Our Homeschool Room

Our homeschool room, which I posted about years ago, was overdue for an update.  Partly because we have different needs now, more kids, more computers, and partly because it was ugly.  Mostly the problem was that I had personally done the taping and mudding.  Let me just say, the talented people who can make a smooth wall are not paid enough. My new homeschool room is beautiful and functional . . . stay tuned to see how I got around the whole ugly drywall seams problem.

My Homeschool Room

Don’t underestimate the power of a pretty room.  You should feel happy, comfortable, and peaceful in your home.  The way it looks is a big part of how happy and functional your home is.  But looks don’t have to be super expensive.  I’ll take you on a tour and show you what we’ve done and how we made it affordable.

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We have six kids, eight people.  We’ve gotten along without individual desks and shared computers for seventeen years and it worked.  The kids study at one of several tables in the house, at the kitchen counter, sitting (or laying) on the couch.  They still will study in those places.  But now they also have a personal designated study spot and their own supplies and their own computers, which will make everything smoother.  These two desks are for my two oldest boys, one of whom has concentration issues and needed to be in his own little space with as few distractions as possible.  The desks were given to me by my brother years ago.  I’ve painted them to make them look more homey and less institutional.  Paint is the least expensive way to make things beautiful.  The cabinet was from my Mom’s house and had been inside a closet they demolished during a remodel.  We painted it black and gave it new handles.  The cabinet holds science supplies, including our microscope in the top drawer.  In the middle drawer we store paper {graph, lined, construction, printer, colored, card stock, etc} and our math box with manipulatives. And in the bottom drawer we have “random stuff”, like empty jelly jars, yogurt containers, toilet paper rolls and small boxes for crafts.  Inside the basket that sits on top of the cabinet we have two smaller bins, one holding crayons and the other full of markers.

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This is our side entry.  We use it a lot.  We have no coat closet in the house and so we added hooks to the wall here to create a coat/boot area.  It gets messy.  Kids are not good at hanging things up.

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The four younger kids sit in this study space.  My handy husband built the desks.  The desk on the right was built a year ago or so.  We bought a plank of pine from Lowes and three table legs with connectors, screwed the legs on, and ran a strip of 1×2″ wood along the wall at the back of the desk to hold up the back side.  It cost around $40 to build.  The desk on the left also started with a plank of pine, but we used 2X3″ boards to make the slanting legs.  {I want you to know that to determine the length of the leg needed I used the Pythagorean theorem and to determine the angle that should be cut I used the cosine function . . . perhaps carpenters know a simpler way, but that’s how I did it}.  There is also a strip of wood at the back on the wall holding up the back side of the desk top.  This design with the slanting legs is inexpensive and keeps the floor clear.  This desk cost around $25.

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Above the desks on the left there is a shelf, also built with the slanting supports.  {Can I just say, I like that design.}  The shelf holds bins for the four kids who use these desks, each bin with their schoolbooks.  They’ll take the bins down each day while they do their work and put them back at the end of school . . . after being nagged to do so.

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Most of the computer monitors around the room are mounted to the wall to free up surface space so the kids can also spread out math books and so on to do their written work, which is actually the bulk of their school day, not computer work.  The monitor on the right in this photo will be mounted, but hubby hasn’t gotten to it yet.   We also purchased keyboard trays to mount under the desks, again to free up surface space.

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The black stools you see everywhere used to be our dining chairs before they all had the back spindles broken out of them.  Since then we’ve used them as stools.  For the remodel we painted them in several coats of black paint.  I was going to leave the window bare, but the boys told me it had to be covered because of some sort of debilitating glare on the computer screens.  So I bought this blackout curtain and inexpensive rod from WalMart. Hubby hung it and ta da.  No glare.

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Hubby built pencil boxes out of some scrap wood we had lying around, I painted them black with spray paint, and he nailed them to the walls at each desk.  That’s right, pencil boxes NAILED to the walls.  No wandering off for them.  We also bought Scotch brand Command hooks that stick to the wall with double sided tape to hang the headphones on.  Everybody has a set of headphones so the room can stay quiet.

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Finally, on the back wall of this space is a calendar.  My younger kids are still learning about calendars, holidays, dates, and they need to see the date so they can record it on their work as needed.  Besides all that, they like to keep track of what’s coming up next, when holidays and birthdays happen, and when Friday and the end of the week are joyously on the horizon.  The little numbers at the bottom right of their computer screens don’t do it for them.  They like a visual.  The calendar pieces are from the Layers of Learning calendar set and the numbers are a free printable from this site.  I laminated all the pieces (some of them are just in clear contact paper) and on the back of the numbers I hot glued flat tacks from the sewing department.  They can be moved each month as the dates swim around.  The calendar itself is an inexpensive cork board from WalMart that I already had laying around.  I painted the frame black and measured and drew a grid with black Sharpies to make the calendar squares.

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This room is also hubby’s and my office.  He’s going to school.  I’m running a homeschool and a home and writing curriculum.  I’m a minimalist.  I don’t like stuff.  Except books.  So there’s no art or doohickys on the walls or sitting on surfaces.  Those cabinets above the desk have been there for years.  We bought them scratch and dent from a local building supplier when we re-did our kitchen.  We use them to hold art and science supplies.  They’re really messy and really stuffed full.  Hence the doors.

