design: a blank slate


new year, new ideas- and, i’m trying to figure out where to put them!  online, i’ve started using evernote more regularly for my online note-taking and finding it’s a pretty cool (and free!) tool that synchs seamlessly between my desktop and iphone. but, my office can quickly become a choatic mess of papers and inspiration pieces strewn over my desk, floor, chair, etc. i wanted a clean space where i could showcase, organize, and keep visible new ideas or colorways that i am working with.

enter: the new homasote board in my office.  this project was practically a year in the making (ordered the board in april of last year after months of searching where to find it!), and i’m so excited that it’s finally up and ready to use!

this large space is a great opportunity to be able to visually lay out inspirations, new ideas, etc, on something other than my office floor!  besides my usual procrastination issues, this really was a rather large-scale project- both in size and steps.  just getting the board wasn’t easy- as not many places offer this type of homasote board (often found in architecture offices and small galleries). i finally contacted the sales rep for my area, who directed me to Menard’s with specific instructions of what desk to go to (good thing- Menard’s is cavernous!). upon ordering, i realized that the boards can’t be precut, so i also had to arrange for them to be delivered to my home.  once wrangled into our basement (sometimes having an unfinished basement is convenient), i had to figure out how to cut the enormous 8′ x 5′ board into something more manageable, and how to cover the not very attractive greyish-beige natural finish. here’s a sketch of the steps that took my board from basement to studio wall:

  • i eventually decided decided on a 6′ x 3 3/4′ size for the final board size, and cut it down by running a box cutter with a new edge through the board multiple times until cut through.  i changed the razor a few times to ensure a sharp edge and kept moving a large cutting mat underneath to the new section that i was cutting (more to save my razor edge than the basement’s cement floor).  a metal ruler helped keep the cutter in line and from straying towards my fingers.  other cutters might work as well, but keep in mind that homasote is compressed fiberboard, and the paper layers can become jagged if not cut with very sharp tools!
  • after cutting the board down to size, i decided that a few coats of white paint were the easiest way to go, and would provide a fresh and clean backdrop for an inspiration/work board.  others have covered theirs with fabric or designs (the link below includes fabric coated images), and if this was going in a kids room or guest room, i say go for it.  from a work perspective, though, i didn’t want the backdrop to compete with the images!
  • painted and dried, the board then spent a few months being shifted around from place to place, while i tried to figure out the best way to hang it- and to find free time to get an extra pair of hands to help me… this is NOT a one-person job!
  • last sunday we finally found the time to go to home depot, get the necessary supplies (a new stud finder, appropriate screws and plaster anchors and finishing washers) and hang it up in my office.  with a board this size, this is DEFINITELY a 2-person job (and a third wouldn’t have been turned away!).  i really followed the steps of the Shiso Mama blog for figuring out exactly how to hang this beauty*.  i skipped the fabric covering steps, and focused on using the stud finder to locate our studs.  based on where the studs are, versus where i wanted the board positioned, we used a combination of 4 screws into studs and 4 screws into anchors.
  • using a level, we marked out where we wanted the board to be.  this included a lot of one of us holding the board to the wall, while the other inspected from a distance or used the level to make marks.  then, based on where the wall studs are, we marked out 4 spots for screws on the board.  we added an additional 4 spots for anchor screws, because i wanted the four corners screwed down (all that hanging out in the basement had made the corners slightly bowed out).  we then put the anchors into the wall, measuring accurately to coordinate with where those 4 spots were on the board.
  • then, one of us held the board in place (be prepared to sweat and strain!) while the other carefully screwed the board to the wall in the premarked spots.  we screwed the anchors first, since those need to screw accurately into the pre-placed anchors.  you have a little bit of lee-way with the studs, since they are generally 1.5″ wide.
  • after some straining, cursing and careful screwing (insert joke here), the board was up, and i now have a blank slate for all of my 2012 ideas!

* the steps where i deviated from Shiso Mama was NOT pre-drilling of the holes into the board, and using anchor screws as well as stud screws.  we decided to mark out the places we wanted to drill on the board with an ‘X’ and then drill into board and wall at the same time.  this is a little risky when drilling into anchors (as the anchors need to be drilled into the wall first), so it’s important that the measuring on the wall and the board is done with precision.  we used a high ladder to be able to look from above and see that the screw was going into the pre-drilled anchors.  it definitely helped to have an engineering-math-type helping with this part… i might have been a little ‘looser’ with measurements, which would not have yielded such even and level results!

Here’s to loads of creativity in 2012!


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