Let’s bring back those underrated memo boards that are filling up the thrift store shelves. You walk into any thrift store and even new craft and decor stores and they look like they were built to blend into the background, just a board to hold pictures, notes, and anything in-between, without truly reflecting your personal style? A thrifted memo board is the perfect blank canvas waiting to be customized into something that feels uniquely yours. In this post, I’ll share how I found a basic memo board at the thrift store and gave it a DIY upgrade by adding some colorful accessories that made it feel fresh and fun.
Why I love memo boards
I think everyone knows by now I have a “normal” and “healthy” relationship with my local thrift stores. I feel like these memo boards are everywhere. I imagine most of their journeys are donations from a collage graduate, or people that have taken most of their physical stationary notes and items, digital- living all on our phones and computers. In the world of simplifying our lives with technology, I feel now I have so many folders, saved images on 3 different platforms… it can be so overwhelming and disorganized. Moving a bit backwards and more simple, I find for me, I am the worst at out of sight, out of mind, and when it comes to files in folders on computers and phones I’ll forget the most daily things. I have such great success with memo boards for keeping lists, notes, photos, and even using as a mood board to help bring together a space or a standalone decor. The only down side mood boards directly off the shelf rarely fit the design vibe.
Memo Board Construction
Most memo boards are constructed in the same way. A fabric wrapped cork-board, diagonally crossed ribbon and buttons to give a tufted look. There are so many options here from a fully deconstruction, changing the fabric to something completely your aesthetic. When doing this try to carefully remove all the staples attaching the fabric to the board so you can use the removed fabric as a template, keeping note of how they folded over corners and edges before stapling it in place. For the most simplest ways to give these a facelift, the majority of memo boards that I see have a linen colored fabric or neutral fabric, using these you can leave the wrapped fabric and only focus on the ribbon and the buttons.
Memo Board Deconstruction
Start by removing the buttons with a pair of pliers. most of the time the head of the button will come off but the pin portion of the button will stay in place, that is fine we will install nail head push pins along side them and they’ll over that. Also note, be careful with the fabric where the tools will come in contact, it may be helpful to put a little buffer like a clean kitchen cloth to help damaging or staining the fabric with the tool.
The fastest upgrade is to still the ribbon right overtop the previous ribbon. It helps keep things aligned, and you’ll install the new ribbon so tight that you will not notice the old ribbon underneath. Once the ribbon is all laid out overtop, install the new nailhead push pins starting from the center and move your way outward towards the edge, pulling the fabric tight each time you install a new pushpin. Once all pushpins are installed, pull and wrap the ribbon around the back of the board and staple it to keep it secure.
If you are choosing a more sheer ribbon and the other ribbon is noticeable underneath, or the ribbon you’d like to use is more thin than the previous ribbon, you’ll want to mark an single side of the ribbon, where it touches the edge of the memo board, this will serve as your reference point for your new ribbon. Once you have it all marked, cut and pull out the ribbon, being careful not to damage the fabric wrapping the board. Then repeat the pervious steps laying out the ribbon to your reference marks, and installing the new pushpins starting at the center working your way outward.
Finish it with a Frame
You can stop here or upgrade it a bit more with a frame. I have a stack of old frames in a closet for such projects, or frameless print and artwork. You can typically find very affordable frames, without artwork at antique shops and thrift shops. Also, I encourage people when shopping at these places to look past the artwork in the middle. So many people pass up great prices on great frames because they don’t like the artwork, the artwork or print can be removed from the frame. We placed our memo board in the frame and secured it with very little trim screws and it was the perfect cherry on top.
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