Monday, August 9, 2010

Our "school" room - a work in progress

This post is my first for the Not Back-To-School Blog Hop at Heart of the Matter Online.  This week's Blog Hop feature is School Room Week.  Click on the link to see lots of other neat ideas for homeschool rooms and areas.  Here's a peek into our "school" room.

We've been living in this house for nearly four years now.  When we first bought it, I mentioned to my husband that I wanted to use the "den" off the front entry as our "school" room.  The den is accessed through a pair of French doors, and he was (rightly) concerned that the first impression that people would get upon entering our home would be the piles and disorganization that tends to go along with our learning.  I promised that the room would stay tidy, but unfortunately, I didn't have the tools to follow through on that promise.  Our school room was crammed full of furniture - two large office-sized desks, two 6-ft bookcases, two 2'x3' lateral files and a 3.5'x5' table - and all of it was either open, showing everything inside, or a flat surface, which accumulated piles of clutter.  I never took pictures, but here's a little diagram that shows the basic layout of the room.

The crude drawing doesn't do the room justice, really.  The French doors were constantly in the way, until we finally decided to leave one permanently closed by stacking boxes of occasionally-used items in front of it; the other was left open but was right next to the girl's chairs and they were constantly either slamming their chairs against it, worrying me that the glass would break, or coloring in the panes when I wasn't looking.  Other frustrations were: 1) the bookcase next to the boys' desk, making the child closest to the bookcase either pushed up against it, or annoying the other child by moving into "his" space; 2) The entire underside of my desk filled up with rolling carts, which made it difficult to get side-by-side with any child to do one-on-one teaching; 3) The visual overload when walking into the room - it wasn't conducive to learning at all.

About this time last year, my husband's parents gave us a very generous financial gift and asked us to use it for something we wanted and not spend it to pay bills, etc.  We talked about several things, but kept coming back to the idea of doing something with the school room to make it more visually appealing and better organized.  Right around that time I found the Not Back to School Blog Hop: School Room Week and found all sorts of great ideas to get us started.  Still, it took us several months to agree on a basic design, and get things ordered.  We had the cabinets and counter-top ordered by Thanksgiving 2009, and in anticipation of their arrival and installation, we cleared out the school room.

That was nine months ago.  The cabinets were in by Christmas, the counter-top installed in late January, but we are still waiting for the rest of the project to be completed.  Here's what we had planned:
  • The cabinets and counter-top (ordered from Lowes, installed by husband) 
  • Bookshelves across the entire wall above the cabinets (to be made and installed by husband) 
  • A 4-person square desk for the children (to be made by husband) 
  • A slightly-smaller (than what I have now) desk for me.  
My husband wants to make the bookshelves and kids' desk himself, but he was concerned about making the bookshelves to go in such a high-profile place - remember, this room is right inside our front door - without some practice.  So he's currently at work on a set of built-in bookshelves in the master bedroom as his "practice run"; when he's finished with those, he'll get back to the school room project.

In the meantime, the "school" area has been temporarily moved to several places.  The majority of our learning takes place in the living room.  The boys' desk and my desk have been moved into the living room, along with the lateral files that hold most of our schoolwork.

The lateral files actually don't look too much different in the living room than they did in our previous school room.  They still end up piled with the "stuff" that doesn't have another home. 

The living room furniture has been pushed to one side to make room for the school stuff.


Most of the books and supplies we had out in the school room are currently being stored in front of and around the fireplace.


The boys each have a desk in their own room, so when they get too overwhelmed by the very verbal learning that the girls are doing, they can retreat to a quieter place.


The bookcases from the school room are currently living in the piano room.  One kept all the books it had in the school room; the other has been partially re-purposed for music, though some of its books remain.


But here's where we're hoping to be moved into VERY soon.  I can't wait to move the STUFF into the cabinets and drawers, and get at least that aspect of life more organized.

So we're a work in progress this year.  I am praying that by this time next year, I will have a 100% finished, uncluttered and well-organized school room to show everyone for the 2011 Not Back to School Blog hop.  


  1. Very nice-that will be awesome when you are done. I look forward to seeing it finished on next year's tour. One thing I find HSers are good at, is adjusting and making do. Have a good one!

  2. thanks for the tour - have a great school year and good luck with your upcoming plans

  3. good luck with finishing everything! It will be awesome when you are done!

  4. Awesome. Those cabinets are lovely....Have a great school year and a good time creating your new space. :)

  5. Looks like a great plan! Good luck with getting it together. I hope you have a wonderful year.


  6. Wow, i LOVE the countertops and cabinets in the new space!!! I hope the transition is smooth. Thanks for sharing!