About a year ago, I got a vision for a much better school room than we had. Perhaps it was born out of pure envy as I peaked into the school rooms of other homeschooling families via their blogs. IKEA furniture and fixtures seemed to dominate the decor and I quickly learned that nearest store was about three and a half hours away in Boston. So I started scheming and brainstorming ideas for a new and improved place to keep our homeschool materials.
The following are the "before" pictures I took last August. Wow, what a mess! But I was grateful to have a good size room to keep all our supplies in...
along with other things like gift wrap and bags...
and our makeshift coat closet. Wow, these pictures are really keeping it real!
Josh was on board from day one to redesign this room into something more organized and more attractive. I spent some sessions online at IKEA trying to design the room using a variety of their products- kitchen cupboards, wall shelves, media cabinets, etc. I had planned to go with black cabinets and shelves, but then I painted the room this dark teal color.... and quickly realized black would be too dark and overwhelm the room. On a visit to Home Depot, I noticed they had stock cabinets in white and we decided that this would be the best and easiest way to go! They were already assembled, plus there was a sale going on for an extra 20% off!
Josh is the best guy for the job when it comes to home improvement projects. Not that I'd know how to attach a cabinet to a wall, but even if I did, would I use a level? No way.
The cabinets went in quick and easy! How often can you say that when it comes to home projects?
The cabinets lined one wall, and the other wall was devoted to floor-to-ceiling shelves. Josh custom built them so that that they were not as deep as typical shelves. We had about 12 inches from the wall to the door, which is plenty deep enough for most books. He designed and cut the shelves, I primed and painted them.
And here they are (minus the final one on the end)! It's ridiculous how exciting this is to me! I was giddy with excitement when I saw it all coming together and couldn't sleep at night as I dreamed about how to organize our books on the shelves!
I painted the frame around the window and I plan to put a bulletin board over that big box shaped thing sticking out. We're still not really sure what it was put there for, but the other side is in the kitchen and it's the place where I store all my cookbooks, so I actually like it. Plus I have some baskets of supplies stored on top.
As you can see, it's not a huge room, but it's such a blessing to have one place devoted to our homeschool supplies and growing library of books. While I still have plenty of extra room right now, I know it will only be a matter of time before I'm running out of space.
A peak into our art supply cupboard...
And the drawer for adhesives...
Petite's cupboard with preschool goodies inside....
One shelf is devoted to homeschool helps.
Another for poetry.
And one whole column of shelves is devoted to history books. I divided them according to the cores we will be studying from My Father's World. Shelf one is for Creation to the Greeks, two is for Rome to the Reformation, and the next three I separated by Native Americans and explorers, American Revolution, Civil War, western expansion and frontier life, the 20th century, civics, and geography. I divided all the read-alouds that were historically relevant this way, too, so that hopefully when we study a particular time period, I don't forget the great fiction I have to go along with it.
There's also a shelf for art books and music resources, and then one for things like health and money management. The best thing about this room is that it is already fulfilling it's purpose! The kids have been going in and looking for books and supplies they need without my help. Mister went in one evening and asked if we had a book on robots. I showed him the science section and we looked in the index of several books until we found some information on robots. He happily went off to read about them! I also divided up some of the fiction into a "boy" shelf and a "girl" shelf. When it was time for Mister to choose a new book to read, he checked out was on the boy shelf and chose one. Because things are so much better organized, and visible, they are already getting used more often. I also love that we're able to devote a whole room to our homeschool because I think it sends them the message that this is an important part of our life. I realize not everyone can have a whole room for homeschooling. We don't have room for an actual classroom, nor is that what works for us. I admire lots of those beautiful rooms online with the desks, or big tables, and charts on the wall, comfy chairs to curl up in, etc, but it's always worked best for us to school at the kitchen or dining room table, or overflow into the living room.
While I'm loving the new school room, I'm learning that there are spots all over the house that can be dedicated to learning. I recently transformed the space between the living and dining room, next to the staircase landing, into a little "learning corner" for Petite. I put our number rug there and the Little Tykes table and baskets of books and she brings her toys there. I have a bookcase in the kitchen for my teachers guides and the kids notebooks, as well as supplies we use regularly. I still use the black entertainment stand in the living room for my Staples cube that holds our core books and math, English, etc, plus the math manipulatives we use most often, music CDs, and more. We have baskets of books all over the place, and more bookcases too. The white board is set up on an easel in the kitchen most of the time. We learn all through the house. Homeschooling is more of a lifestyle than it is a portion of our day.
"I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves." Anna Quindlen