How To: Make a Kitchen Cupboard Message Center

How To: Make a Kitchen Cupboard Message Center

Gregory Han
Mar 19, 2009

We've been making a lot of improvements to our kitchen over the last few months, but without much counter space we were still lacking a space to keep track of recipes and such. We're not a fan of having a cluttered fridge door, and who can find a pen or post-it when you need one? So we turned the insides of our super-tall kitchen cupboard doors into a useful and attractive message center using chalkboard paint and some cork-on-a-roll. Now we have a place to leave messages for our spouse, pin up recipes we plan to try soon, and more. We even moved some spice bottles around to make room for a vintage Pyrex creamer that serves as a catchall for chalk and an eraser. Now to tackle our next kitchen nightmare...reorganizing those shelves!



  • primer and/or trim paint
  • chalkboard paint (we used Rustoleum's brand)
  • small paint rollers and paintbrushes
  • sandpaper
  • painter's tape
  • spray adhesive (or foam double-sided sticky tape)
  • chalk and eraser
  • a roll of cork (or cork squares), available at most office supply stores
  • long ruler or T-square
  • X-acto knife or scissors
  • thumbtacks
  • buttons
  • fast-bonding glue (we like Aleene's Fast-Grab Tacky Glue)

1. Wipe down the inside of your cupboard doors with some soap and water and allow to dry. Sand lightly and give a light coat of primer.

2. If your cupboard doors have noticeable trim on them like ours do, give the trim a coat of paint. We used a satin-finish white trim paint to match the trim on the fronts of our cupboard doors.

3. Once the paint is dry, tape off the trim on the cupboard door you intend to use as a chalkboard. We used green "Frog Tape" brand painter's tape and it worked wonderfully.

4. Begin applying the chalkboard paint, starting at the corners and edges, "cutting in" just as you would when painting a room. We used a brush for this part, then switched to a foam roller for the majority of the cupboard door. The first coat looked very thin and made us a bit worried, but luckily this worry was totally unfounded.

5. While the first coat is drying (we turned on a fan to help speed things along), measure the space on the cupboard door where you will be installing the corkboard. We found a roll of cork at Staples that measures 24" wide by 48" high and this worked very well for our needs. The space we needed to fill was 11 1/8" wide by 53" high, so we simply used an X-acto knife and a T-square to cut the cork to size. We needed to cut one long piece and an additional small rectangle to match the height of the door.

6. Next we took the cork outside and tacked it to a piece of plywood we use for messy projects like this. We applied the thumbtacks (only pushing them deep enough to stay put) in each corner of the cork to make it lay flat. (The cork had a tendency to roll up on itself, a problem you wouldn't have if using cork squares.)

7. Spray the cork thoroughly with adhesive, according to the manufacturer's directions. The one we used (Aleene's Acid-Free Tacky Spray) allowed you to see where it was being sprayed, but it dried clear. (We'd love to find a good low-VOC spray to use in situations like this, so if you have a recommendation please chime in!) If you would rather not use an adhesive spray (which will be a bit of a pain to remove later, we admit), you could also use double-sided foam sticky squares or something similar.

8. Wait a few minutes, then carefully pry up the thumbtacks and bring the cork pieces inside. Apply the cork to the inside of your cupboard door, adhesive-side down. Be careful as your placing it as the glue will be quite sticky and ready to grab. Have a friend help you if you have trouble getting the cork aligned correctly on your own. We started by applying our long strip of cork at the bottom of the cupboard door, and used the smaller rectangle to fill in at the top. Once the cork is in place you can press it firmly against the door, smoothing it down until it feels secure. Now this door is done!

9. The other door should be ready for another application of chalkboard paint now, so have at it. Ours looked perfect after a second coat.

10. While the second coat is drying, why not whip up a few fun thumbtacks for your new corkboard? You can turn almost anything into a thumbtack—such as those alphabet letters you see on fridges, shells, or small rocks—but since we happen to have an overflowing button jar, we chose buttons. Just turn your chosen buttons right-side down on a piece of scrap paper and squirt a small dollop of glue in the center. Smush a thumbtack into the glue and allow to dry.

11. At this point, we stepped away from the project for a few hours to let the chalkboard paint get as dry as possible before removing the tape. Once the tape was removed, we conditioned the board for first-time use by rubbing it all over with the side of a piece of chalk. (The paint can said to wait a few days before using the board, but we figured a few hours would be enough. So far so good!)

12. Use an eraser or a soft cloth to remove the chalk and buff the surface of your chalkboard. Now your message center is all ready to use. Here's hoping you never run out of soymilk again!

Jenny Ryan is the recent author of Sew Darn Cute: 30 Sweet & Simple Projects to Sew & Embellish and also and is also co-owner of the Home Ec. Department at Reform School.

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