I never pictured myself painting a wall in our house black, let alone doing it at 5am. But that’s what I found myself doing two weeks ago. Allow me to explain.
When our postcard wall moved into place last week, it meant our much loved wallflowers above the desk had to be relocated…
… well, some stayed in place when we decided we liked leaning a few on the shelves of our postcard wall– but the rest needed a new home.
Well, they didn’t go far. We decided to move them just one wall over to the small space under the office/guest room/playroom’s one and only big window.
Why? That’s probably best explained by answering the “how” first. Instead of relying on the special nails that came with our magnetic wallflower kit- which firmly affix the arrangement in one spot thanks to the magnet-backed flowers which stick to the magnetized nail heads- we decided to try something new: magnetic paint (note: some of the new wallflower kits snap instead of being magnetized). We thought magnetic paint would be just the thing for this project since we’d been dying to try it for years and were just waiting for the right project. We often wondered if the rumors were true- did it really work? We were about to find out.
See, by creating a large magnetic canvas we could design a spot where the wallflowers could be displayed, but instead of being limited to the fixed spots where we placed the magnetic pins in the wall, this time the wallflowers (along with any other magnets) could easily be moved around into an infinite number of fun formations, adding a nice element of “play” to our office/guest room/playroom- especially once Clara becomes mobile enough to move them around. And they’re definitely at a kid-friendly height!
Luckily the magnetic paint rumors were true. Well, mostly – it’s actually magnetic primer. We found this $21 quart of Rust-oleum Magnetic Latex Primer at Home Depot (next to things like chalkboard paint, dry erase paint, and glow-in-the-dark paint). Update: Here’s an affiliate link to it over on Amazon if you can’t find it in stores.
Oh and before heading home we noticed the instructions actually suggested having it shaken by the store’s paint department to help keep the iron particles from settling on the bottom – so don’t forget to shake yours like crazy! The instructions also suggested two or three thin coats to achieve the best results as opposed to one or two thick and gloppy ones. Good to know.
Well… we did seven.
And we made sure they were all extremely thin so there wasn’t any bump or delineation where the magnetic paint started or ended. Maybe four extra applications were overkill, but we were determined to make this stuff work. Plus I realized only after coat number two or three that I was supposed to be vigorously stirring between each application. Oops. But since the coats dried really fast it only took me an evening, a morning, and one random 5am painting session to apply all seven (Clara had woken us up for a surprise feeding- she usually sleeps from around 10pm to 9am!- so I figured I’d be productive while Sherry sleepily nursed her). And ultimately… drumroll please… it worked. Woo hoo!
Well, it mostly worked. After each coat I tested variously sized wallflowers to see if they would stay up. The smallest sizes stuck almost immediately but despite my persistence I never could get the larger ones to stay in one spot (they’d just slide down the wall, hit the baseboard, and fall off). So we’d say that magnetic primer works, but not with anything terribly heavy. Now you know why some ended up on the postcard shelves. Oh well – happy accident.
But in the good news category, despite the fact that we had just painted a huge black spot on our wall – it barely took two coats to cover it up completely with the original wall color (Glidden’s Sand White). Phew. Heart attack averted. And it didn’t seem to lose any of the magnetic attraction when covered with other non-magnetic paint. It’s also 100% non-toxic and kid-safe when dry (obviously it’s not safe for a kid to drink it in liquid form). We did keep Clara out of the room with the windows open and a fan on for the full drying period (and about three days after that since we happened to be out of town for the weekend anyway) just to be safe.
Even though we couldn’t get all of the wallflowers to stick, we’re actually really happy with how it turned out. And we can’t wait to find some other fun magnets to put up there so Clara can play with them when she’s a bit older. Speaking of which – does anyone know where we could find an all-white set of those alphabet magnets? We googled around for a while with no luck- and we think they would be a fun and educational addition to the little slices of “playroom” that we’re trying to squeeze into this small space for our favorite little girl.
