Thursday, July 30, 2015

25 UHeart Organizing: Taking Command of the School Year

Command center addicts, this post is for you!  And for me!  Do they have support groups for people like us?  I mean seriously, no matter which way you slice 'em, command centers make the organizational world go round.

And what better time to put together your own command center, than back-to-school time?  Once kids become school aged, it is homework, lessons, parties, events.... so much to manage and remember.  Command centers are really wonderful for keeping life in a single family "hot spot".

The best part is that there is no right or wrong way to create a family command center zone.  They can be customized to fit in just about any space and for any style preference.  The incredibly talented Jennifer from The House of Wood blog, is here today to share how she built a menu board, calendar and wall pockets to create the ultimate organized zone.  She is sure to take command of the school year with her new wall-of-awesomeness!

Hi friends! Welp. It's almost that time again. Are you getting ready to do the Back-To-School scramble? Before you know it, you'll be drowning in book reports, school projects and extra-curricular activities, and there will be no rest for the weary. For all you Type A personalities, it's GO TIME!

I've been meaning to set up a family command center for awhile, but now that our firstborn will be entering Kindergarten (*sob*), this task just moved to the top of my priority list. BTW... do they write book reports in Kindergarten? #newbie

While I doubt my little Kindergartner will have much homework to bring home, I love having a dedicated space where she'll be able to have an after-school snack as she tackles school projects when the time comes. Here's how our family command center turned out:

It puts the 'fun' in 'functional,' doesn't it? The chalkboards, cubby shelf, and time zone clocks are all DIY projects that are super easy and inexpensive to do!

To make the chalkboards, I purchased half a sheet (48"x48") of underlayment from the home improvement store. I knew I wanted to make a separate calendar and menu board, so I sent the underlayment through my table saw and cut it into two pieces. Then I rolled on a few coats of chalkboard paint. Don't you just love this navy color? I had it tinted at the paint desk but sadly, after the paint dried, it turned out looking more black than navy. Womp womp.

Oh, and here's a quick tip: if you line the paint tray with aluminum foil, cleanup will be quick and easy. Just roll up the foil when you're done and toss it!

To frame out the chalkboard, I set my miter saw to a 45º angle and crosscut the trim. To get the most precise measurements, I recommend skipping the tape measure and just holding the trim in place, marking it with a pencil, and cutting it to fit.

Then I squeezed some wood glue onto the back of the trim and placed it onto the chalkboard. I used clamps to hold the frame in place while the glue dried. No need for nails or screws here; the glue will be plenty strong to keep that trim on.

Next, I used a Sharpie paint pen to draw the lines for the calendar, using a yardstick as a straight edge. An oil-based paint pen works best because it's permanent and won't wipe away so I won't have to re-draw the calendar every month.

Here’s my calendar grid all drawn out:

I used my Silhouette Cameo to make vinyl decals for the days of the week. I also like to sharpen my chalk with a pencil sharpener to make it easier to write with. It's the little things, right?

Finally, I used a French cleat to hang the chalkboard up on the wall. With a calendar this large, you'd think my husband would know when my parents are coming to town.

Aren't those time zone clocks fun? The tutorial for that can be found here.

The hardest part about cooking is figuring out what to cook - amiright? This menu board makes it simple to create weekly meal plans, stay organized, and just say NO to takeout!

I am in love with this adorable #nomnomnom decal. I made it with my Silhouette Cameo - the font is called 'Imperfect.'

We store mail and other miscellaneous paperwork in this DIY wall cubby. I built it out of scrap wood (read: FREE!) and posted the plans and tutorial here on my blog. It's a quick and easy project that requires minimal power tools so if you’d like to get into building, it would be the perfect piece to start with.

Isn't this striped metal tote oh so stylish? I snagged it at Target (#happyplace!) and loaded it up with school supplies. Am I the only one who gets giddy about buying school supplies? Oh, don't mind me, I'm just hangin' out in the back-to-school section smelling the erasers. #creeper

Then I stash the whole kit and caboodle in a pretty basket and tuck it all away neatly.

So are you ready for the Back-To-School scramble? Do you have a command center that keeps your family organized?


