You know how people always say that kids grow way too fast?
Well, it’s true.
Jackson is two and a half now, and I can barely believe how tall he is, how much he’s talking, and how grown-up he seems! One thing I’ve wanted to do for a very long time is build him a growth chart or find a good spot in our home where we can track his growth over the years. I never had that growing up, but it always seemed like such a fun thing to look back on and I was always jealous of my friends who did.
Originally, I considered just finding a good spot in the house where we could mark his growth on some door trim or something, but then I realized that we may not live in this house forever and we’d hate to lose those memories should we move someday. So, I decided I’d make something that could be hung in the house and that we can use to track Jackson’s growth as well as the growth of any future kiddos we may or may not have (the jury’s still out on that one!).
I had been putting off this project for entirely too long, so one day when Corey was headed to Lowe’s I asked him to pick me up a 6-foot board. I figured if I had it at the house it would just mock me until I actually finished it, so I knew it would push me to just get it done.
Thankfully, it worked. It’s done!
I’m so pleased with how it turned out and Jackson is a little bit obsessed with it. He asks me to measure him about every five minutes! I’m glad we have a spot now where we can keep track of how quickly he’s growing, and I think it’ll be a really special thing to have as he gets older. Even when I look back at videos taken last summer I am shocked at how much bigger he is, so I know it’ll be insane to see him shoot up on this little chart.
This is a really easy project and it can be as simple or as complicated as you want, depending on the design you’re going for. I wanted something a little more elaborate than just a plain wooden board so it took a bit more effort, but I still was able to do the whole thing in about a day and a half of on-and-off working. Here’s how I tackled it:
I started with my plain ol’ 6-foot board. I sanded it down and stained the whole thing with one coat of Minwax’s Ebony Stain.
Then, I taped off my pattern. I had to call in for some reinforcement from my math teacher husband – he’s pretty handy to have around in situations like this! I wanted a chevron pattern, and I guesstimated that I wanted each chevron to be about 4-inches tall. That decision was based purely on the (very scientific) method of holding my fingers apart on the board until I found a nice, chunky size that I thought would look good, and then measuring my fingers. I like to keep things nice and precise.
Corey helped me out by holding his square up to the board and putting a mark on the center of the board (starting where we wanted the first stripe), then he made another set of marks 4-inches later to indicate the bottom of the stripes. He repeated that process every 4 inches all the way down the board, and on either side of the board.
Once all of our lines were marked on the middle and on both sides, we just went in with the tape. I started by taping from the top of one chevron to one side and wrapping it around the side. Then, I did the bottom, then I went back and did the other side. Once it was all taped, I used the corner tool and lined it up against the edge of the side that overlapped, then I ran a straight-edge blade down the tape to get a clean line.
Once everything was all measured and taped (which was the most tedious part of the whole process), I added a second coat of stain. It was dark outside by this point, so I don’t have photos to share, but I allowed it to soak in for about 30 minutes before I rubbed the excess off. I wanted the pattern to be subtle, but since the stain is so dark to begin with I needed to make sure the second coat actually made a difference (hence the longer-than-normal sitting time). I let it all rest until the next morning, and when I pulled the tape off I had perfect little chevron stripes!
For the numbers, there are a ton of different routes you can go. A lot of people use a stencil or vinyl – however, I wanted more control over the font and size than a stencil would allow. Vinyl would have worked fine, but I wanted the painted look instead so I decided to just take it on myself. Plus, I already had everything I needed in the house to paint and I would have had to purchase vinyl – I’m all about the path of least resistance!
I wanted our board to look kind of like a ruler, so I started by marking a 3-inch long line every foot on the board. The key to remember here, though, is that unless you’re planning to rest the bottom of the board on the floor your first mark shouldn’t be at one foot, or else your measurements will be all wrong. I planned to hang my board 7-inches off the ground (for no discernable reason other than I liked how that height looked – remember, super scientific), so I marked my first line at 5-inches. Then, I marked every foot from there. Make sense?
After I had each foot marked, I went back and painted a slightly shorter (about 2-inches) line every half-foot.
Then I added the 3-inch and 9-inch lines…
And finally, I added very short lines every single inch!
To paint the numbers, I printed them out in a font large enough to fit one number per page (I used the font Abril Fatface), and cut off the excess paper everywhere but underneath the number (by leaving the space under the number I was able to ensure each number was spaced evenly from the markings on the board). Then, I laid them out on the board to make sure I liked how it looked.
I used a pencil transfer technique to paint the numbers onto the board. It’s extremely simple and much quicker than cutting out the numbers and tracing them. Start by using a pencil to shade the back of the paper around the outline of the number – be sure to do it nice and dark so you have plenty of lead to transfer over.
Then, flip the paper over and position it where you want it to be on the board. Take your pencil and trace the outline of the number – use a pretty good amount of pressure to make sure you get a clean transfer. Once you go all the way around you pull the paper up and….voila!
It’s hard to see here but I promise it’s visible in person. Once I had my outline all done, I just took some white paint we had left over from something else and hand-painted each letter. It took a very steady hand and lots of patience, but I love how it turned out. I had to do two coats (one just to get the outline done and filled in, and a second so it didn’t look too splotchy), but the second one was very quick.
And then? Done! Jackson thinks it’s a pretty awesome addition to his room, and I’m so excited to finally have it done so we can start seeing how fast he’s growing!
We went ahead and measured him now (at 2 1/2), and I figure we’ll do it every six months or so. We also marked mine and Corey’s heights on it so that as he gets older we can see how old he was when he passes me (and maybe even Corey) up! To mark the heights, we’re just using a metallic silver sharpie – it shows up really well, and shouldn’t fade over time.
Also, in case anyone is curious – since this room has moulding around the middle of the wall, we had to get a little creative with hanging it. We weren’t willing to do anything quite as permanent as cutting away the moulding to hang it, so we had to hang some spacer boards behind the growth chart to hang it on. We did a french cleat to hang it, which basically just means that you cut two boards at an angle so that they fit together. One goes on the wall, the other on the board, and then you just fit ’em together!
Do you track your children’s growth in your home? Did anyone do it growing up? I was seriously jealous of my friends who had those cool markings on a door frame in their home!