Has anyone else tried magnetic primer? Or any of those other wacky chalkboard/dry erase/glow-in-the-dark paints? We’d love to know what you guys thought about using those newfangled products. Did they work? Were they messy or hard to apply? Spill the beans.
Psst- Wanna follow the entire office/guest bedroom/playroom makeover? Click here for the intro post, here to read about the big sleeper sofa hunt, here for the DIY desk play-by-play, here for the homemade light fixture project, here for our hacked Ikea bookcase, here for the file storage we built, here for how we squeezed in some toy storage, here for how we picked out some DIY art that we could agree on, here for how we wrangled our wires, and here for the play-by-play of creating our postcard art wall.
They’re not 3D, but they’re white and magnetic!!
And clearly I could use some of my own, since I just typoed my own name. Sigh.
marisa @ vinyasa mama says
not sure about the magnets…but how do you get clara to sleep from 10pm to 9am? that’s incredible, especially for a breast fed baby! mine is almost 5 months (he is also breast fed) and still wakes up for 4am feedings every night.
We really think that every baby is different! All throughout my pregnancy Clara was super active during the day and virtually undetectable at night (she slept when I slept- no 3am kicks like my friends mentioned). So I think she’s always just been a sleep-at-night baby. Even in the nursery at the hospital the nurses had to wake her up at feeding time and they’d bring her to me all groggy (she often tried to sleep through those feedings and I struggled to tickle her and keep her awake). Our only advice, other than just seeing what kind of baby you end up with and embracing that, would be differentiating night sleep and daytime naps (ex: make sure the room is extremely dark overnight, play a sound machine for the baby, create a bedtime routine to wind the baby down the same way every day). Doing these things quickly had Clara going longer and longer stretches even though she’s breastfed (she does feed extremely frequently at night before we put her to bed – like nearly every hour from 7-10). Hope it helps!
Hi! While this still has color, it has white too :) I like it though because they put the letter in and it says the sound of the letter, and it has a two level volume control too. They also have words an animals (it’s fun when you put two parts of the wrong animal together – it says the animal you made up then it says “that’s silly”). I have purchased them at Target. It’s magnetic, for the fridge!
(I hit enter and it submitted, didn’t add the link :( hehe, sorry!)
Love this idea. And there are some great ideas coming through from the comments too. What a nice forum for creativity you’ve got going here. Love YHL!
Love the wallflowers. I’ve never tried magnetic paint. Sounds like a lot of fun.
I found some white, wooden, magnetic letters…not sure if this is the look you’re going for: http://search.store.yahoo.net/cgi-bin/nsearch?catalog=yhst-19627207816819&query=white+magnetic+alphabet&.autodone=http%3A%2F%2Fstore.crazyscraps.com%2Fnsearch.html
Very pretty. And good feng shui! We all need that in our workspaces. . My desk is so buried right now. I’ve broken my number one rule (that my desk is a sacred space)!!
Ashley Stinson says
Found this blog where someone just went ahead and spray pained the magnets white: http://moodygirlprojects.blogspot.com/2010/02/alphabet-magnets-made-over.html
We made our own magnets (for our fridge – but they’d be great if you made more of them) out of the remnants of marble/stone/tile that we cut down into smaller pieces and attaching a strip of magnet to the back. You could write the letters on in funky script and seal the tops if you want…
But cool idea about the magnetic wall, I’m going to do a surprise office makeover for my husband while he’s away one weekend in the next couple of months and I think that will now be on the agenda!!
Y’all are so creative, and by the way I’m definitely stealing the postcard wall idea when I get around to it. :)
How does the magnetic primer fall on the non-toxic scale? Does it even matter if it is covered up by more coats of paint?
We actually meant to mention in the post that the magnetic primer is 100% non-toxic and kid-safe when dry (obviously it’s not safe for a kid to drink it in liquid form). We did keep Clara out of the room with the windows open and a fan on for the drying period (and about three days after that since we happened to be out of town for the weekend anyway) so that helped too!
Awesome idea! Love how it looks.
