It’s done! It’s done! It’s finally done! *insert maniacal laughter* After about 1 1/2 months of on and off work, I finally finished the work on the classroom! I cannot even begin to describe to you how happy that makes me. Until a few weeks ago, the kids barely used the classroom, and now I have it set up so the kids don’t have to wait on me for their work or have to get supplies out of my sewing room.
I know that having a classroom is not vital to a homeschool and that we could and would homeschool just fine if we didn’t have one. But I really like having one. I love having a space where the kids can leave out their writing practice and take a break for lunch without needing to clean up their work. I like having a place to put their supplies so they aren’t always rummaging through mine. I know that having a space like a classroom equates to having one more space to clean, but has actually been helping to keep the house cleaner. Instead of having papers strewn across the living room or the dining room, it’s contained to the classroom. And now we’ve got a simple system in place for clean up, and it has been wonderful!
After I wrote the post about building the classroom table, it took me another month before I was able to actually finish the table itself, partly because the supplies I needed were kind of pricey, and partly because I needed to be able to have over 24 hours without the kids around so that I could actually do the finishing. So I decided to do some painting in the mean time.
I painted the classroom right after we moved in, but it was just a temporary fix because the room looked so dingy and I wanted to clean it up some. I wasn’t sure at the time what color I wanted the room to be, so we just left it as it was, kind of a sandy/beige/off-white color. The paint helped, but it was only supposed to be a temporary fix, and once the table was built and we picked out the color for the stain, I knew the walls needed to change, or the room would never get used. I ended up using the left over paint from the upper portion of the kitchen walls and the left over paint from my sewing room and mixed them together. Both are a light aqua, but different shades, and we ended up with a nice bright, but soft and light blue/aqua color.
As for the trim, I debated as to whether or not I wanted to paint it…Scott didn’t really want me to paint any trim in the house, but in some rooms, the color of the trim just wasn’t working, and staining it darker wouldn’t fix the problem. I ended up painting the trim after carefully weighing the options. The trim in the classroom is different from the trim in most of the other rooms downstairs, and compared with the trim in the room it is connected to (the dining room) the two colors didn’t blend well. I used a homemade chalk paint in “antique white” since I was already using that color in the dining room and kitchen, and the rooms sort of flow together. I did leave the doors in the room unpainted, and I love how the room looks now.
With only one window in the room, on a north-facing wall, shaded by a row of trees, we get little natural light in the room, and the bulk of it comes in through the dining room. The bookshelf was black, the desk a dark brown (close to the color of the doors), and they sort of stand guard to the room as you walk in. They just seemed to absorb any light that came in via the dining room. Both pieces of furniture are made of composite materials, so I didn’t feel bad painting them the same antique white. I can’t believe what a big difference it makes to have those shelves be lighter. The inner back of the bookshelf and a portion of the desk are painted “ballet slipper” pink, again, a chalk paint.
We had a print of George Washington’s portrait (originally painted by Gilbert Stuart) that hung in our dining room in our old house, but it’s large, and after we moved, I had no idea what we would do with it. When I had painted the classroom and put it back together, the obvious spot for the portrait appeared, and I hung it above the desk in the room. Next to it, we have a framed poster of The Declaration of Independence. We also have a print of George Washington in The Prayer at Valley Forge that used to be on the wall in my Grandpa’s office, and that’s been in the classroom for at least a few months. On the same wall as the portrait, we have a small shelf with a caiman skull and a little wooden toy snake Scott picked up as souvenirs while on a business trip to New Orleans a few years ago.
Further down the wall is a wall hanging my mom gave to us sometime after we moved in. It’s made of a fabric panel and the boarder is just a basic pieced square block boarder. In the boarder she quilted the ABC’s. It was actually the bright, but light colors in the quilt that helped me figure out the color I wanted to paint the room.
