Monday, September 17, 2012

From Fam-Cave to Man-Cave: DIY Chalkboard!


There's a space in our home that I haven't shared with you in a post yet, and that's our family room.  This poor room has struggled to find it's identity since the day we moved in.  When we first walked into this space during our house hunt, the dark wood paneling and wooden bar with orange formica countertop just screamed "MAN CAVE!".   I'm convinced this room sold our house to my dear hubs.

But then we moved in.  And 3 kids under 4 years old have a knack for taking over a house room.  James noticed how quickly it went from man-cave to fam-cave, as the kids' toys and my aesthetic filled this family room.  Perhaps it was the paint color gone wrong (a "sterling silver" that was much more blue than a masculine grey) or my white shag rug (which is not considered suitable man-cave material by any standards).  Either way, we have an amazing husband/Daddy around these parts, who didn't complain about losing his man-space to Legos, puzzles and pretty striped drapes.

James works incredibly hard for our family as a govt contractor and high school football coach, and was also doing an intense one-year program to finish his master's degree.  So, on his trip out to PA for the final week of the course, I thought he deserved to have his man-cave back as a happy graduation gift and a thank you for all he does for us.  

My mom was in from CA helping me with the kids that week and she was my stealthy accomplice as we kicked off "Operation Fam-Cave {back} to Man-Cave"!   This is the only 'before' pic I could find as we began taking the room apart.  Obviously this covert op took place after the kids were in bed..hence the bad lighting.

We had already swapped out the blue/tan/cream striped drapes for these light gold ones (they are reading a little yellow here)...and everything going on behind the couch would change.

 I knew it wasn't realistic to expect the toys and all evidence of family to completely vanish...and James wouldn't have wanted that either.  But I did get busy stalking craigslist, browsing internet deals, and shopping sales for manly decor and concealed storage.

James graduated from Notre Dame and football runs through his blood, so needless to say, this household is all Irish!   He loves the tradition of both the game and his alma mater, so I wanted this room to pay tribute to those things.  I also wanted it to be a practical place for entertaining and those tactical football brainstorming sessions.  

We didn't quite finish it all by the time the hubs came home but we made enough progress to create a room that looked very different and felt a lot more like James.  And made for a pretty great surprise!

Here's how this same area looks today.

We took out the corner cabinet and added a pub table and chairs in it's place.

This gave us extra seating and another place for food/drinks.  It's easy to pull the chairs over to the chalkboard when that's in use, but more on that in a minute!  His boxing gloves from college gives us some interest in the vertical space.

This Four Horseman lamp just oozes Notre Dame tradition and was James' graduation gift from my parents.  It's always lit when the Irish are playing.

I found these glass coaster on sale at Michael's and we used the picture slots for black and white photos of a few of James' coaching hero's.



This wall was actually empty when the hubs returned from his trip.  We both served in the Marine Corps and I thought it might be a good place to display some of his favorite memorabilia from that time in our lives.  I wasn't sure what he would want to put up, so I left it up to him.  After tossing around a few ideas, he asked if I wouldn't mind going a different direction....and thus was born this chalkboard beast.

We just grabbed a 4x8 ft piece of plywood from the hardware store along with some trim, and a few steps later, we had a perfect place for chalk talk.  We sanded the wood then painted it with some leftover chalkboard paint I had from another project.  I stained the trim with the same stain we used on the bar top (I'll share that in another post) and we were done!  Well, almost.

I could tell you that we hung pics of James' top 4 inspirational football coaches just for fun, but here's the "let's keep it real" moment.  Our measurements were slightly off on the trim and we ended up with a gap in some of the corners.  Instead of ditching the wood to start over, we used the frames to hide our "oops" and ended up added a personal detail in the process. 


Of course, in addition to the coaching staff, Mia can reach the bottom of the board and likes to add her own input to the play book.


Read from the bottom up, that's "Mia's Octonaut Rescue Display Project".  We watch a bit of Octonaut's in this house :)


To encourage the kids to keep from too much of this very thing, we mounted a white board right at their level.  It's mounted off to the side here because we used to have a play tool bench next to it that was moved to the boys' room.  Having it off to the side actually works out because it gives the Coach a place to stand without the kids being under foot.

They love the white board...

 ...and since it's dry erase, it's not a big deal if ink gets on the wall.  It's easy cleanup with a damp cloth, so I love it too!

A small bronze tub sits on top of the mini fridge (along with some erasers) and holds chalk.


Ultimately we went from this (and just imagine it with dark wood paneling on the walls)...


To this...


We still have some work to do, both on this wall and in the rest of the room.  The biggest change will be in the paint color.  I already have two cans of deep grey waiting to cover those light blue walls.  This room gets a ton of light, so it can handle a darker color.  Now it's just a matter of picking a weekend to do it!

We also have plans for more art/decor, improvements to the bar area, an update to the fireplace and a few more personal touches.  Even with all that, we aren't waiting to use this space!  It's already hosted many family/friend get-togethers, coaches meetings, and even some playdates.

I'll share our updates over the next few weeks as we finish up those final projects...and I'll be sure to show you how we still manage to keep this a kid-friendly family zone without sacrificing an ounce of manliness!

How do you keep the kid-stuff from taking over?  Anyone else tackled a "manly" project or a room that does double-duty?












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