Warning! Be sure the magnets are big enough so that your baby cannot put them in her mouth. Swallowing two or more magnets can be deadly for anyone. Imagine the two magnets in your intestines at different points and then attracting eachother. Not good.
Absolutely fantastic point Shyla! That’s why we’re currently leaning towards magnetic sheet letters (you know, the whole thing is a magnet so there’s nothing glued on that could pop off). Great tip though. Safety first!
Donna Mock says
I spoke with Magnetletters and they have the flower but its not posted on their web site. Magnetletters was the company that did the Extreme Home Makeovers using magnet walls. I talked with the owner. Its a 6 peddle flower and cost $7. Very nice people.
Christine B says
It looks great! I like that you can hide the black paint with your own wall colors.
For Christmas one year I spray painted chalkboard paint on thin masonite wood. I used several coats of paint. I cut the board into 16″x20″ pieces which fit into surplus frames my mom had, which I repainted. I included a box of chalk and a cute ribbon. It was a fun, inexpensive gift, and the picture frame made it easy to hang on the wall. They worked really well for lists or doodling.
Emily @ The Happy Home says
we painted the awkward wall next to our fridge with green chalkboard paint– it looks just like a schoolroom! i absolutely love it, but it takes a little bit of scrubbing to get the chalk off entirely. i would suggest using softer, sidewalk chalk for the wall, instead of straight-up schoolroom chalk.
Thank you for helping me with map size and location yesterday. I cant wait to work that project into our guest bedroom. :)
Ok, I’ve always wondered who’s the master mind behind all these fun projects yall come up with? I get my ideas from yall since i dont have one crafty bone in my body! lol I just wanna know how do you think up the projects?! Is it over dinner? While you’re out window shopping? Playing with Clara-bear? So many ideas come out of two amazing brains! Love your site! :)
We’re pretty much brainstorming whenever we’re not actively writing posts or responding to comments, so we do it in the car, over dinner, while grocery shopping, etc. We also take long walks as a family every day (about 3 miles or so with Burger and Clara) so that’s a great time to toss out ideas and figure out what we want to tackle next!
[email protected]'er All About It says
I thought for a moment that you guys were going to keep the black and wondered how you were going to incorporate that into the design! What a great idea to just paint right over it!!!!
PS I purchased some of those wallflowers on Amazon a few weeks back and can’t wait for them to arrive!!! They are such a perfect complement to any room!!!
amber L says
awesome idea! did you have to paint over the whole wall or just the black spot?
and don’t you just love all the unsolicited parenting advice? ugh.
We just painted over the magnetic paint (which thankfully looked seamless once it dried- we love flat paint for that reason!). Hope it helps!
Melanie Beth says
I saw someone’s comment (and your response) and thought I would mention that the wall ITSELF is not magnetic. It can not affect credit cards or computers or anything… and you can’t demagnetize it because all it is, is metal shavings in paint. A magnet itself will stick to it but the paint is not actually magnetic.
Alphabet magnets seem like a really cute idea, but I would be worried that sliding magnets around the wall a lot would leave black skid marks, especially on flat paint. But I say that only as a challenge to your creativity!
Also — you could make your own alphabet magnets with Scrabble or Bananagrams tiles. They wouldn’t be all white, but they’d be very clean and modern looking. The difference between the two would be the letter value on the Scrabble tiles. I’m pretty sure Bananagrams are just letters without the little subscript number, plus you’d only have a cute little banana-shaped sack left over instead of a game board, box, etc.
Here’s a link to Bananagrams if you’ve never heard of it: http://www.amazon.com/Bananagrams-BAN001/dp/1932188126/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=toys-and-games&qid=1280250496&sr=8-1
Man, I really want to do this project now! Although I bet it would end up costing a lot more than just buying a set of basic alphabet magnets.
Good point! That’s why we’re thinking that white sheet magnets (which we can cut into letters) are better than gluing magnetic disks to the backs of things (which can also pop off and be swallowed- eeks!). As for the wallflowers, they actually have white plastic in front of the magnetic part (so you can drag them around the wall without leaving any black scuffs). That was a lucky break!
p.s. We love Bananagrams!