Then there’s a paper wasps nest hanging on the wall by the window (sans wasps) that was left with the house. It was a decoration that the previous owners had up. They had a neat moth/butterfly collection along with a few other interesting finds from nature. They knew we homeschool, so they left it for us knowing that we might be interested in taking a closer look at it. It’s a bit beat up…I accidentally knocked it off the wall while assembling the table, but now we can see inside of it, and that’s pretty cool too!
On the other side of the window there is an old mirror hanging up that I found in the granary. It’s mirrored surface is in fairly rough shape, with the silver backing worn off in spots, but I like old, worn mirrors, and put it up because I figured it would help to draw more light into the classroom since the dining room is directly opposite the classroom. It doesn’t do a ton since it’s over 20 ft. across the house, but it does help a little, and I like the way it looks 🙂
Then we have a bulletin board that is currently home to the multiplication table (1-10), but usually used for the kids artwork. We have a penmanship poster on the wall next to the bulletin board, but that’s not in these pictures. There’s space on the walls for maps and other posters if we want to put them up, which we do from time to time, and it typically pertains to something the kids are learning about or interested in.
As for the big table in the classroom, I completed it almost 3 weeks ago, but I haven’t shared the changes in the room because I still had one project in waiting. The table was the big reason I had Scott take the kids away for an extended weekend. I needed to mill some boards for the apron/trim on the edge of the table, apply them, sand everything, finish staining, and then apply an epoxy glaze clear coat. Cutting the trim exactly right was tedious, and applying the glaze was sticky and nerve-wracking. I’m glad I did the finishing while the kids where away, because it took FOREVER, and the kids would have definitely wrecked the finish of the table. After the clear coat was finished (more like set/hardened), I had to go around the bottom edge of the apron and chisel off all of the little drips, and then it took two people to shove the table into place.
The last loose end/project for this room was to build a shelf to house some of the kids supplies and schoolwork, and get said supplies out of my sewing room. I have had maybe 4 months, maybe since we moved here where there hasn’t been a mass collection of things for other people stored in the sewing room. The sewing room is my office, sewing, and craft room, and I’m happy to let other people be in it to sew or do crafts, but that hardly ever happens since all of these things have been continually piled in the room. The sewing room is still not completely clean ( I have a lot of organizing to get to), but it’s now on the right track. This shelf for the classroom is not a complete bookshelf because I wanted to be able to store an extra stool or the odd large item underneath it, and the shelf space that is there is enough to move the 4 older kids bins into it. The bins are home to their crayons and pencils, blank paper, coloring books, and whatever other “treasures” they deem worthy of storing there.
On top of the desk, I have a canister with some scissors and rulers that they can use whenever they want (unless it becomes problematic, in which case, they will end up back in my sewing room). The file organizers hold different work for the 3 older kids for the different days of the week. Each folder has a few weeks worth of work in it, each day being separated with a paperclip. It’s mostly writing paper with a prompt for an assignment on the folder and some kind of math worksheet, along with some tracing paper to get them to practice their penmanship. I know the shelf isn’t anything fancy, but I’ve had this idea in my head since around the time E was born (which is over 10 months ago).
I still haven’t found or made the right stools. Ideally I would like to have some stools that look something like the one pictured, but that would either require me building them or buying them, and right now that is just not a priority.
Sorry for the grainy pictures. I’ll try again another sunny day, but I’m working on building a new cabinet for the kitchen, and it’s blocking the light to the classroom. If I take pictures with the flash on, the table glares and you can’t see anything!
Here’s a before and after:
What do you think? I know I’m much happier. We got things out of the room that shouldn’t have been there, organized what remained, scrubbed the paper off the floor that the kids “glued” to it (it wasn’t actually glue…it just got wet and stuck), and obviously the other things I talked about. But now the room feels welcoming and it’s actually being used for it’s intended purpose. The huge table was Scott’s idea, and I’ve got to admit that initially, I wasn’t sold, but I’m glad he talked me into it!