7.10.2013

Help Wanted: Re-Working Our Homeschool Room

The other week I showed you my gigantic mess made from a crazy decision to organize the school room closet and master bedroom closet and all the switching and swapping that it included.  

It was all brought on by a) the master bedroom closet being disfunctional and b) the homeschool room being cramped.

I truly loved our home school room last year.  This room functions as more of a home for work that requires concentration. (Group subjects like history, reading, etc, are done piled on the couch.)  When my kids were younger, having a separate space wasn't an issue because I had to basically help them with everything, but with higher grade levels comes more independent work and a dedicated space has really helped our family. 

But with five bodies, it was getting tight. If someone was sitting in the chair nearest the workbox, you had to get up to get the box out, etc.  Same with getting into the little dresser that has the lamp on it, or the black cabinet.  It was such a cute, cheerful room!  But playing musical chairs to get what you needed was not fun or conducive to concentration.

Also it was visually cluttered.  My kids are very much like me....easily distracted. Although I do have one child who could concentrate no matter the explosion around them. Seriously blows my mind. Clutter and mess does not bother them at all. (The natural state of their bedroom proves it!) But then I have two others who are just like me and when things are messy, we can't concentrate.  

SO, I am working at resolving this issue and although I do want a fun room, I just have to tone down the "busyness."  When there are too many things out that can be "touched and explored", concentration levels go waaay down.  That's another reason I wanted the big black cubby shelf (which you can't even see in this picture) out of there.  (The big shelf is now in our master bedroom closet and all the stuff that was on it is in the school room closet. Confusing, I know. You can read about it here.)

But now we have two other problems and I would love if ya'll would tell me your opinions. 

Problem #1:  We've outgrown our table.  

We've always had school at a table, and I love it.  But we just can't fit around it anymore!  Squeezing five bodies around it along with books and stuff doesn't work.  So we've been talking about two different solutions.  (If you follow me on Pinterest and have seen the bazillions of school rooms being pinned, this is why!)

Option A-- Making a table with built in storage like this: 


The dimensions on these particular tables would be roughly 6.5 ft.x 4 ft. so it would take up a good portion of our 11 ft. x 8 ft. room.  

Option B-- Making desks around the perimeter of the wall, inspired by these:




{via Pinterest}

Like I mentioned before, our homeschool room is about 11ft. x 8ft. so it's not very large. But I know if we do it well, we can really maximize this space!  

If we do put desks around the perimeter, I may put a little child-sized table in the middle for Levi and Lucy since they LOVE to be in there too.  We'll see. =)

Problem #2: I need more chalkboard space.

We do have a giant chalkboard in the dining room, but with four little people, it's just not enough anymore.  Lucy loves to scribble, Levi loves to write letters, but as you probably know, little kids write BIG so it kind of takes up most of the lower board.  I usually write our weekly memory verse at the top, so yeah, there's not much room for anything else.  

Since the entire wall to the left which looked like this:

and is now empty like this......

 ......I'm thinking of making it into a chalkboard wall.  Even if we do put desks along the wall, I could still easily reach the wall to write what's needed on it, and my older kids could as well.  

I saw this chalkboard wall that Lindsey (aka the Pleated Poppy) did recently in her school room and fell in love!!

But here is my dilemma....would a black wall make the small room seem that much smaller?  I LOVE chalkboard walls, but I don't want it to feel like a cave.  

I also saw this on Pinterest..... 


You know me and my love for all things vintage, and I just adore those old green chalkboards.  This room looks so inviting...the bright white, the green chalkboard.  It's lovely. 

 I'm contemplating doing a green chalkboard wall instead of a black one.  Either way I will be repainting the room a much lighter color.  Currently it's Comfort Grey (by SW), which is a gorgeous color, but it badly needs some touch up after 3 years and we don't have one drop of paint left.  And in that room that color feels dark and very moody.  Something lighter and brighter would be very nice, perhaps a very light gray or even white.  

Okay friends...I'm eagerly awaiting your comments and opinions.  What would you do? Would you pick the big table or wall desks?  And would you paint a chalkboard wall? If you did, would you go with green or classic black?  Or do you have something completely different that you think would be a great solution?  I'm all ears! =)


23 comments:

  1. Well, you know I have to chime in. I would do desks facing the wall, perhaps with filing cabinets as the dividers. Be cautious about having a desk that faces the window. Sunshine, puppies, and squirrels are very distracting. You could do a smaller blackboard and not the whole wall.