Hello friends! I’m Jen Woodhouse, the author of The House of Wood blog, my creative outlet for all things DIY and design. By trade, I am a performing songwriter based in Nashville, TN - I’ve released three albums, toured the world, and licensed my music to national television shows and films - but more recently, I've added ‘DIY Blogger’ to my eclectic resume. The House of Wood is where I document my adventures in woodworking, interior design, and life as a musician, military wife, and mother of two unbearably adorable babies. When I’m not writing, recording, or touring, you’ll usually find me in the garage building furniture! I’m pretty freakin’ excited to join the iHeart Organizing team and I can’t wait to share a few organizing DIY projects with y’all!


  1. Oh my goodness, I love this! So adorable. But I think my favorite tip is sharpening the chalk with a pencil sharpener. What a great idea!

  2. My youngest starts kindergarten in a couple of weeks and I'm trying not to be devastated #nomorebabies But a command center is crucial in keeping track of all the household activities. I have two command centers in my home. My main one is in the kitchen and I have a smaller (yet equally as important) command center in my office. I just have to make sure to keep them in sync, which has never been a problem. Your command center is gorgeous!

  3. I love that chalkboard! Beautiful!

    Her Heartland Soul

  4. Wow! This command center is great! I love how the shelves create so much space! I created our first command center this past week. I only hope someday I can have a space like this! Thank you for posting this!!!
    Command Center

    1. Kadisha, I love your practical, low-budget command center for a small space! When I was living in a tiny one bedroom apartment, space was at a premium. I love how you made use of the side of the fridge.

    2. Hey Jacquelyn!

      Thank you very much! It was very cost effective for our budget of FREE! haha I am hoping to have a spot like this someday for our CC!But, for now, that little space is working out just fine for us :)

      Thank you again!

  5. Great idea We also have our own :-)

  6. Oh how I �� that striped caddy! If only Target Australia and Target USA were under the one banner and had the same stock. I suppose the grass is always greener on the other side though.

  7. It looks wonderful. I love that striped tote from Target -- do you remember what section of the store you found it in?

    1. Hi Julianna,

      You can find the stripe tote in the Home Office/School Supply area of Target.


  8. Love the calendar grid chalkboard idea! Was about to mention that your navy blue chalkboard paint turned out almost like black. Anyway it is still functional :)

  9. Hi jen,
    I love all your projects but i have a suggestion. Id love for your content to be organized in a way that we can filter to see just your organization/decoration posts. Like have a link for all the Uorg posts, a link to sort and get all the Jenn diys and a link to get all the jen organizes. Does that make sense? Something like how the pretty neat living blog is organized. Otheriwse i find myself scrolling back through months of your blog to find the stuff i wanted to go back to reference. The search field alone doesnt give me all the posts i want it to. Thanks!

    1. Great suggestion, I will see what I can do. And I am getting closer to having my updated project gallery done, so hopefully that will help also. YAY!

      Thanks Steph!

  10. Off topic....I love the look of your vinyl labels but can't afford the cost of a silhouette. Any comparable tools out there that will do the same thing?

    1. You may find a few Etsy shops that offer custom vinyl cuts, and if not, stickers and decal paper are great alternatives (just used decal paper for my spices and I am in love with the ease: xo!

  11. I LOVE the calendar! It is quite "simple" and so useful!

  12. LOVE this!! So clever to use the Sharpie and decals for different permanent items - it's my worst redrawing it every month! x

  13. Brittney BernfeldJuly 31, 2015 at 2:55 PM

    Perfect, I am definitely going to remember this!

  14. I love the design of this command center (especially the time zone clocks!). The inspiration is fantastic!

    If/when I ever create my own command center, I will probably opt for a markboard instead. Though I absolutely love the look of chalkboards, chalk is too messy (gets on my hands and ends up all over my clothes somehow) and the sound of chalk on a board really, really bothers me.

  15. I love this... especially the table and storage underneath. Where did you get that? It's amazing and now I have to have one. :) Thanks so much for sharing this.... excellent ideas and gorgeous photos!

    1. Hi Amy!
      Thanks so much. The table is from Ashley furniture.

  16. I love my command center! I couldn't do life without it. This one is amazing, and able to have a little table for the kids to do homework at is just perfect. I am moving to a new house next month and definitely will be creating another command center...may incorporate some of these DIYs into it!

  17. So beautiful! Such a great command center and so easy, I love that chalkboard and that nomnomnom decal is to cute! #herestostayingorganized

    Lauren Baxter | Lovely Decor


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