Back to School: DIY Command Center (for under $50!) & Organization

A couple Saturdays ago, I came across an awesome DIY command center on the wall beside a refrigerator on Landee See, Landee Do (pinned here). That wall was just dead space in my house--but by the next Wednesday I'd converted it into an awesome command center!
Following Landee's advice, I contacted local heating & A/C companies for estimates. I went with the company that quoted me $20 for a 2'x8' sheet of steel.

I asked the Original Wayward (aka DAD) for some tips on how to drill holes in the sheet metal. He said:
  • You can use a regular drill bit as long as the hole is fairly small (I did 1/4") and the metal is not too heavyweight
  • Make sure the metal is secure!
  • Lubricate with some light oil 
  • Back up the metal with a piece of scrap wood backstop
  • Use a punch before drilling to keep the bit from wandering
  • Wear eye and ear protection
  • Remember the bit and the metal will be hot
  • The burr (edge of the metal) will be sharp. You may want to deburr (file the edge with a metal file).
Drilling holes with a scrap wood backstop
The only problem I came across was when the drill bit sometimes got stuck on a lip of metal. I used my punch (which happened to be a circular nail punch) and poked it through the whole, bending down the lip. Then I moved the center of the drill bit over a little to finish the hole.

I brought the metal inside and held it against the wall to mark where the holes would be. I might recommend doing the top holes first and hanging the metal before doing the other holes--the bottom holes ended up not lining up at all (no big deal; I just didn't screw them in).

I'd also recommend using more than four holes in each side--that only left two screws in the middle to secure it, and the sheet metal has sagged in a few places. (Double sided foam tape is a big help though!)

I used regular 1/4" screws, washers and nuts.

The magnetic organization is probably my favorite part:

At the top, I have magnetic clips for the kids' artwork from school and church (and a family photo). Below that is a couple inches for me to write out the menu plans for the week--never again does my husband have to ask "What's for dinner?"

I have a magnetic, dry erase metal wall file (held up by 8 neodymium magnets) for incoming mail. On the front I've listed important phone numbers. Some locker organizers hold pens and dry erase markers, as well as Post-it notes, Sharpies, and stamps. I already had a magnetic note holder (gift) and magnetic calendar (free in the mail).

The rest of the area is for school papers/to dos/action items, held by photo clips of each of us, and the kids' chore charts. If I can find somewhere else to put my garbage, I'll leave the bottom few feet for the kids to play with magnets (they love it!).

  • sheet metal (from local heating & A/C company): $20
  • magnetic & dry erase mail holder (Target, clearance): $6.38
  • magnets (Walmart): $6
  • hardware (Walmart): $2
  • dry erase markers & magnetic eraser (Target): $7.50
  • pencil cup/organizer (Target): $2
  • basket for markers (Target): $2
  • magnetic clips (Dollar Tree): $1
  • magnetic photo holder clips (Dollar Tree; two sets of two): $2
  • magnetic picture frame (Dollar Tree): $1
Total cost: $49.88

I also organized a few other areas for back to school. Tired of searching for shoes all the time (and not being able to find a single pair of Rebecca's shoes for over a month), I instituted something my mom has used forever: a shoe shelf.

I got a $14 stackable shoe shelf at Target and decorated it with a silver Sharpie. The kids love it! And more importantly--they use it!

I also typed up before and after school routines, chore lists, and before bed/in the morning routines. I illustrated them and laminated them, then hung them up. The chore lists are on the command center (awaiting only some smiley face magnets to check off the completed chores) and the routines hang on Command hooks in the kids' room and in the front closet (along with hooks for backpacks).
What do you think? How did you organize for back to school this year?


Just Jaime said...

Awesome work! I love how organized it is!

Stephanie said...

You did a great job--and it really looks so useful! I just posted about one of my little back-to-school projects using an embroidery hoop!

Ashley said...

way organized! great job girl~

Brave Brooke said...

This is awesome! You rock! I love feeling organized :)

Chef in Training said...

I love this! Thanks so much for linking up to Tuesday Talent Show! I would love to have you stop by and link up again tomorrow with more great projects!

Natasha in Oz said...

Now that is organised! Great ideas-thanks!

Best wishes,
Natasha @ 5 Minutes Just for Me.

Rosario said...

Awesome! I just updated my command center too.

Tracy said...

You are all organized and ready for school :)
My daughter is 16 so if she can't organize herself well then we have some problems, lol.

Leanne said...

What a great use of that space. Thanks for the tips on the sheet metal. I love the shoe shelf too. Thanks for linking to the party.

Romanian Princess said...

Hi! I'm Nicole from Romanian Princess. I saw your blog on a link up and decided I better add you! Please return the favor and follow me back at:!

XoXo Nicole Mariana

Mamie said...

That is great!

Unknown said...

This is such an awesome idea! Love all the little touches you added to make it work for everyone and keep everything organized! I did nothing to get organized.. uh oh! Thanks so much for sharing with the Pink Hippo Party.. can't wait to see what you share next!

Jami said...

Great job! Wish I was as organized! Thanks so much to all the Wayward Girls for stopping by and sharing their lovely posts at the Tuesday To Do Party last week! Can't wait to see what you gals link up this week!

Allison @ House of Hepworths said...

Your project is so fantastic that I featured it this week at my Hookin Up with HoH Link Party!

Feel free to stop on by and grab a button!


Allison @ House of Hepworths

Unknown said...

Thanks for linking up to Show-Offs at papercatnip&cupcakes! I have the exact same space and have been going back and forth over what to do there! This is a great idea :)

Meri said...

Cool--it's like having a refrigerator door that isn't on the fridge! Great job!

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