End of Cabinet Communication / Message Board {PECS}

End of Cabinet Communication / Message Board {PECS}

This project has been on my to-do list for quite sometime…and after finally getting around to completing it, I have no idea why I waited so long. It was incredibly easy to do and even though mine was made for a very specific reason, this idea can easily be used for a family communication/message center or even a simple chore chart system for your kiddies.
As many of you may already know, my little guy has autism and communication is very challenging for him. He can label several different objects but does not fluently talk and when it comes to communicating his needs or wants the language is just not there. We began using the Picture Exchange System {PECS} about a year ago, in combination with sign language. I can not speak highly enough about the program as it has given my little guy a voice and the ability to convey his needs and make choices.Normally the PECS cards are kept in binders; however I wanted to provide an easier assessable place to display the pictures for quick everyday use. With just a few materials from the hardware store, I was able to covert the end of one of our kitchen cabinets into a communication board.
Since I did not want to damage the outer cabinet casing, a sheet of beadboard was purchased and cut to fit the end of the cabinet. For a finished look a piece of base molding was also purchased and cut to size. Both were attached with Gorilla Wood Glue and the corners nailed with a nail gun.
Each nail head was countersunk into the boards using a Rockler Spring Loaded Nail Set. This tool essentially drives the head of the nails slightly below the woods surface, leaving a small recessed area. Wood Putty or Wood Filler can then be used to fill in the hole and once sanded flush you are left with a smooth surface, ready to paint.

Paintable caulk was then applied to edges and smoothed over by fingertip, filling in any gaps where the beadboard met the cabinet. This provided a clean seamless look once dry.

I have been anxious to try the General Finishes Milk Paint from Rockler and thought the beadboard would be a great place to start. I have never used milk paint before and was a little surprised at the consistency as it is very thick and creamy. It covered very well with a foam roller, dried quickly and left an outstanding smooth satin -like finish in one coat. The trim was painted with regular latex to match the existing trim in the room.

While the paint was drying I gathered the little guys PECS cards. Our cards are printed from the PECS program, however the same concept can be used for different applications simply by printing out images, cutting them to size and laminating them to seal. How adorable would a picture chore chart be???

The loop side of adhesive backed velcro was cut into small squares and attached to the back of each card.

The hook side was then attached to the beadboard in long strips.

The lines of the beadboard were perfect guides for a straight application. Adhesive backed velcro can be found at your local hardware and craft stores and since it already comes with a sticky back you do not have to worry about using glues to attach.

The Antique White GF Milk Paint blends in perfectly with the existing cabinetry.

Now we have an easily assessable space within reach to display all the cards for my little guy.

This is such a huge part of our daily life; I know it will be put to good use. Enjoy!


  1. This is so wonderful! What a great system of communication!
    Not to mention that you made it so pretty and to match your kitchen. You’re right – it would make a great chore chart or even an activity calender!

  2. This is a wonderful idea.
    I teach preschool with a few special needs children, this will be a great addition to our classroom!

  3. This is a fabulous idea, and it’s a great solution for many kids who have difficulties with communication…for whatever reason. I love it!! Great tutorial, too!!

    Thanks so much!!
    Michele R.(CA)
    Luvkittysgiveaways at Gmail dot com
    Butterfly Whispers

  4. PECS is a lifesaver! I’ve printed out those cute little pictures many times!!!! Great job!

  5. Karen (http://www.petiteflower.wordpress.com) :

    The PECS system was very beneficial for my daughter when she was younger. I think taking them out of the binder and placing them at a height that is easily accesible for your son was genius. Gives the little man a sense of control and independence that autistic children rarely feel. Well done!

  6. That is a great idea! What a way to make it easy for your little to access! 🙂 thanks so much for sharing I’m sure this will help others!

  7. If you don’t mind, Im posting this link on my FB to share with some families I know that might want to give this a shot.


  8. What a great idea, to put it where it is accessable. It looks great too. If those were in a book, he would always be looking for the book. Now, he will always know where they are. I love the idea of a chore chart too.
    Thanks for sharing.