We did chalkboard paint in our 5 year olds room. He loves it, and the black wall really lends to his space theme well :)
Oh! And I forgot.
For letters, I took thick card stock paper and magnetic sheets from magnetvalley.com and printed out the letters I wanted. Then I stuck that paper to the magnetic sheet and cut them out. That’s how my son learned all his letters and numbers :) HTH!
A friend of mine made her own ABC magnets using this tutorial (http://www.purlbee.com/abc-fabric-magnets/) so that her daughter couldn’t break/chew the magnets off of the store-bought ones and have that danger of internal damage from magnets. Plus you get the added perk of making them whatever size, color, and pattern you want!
i just used the rust-oleum chalkboard paint about 2 weeks ago for a wall in our basement. i did some research online, and used the shortest nap roller i could find, and in between coats (all 3 of them) i lightly sanded anything that looked bumpy. i must say that i am super happy with the results. i got 2 cans of the black chalkboard paint, just to make sure i had enough. that only set me back $20, and i have enough left over to paint the tops of 2 old ikea end tables so my friends kids have some place to play when they are over.
I was considering getting the wallflowers to put above our crib. I went on to the website and now they aren’t magnets, but have a snap-on feature. Should I be worried about these being a choking hazard, if they fell off? Are they pretty sturdy? Do you know what they’re made out of?
Our wallflowers are very sturdy, impossible to swallow (they’re too big, and the magnets are inserted in a way that they’re behind plastic so they can’t be removed), and should be totally safe for over a crib or changing table. But we’re not sure that the new snap on ones are made the same way so we can’t be certain that the snaps are adhered in a way that they’re sturdy and non-swallow-able. Good luck!
Handy Man, Crafty Woman says
magnetic primer? who knew such a thing existed!!!
glad your baby sleeps well. Ours never did, he was wired very differently. He was breastfed, too. While there are things that can help a baby sleep better/longer, sometimes babies are wired just differently and just don’t sleep for long periods. We tried EVERYTHING, but our kid just wasn’t a sleeper. I used to wonder if something was wrong with him, even as a newborn he was awake in a 24 hour span more than he was asleep! But we made it through.
My brother’s baby is the same way (with not wanting to sleep for long periods of time). But my mother said I was a quiet baby who slept for long periods of time. Go figure!
I bet you could DIY your own set of all white alphabet letters……even if you don’t want to assemble your own magnets, you could probably buy a color alphabet set and paint it white. No?
I don’t know if anyone commented this already, but I saw a blog post with ABC magnets that had been spray painted red. Good for aesthetic, maybe not so good with curious mouths, I’m not sure!
What a great idea!
Excuse me if this idea is redundant, I’m not going to go back and read all of your comments. Melissa and Doug makes some wooden magnetic letters that you could could paint yourself.
…What about white magnetic letters on black backing? Still nice and white: http://www.etsy.com/listing/52418478/entire-alphabet-of-vintage-white-on?ref=sr_gallery_3&ga_search_query=white+magnetic+letters&ga_search_type=all&ga_page=&order=&includes%5B%5D=tags&includes%5B%5D=title
P.S. These are even cute with the “school paper” theme on the magnets:
We did this recently in a closet turned office space. We actually had to make room for a nursery in the former office, and eventually the now office won’t be an office at all, just clothes and toy storage, and playspace. We used the magnetic paint (also multiple coats – one can goes a long way), and then used the chalkboard paint over it for an entire wall of magnetic chalkboard. We, too, had mixed results with the strength of the magnet, but it holds just about everything we need it to. Some magnets work better than others – we found some really strong clips at Staples. We also loved the alphabet letter idea – though we went with the traditional colors! You can see the whole project here: http://livingwellcolumbus.blogspot.com/2010/04/big-changes-to-small-space.html
We love it, and our babe just arrived last Thursday – he tells us he loves it too!
