Every House Needs a Chalkboard

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©. K Martinko

It's a powerful organizational tool that pulls a household together.

I grew up in a house with an unusual design feature. The entire floor of the front entrance was made of slate, reclaimed pieces of chalkboards that my innovative father gathered from the local high school when it was undergoing a renovation 25 years ago. He added a second large piece on the wall, too.

The result was that we always had a place to write notes, draw pictures, do quick calculations, and keep an ongoing grocery list to which anyone could contribute. The wall chalkboard was used for important notes, while the floor was most handy for messages that were meant to catch someone's eye the moment they came in the house, things like "I've run out to the store, back in 30" or "Please start dinner at 5:30."

parents' slate floor

© K Martinko – My brother is being ordered to put out the laundry. He can't miss it.

When I was young, I took it for granted that every house would have a large communal writing surface, but then I moved away and realized that wasn't the case. For years, especially since having kids, I have struggled to keep information organized, making do with tiny chalkboards propped up on ledges, stacks of loose papers, disjointed notes on my phone, and foggy memories of things I know I should remember but do not. At least my Moleskine paper planner has given some semblance of order to my life, but even it doesn't make up for a good chalkboard.

But now things have changed. I am pleased to say that a proper chalkboard has finally been installed in my kitchen – something that should have happened years ago! My dad (who lives far away) recently came for a visit and brought a piece of slate that fits the wall behind the door, adding a ledge for chalk. It's from the same batch of old high school slate that he collected all those years ago, now transported to another part of the province, with tiny bits of graffiti etched into it by students who must now be middle-aged.

All of a sudden we have an obvious place to go to store information where all family members can see it, a place where important thoughts can be scribbled for future reference, celebrations announced, quotations shared, and children entertained.

I think every house should have a decent-sized chalkboard – a real slate one, if you can find it, not the painted-on chalkboards that inhibit the chalk from flowing like butter in your hands. It's a game-changer, a family unifier, an effective organizer, a talking point. I may not have a chalkboard floor, but once again I have a chalkboard wall, and now my home feels complete.

parents' chalkboard

© E Johnson – The chalkboard on my parents' wall, complete with Canadian elections statistics and important to-do lists.