    I have every confidence that you will choose something that is just right for your family.

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    1. I'm so glad that you chimed in! I mean seriously, you've been doing this so much longer than I have and I value your opinion. And you're right, sunshine, puppies and squirrels are VERY distracting. I don't plan on putting one in front of the window, but that would be a very good reason not to!

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  2. I love the desk around against the wall idea! If you want a chalkboard wall...but not the dark paint ---make your own chalk paint any color you want! I love all the organized school rooms too, but we "camp" in the dinning area due to lack of space. I love you school room make over!! Can't wait to see what you decide!! :)

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    1. Thanks, Emily! Yes, I will definitely be making my own chalkboard paint since it's so expensive, even if I do go with black. We did school in the dining room for years, so I understand that! It's just in the last two years that we've been using that room.

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  3. We are working out some "school room" options but have reconfigured our living room to house the "school room" since we don't have an extra room. We are totally sold on the desks along the wall idea if we can work it out. Our piano is kinda in the way! ;) I really like the 3rd and 4th option of school tables above!! I had considered a table top with storage from Ikea but it is just too gigantic for our space.

    And about the chalkboard issue, isn't there tintable chalkboard pain out there? I could be wrong but I thought I've read about it somewhere. If I find the "somewhere" I'll let you know.

    Don't you just love back to school time?!! My house ALWAYS gets rearranged too!!!

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    1. Yes, I do love back to school time. It's exciting! Everything gets purged and organized. Lots of work but so worth it. I hope you'll share pictures of your space when it's finished, I'd love to see!

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  4. LOVED the desk around the wall idea, especially b/c it seems to give each child a little more space and privacy. I liked the green chalkbord against the white walls since, like you mentioned, that would brighten the room making it appear bigger. I know you'll come up with a great solution and can't wait to see the final reveal! =)

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    1. Thanks, Rachel. I know picking chalkboard paint shouldn't feel like a monumental decision, but it does. Crazy! I just can't wait to actually have it all finished!

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  5. I have to agree with the idea of desks along the wall. I think it would minimize distractions. If you had room, you could even have a little teaching area that was away from their desks, although I know that's hard when you are short on space.:) I have taught multi-grades since I started teaching, and I find that having a "teacher area" away from the others for when there are questions or explanations, etc...helps to ensure that the distraction is not happening right in the middle of the other kids who are trying to work!

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    1. I wish we had the space for that, but there definitely isn't. I sometimes will just have them go to the dining room for that. That's a great idea though and would be so helpful for someone who did have a larger space!

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  6. http://www.abeautifulmess.com/2012/02/how-to-mix-chalkboard-paint-in-any-color.html This is the tutorial I used to make my own chalkboard paint. Then you wouldn't have to worry about it being black or making the room feel closed in. :)

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    1. I've not seen that particular recipe so I'll look into it. Thank you!

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  7. Even before reading everyone else's advice, I thought that the desks against the wall would be better... especially when we're trying to minimize distractions. As a former homeschooled kid from a large family, I remember how it was always hard for me to concentrate when I'd have to do my work at the dining table (with everyone else). If you do end up with a desk facing the window, though, you could reserve that for the child-who-does-not-get-distracted-no-matter-what :) I also like the idea of a framed chalkboard area, vs. a whole chalkboard wall (I get mildly freaked out when thinking about such a large-scale commitment, especially when chalkboard paint is so expensive!) You could even paint a 4'x'6' or so square right on the wall, and then frame it with molding, rather than having to find a huge frame. :) (Also having a full chalkboard wall could also lead to doodling, which means more student distractions... ) ;)

    Whatever you choose, I can't wait to see! You always end up with the cutest, most cheerful rooms! :)

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    1. Thank you Kathryn...I hope it turns out cute and cheerful. Currently it looks rather blah and scary, lol. =) I didn't think about kids doodling on the wall during school, that definitely is a thought! =D Chalkboard paint is expensive but I think I'm going to make my own. It would cost around $14 to make a gallon, which is SO exciting!

