Welcome to our school room/learning space!
This tour is long overdue, I know! November marked one year in our new home for our family.
I teased you with the "before photos" over a year ago before we began "renovations." After having a Montessori classroom that was partly packed up all the time for nine months while we tried to sell our last house, getting the new school room ready was our first priority when we moved in. Photographing it was another story. Although you've all been seeing it in action the whole time, there was always one more thing I wanted to do before pulling out the camera for the official glamour shots:
- "I just want to wait until the bookshelves are in."
- "I just want to wait until the crown moulding is up."
- "I just want to wait until I put the 'insert name' material out."
I finally decided to just DO IT!
In our old house, the school room was tucked away in the back of the house through the master bedroom. It was a ranch-style home and the school was on the extreme end of one side of the house and the family room was on the extreme other end. One thing we were excited about in this home is that the school room could be right off of the foyer, or "grand central station" here, so it would really be in the middle of things. This room is meant to be the formal living room. We didn't need both a living room and a family room. The downside is that it is the first thing you see when you walk into our home. There is no hiding the homeschooling!
I really need to learn how to use our SLR on manual so that I can change some of the settings and get more professional photos. I apologize in advance. The room looks better in person than in the photographs.
Here is a BEFORE picture of the foyer looking into the school room so that you can see how the room relates to the rest of the home...
...and the AFTER!
The foyer really deserves its own post, but you can get a glimpse at some of the new front door and the new crown molding.
Here is another BEFORE picture of the school room with a bit of a better view...
...and the after!
A lot of invisible work went into this space (which is about 12'x17'). I painted the ceiling about five times until I was happy with the shade of blue. Things are really dreary for about six months of the year in our neck of the woods and blue ceilings help me combat the gloom.
A lot of drywall repair was needed before I could paint the walls and ceiling. This past summer we replaced all of the baseboards and added crown molding. All of the switches and receptacles needed to be replaced. Many of our receptacles were so worn that I couldn't keep the vacuum plugged in.
I'll take you around the room clockwise so you can get a feel for the whole space. There is a very shallow bookcase just inside the entry:
I had my eye on bookshelves like this one at Pottery Barn for about six years, but didn't want to spend a couple hundred dollars to get one. When I spotted them at Target on sale for $30 one day (online, free shipping) I snatched up three...one for the school room and one for each of the boys' rooms. I keep the one in the school room stocked with books on topics we are focusing on. The art above the shelf was drawn by my grandfather specifically for Kal-El when I was pregnant.
Next to the bookcase, this big, bay, SE-facing window does double/triple/quadruple duty for us. It provides this room with the best light in the whole house (which is still not enough to work by in the gloomy thick of winter, even in the morning when the sun is on that side). We hung a prism up in the window to cast rainbows all morning long. If you look carefully you will find rainbows in some of these photographs and in our photographs in general quite often. The window seat provides much needed storage for our geometric and botany cabinets. The window seat also serves as a work surface or a perch for popular activities such as spying on the neighbors or the bird feeders/bath just a few feet away from the window.
The bead cabinet is just to the right of the window:
I took these photos a few weeks ago. The bead cabinet now proudly holds the 100 and 1000 chains along with the appropriate squares, cubes, and arrows.
Recessed lighting would be perfect in this room, however it would have required an expensive electrician who would put 14+ holes in the ceiling in order to install them. The 14+ holes would require an expensive drywaller to make them look like they were never there. For now, we've settled for some floor lamps, one of which barely tucked into that corner next to the start of the math shelves.
Continuing clockwise are the math and sensorial shelves. The center section is currently quite empty in anticipation of all the big math works (such as the bank game) that Kal-El will be starting soon.
Their violins are tucked next to the shelves on the right (next to the maps cabinet). The red rods used to be there, but they have been retired. I hung their artwork in our Lil' Da Vinci art frames over the shelves so the art looks different sometimes weekly, sometimes daily depending on the boys' whims. If they look hung a little high it is because I anticipate materials stored on top of the bookcases as the boys get older.
This is our geography corner:
It sports a Calder-esque mobile, the map cabinet, and our geography shelves. This was also a good spot to sneak in the red and blue rods (math). The small sets of drawers on top of the white bookcase hold my collection of miniature objects. I use them in the language area, of course, but also throughout the culture curriculum. I just store all of those tiny things here alphabetized for easy retrieval. This makes it really easy to put together sound bins, or find just the right whale for the Antarctica box.
I ordered the tall shelves in black to break things up a bit. All of the shelves are "Carson" shelves from Target. The black shelf to the left holds "culture" works. The one in the middle contains writing works. The shelf to the left holds language materials. The uppermost shelves are temporarily "mine." I keep spare parts to things up there, as well as works I plan to present very soon and things I need to rotate frequently (like sound bin innards). I'll post some closer looks at what is on the shelves in the future.
Turning the corner finally brings us to the last wall of the room.
Here is a BEFORE photo of that side...
...and the AFTER!
Kal-El snuck into that one! We have a work table here that has a child-sized chair as well as a stool that is used as often by me as anyone else.
I was sooo convinced that I needed shelf-space not couch-space in this room and lobbied heavily to get rid of this extra couch shortly after we moved in. I was so wrong and I 'm really glad we have it! It is a great cozy spot to snuggle up together while we work.
The short white bookcase is a work in progress. It is shaping up to hold our music works. The little sets of drawers on top of this shelf hold collections of manipulatives such as beads, counters, jingle bells, plastic flies, you name it! These are used across the curriculum as well. Jingle bells can be counters on the math shelf one day, show up as a stringing work on the practical life shelves the next, in the "j" sound bin later on, or on the tray to be weighed on the balance a few days later.
You won't see any art supplies in here because they are stored in a big closet in the foyer and are used in the kitchen most often. We have a lot of other child-spaces scattered throughout the house as well.
Last but not least...this is where we stash our rugs. It is a pretty large collection for just two boys. We have various sizes and styles. The boys usually choose the large, low-pile grey rugs from Wal-mart with the rubber backing because they roll the nicest. I was so excited to finally order the white cotton rugs from Montessori Services only to find that they flop over in the basket terribly and the boys don't like that.
Well, there you have it. A long post that was long overdue!