Our bags and our boxes are unpacked. Our furniture has been pushed and pulled into place. We’re ostensibly all moved in over here, but the truth is we’re still firmly in the neither here nor there stage of settling. We’re working out systems, hammering nails and screwing in hooks and digging decades of grime out from behind radiators. We’re trying to make sense of how to make things work in a new space at the same time that life around us just keeps moving along at the same break-neck, off-kilter pace we’ve been trying to catch up with since March. (Somehow my newborn baby is seven months old and crawling. Somehow it’s Fall. Somehow we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic.)
I’m eager to get little details sorted and imagined projects complete, but I’m also trying my best to remember the lessons I’ve already learned: that there’s no before or after, only an in-between; that spaces are mutable; that a coat of white paint can make all the difference. (These things are true in tiny spaces and less tiny ones, too.)
With that in mind, I decided to embrace the creative process by making a pinboard. It’s a celebration of the office space I’ve never before had at home and it’s a space to dream things up in 3D. A gathering point for pinning bits of ephemera and inspiration, and also, forgive me, some hopes and dreams.
The board is hanging on a wall in the tiny antechamber we’re calling an office. It was exceedingly simple to make with materials that I already had or was able to get for free or close to it. I used a beat up old corkboard from a neighbor, a length of spilled-on canvas drop cloth, and a handful of staples leftover from my beast of a couch project. The objects and inspiration fluttered out of notebooks and novels and were untucked from the backs of underwear drawers in the course of our move. Below, details on how it came together, just in case a real-life pinboard is something that you think might be inspiring, or grounding, or otherwise nice to have.
+ An old corkboard; frame removed – I got mine through my neighborhood Buy Nothing Project
+ Fabric – I used an old piece of cotton canvas dropcloth I had on hand
+ Staple gun and staples – I have this staple gun, it often jams but that’s likely user error.
+ Mounting hardware – I used this picture hanging kit, a favorite of mine for tacking into old plaster walls .
+ T-pins – You can use any kind of thumbtack or pin you’d like, but I used a box of blocking pins from Brooklyn General Store and they were perfect.
+ If your board has a frame; begin by removing that. (We used a flathead screwdriver and a hammer to carefully loosen the frame and pry it off the board.)
+ Working on a clean, flat surface, lay your fabric with the face down and center your board on top of it. The fabric should be just a few inches larger than your board on all sides. If it’s larger than that, trim it down to size.
+ Carefully fold one side of the fabric over the edge of the board and staple into place. (If you’re using any kind of fabric with a pattern or visible weave, pay extra attention that you’re pulling the fabric evenly from side to side and top to bottom so you don’t end up with a wonky stripe. If you’re particular iron your fabric first. I didn’t. I guess I’m not as particular as I thought.) Continue stapling around the edges of the board, making simple folds at the corners the way you might when wrapping a present.
+ Once the fabric is stretched around the board and stapled into place, add your mounting hardware and hang.
+ If you’re a visual person, I’ve saved some process shots in a highlight on my Instagram stories called “apt in progress.”
+ If you don’t have corkboard or can’t find one, one reader wrote saying they’d used an old acoustic ceiling tile for a similar project. Let what you have on hand guide you!
+ If you’d like a sturdier or more permanent board, you might decide to mount your board directly to the wall using screws and washers. (If you rent like we do and have old plaster walls, I highly recommend the hardware mentioned above.)
+ Painting your fabric of choice the same color as your wall is a thing to do if you’d like. The paint helps add a layer of stability and the color match might up the sophistication.
And if you don’t have the time or the inclination to make a real-life pinboard, there are always virtual boards like these ones.