corkboard project

by Grace Bonney

ac and i live right above our neighborhood hardware store. i never thought i’d get so into a shop like that but i find myself in there at least twice a week looking for odds and ends. for the past few weeks as i waited in the check out line i would look at these dark cork tiles in the sale bin and think “those are cool”. until last night i couldn’t think of any way to use them (i don’t have an office and there’s not really a clear “work” area in the house). but then it hit me- i always clip random recipe and food articles so why not use it in the kitchen. the whole room is still white (a comprise because i couldn’t decide on a color yet) so i thought it would be a great way to organize my clips and bring some color into the room.

so, for about $24 i scooped up two packs of dark cork tiles and used the included sticky-squares to place them on the wall [bigger pictures right here]. ac liked it so much he suggested we do the whole wall (or at least more space) in the tiles. i’m going to live with this for a few days and see how it feels but if you’re looking for a way to bring some color (and function) to a small space, these cork tiles are a great (and super affordable) way to do that. you can pick up the same tiles right here and here ($12.19 for a pack of 4 squares) or find a similar cork product at your local hardware or craft store. [you can also grab a roll of lighter-colored cork material right here]

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  • I say go for it, do that whole wall. you don’t have to necessarily cover the whole wall with clipping, but it would add such beautiful texture and warmth!

    Great job!

  • thanks grace! now i’m convinced. i’d been thinking about doing something similar in a big way (6 ft square) in my studio, with a glossy white ornate frame surround, to display my work. i’ll send a pic when it’s done.

  • I love it! At first, I thought it was a clipping from a magazine. (Of course, your home is styled just as well as those I’ve come across in shelter publications.)

    I have that same cuckoo clock (spraypainted white) and couldn’t think of anywhere to put it. I would never have thought to put it on a corkboard! Genius.

  • thanks! i think i’m going to have to scoop up the rest of the squares at tarzian…they’re so warm. and i love the dark brown as opposed to the light cork.


  • this looks great grace!!! once i move into a new place i was thinking of doing this on a wall in my painting studio/husband’s music studio/office space. we have all these little bits of random things and i think it would contain it and be our little inspiration wall. great job!

  • how thick are the tiles? i am tempted to do this at the shop (you have seen how messy it gets behind the counter). and then buy those cute map pins with the colored heads…

    my parents used to have cork wallpaper in their foyer. ok it was a little 80s, but the walls were warm and suedelike, i liked it.

  • rena

    they’re about a quarter inch thick? not too thick…they’d be perfect for the shop!


  • i love the dark brown… it is a good foil for the clippings and what nots.
    r has an aversion to cork as it is over used in germany’s apt.s but i love it – especially in the dark color… i lined my kitchen drawers with the thin stuff and it is wonderful.

  • Good gravy. Even your corkboard is beautiful, tasteful, and balanced!

    Also- hardware stores are fab places! Candy stores without calories! I love using items for uses otherwise unintended. [A million years ago I bought a mechanic’s Craftsman for my studio instead of using the icky plastic taboret from the art supply store.]

  • I did the same thing, except I wanted to warn you that my little sticky squares don’t hold and they fall down… so I ended up using little nails to secure mine.

    I like the dark board better then what I picked up also…

  • I love the look of this! I have to second Kristina’s comment as I did the same thing and the sticky squares didn’t hold for me either. You may want to secure them before you beautiful display falls down :)

    I LOVE the dark brown as opposed to the light cork color too.

  • You can even buy those boards in packs of 4 for a measly $1 at Dollar tree stores. Good for those on a budget! They work perfectly in my office.

  • I used those in a dining room in my old apt. I just purchased the pack of 4 and spaced them out along the wall at eye level. Even with nothing on them, they looked great. Simple and minimal, but warm.

  • grace, could you please tell me where you bought that white frame that the flock print is in?
    also, i love your cork idea. i used to have some in my last apt, i unfortunately left them behind. i gotta pick up replacements!

  • Beware using the roll of cork–it is not thick enough to hold tacks!!
    I bought a roll a couple months ago, spent over an hour sticking all 6 ft of it up the wall, then proceeded to try to tack stuff up and it was too thin to even keep the tack in place.
    Go for the squares instead.

  • I have been searching for these + trying to describe them to people in hardware stores *without* making reference to the 70’s + I just have not been able to locate them. Now I know why, if you found them in the sale bin then they are probably not readily available anymore.
    I ended up going in another direction with my clippings board.
    My friend ended up using cork trivets on her wall.

  • My kitchen is also plain white, This idea would be brilliant way to add colour. I have stacks of magazine clipings piling up all over the house causing my boyfriend distress!

  • I did this last year, and the tiles smelled like burnt rubber. I kept thinking the smell would fade, but it didn’t, so I took them down and threw them all out :(

  • grace this looks great.
    i found those tiles at my hardware store too. i was thinking of flooring the teeny tiny bathroom with them. i wonder if that would work?

  • I have these same cork squares that I also purchased at a hardware store! I love the rich chocolate brown texture, and they work perfect in my office at work where we aren’t allowed to “nail” things to the wall. I too had trouble keeping them up with the small double stick squares after about 6 months…FYI.

  • The rich brown looks gorgeous. Fab idea… I have a conventional cork board that lacks pizazz and orginality, so this is really inspiring. Merci!

  • i had the bird print framed at sky frame and art on west 28th. it was around $70.

    the print is by wayne payte at goodshapedesign.com. it’s about $30.


    (ps: my cork doesn’t smell…yet at least)

  • Gorgeous! Could you tell me where you got the print at the top of the board – the one with the girl in the yellow dress?

  • the cork looks nice.
    had you considered using magnetized blackboard paint to do a square? or any magnetized paint and then another color over it, just in one place…you could do a border around it to make it fancy…

  • instead of cork you can also try using flor tiles (www.flor.com) for some fun patterns and colors

  • I’ve been looking for some corkboard tiles to do my office wall for a while but when I found them at office supply places I was totally disappointed with the pricing so I kind of gave up on my search. Thank you for the renewed hope of finding something at a great price!!

  • i tried to do this at my last apartment but had a really hard time taking it off the walls after!!

    how did you get it to stick? and to easily remove it after your done?

  • Grace,
    This is gorgeous! Can you tell me where you got your cuckoo clock? I’ve been looking for one just like that.

  • i did this in both my kitchen and on a side wall in our bedroom. it makes me so happy to look to my right and enjoy clippings, inspiration, and pictures that i’ve picked up here and there. like tchotchkes for walls. :D i’ve even debated making a sort of pattern with them instead of just boring ol’ squares.

    this post reminds me of domino mag’s editorial on displaying photos on a cork wall. remember that issue? may 06 i think.

  • Ha ha! Growing up my older brother had two walls of cork tiles in his bedroom; a concept I never really appreciated until I was 14 and trying to thumbtack posters into the fake wood paneling on my walls. Nice to see cork making a comeback–they look great!

  • I have the same problem with Ballerina K. Any advice how to make it look gorgeous yet it won’t get too messy with all the sticking and nailing part to the wall?

  • Hi – I love how this looks in your kitchen! I am looking for a pretty bulletin board for my room – do you think the cork tiles are thick enough to cover in cloth? I was thinking of something like these linen covered ones at Pottery Barn: http://www.potterybarn.com/products/p5123/index.cfm?pkey=xsrd0m1%7C20%7C%7C%7C1%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7C%7Cbulletin%20board&cm%5Fsrc=SCH

    I was thinking I could glue gun some cute fabric, and nail some photo hangers on the back to secure to the wall (I have textured wallpaper so the sticky tabs probably won’t work). What do you think?

  • I did something similar with round cork trivets from IKEA–sold in packs of 6. You can make a geometric or randow pattern on the wall with them…

  • I really want the dark brown cork boards and am having a difficult time finding them in Toronto. The Business Supply store link that you referred to seems to only offer light brown and the other link no longer offers them. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you!

  • nancy

    i would try googling “cork board tile”, it usually comes up on a bunch of sites. you could also try your neighborhood home supply or hardware store, or a craft supply store.


  • Did your cork tiles smell like burnt rubber? And if so, how long did it take to dissipate? I put some up yesterday, and I’m not so sure I can keep them up if the smell doesn’t go away.


  • michelle

    i’ve heard this from other people, but mine didn’t smell. they do if you stick your noise right up to them but they didn’t permeate the rest of the room in my case.


  • I got to this site because I was trying to find out about the bad smell from the cork tiles I put up in various places. It hasn’t faded and now I’m chemically sensitive and can’t tolerate it. But still need places to tack things up. Any non-toxic ideas?

  • Hello all!

    I’d really like to hear how all of you attached the cork to the wall. I have heard (and seen on various sites) that the double-sided sticky-tape just isn’t effective for adhesion – but what works?

    Looking to do some mint and lime green cork squares (fabric and/or paint) in my kiddo’s purple room (yes, really, a purple room – whoa). Oddly enough, it actually looks pretty nice – if bright! – and need something that will withstand a tween’s ever-changing pin-ups!

    please let me know if you have any ideas – not terribly worried about refinishing the wall if I have to remove them, but would rather NOT if at all possible.

    Thanks y’all!

    • hi casper

      they have little sticky peel-and-stick pads on the back of the tiles. they are definitely tough to get off, but they are removable. i’d skip it if you’re a renter..


  • I agree with the other commenter’s post– can you tell us where you got that cute cuckoo clock? I’ve been looking for one that small to put in my office!

    • hi kristina

      sorry, i thought i left this before: it’s a $15 clock that you can find in a lot of stores, i bought mine at mxyplyzk in manhattan.


  • Thanks so much grace! Love what you’ve done with the cork, it has definitely inspired me! Sorry if I missed your comment earlier :)


  • Nancy, if you are still looking for these tiles I ordered them from Ace Hardware – they deliver to Canada and I just got mine (took about 2 weeks) and they were on sale! Hope this helps!

  • i have bought he cork roll to make a board with frame but am also worried its too thin. do you think if i double it up it will hold the tacks?

    • anna

      the key is to use shallow tacks- i use the flat head kind that are smaller- they work just find. you can double up the cork if you like, but you’ll need to glue it to keep it from separating.


  • I found these exact tiles and bought them to decorate and give as a gift, however I found the smell of them to be really strong, they smell exactly like a barbecue pit, and I am worried that they will be too over powering for the dorm room they were made for. Did you have this same problem? If so how did you fix it?