DIY Wall-Sized Dry Erase Board

A couple of months ago, I was shopping at one of my favorite craft stores. On the wall behind the register was this:A magnetic, dry erase calendar!! WALL SIZED!!

As a freelance writer and marketing consultant, I am constantly juggling deadlines. Combine that with my personal assistant status to two toddlers, and my brain can't keep track of all the dates and times. It is an understatement to say that I was coveting the Pottery Barn calendar that you see above. After doing a little research, I discovered that this thing would cost me $160 (if I could find it on sale) and it was made of two pieces of metal that I needed to butt up against one another. (You can see the seam running right through the middle of Thursday.)
I knew there must be a better and cheaper way.
Here's the result of a little creative brainstorming and elbow grease:
Behold, my own "Pottery Barn" Knock-off.
  • 2 white panel-board panels from Home Depot (these are 3/8" thick and finished with a smooth white surface) = 2 @ $12.98 = $25.96
  • 1 roll of blue electrical tape from Home Depot (to make the calendar grid) = $3.97
  • 2 sheets of green foam (9"x12") from Walmart (to make the backing for the calendar numbers) = 2 @ $0.97 = $1.94
  • 1 package of Heavy Duty velcro strips = $2.29
  • 2 hours of work = Priceless
  • TOTAL COST: $34.16
My husband hung the panel boards for me on an empty wall in my office. The panels are 4'x8'. He trimmed mine to 6' tall. I pieced two together but you can't tell because I planned the grid so that the electrical tape would cover the seam. The total size is about 5.5'x6'.
I measured out my monthly grid, and designed my calendar number templates in Illustrator. I made a 5x7 square grid. (5 weeks, 7 days) Each square is 10" wide by 12" high.
Here's a close-up of the numbers. Click here to download a 2-page PDF of all the calendar numbers. I printed the numbers on full sheet labels and cut them out. Then adhered them to circles that I had cut out of the foam sheets. Finally I attached small squares of velcro to each circle. This way, I can change out the numbers every month.

I'm a little bit anal when it comes to aesthetics, so I didn't want blank sqaures of ugly black velcro hanging out at the beginning and end of each month. So, I made some blank circles with only the design on them to cover up the extra squares left when the 1st of the month starts on a different day.

I originally started out with the idea of melamine panels. I had heard that the Melamine surface mimics that of a dry erase board. But the woman at Home Depot directed me to the panel boards because they are a lot thinner, and consequently, there is a lot less weight to hang on the wall. The white panel boards are also 1/3 the cost of the Melamine. She even found some dry erase markers at Home Depot and let my sons color all over the panel before I bought it. The ensured that we would be able to wipe off the marker each month.
Now that I have it up, I'm in love. The marker comes right off with a clean rag. Red, blue and green markers work the best. The black marker leaves some shadowing and residue, but even that comes off with a little bit of rubbing alcohol. The white board doesn't have the magentic attributes that the Pottery Barn calendar had, but that's what post it notes were invented for. My office is lined with bulletin boards for tacking things up, so anything that needs sticking to the calendar board, I'll write on a Post-It.
The best part is that I ended up with a space about 18" high by 70" wide at the bottom of the panels. This is the perfect area for my sons to color. They have their own coloring board, and I don't have scribbles all over my calendar.


Susan W said...

How cool Sara! I love how you're renovating your life :) You go my friend!!

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Jill said...

Hey! Found your blog while searching for calender ideas. I'm contemplating building one very similar to what you have done here. It looks GREAT!
I'm curious, now that you've lived with it for a good while, do you still like it? Do you find yourself using it and transfering info to it? If so, does it end up looking messy? Do you use post it notes, magnets, or any other medium on it besides markers and your dates?
The only wall space I have for mine is down the hallway. I'm thinking of adding a little corkboard here and there and keeping chore charts, school lunch menus, handouts etc. all together in one spot. I really appreciate any feedback.

Sara said...

Hi, Jill. Glad you liked the calendar. To answer your questions: Yes, I do use it quite a bit. I've found that certain colors leave a bit of a shadow regardless of how much rubbing alcohol you use to wipe them off. Green and black seem to work pretty well; red and blue don't wash off as completely. I use post-its to keep track of fluid deadlines that might change. It's easy to rearrange when I need to. You can't see it in the pictures, but I have three clipboards that hang (one over the other) on nails right next to the calendar. This is where I clip to-do lists, lunch menus and notes for meetings, etc.

The only challenge is making sure that I transfer everything from my iPhone calendar to the wall calendar. If I make an appt while I'm out (and put it in my iPhone calendar), I send myself an email reminder to put it on the wall calendar. Otherwise everything gets out of sync and the whole family is asking questions.

Let me know how the calendar turns out. I'd love to see pictures. You can check out more of my projects at my DIY blog The Handy Hausfrau

Willy Christopher said...

You did a fantastic job with this. I was looking for a marker board for our office that would take up an entire wall, and boy did you help me think outside the box now!!

You've got great creative instincts and we're totally going to put this to use. Now we can have our brainstorming wall AND a giant calendar.

Thanks for the tips regarding what types of markers to use too.

Have a great week!

Unknown said...

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