard lampshade works there.

    Personally, I don't think it's very nice to post photos of projects that others are proud of and pick on them. Just sayin'. You're entitled to your opinion though. That is mine.

  5. You are absolutely right- picking on other people's projects isn't nice, and I didn't intend to do that. I really do think all of the projects above are beautiful! But I misunderstood how the chalkboard paint works, and thought the texture would be all screechy.

    Sounds like I was wrong...not the first time! :) At least I made you giggle. Thanks for the comments!


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