Vintage Frame Chalkboard {DIY}

I have always been drawn to the idea of using chalkboard paint to cover a wall or surface.  I guess there is a certain nostalgia to being able to write with chalk; like you are back in elementary school and you are just learning the multiplication tables.   My admiration was reaffirmed several years ago when I saw 500 Days of Summer with one of my most favorite actors, Joseph Gordon Levitt (affectionately JGL).  If you haven’t seen Zooey Deschanel (another favorite) and JGL in her band’s adorable music video, you need to do so immediately, so you can fall in love as well.  Anywho, in the movie, he had a chalkboard headboard/wall behind his bed.  I thought it was so neat.  A couple of weekends ago, I decided that I needed to finally paint something (anything) with chalkboard paint.

So Meg and I headed over to the Sleepy Poet Antique Mall to look for a cheapy but beauty antique frame/mirror.  I didn’t want to get anything that was super nice because then I would feel sad if the chalkboard didn’t come out right.  We found this great inexpensive baroque mirror and decided it would be a perfect addition to my kitchen.  Instead of the typical black chalkboard paint, I decided to go with navy.  You can actually buy colored chalkboard paint online.  However, as we can never do anything the easy way, I decided to make custom color chalkboard paint with a recipe from good old Martha.

What you’ll need:

– Frame/mirror/wall/painting surface of your choice

– A quart of paint in the color of your choosing.  Everywhere I read said to get flat paint.  If you are painting a wall, you will obviously need more.

– Unsanded tile grout  – Don’t be fooled into buying the 50 pound bag.  They have a smaller sized tub, but they (Lowe’s) make it hard to find so you will have to look.

– Paint brush for edging and small roller

– Spray paint in color of your choosing (for the frame)

– 150 grit sandpaper (I really didn’t use this but the recipe called for it so…I guess use your judgement?)

What you’ll do:

1)  Spray paint your frame/mirror.  I decided to go with silver spray paint since I wanted it to be neutral.  Normally I would cover the mirror surface when spray painting the edges.  However, I skipped the step since I was painting over it anyway.  Let dry.

2) In an old disposable tupperware, mix 2 tablespoons tile grout with just a LITTLE bit of water until it becomes a slurry.  This makes for less lumps in the paint = happy times.  Add 1 cup of paint and mix with a paint stirrer until clumps are gone.

3) Paint the mirror surface with your chalkboard paint.  Edge first.  If you have an unsteady hand, you might want to tape the sides to make sure that the frame doesn’t get covered.  Use a mini roller to cover the rest of the surface.  Let dry at least a couple of hours and then put another coat.  I ended up with three coats just because I didn’t wait long enough before I started writing and ended up with chipped paint.

4) After paint has dried for a long time (some things I read said to wait as long as a day), use the sandpaper to gently rub out any imperfections.  To make it into a chalkboard, use the side of a piece of chalk to cover the entire surface with a layer of chalk and then wipe off with a barely damp sponge.  Let dry and write!  To be honest, I had a little bit of difficulty with this part because once I put chalkboard all over the surface, it was really hard to make it look like the paint color it was before.  I finally found that you can clean it with a cloth dipped in Coke and that made a huge difference, but still not perfect.  Meg made another chalkboard item that you will see tomorrow with black chalkboard paint and hasn’t had this issue, so it could be the fact that I used a weird color.  Who knows.  I still love my chalkboard.

I was feeling extra fancy this weekend so I decided to turn our apartment into a bistro and write our breakfast menu on the chalkboard.  In french.  I am not entirely sure that this was the exact translation, so just pretend it is.  Also, I decided not to use the french word for waffles because well it just isn’t that pretty.  Either way, the waffles were delicious.

I’ve put the chalkboard frame up in my kitchen for us to write to-do lists, draw pretty pictures, or write inspirational quotes.  Corey will likely be drawing some cats.




  1. Katie

    I love this idea and I’m going to do it! I want this in my kitchen also. Fair warning, I might have to call you both for help!

  2. Taylor

    Oh I LOOOVE this! Your french cafe is a real beaut Colleen! You sure are fancy.

  3. Steven

    Very Cool. Tippin my ball cap to this one ladies.

  4. marilyn

    This would make a really cool noteboard in the kitchen to leave notes. Eco friendly.

  5. nancy tate

    Love that Sleepy Poet!! Very neat idea!

  6. Blair

    If I could, I would paint everything with chalk board paint! In my kitchen I painted a long chalk board, should have seen the husband’s face when he walked in and saw a black wall in the kitchen. He loves it now.

  7. Shannon

    I love this! I definitely need one of these in my kitchen! I also need that breakfast 🙂 Great work ladies!

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  9. Lindsey Regan Thorne @ be pretty

    All time favorite post and DIY!!!! You just made a little chalky look completely glam! Well done sweets… loving this! 🙂

  10. Colleen

    Thanks so much guys! You should def all make one because it was easy and really cute.

  11. Josee

    Attempted to do something similar but used the back of a piece of paneling and ended up with an epic fail as the surface was too rough. Anyways just a friendly comment from a francophone: waffles in French is Gauffres and it would be Le petit déjeuner : gauffres avec fraises et chocolat (au chocolat would mean that the chocolat is inside the waffle and not a topping) 🙂 French grammar is complicated haha