Ballard Designs Bulletin Board Knock-Off; Monthly Contributor Project


There are scraps of paper with notes on them everywhere. A pile of bills strewn to one side. Some magazine clippings find a home under a coaster. What’s that over there? Probably a mess of swatches. All in all, a workspace worthy of being classified as a disaster zone. If this sounds like you, then perhaps it’s time to get yourself a bulletin board to help you get organized. But, where to find one with some style?

Good Morning Remodelaholic-aholics!

Christina here; all the way from Designing by Numbers, a blog where I endeavor to find inspiration in other’s home designs and implement creative ideas in my own space. Today I would like to share with you how I showed an expensive bulletin board who’s boss.

It all began with a desk; a desk I don’t even yet possess. Crate & Barrel’s Hendrix desk to be exact. I love it. Hubby has been gracious enough to offer to make me a replica, which is great. But that just made me realize how my whole office needed a makeover to accommodate such a stunning piece of work. Enter a moodboard. Sounds harmless enough. Well, when it comes to me searching for things I’d like to see in a room for some reason “economical” doesn’t ever enter the picture. Case in point:


A bulletin board from Ballard Designs. Wait, let me qualify that: a NINTY dollar (USD) bulletin board from Ballard Designs. And then there’s the shipping, and the conversion (CAD) – so I’d probably be looking at a cool hundred and change with this one; if they would even ship to Canada, that is! Bottom line: Not. Gonna. Happen. + Big Frowny Face.

Well, unfortunately the scenario I described above actually is me. My desk is in a sad state and I need some organization in my life. So, I decided finally that I had had enough and I wanted that Ballard Design bulletin board if it was gonna kill me. Er, but hubby still had an issue with the price. No problem! I exclaimed. For if my hubby is handy and can build me a desk, I am crafty and can build me a bulletin board!

Here’s what you’ll need to make this little gem for yourself:

1. Bulletin Board: Yes, I know that’s what we’re making here, but you’re going to need a base for your board of awesomeness. If you have some plywood laying around you could pick up some cork to glue overtop; or, you can do as I did and head out to the store to just pick up a plain premade board. Mine cost me $10.95, is 23” x 35”, and includes a frame around it.
2. Fabric: My inspiration uses burlap – which is super cheap and a great choice – but I opted to go a little more lush for my board (which would be far more commanding of a $100 price tag) and chose a linen for $9.99/yard (I only needed 1 yard, and not even all of it).
3. Nailheads: Ah, the star of the show. You just can’t get close to this inspiration without them. I opted to go for a shinier brass (though this will tarnish over time) and ended up using only 40 at $0.07 a piece for a grand total of $2.80. However, I do suggest always purchasing extra nailheads because these little buggers can break on ya (or, you might just throw a fit and toss a few for good measure once you start working with them).
4. Other Supplies: Such as a measuring tape and fabric pencil (to measure and mark your fabric), scissors (to cut your fabric to size), fabric glue (to secure your fabric to the cork board base), a nailhead spacer (buy one. I beg of you. They are cheap and will save you a lot of aggravation in spacing out your nailheads), and a rubber mallet (to nail in your nailheads; if you use a hammer you will dent your nailheads).


The fist task is to drape your fabric around your corkboard to determine how much to cut off. I decided to leave 4” overhanging the back of my board, just to be safe (this was a generous amount, and if you’re keen on saving a little more of your fabric I would say 2” would be sufficient around each side). Using your fabric pencil, mark where you will make your cuts on your fabric, then cut using scissors.

Measuring and marking the fabric

Before continuing I finished the edges of the fabric by ironing down a hem (0.5”); not a particularly necessary step, but I think it adds a nice touch. You can see the finished versus the unfinished edge below and decide which you would rather live with (albeit on the back of your board). Don’t forget to also iron your fabric to get out any creases before moving onto the next steps. If you decided to go with burlap this might not be an issue, but with a linen, creases are a definite no-no.