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My desk area has two pencil boxes nailed to the wall.  I need two because one is devoted to my colored pencils which I use when creating maps for the Layers of Learning curriculum.  My monitor is also mounted to the wall and my keyboard and mouse can slide back out of the way when I need to spread books and papers out in front of me.  The monitor is off center because I am planning on adding a second monitor {talk about luxury} to the left of the current one.  My computer tower is mounted under the desk.  You can buy mounts for that purpose, but this one was built out of scrap wood by my hubby.  That printer on the left is wirelessly connected to every computer in the room, but I’m the one who uses it most.  My desk is also purposely near the door that leads to the kitchen.  I tend to work and cook at the same time since I have a short attention span.  It also lets me keep an ear open for shenanigans happening in other parts of the house.  But the biggest reason why that is my spot?  We heat with wood and the wood stove is in the adjacent room and heat floods through that doorway to warm my perpetually cold self.

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On this desk also sits the communal pencil sharpener of awesomeness.  It’s electric, with a plug, no weak battery nonsense for us.  It took us years and years to finally acquire a decent pencil sharpener that didn’t eat our pencils.  This one is from Staples.  You also see the box sitting there?  It is for the kids’ school work. When they finish something they put it in the box and then I check their work.  If it goes back in their desks or their personal boxes I never see it and I forget to check. This system forces me to stay on top of things.  I need a little force in my life now and then.  We bought the box for less than $10 at Ross.  You can no doubt find similar ones there or in a craft store.

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Now for the other side of the room.  We have an enormous chest freezer given to us by friends more than a decade ago.  It is AWESOME!  Anyway, it has to stay in this room.  Years ago we mounted cabinets above it.  The cabinets hold office supplies, play dough {play dough is a controlled substance at our house}, felt play sets, puzzles {another controlled material}, and some of my Layers of Learning supplies.  They are hard working cabinets and have doors. Doors are so essential.

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This art area was inspired by things I found on Pinterest.  The buckets were $1 each from WalMart.  I painted them black with spray paint.  They hang from hooks hand forged by my talented sons.  We filled them with paint brushes, markers, scissors, and pencils.  It’s easy to take a bucket in to our big kitchen peninsula to work on craft projects.  The shelves were built of scrap wood by my husband and painted to match the wall so the shelves blend in.  I wanted the colors of the paints to pop. This area is partly for pretty factor, but it’s also practical {though not if you have toddlers at home}.  My kids can now get the paints for projects and play without my help.  I can see what we have and not overbuy or find I’m missing something.  Before we got all the paints out and put them on the shelves I had completely forgotten the big fat collection of acrylic paints I have.  And I don’t think my two youngest have ever used those finger paints before.  They will now.

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Above the shelves is a bulletin board that we hang art on.  My second son, Timothy insisted on it.  I was going to leave that space blank.  Tim has an eye for design though and he said it was too bare.  Plus it is nice to have a designated {and fairly small} area for art work.

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We have shelves which hold binders and homeschool books.  My husband built the shelves  years ago when we converted the room from our garage.  I have a basket on the shelves that holds a clipboard where I have a checklist for the month.  I check off my kids work as they do it so I can see at a glance if they’re neglecting their grammar or math.  It also holds file folders labeled by days of the week and by subject.  I put the kids printables there.  Math tests, grammar pages, maps from Layers of Learning, etc.  They can go get their assignments without having to ask me {assuming I’ve gotten them printed out and ready ahead of time}.

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See the roll of paper above the freezer?  That was stored in a corner propped up against the wall for years.  Very inconvenient.  We never used it.  So I asked my husband to mount in on the wall.  It’s hanging from a curtain rod we already had.  It’s a cheap thing from WalMart, but plenty sturdy for this job.

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And now we get to my gorgeous walls.  They are done in board and batten style.  I found a tutorial online from Remodelaholic {I love the whole site and already spent obscene amounts of time browsing around}.  We did pretty much what they did, only we have a little bitty Home Depot in our little bitty town and they didn’t have the MDF boards the lady talked about.  So we used sheets of particle board underlayment cut into 1 1/2″ strips.  Once you paint it in several coats of primer and paint, you can’t tell what the lumber underneath was.  Also a big part of our purpose was to cover up the seams in our drywall.  We have a big seam running horizontally all the way around the room at about 4 feet high, so we added a chair rail there.  How very convenient.  We also did our ceiling in board and batten, it also being afflicted with my taping and mudding job from Hades.  The walls, paint and all, took a week to do and about $240.

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If you were to build this room start to finish all at once it would be expensive.  However, it has been a work in progress for at least a decade.  We didn’t run out and buy eight new computers all at once or buy all the cabinetry and desks all at once.  We acquired bits of furniture and supplies over a long period of time, bit by bit.  We used what we had.  We did the work ourselves.  We found creative solutions when we couldn’t do things the traditional way {like the wall treatment}.  We saved our money until we could have what we wanted.  And we were patient {well, I was patient, my husband would be content sitting in the old garage at a card table as long as he had his powerful computer and some games to play}.

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The goal was to build an organized space for everybody to work in where we could be as efficient as possible and have a quiet comfortable place to get it all done.  It’s beautiful and I believe that’s part of the function as much as the surge protector power strips under the desks.

Michelle Signature

 

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One Response to Our Homeschool Room

  1. Nanette Justus says:

    Wow! It looks great. You will all enjoy school in that beautiful room!

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