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Save Time and Get Organized with a Kitchen Message Center

Take control of lists, schedules and more in a family message hub that’s as simple or elaborate as you like


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While we can send messages on our electronic devices, sometimes it just makes sense to put things in writing and post them in the hub of the house: the kitchen. Whether you write grocery lists, instructions for your kids or household announcements, your kitchen may benefit from a message center.

Project: Adding a kitchen message center.

Why: A message center provides a central, reliable spot where everyone can send and collect messages, check daily schedules and more.
Details: Like so many other aspects of a room, a message center can be as simple or as complicated as you want to make it. If you want to add one to your existing kitchen, the first thing, of course, is to figure out the best location and design. If you are planning a new kitchen, you can design your message center as part of your cabinetry or in a separate location. 
Who to hire: If you order a message center with your kitchen cabinets, it will be installed as part of your kitchen. If you are adding a separate area with cabinet trim, check with your installers to see if they would be willing to include it. If you are installing a more complicated message center, consult a carpenter. Painting can be a simple DIY project.
Here, a small kitchen dining area doubles as a message center with a chalkboard backsplash. If your kids do homework in a location like this, it’s a great place to post reminders about dinnertime or sports events.

Chalkboard Paint

With chalkboard paint by the prep sink, you can remind family members to add produce to the list as they wash it. Chalkboard paint comes in every color, so if black is too harsh for you, try gray or even red.

A simple interior door, whether on a pantry or mudroom, can provide message space. The inside of a cabinet door can do the same thing while being hidden.

Chalkboard paint can even turn your refrigerator into a message center. 

Chalkboard paint cost: A can of Rust-Oleum Specialty Chalkboard Paint, 30 ounces, costs about $10. It comes in green or black and will cover 110 square feet. Benjamin Moore offers chalkboard paint versions of all of its regular colors. Or you can make your own.

 

Chalkboards and Corkboards

This great little triangular recess has a desk and message center and takes up very little room. Designer Tineke Triggs took an awkward existing space, and by trimming out a magnetic chalkboard and adding a matching drawer as well as a concrete countertop, created a useful spot in the kitchen. Look for odd spots in your own kitchen where this might work.

A bulletin board and small console desk are just big enough to hold the essentials and create a central location for messages. The area is prominent yet out of the way.

If you don’t have a spot within the kitchen itself, how about near a back entry? This narrow wall just off the kitchen keeps storage, display and shelf space in view but out of the way.

Chalkboard cost: A 24- by 36-inch unframed chalkboard runs about $60. A magnetic chalkboard runs about $85.
Cork cost: You can buy 1-square-foot cork tiles for as low as $3 each; 2- by 4-foot rolls go for $9; and a 2- by 3-foot corkboard with an oak-finish frame runs about $10.

 

Custom Cabinetry

A magnetic chalkboard inset into cabinetry provides a large spot for a DIY calendar and an alphabet set for the kids.

A message center doesn’t take up much room, but if you have a little depth, you can add some storage. Here a narrow wall accommodates a bulletin board, a shelf, cubbyholes and drawers. This would also be a great place to put a charging station.

This custom message center, by Starline Cabinets, organizes just about everything: It has a cabinet, mail slots, a charging station, pockets, a bulletin board, a whiteboard and key hooks. It was built as two separate pieces — a wall cabinet and a base cabinet, separated by a wood countertop — and blends seamlessly with the rest of the kitchen.

Custom cabinet cost: Varies greatly depending upon materials, finish, style, size and accessories. The one shown here was part of a large renovation project, but the designer estimates that a similar-size unit on its own would run about $2,000.

Semicustom Cabinetry 

Designer Thomas Richard says there are various design and installation considerations for semicustom units, similar to custom ones. Will the cabinet be mounted at the end of a cabinet run or directly on a wall? If it’s at the end of a run, Richard recommends ordering a door 3 inches wider to overlap the side of the message center.

Will you need electrical or other services in the cabinet? What about accessories, such as a magnetic dry-erase board, key hooks, and a holder for pens and pencils?

Semicustom cabinet cost: The message center shown here, by Diamond Cabinets, costs $300 to $600, depending on the unit size, finish and style. For other semicustom units, the cost will vary depending on the contractor, but Richard suggests figuring this as another cabinet, with additional for electrical, lighting, phone etc.

 

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