Iron down a hem

For my bulletin board I wanted to keep the frame and cover it in fabric. I liked the idea of having the frame for one, but it also gives you something to secure your nailheads to. However, if you would like your board to look more like the Ballard Designs inspiration, feel free to either get a corkboard without a frame, or just remove the frame all together. Just make sure that your corkboard is thick enough to accommodate your size of nail (some are longer, some can be shorter). If your nailheads are so long that they will puncture through to the back of your corkboard then you will need to add a thin frame at least around the back of your board.

I placed my corkboard onto the floor (over top of of it’s plastic wrapping, which I used as a protective layer between my working with glue and the lovely hardwood floors) then draped my fabric onto the board making sure to get as even an overhang around the sides as possible (doesn’t need to be perfect, that’s why we’ve added a few extra inches!)

Drape the fabric over the board

Gently lift one of the shorter ends of fabric from the edge of the corkboard and place a thin, consistent, bead of glue along the cork where it meets the frame. Don’t use too much glue or you might risk it staining through your fabric.

Apply glue along the corkboard against the frame's edge

Fold your fabric back on top of the board and use a straight flat edge (I used a ruler) to push the fabric into the corner securing it to the glue.

Use a ruler to secure the fabric in the edges

Once I glued down the first side I applied glue to the opposite side, gently rested the fabric over top, then used the ruler to smooth out the fabric over the entire corkboard. When the fabric was smooth I pressed the ruler into the edge between the cork and the frame to ensure the fabric made good contact with the glue. I then secured the fabric to the board on the longer sides. Here’s a pictorial representation of the order of gluing:

Secure fabric using glue on the shorter then longer sides of the board

If you’re using Fabri-Tac, the bond will be pretty quick so you can move to securing the fabric on the backside of your board almost immediately. Otherwise, do follow the directions on your glue and allow enough time for the bond to dry before moving on. I glued the fabric to the back of the board in the same order as with the front (i.e., both short sides first, then the longer sides). I made a quick pencil line around the perimeter of the back of the board where I wanted to apply a line of glue (roughly 2 3/4” from the inside edge of the frame). You just want to make sure that your glue gets as close to the edge of the fabric as possible while avoiding your unsecured hem. If you didn’t iron down a hem then you won’t have any worries here. Apply your glue not only along your marked area, but also along the frame (you want your fabric secured to the frame – the extra glue on the back of the board is only to hold down your excess fabric).

Apply glue on the back of the corkboard and on the back of the frame

When you are securing your fabric to the glue be sure to pull your fabric taut so that your frame doesn’t have any wrinkles in it as visible from the front. As I mentioned above, I first secured the shortest sides of fabric to the board. Before moving onto the longer sides I folded the corners neatly. This is completely optional; while I am certain that the first thing anyone coming into my house will do is scamper up to my office and remove my DIY bulletin board from the wall to inspect the back and ensure it is just as beautiful as the front, this may not be the case for you. So, if you’re happy to get this project done the easiest thing to do is to continue gluing your fabric to the back of the board and perhaps even cutting excess fabric from the corners (or, just grab a staple gun and start stapling the excess fabric tightly to the back of the board the entire way around, also stapling excess fabric in the corners). If you’re crazy like I am, then these steps are for you:

First, there’s a great step by step tutorial on folding corners around frames {here}. What I can tell you is to work in triangles – take the top-most corner of fabric and pinch off a triangle shape which you pull over onto the back of the board. From the lower section of fabric pinch off another triangle and pull that tightly on top of the first. To get a nice finished mitered corner you may need to tuck in any excess fabric. It helped me to keep all the folds crisp by ironing them (yes, I took my entire project to the ironing board, laid it down, and started carefully ironing folds). I also glued each piece together to ensure the corners didn’t come apart. I then applied glue along the longer sides of the frame and board and again pulled my fabric to avoid wrinkles when securing it onto the glue.

Finishing the corners of the fabric on the back of the board

My corners ended up looking like this:

The back corner finished

Next we move onto working with nailheads.