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  8. How funny, I'm having my own school room dilemma and just asked for advice on my blog too. : )

    When my kids were closer in ages to yours we had our desks along the wall and it worked very well. We've had to switch rooms now and my school room is mostly a book-holding room with our kids' workspaces spread out across the house. Just my youngest actually works in the school room now. My son's desk is against a window in his bedroom, but even though he has autism it isn't distracting because he keeps the blinds closed. It's nice because he always has great lighting in his work space. So even if you had to put some kids against the wall you could use some sheer or light fabric to block out distractions but it would still keep the room light.

    I love the idea of the chalkboard wall. Even if you did black I don't think it would make the space too confining. It seems like I've seen plenty of black accent walls in small spaces in cyberland and they look great. We currently have a black chalkboard wall in the entry of our girls' bedroom and to me it feels like it provides depth and grounds the space.

    Your home always looks so peaceful and inviting, so I'm sure whatever you decide it will be lovely. : )

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    1. Thank you for sharing about how your space worked for you, it is so helpful! Also, that's nice to hear that you have a chalkboard wall in your girls' room and that it works. I've never seen one in person so it's just hard to tell, you know? Thank you again, this comment was so helpful! =)

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  9. I, like so many of the others, like the wall desks around the room. It will help keep distractions at bay and make the room still seem open. I also like the idea of a smaller framed chalkboard...as much as I love chalkboard walls, my OCD would cause me to wipe it down way too often and with soon-to-be five little ones,umm, I don't think that the added cleaning would work for me.-ha! Our GAP store at the mall has a chalk wall and while my KIDS love it (read fight over eraser-type of a good time), the chalk dust lining that enire length of floor drives me insane. So yes, I am definitely a lover of white walls creating a classic, streamlined, and soothing space. And I like the thought of framing a green or a black chalkboard -both colors sound lovely. :-)

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  10. Hey, Laine! I enjoyed reading about your homeschool room renovations. :) I think you should go all modern/vintage and paint your chalkboard wall your favorite turquoise color. :) Then brighten up the room with the other three walls. And, just a thought, have you considered individual desks facing into the room instead of facing the wall? When we had a schoolroom I got some free desks from a local school (they were updating and getting rid of what looked to be perfectly good desks!). I faced them into the room. Then I could teach them in that room using a chalkboard behind me. And then they each had their own space with their own name. It eliminated any crowding of books and debris while they worked--they each had their own defined space in which to work. You can still put bookshelves, posters, or other things that you store in a schoolroom behind or beside them, and it allows future moving around easier. Push all the desks together in the middle of the room if you want a table. Put the desks in their bedrooms as they grown older and want their independent space. We don't have a schoolroom now, but my kids are older and have more of that independent work. Grace, Mary and Davey spread out all over the house to do their schoolwork. Whatever you do, I'm sure it will be fabulous. :)

    Ruth

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  11. I vote desks against the wall for least distraction and a place to make their own. Also since you love vintage, go for the green chalk board! How cute--maybe you can make it really big, but give it boundaries with molding so you are not always having to wash down the whole wall! The other thing my kids loved was keeping a big timeline and making symbols or coloring something for the timeline. Have fun!~liz

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  12. I like the green chalk board and the desks against the wall too. If you need extra storage, you could sew pocket organizers for each child, allowing them to choose their own vintage fabric, maybe sew on their names, and they can store their own things in the pockets. You can hang them on the sides of your bookcases or on the back of the door to the room or closet, or on the wall if you have space. I live in a very small RV and have very limited storage space. I hand sewed several pocket organizers from the fabric shower curtain we had previously used his our stick home. Since I have no sewing machine (no space for it LOL) I hand sewed the organizers. Here's a link for some ideas that I just googled :http://tipnut.com/organizers-caddies You may also hang one of two from the backs of the school chairs.

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  13. An after thought - You could glue favorites drawings of the children on top of the table for an art project and water varnish after the school day is over so it can dry overnight. This would be a "family keepsake" when all of them have grown up and are having their own families!

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  14. we also have a small space for school so Im looking for different ideas...I like the chalkwall but like you it would make the room feel darker and smaller.... Im using the kitchen table this summer for histoy an science but for writing and the other subjects this fall we will be back in the schoolroom....I like doing it in kitchen but our table is a farmlike table and it has grooves so not so good for writing :) but I love the openness of it...

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  15. I would do the desks against the wall around the room. You could then maybe have personalized spaces for each child and also give you more floor room in the the middle of the room.

    I would probably lean more towards a framed in chalkboard section of a wall but that is just me. The messy look of a whole wall colored on would probably drive me batty :) But it is easy to erase :)

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