Clever Corkboards, by Jill Sharp Brinson


Corkboards have always been handy for keeping information available at a glance, but they can also act like a canvas for creating your own original art. Around here, we’re simply obsessed with pinning up collages and collections to fuel our inspiration.

You’ve probably noticed some of our corkboard collages in the pages of our catalog. Corkboard displays are easy to put up and easy to change – and anyone can do it. We’ve had plenty of practice over the years, so here are some of our favorite tips.

There are NO boundaries to what you can pin on. The more three-dimensional the object, the better. Try a cool composition of your favorite flowers hung upside down and tacked on with florist pins (see my example in the photo). Pin the stem of the flower right onto the board or tie a piece of twine or favorite ribbon scrap to the stem for hanging.

You could say we consider pushpins part of the art. We love using florist pins because they’re very long and come in a variety of fabulous colors. (You can find them at wholesale floral supply stores or online.)T-pins, sewing pins – the ones with colorful heads – and upholstery tacks are all great. Or, hot glue buttons onto T-pins for a totally original look. As your collection grows, store your pins in divided bins, so it’s easy to find just the right one.Whether I’m styling a shoot at Ballard or creating a collage at home, I generally like to create balanced compositions, but with something a little off, a little tweaked. Don’t worry about perfection. Try to line up the edges of things and create pleasing spacing between the items. Do what looks good to you.

Try filling your corkboard with your latest favorite colors and design interests. Right now, I’m in love with all things fuchsia and orange and collect just about anything that unifies my color theme, mixing in different patterns, textures and dimensions for major impact.

Nothing is off limits. Use objects that are in some way meaningful or interesting to you, like a child’s drawing, a favorite painting, fabric swatches or something you’ve collected from your travels. Post cards, photos and party invitations are all wonderful items to pin up in a collage.

I happen to love typography, so some of the things I save include: cool labels from jeans, printed packing tape from boxes, hang tags from clothing, corks with beautiful type, cocktail napkins, menus, hand-written postcards, thank-you notes, favorite stamped envelopes, recipe cards, wedding invitations, appointment cards, old French documents, receipts from purchases made on trips, plane tickets, old passports – you get the idea.

These collections often appear in the catalog. And, as you can imagine, we have boxes and boxes of materials to pull from. You can do the same thing. Start with the items that inspire you, and you’ll end up with a corkboard creation you’ll love.

How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.


  1. Reply


    July 14, 2011

    Very good ideas that even a old woman like me can do! Thanks..

  2. Reply

    Lisle Ropier

    July 3, 2011

    Excellent for creative but busy Mothers!

  3. Reply


    June 7, 2011

    What an inspiration! The corkboard idea was great and inspired even more ideas for me. Thanks,Tavye

  4. Reply

    Ann Murphy

    June 4, 2011

    Jill, and all the time I thought my grandaughter was messy w/ her cork board in her room. Jewely, tassels, pics etc. So clever. I have one in my pantry wall w/family, friends dogs, events etc/ amd chg. out w/seasons or fun times. Tks for sharing.

  5. Reply


    June 2, 2011

    Oh to see the world through those eyes! Suddenly everything has a new personality, meaning and perspective. A really valuable addition for our memory banks. Thank you!

  6. Reply


    June 2, 2011

    Such creativity! I have one cork board from Ballard for my kitchen and now want more for other rooms! Thanks for the great ideas!

  7. Reply


    June 1, 2011

    this past year has taught me how very precious memories are…what a perfect way to keep them close to heart..I’m starting my board tonight…

  8. Reply


    June 1, 2011

    Jill, this is fabulous!! Very inspiring!

  9. Reply

    Monica McKim

    June 1, 2011

    I do not think Jill Sharp Brinson could be any more any more fabulous. I love this!

  10. Reply

    Scott Wells

    June 1, 2011

    Going to pull my corkboard out of the storage closet and get busy. Thanks for passing ideas along!

  11. Reply


    June 1, 2011

    Everything you do is inspiring to me. I have neglected my cork board since last year, and
    suddenly I now have some great ideas! Thank you Jill – xo – christine

  12. Reply


    June 1, 2011

    That’s so cute! Fashionable and functional! I can really incorporate this with my new “woodland” theme!

  13. Reply

    Emily Allen

    June 1, 2011

    WOW! Jill this changes the way I will look at cork boards for the rest of my life! You have given me so many ideas and inspiration on how to use them for decorative purposes throughout the year! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Clever, indeed!

  14. Reply


    June 1, 2011

    Really great advice and fun ideas! I love the flowers, 3-D objects, and textures. Just have to figure out which style of collage to go with first! That’s the joy of corkboards, more expression, less holes in the wall!!

  15. Reply


    May 31, 2011

    Jill…These are awesome. I do this in my home with inspirations for future life endeavors…trips I want to take, the perfect cottage in Maine I’d like to buy one day, fashion ideas for the upcoming season. I keep them in my bedroom so they are the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing I see at night!

  16. Reply


    May 31, 2011

    I love the boards. As a creative person and savvy consumer, I spend time flipping through catalogues studying the details on the boards. It’s fun to see similar pieces and parts that inspire each of us in our creative work. (LOVE, the Tory Burch hang tag, so bold & graphic!)

  17. Reply


    May 31, 2011

    Jill… You never cease to amaze me! Much more than “good”! Now I have a place for my beads!!!!

  18. Reply

    Lynne Berkshire

    May 31, 2011

    Jill..thanks for the inspiration. I changed mine this weekend for the season…seashells, navy, nautical, beach photo’s…I can’t wait to add to it over the summer. Love it!!

  19. Reply

    Lindsay Rox

    May 31, 2011

    How fun! I’m going to have to give this a whirl. I’ve had cork boards in the past, but none have looked as fabulous as these! I love the fact that you can change these out and create a different look each time. Love the burlap looking back on the photos in the middle – super fab.

  20. Reply

    Beth Marrs

    May 30, 2011

    Love! How fabulous, I’m ready to start collecting!!

  21. Reply

    Joni Webb

    May 29, 2011

    Leave it to Jill to elevate a cork board into a work of art!!

    Just adorable!!!!!

  22. Reply


    May 28, 2011

    What a great way to make something so “old” seem so “new”–and useful! It can be like a constantly changing art show depending on what “you” want to do with it. Terrific ideas!

  23. Reply


    May 28, 2011

    amazing amd beautiful compilation of all things meaningful and inspirational… freeing to be able to put it all out there and not tucked away somewhere!!….

  24. Reply

    Jill Helmer

    May 28, 2011

    Think I’ll take my stacks of treasures piled on my desk and creatively display them. Super ideas. Love, love, love it!

  25. Reply

    Rachel Bieder

    May 28, 2011

    Love this Jill! Very clever!

  26. Reply

    Reginald L Bancroft III

    May 28, 2011

    I particularly love the seasonal collages, it brings the holiday to my apartment as I do not normally decorate traditionally to the chagrin of my partner when he visits, so perfect.

  27. Reply


    May 28, 2011

    personal expression ROCKS.

  28. Reply

    Katy Harvey

    May 27, 2011

    Great ideas!

  29. Reply

    Kim Owens

    May 27, 2011

    Beautiful boards Jill! At work we use cork boards in our offices and we paint them a variety of colors to decorate our space — fun!

  30. Reply

    Elizabeth White

    May 26, 2011

    Love this… feeling inspired! Great ideas.