These little guys can be a pain to work with (they are sharp, you have to hold them in place while hammering them in with a mallet, they like to wiggle around and sometimes bend or break, they also laugh at you when they slip from your grip and you accidentally get your fingers with the mallet) – but despite the hassle, they always look amazing in the end (just don’t tell them I said that). You’ll likely want to do your nailing in an appropriate space (i.e., not on your expensive hardwood floors – I like to use my carpeted den). If you’re not planning to place nailheads in their standard spacing (2 per 1”), it’s always a good idea to position them around your board to make sure that the spacing you decide on 1) looks good to you, and 2) is even. A nailhead spacer is an essential tool for this that will make your life so much easier (and if you’re too impatient to buy one and wait for it to ship to you, you can always make your own, as I did – just note, this does not save you THAT much time and saves you no aggravation!)

Space out nailheads before hammering them in

The spacing I ended up liking was a nailhead every 2.5”. Start by hammering in a nailhead into the (front) corners of your board’s frame. It’s best to not hammer the nailhead in all the way (i.e., leave some of the nail sticking out of the frame). This will allow you to use your spacer to guide you in placing subsequent nails (if you hammer it in all the way you won’t be able to get the spacer to fit under the nailhead). Your first pass around with hammering should look like this:

Nail in the nailheads partially first

Once you’ve slightly hammered in all your nailheads, go around again and give those nailheads a few good whacks with your mallet to hammer them all the way into your frame. Do be careful as the head of the nail likes to bend; be gentle enough to ensure the nailhead is going as straight as possible into the frame but forceful enough to get the nail all the way in.

Then it’s just a matter of admiring your handiwork! Here is the front and the back of the finished product:

Front of the completed bulletin board

If you want to hang your bulletin board on a wall, just use picture hangers/wire – if you purchased a corkboard it likely came with these tools ready to apply.

Back of the completed bulletin board

I am just thrilled with how this project turned out. Not to mention the fact that the total cost was a mere $23.74 (CAD)! And, that’s splurging on a linen instead of burlap!

Close up of the finished bulletin board

In case you’re wondering, my Ballard Designs inspired bulletin board most certainly DOES work!

Some photos tacked onto the bulletin board

What do you think of how my bulletin board turned out? Is this a project you can see on your horizon? Is there anything you would do differently to make it even more your own?

I hope I have given you a bit of inspiration to try something new in your home. Thank you to my gracious hosts, Cassity and Justin, for inviting me to share my project today, and thank you all for reading. Please feel free to drop by for a visit with me at Designing by Numbers anytime.

Take care,


Designing by Numbers

( image source 1 )

Christina from Designing by NumbersChristina is the author of the blog Designing by Numbers, where she takes inspiration from design and incorporates creative elements into her home decorating, often in an economical and hands-on way. While she is not formally trained in design, she has the passion, creativity, and motivation to work towards building the home she desires. Join Christina here at Remodelaholic for her monthly contributor spot and at Designing by Numbers for more decorating inspirations.
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Cassity Kmetzsch started Remodelaholic after graduating from Utah State University with a degree in Interior Design. Remodelaholic is the place to share her love for knocking out walls, and building everything back up again to not only add function but beauty to her home. Together with her husband Justin, they have remodeled 6 homes and are working on a seventh. She is a mother of four amazing girls. Making a house a home is her favorite hobby.

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  1. Stunning job! Glad to see I’m not the only person who is AR! After all, even if no one else sees the back of an item, I would know…

  2. Excellent corners. I really like that you used a spacing gig for the studs. I have seen some hack jobs when it came to finishing and accenting but this turned out wonderful. Nice guide, must try myself now.

  3. Christina it looks fantastic!! I actually like it better than the Ballard’s version and I can’t wait to see how your office turns out. 🙂
    Well done girl!

  4. Love this….hmmm, I wonder if I could also incorporate a bit of blackboard or whiteboard as well, so I can write reminder notes as well. Thanks for the idea and the cost savings!

  5. Great project, I have an extra board that I was planning to move to my son’s room, but now I think I may have to add the fabric and nailheads and keep it for myself! I love Ballard Designs too, but not their price tags. Thanks again, Karen

  6. Stunning photography! Just beautiful. It reminds me of the linen office storage boxes from Restoration Hardware, which I’m obsessed with.