WHY do people feel the need to state that they are the 1st to comment on things? Clearly I have a serious pet peeve! :) Looks great, and glad to know that it works! Perfect for a kids playroom & can’t wait to try it some day in the future!
What a great idea! I love it!
As for the letters, could you try spray painting them?
This is just fantastic! I love that you would never know that it’s there. Amazing. And it will be so wonderful for Clara when she gets mobile! I am still gushing over your gallery wall also… as always, fabulous job!
Hey Dawn, thanks for the fabric magnet idea – was worried about the magnets coming off too since most folks don’t realize that a swallowed magnet can be deadly. Here is another idea – how about instead of letters you use shapes? Children learn using all their senses, if you use something that is more tactile – like a foam covered with a pretty material that matches your colors in the room and then add the magnet to that she will learn her shapes that way too. Just an idea.
Thanks for all the DIY-ideas for white magnetic letters! We figured we could make something ourselves if we couldn’t find ‘em, we’d just have to be sure to use kid-safe things (no toxic spray paint, magnets that could be detached and swallowed, etc). We do love a challenge though!
Amanda @ longroadset says
Looks pretty neat. I never even knew there was such a think as magnetic paint. At least you can paint over it! That black would have been awful! Neat idea!
Julia Harts the Man says
We used chalkboard paint for our back splash in our kitchen. Adds a fun element and it is really useful for putting up grocery lists or little notes to each other.
I love the flowers under the window. I didn’t expect to see them there! Super cute!
April Bryan says
We used brown chalk board paint on our utility door in the kitchen for fun notes and for our son to draw on. The paint took many coats to apply to make it even and smooth. I probably should of primed the door first, but I got too excited, but I still think I would of had to do many coats of paint anyways because the paint is weird. We love the outcome though!
**Also for all the walls of chalkboard paint out there, remember it is dangerous for kiddos to inhale chalk dust; so limit their chalkboard eraser time or let them use a wet rag (especially young scribblers that coat layer upon layer of chalk to create their masterpieces. It produces a large amount of dust when erasing if dry erased).
You two kill me you are just oozing with creativity! As I was reading this I expected you to frame the black magnet paint in some way but when I saw you painted over it flawlessly… WOW. I am amazed. You two rock.
What a fun idea! I’ve been toying with the idea of painting magnetic paint on my pantry door, then covering it with chalkboard paint for a convenient note center/grocery list making place. I appreciate hearing about the strength of the magnets and the number of coats needed. Thanks!
I have a Cricut that can cut sheets of magnets as well. Maybe that would be a good way to make some letters for Clara, if you knew somebody with one? If I had kids, I would be in my craft room right now cutting out some letters! (I might do it anyway! I already have magnetic poetry on my fridge!)
I like how one reader suggested shapes as well. Those would be super cute for Clara to use on that wall when she gets older. Wonder how easy it would be to attach magnets to shapes?
tasha roe says
that is fun paint! we put it under our chalkboard paint. so convenient!
you can look for the super strong magnets online to put in place of the ones on the back of the flowers. they run about $20 per pack and work wonderful!!
Wow, I love this idea! At first I didn’t realize that the magnetic paint could be painted over. Thank goodness you can because that big black spot does not belong in your beautiful house! I’m really excited to try it in my home office. Do you think it could hold, say one sheet of regular paper with a magnet? I like the idea of being able to hang my work above my desk, then take it down and hide it when need be.
Yup, it definitely could easily hold up sheets of papers with magnets (especially if they were disk magnets and not the smaller-magneted wallflowers. Hope it helps!
As a teacher, my recommendation is to at least make sure the vowels are a different color (they are usually red) so it’ll be easier for her to learn the difference. Also having both upper and lower case are very beneficial. Also it’s great to have different fonts too (especially when she’s ~4-6).
Katie Y. says
Looks like you’re leaning toward the magnet sheet idea?! What about these printable sheets (might be easier than tracing out the letters yourself) … you could print in a color to match the room or have it print the outline of the letters to leave the rest white and then cut them out???
Can’t wait to see what you decide to do!