For all the years that I had lived in a dormitory, I had always been looking for more creative ways to decorate my dorm room. I’ll admit, my expectations of college living were a perhaps bit higher than most. Concrete walls, popcorn ceilings and mass-produced, ready-to-assemble dorm furniture gave me the feeling at times that I was living in an asylum—and as it were, Pink Floyd posters Scotch-taped to the walls didn’t exactly do much in the way of homing the place up. I wanted quality decor pieces with a more architectural feel, something you might see donning the walls of someone’s actual home.
Behold, the French window memo board!
The summer before my Sophomore year, I was lucky enough to get my hands on a gorgeous eight-panel French window. (Being that mom is an interior designer and dad is a contractor, its not all that uncommon that we come into possession of items like this—this one was a wrong order by one of mom’s clients.)
This was a particularly rare (and, not to mention, expensive) find, so I had to put it to good use. When my mom suggested converting it into a memo board, I knew I’d found the dorm room decor piece I’d been looking for.
Though this DIY called for far more materials and elbow grease than I’m typically used to, the results were undoubtedly worth the effort; I can confidently say this memo board was one of the most rewarding projects I’ve worked on in my DIY-career. If you’re interested in trying this memo board project out for yourself, check out the instructions below!
Here’s what I used:
- 8-Panel French window (Etsy has a great selection of reclaimed windows and window frames for relatively cheap—around 50 dollars or less. Window frames are generally the less expensive option, but be sure to attach a plywood or particleboard backing)
- 12” x 12” Quartet Cork Tiles (I purchased mine at Michael’s)
- E-6000 Permanent Craft Adhesive (available on Amazon; I originally attempted this project with hot glue, though it did not adhere well to the glass panes, even after sanding)
- 1 yard of fabric (I chose to incorporate three different prints, amounting to about a yard in total)
- Matching ribbon (about one role’s worth)
- Matching Buttons
- Chalkboard paint (found at any craft store)
- 150-grit Sandpaper
- Natural jute twine (Papermart)
- Clothes pins
- Acrylic paint
- Printable monogram stencil
- X-ACTO knife
- Painters tape
- Clean window thoroughly with glass cleaner or mineral spirits to remove any dust, dirt or grease film.
- Measure your panels and, using your X-ACTO knife, carefully cut out six squares of cork to size.
- Sand your glass using 150-grit sandpaper until no longer glossy, then wipe with a tack cloth.
- Decide how you would like to arrange your memo board; where will you place your cork panels? Your chalkboard panels? Once you have arrived at your design, you can begin marking off your chalkboard panels with painter’s tape.
Beginning the board:
- Paint desired panels with chalkboard paint using a sponge brush and allow to dry. To condition, rub the side of a piece of chalk over the entire panel and wipe away residue with a barely damp sponge.
- Using E-6000 adhesive, glue two plain cork squares into their desired window panels, as shown above.
Making the clothes pin and ribbon panels:
- Now for the tricky part: creating the clothes pin and ribbon panels! Place one of the leftover cork squares over your fabric. Mark and cut around the cork, leaving about an an inch of clearance around its perimeter. You should be left with a fabric square double the area of your cork. Cut out small squares from all four corners of the fabric, like so:
- Placing your cork in the center of your fabric, wrap the fabric edges around the cork and glue down with E-6000. Repeat for all remaining cork squares.
- To create your clothes pin boards, simply wrap your twine around your fabric square in random patterns, keeping it taut, and secure in the back with glue or staples. Glue the finished board into your window panel, and attach your clothes pins.
- For the ribbon boards, criss-cross your ribbon across the fabric square starting at one corner and going to the opposite corner. Start with the corners, then do other diagonal sets in both directions. Keep ribbon taut and secure in the back with staples or glue.
- Where your ribbons overlap, sew or glue a button. Glue the finished ribbon board into your window panel.
Add a finishing touch:
- If you’d like to add a monogram (or any other design), simply print and cut out a stencil and adhere it to one of your plain cork boards using painter’s tape.
- With a sponge brush and some acrylic paint, fill in your stencil design—or just go free hand, if you’re artistically inclined.
Whew! And with that, your memo board is complete! I do think it spruced up the dorm quite nicely, after all: