northstory + co.

Easy DIY Fabric Bulletin Board

I had this vision of an 8 foot long, magnetic bulletin board to go over top of my daughter’s desk. You know who didn’t share that vision? My bank account. So off I went to sort out how to make a DIY Fabric Bulletin Board, a custom sized one no less.

Now, if you want a magnetic bulletin board, sheet metal is really expensive. At least for two pieces in the size that we needed to correspond with the length of the desk. You can find the tutorial for the filing cabinet desk here.

Then there was the factor that it was going in a kids room. While I liked the industrial look, something told me my daughter wouldn’t be too thrilled with the end product versus a bright, colorful bulletin board.

In which case here is the budget friendly way we made the DIY Fabric Bulletin Board.


We went to Home Depot and picked up some Handi-pacs in the insulation aisle. These were 48″ long meaning that two of them side by side would make for an 8 foot long board, to correspond with the length of the desk.

You can easily cut these down to the lengths you need. Amazon also sells smaller sized ones that may be helpful if you’re looking for something smaller.

The fabric used for the bulletin board is IKEA’s ANNBETH fabric. It has sadly since been discontinued.

If you’re looking for something similar, here are several fun striped patterns from Amazon:


Then on a very dark and dreary Fall day, I picked out the section of stripes I wanted with and cut them out.


Pinned the fabric into place to line up my stripes, with flat head thumbtacks.

Got some of my Elmer’s Craft Bond Spray Adhesive and sprayed the glue under the fabric as I removed each pin.

You can also use Aleene’s Tacky Spray, which I used when I made our custom sized storage boxes.


We let the fabric dry.

Afterwards, we used a staple gun to staple the back of the fabric to the foam board. This is important, especially if you’re using striped fabric, because you want to ensure everything is aligned.

Industrial strength Velcro Coins were stuck on the back. This is how the bulletin board could be hung on the wall. It also helps to avoid any gaps between the wall and the boards.

And would you look at that!

A nice, fabric bulletin board that looks like you paid a lot more money for.


We also added some wireless LED lights to act as a small desk/nightlight. Though they’re currently in heavy competition with the colorful Christmas lights for that title.

These are called Lightmates Wireless Puck Lights. Also available on Amazon but we picked them up at Costco.

This is to tide her over until she’s a bit older and then we’ll have to drill a hole in the desktop to allow for a cord to pass through. The electrical outlet is under her desk so if we want a desk lamp, this has to be done.

Or maybe we’ll just get a solar lamp.

We put the lights under the IKEA EKBY JÄRPEN/ EKBY BJÄRNUM shelves. We have these all over our house and they’re by far my favorite IKEA shelf.

They can turn off individually with an individual click or as a group with the wireless remote.

And finally some $10 LAVER chairs from IKEA, which are shockingly sturdy considering how delicate they look. More importantly, you can wipe crayons and markers off of then with ease.

Just a word to anyone who wants to use the Velcro as a wall adhesive, it holds very well. It won’t fall off if you’re concerned.

But it will sag approximately 1 cm from the height that you put it at once it settles. So hang it a touch higher than where you want it.

Now if anyone wants to build me a pine EXPEDIT type of shelving unit to go next to the desk, I’ll bake you a batch of cookies. Ok, that’s not a promising bribe. A bottle of Wiser’s Whisky perhaps?

Click here for how we made the DIY Filing Cabinet Desk.

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  • Reply
    January 21, 2013 at 9:42 am

    Wow, amazing job Alex. This looks awesome and is so practical!

    • Reply
      January 22, 2013 at 9:12 am

      I was pretty surprised at how well the styrofoam does at repeat “pinnings” into it. It holds really good.

  • Reply
    January 21, 2013 at 9:46 am

    great and creative thinking, alex! i love the fabric and the final result is very fun and matches the desk wonderfully. you got the fabric so even and taught, it actually looks like canvas!

    • Reply
      January 22, 2013 at 9:15 am

      I would like to admit that that was totally planned. The whole striped fabric fitting the measurements of the handipacs. It was a total fluke. Well not the lining up of the stripes that I measured out and pinned but the fabric top and bottom stripes fitting just so. Wait no, I am going to say I totally pre-planned it.

  • Reply
    Victoria Elizabeth
    January 21, 2013 at 12:14 pm

    Having spent every last second of the last month at a desk that has recently revealed itself to be WAY too small… I need pretty much everything you built. Maybe then I could avoid the explosion of junk that seems to keep growing in a radius equivalent to my arm’s reach.

    The under-shelf lighting makes it look kind of heavenly… I fear a trip to Ikea may be in my near future.

    • Reply
      January 22, 2013 at 9:21 am

      I had a big desk as a kid and I was so grateful for it. Once you get to high school the text book mania alone. I say you make one. Perhaps use one of the fantastic extra stains that didn’t work on the deck for the top of the wood. I am totally joking.

      Seriously those pot lights have been really good on batteries. We have another pack and it’s like ok what needs lighting except for our seriously crappy kitchen.

  • Reply
    January 22, 2013 at 9:58 am

    It looks so good! I love the fabric and the unconventional way you made the bulletin boards AND we just got those lights from Costco and I am OBSESSED they are amazing and I bet as a kid I would have gone crazy for them (sort of like now..)
    The desk area is coming together so nicely!

  • Reply
    now at home mom
    January 22, 2013 at 10:14 pm

    Oh! I love these! can you start making some of these for me now 😉 great idea! they look so pretty and fun with the IKEA fabric 🙂 this is the first time I see or heard of these handi pacs, I had to click on the link to know more about it, you just gave me great ideas for projects 🙂

    • Reply
      January 23, 2013 at 9:20 am

      How about this, I’ll make you some of these if you make me a peg board? Wait that’s not fair my shipping costs to you would be much less expensive based on weight. 😉

      • Reply
        January 23, 2013 at 11:56 pm

        hi! hi! that’s true 🙂

      • Reply
        now at home mom
        January 24, 2013 at 9:36 am

        ha!ha! true 🙂 by the way I can’t seem to comment anymore with my wordpress account so hope you know it’s me Ingrid from nowathomemom

        • Reply
          Ingrid Elizabeth
          January 25, 2013 at 8:48 am

          thank you very much Alex for your quick response, I appreciate it, I am looking into see how this all happened. I can’t leave a comment anywhere anymore. I guess this is not good. Thanks again Alex. Have a good weekend

      • Reply
        now at home mom
        January 24, 2013 at 9:45 am

        hi!hi! 🙂 so true, ha!ha! btw, it’s Ingrid from nowathomemom, I’ve been leaving several comments on ur post because for some weird reason I can’t leave any comments with my wordpress account (don’t know why?) 🙁

        • Reply
          January 24, 2013 at 9:51 am

          Oh Dear. WP has been having some strange issues as of late. Half the blogs I read that went self hosted no longer appear in my reader etc. This is not good. Let me look into the mess.

          • now at home mom
            January 24, 2013 at 10:33 am

            I know it’s so weird, I thought I was labeled as spam, but verified and I’m not, I don’t get it, just cant leave any comments with wordpress? so weird. by the way just pined your board (so nice on Pinterest) 🙂

          • now at home mom
            January 24, 2013 at 11:31 pm

            Hi Alex, I don’t want to bother you with this but it’ s weird , my Wordpr comments are now visible on your site. I’m so happy but did you have to do something for them to appear. Sorry, I’m just trying to figure out what is going on. Thanks again. Ingrid

          • Alex@northstory
            January 25, 2013 at 8:25 am

            They wound up in my spam box. I have no idea why. It could have been just a glitch. Half the time I can’t use OpenID on other non-WP blogs or even my WP account b/c it just won’t accept it. You’re all good now!

  • Reply
    Time With Thea
    January 23, 2013 at 12:09 am

    This is absolutely brilliant! I love everything about this project! The lights, the fabric, the design and the budget. I am so making this in my home studio! Summer project here I come. Pinterest get ready!

    • Reply
      January 23, 2013 at 9:22 am

      I’m glad you like it! I look forward to seeing how yours takes shape. Christmas lights alas I can’t promise.

  • Reply
    January 23, 2013 at 1:24 am

    You guys did an amazing job with this and the stripes are perfection. The lights are a brilliant idea too. Might need to get something like that for our kitchen. 🙂

    • Reply
      January 23, 2013 at 9:23 am

      We bought an extra pack and are like where were these when we had the PAX closet in our old condo?

  • Reply
    January 23, 2013 at 4:39 pm

    I’m going to respond in list format, because that’s where my brain is today:

    1) I’ve always gawked at IKEA’s fabric but have yet to make a purchase. I love how you thought creatively to cut out the strips of colors that you wanted. It looks great
    2) Industrial strength velcro? Love this! I can think of so many fabulous uses.
    3) I’m glad to know you love IKEA as much as we do. Although I realize not everything is made to last, you can’t beat the price, and if you have a discerning eye, you can usually tell what is made well and what is…well…crap.
    4) We have two expedit shelving units and love the death out of them. Although I’ve never built one, depending on how much you’re willing to pay me, I might consider your offer. (Only half joking.)
    5) Those lights on a remote would have my husband swooning (if husbands swoon). He has nearly every light in our house on remote. It’s pretty sweet. (Until you can’t find the remote.)

    Great post, Alex!

    • Reply
      January 24, 2013 at 9:39 am

      Get some IKEA fabric. I love their fabric’s b/c per price point for the quality you get, they’re some of the most inexpensive I have found out there. And I can barely sew.

      The Velcro coins are like regular velcro only with a super glue backing and b/c the styrofoam is so light, it doesn’t require a heavy mounting tools. I need my husbands help to try and take the boards off the wall. They’re that adhesive.

      Me and Expedit are a long standing Should I or Shouldn’t I? I’ve wanted to buy one for ages to replace the TROFAST unit to the left of the desk but I don’t like the current finishes. If someone can find me that in a pine wood I’d be packing it up faster than you can say Saving money on Mitre Saw.

      The remote can be stuck to the wall!! 🙂

  • Reply
    Time With Thea
    January 23, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Just to let you know that I pinned this on 4 different boards on Pinterest and it has been repinned about 60 times since last night! ~Thea

    • Reply
      January 24, 2013 at 8:55 am

      Thank you! I noticed it yesterday when it spread like wildfire in my Dashboard. 🙂

  • Reply
    February 2, 2013 at 7:57 pm

    I’m so happy to have discovered your blog Alex! I’m in Ottawa, so I can’t tell you how convenient it is to get links to the supplies you use! Thanks for sharing.

    • Reply
      February 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm

      Welcome!! your IKEA post caught my eye in the WP reader and I was like Oh I love her already. 🙂 I know what you mean about Canadian suppliers. I have always tried to explain to our fun US and International counterparts about the ‘joys’ of our limited crafting stores, furniture stores and how Target is barely here yet.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    LORD have MERCY!! I absolutely ADORE what you’ve done with your daughter’s room! I’ve been looking for cheap file cabinets off and on for two years now, and I’m so jealous of your find! I don’t understand what it is about my new local thrift stores. I can’t seem to find squat in them, although I always had luck back in Pittsburgh. Sigh. Seriously though, this room transformation leaves me a bit breathless I love it so much!

    • Reply
      February 16, 2013 at 11:20 am

      You’re too kind! My husband would be all over living in Pittsburgh as he’s a die hard Steelers fan. He’s still trying to figure out how to get a road trip down to go see a game live.

      • Reply
        February 18, 2013 at 8:46 am

        OY!! This TOTALLY makes up for the cadbury egg problem we had before! The hardest thing about moving up here to beantown is everyone is a Patriots fan, whom I hate with the deepest passion! Ugh. And I’ve never been to a game, even though we lived just a few blocks from the stadium. I even dated a guy who’s grandfather had been drafted to play for the Steelers way back when, but turned them down to work in the steel mills… his family had season tickets on the 50 yard line (a gift from the team to wish his grandfather well) and I STILL never made it to a game, sigh…

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