  9. What a great idea. It looks fabulous. Hugs, Marty

  10. OMG, what a wonderful project! It’s so integrated with the cabinet! I love how the velcro blends with the beadboard. I now officially declare that you are kind of a genius. Plus, the picture cards are really a pretty pop of color there, it’s practically decor. A-MAZING.

  11. GREAT idea and well done! It looks terrific.

  12. absolutely fabulous!!! I work with a lot of family/ individuals who use PECS regularly, and getting them to open up to the idea of putting it some where besides in a binder is difficult. I try, I don’t feel like having it in a binder benefits anyone. You communicate most easily in your natural environment, not when you have to stop and go get a binder first!! Way to go!!!

  13. I love it! Great idea! I hope that the system works wonderfully for your family.

  14. I JUST discovered your blog about a week ago and sat one whole night looking through all the DIY projects. I was already in love but to now know we both have sons with Autism makes me even more attached to this blog! PECS always confused my son because he is TOO literal and has to see a picture of the real thing. Not a drawing. But we still use the concept and I love this!

  15. Stopping by to say I LOVE your blog! Lots of sassy ideas! I would love it if you would add me to your blog list… you are already on mine! 🙂

    …visiting from Sassy Sites!
    (cause your blog is a sassy site!)

  16. I LOVE this! I started making a chore chart using magnets however the project’s been sitting because I don’t really have anyplace to hang it … you’ve solved my problem! I know the perfect cabinet to use!! THANK YOU!

  17. Love this idea, Stephanie Lynn!

  18. You did a great job adapting the PECS system to fit your child’s needs 🙂 I’m a speech pathologist and follow your blog and MANY others (I love to craft and plan parties for my 3 munchkins) but it’s VERY nice to read about how a simple communication system like PECS has changed your son’s life and your family’s 🙂

  19. What a fantastic idea! BTW I love how all your DIY ideas look like they were professionally done

  20. I absolutely love that you added the PECS system to your cabinets! Perfect heighth for your little man, so it’s easily accessible to him at all times. I’ve seen PECS be so beneficial for students, so having it in your home and being able to be used all the time is promoting such independence for him! Wonderful idea! I’ll definitely send some of my parents a link to this post if they need a good idea on how to display PECS at home. Thanks so much for sharing!

  21. What a really awesome idea! I hope it works very well for you.

  22. I am a speech-language pathologist, and I love what you’ve done. Excellent work!

  23. How cute is that?! This is perfect for so many things… print awareness for reading and helping form words. I LOVE IT!

  24. This is absolutely brilliant! How do you keep coming up with these fabulous ideas?

    Best wishes,

  25. Wow, I love this idea! What a great resource. Thanks so much for sharing the details, I’ll be linking to this.

  26. I found you through One Pretty Thing and I am so glad that I did!! I love this idea! My son also uses pecs and I have to agree the binders can be a pain in the you-know-what. I am going to give this a try! Thanks!!

  27. We use PECS on a smaller scale for my son with PDD. I love the way you displayed them and made them easy to acess. I might have to do something similar.

  28. Hi, Stephanie! My cousin sent a link to this post – great idea! My question is this: how do you keep your lil’ guy from “playing” with the pics if they are out like that? My Ollie Man loves the sound/ feel of the velcro ripping (ahh, ASD, ain’t it great?), so we have to keep his binder on the counter to make sure it’s used when needed. I’d love to hear from you – my email address is mrsmollyk at gmail dot com.

  29. This is an awesome idea. I wish I would have found it years ago. My son is autistic as well. This would have come in handy before his speech therapy.

  30. Oh wow! What a wonderful idea! My 3 year old,Connor just started pecs recently. I had planned to order a $45.00(plus shipping) PECS wall chart this week. I’m so thankful that I stumbled across your blog! Now I can save money and won’t have to hang that BIG,BULKY,BRIGHT thing on our walls;) Thank you!!!!:):) Nicole



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