Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Making Room for School!

When Darren and I moved into our three bedroom, 1400 sq.ft. house five years ago, it was with only one baby and from a two bedroom, 700 sq.ft. duplex. This place felt HUGE! Funny, then, how it has become smaller and smaller as more years have passed and more children have entered the picture. We still love this house, though, and I don't foresee leaving it any time in the near future. So we have become quite creative in the ways we make use of our limited space. Our master bedroom closet doubles as a linen closet, and holds half of our book collection. A tall, wide, deep ledge above the doorway of our bedroom held an awkward array of odds and ends until I discovered that by simply installing an inexpensive tension rod between the two walls at the ceiling and hanging from it a neutral pair of curtain panels, I could easily gain a large amount of instant hidden storage. That space is packed now with tubs of clothes the kids have outgrown, boxes of Dylan's artwork, and my childhood doll collection which was, at one time, displayed in a glass cabinet (that is, until my children decided that the porcelain faces freaked them out...and truthfully, in their defense, I was sort of scared of them when I was little, too.)

Anyway. Having one large living area and an equally large master bedroom means that the two other bedrooms in our home are really quite small. They have both gone through numerous transformations and reconfigurations during our time here, each functioning at various stages as study, guest room, nursery...the front bedroom was shared by Dylan and Caitlyn after she was born, then they both moved to the second bedroom, then Caitlyn moved back into the front room, which was shared by that time with Meghan, and Dylan kept his own room. Truthfully, I've sort of lost track of how many changes we've made! I thought I had thought of everything. But then, last month, Celeste wrote about rearranging her children's rooms and I realized that one wonderful option had never even occurred to me: all three kids in one room! I had been really, really wishing for a dedicated "homeschool room". I know it's true that homeschooling can, and does, happen in any room of the house, but I longed for a place where we could keep all of our books, toys, and games, a place where I could hang maps and posters and bulletin boards and all of our seasonal crafts. So, after a thinking about it for a while, I proposed an idea to Darren and the kids: What if, I suggested, we put bunk beds and the crib in Dylan's room for all three kids to share, and converted the girls room into a school/play room? I was delighted to find that they were all very receptive, an in fact enthusiastic, about my idea. So, we went out a couple of weeks ago and ordered a beautiful set of bunk beds for their new bedroom (which, unfortunately, may not be in for another two weeks.) We found the cutest sets of matching bedding (one of my biggest worries in this whole process!) and, for the past two days, have been busily working on establishing the school/play room.

My brother gave us his old dining room table, which we greatly appreciated, and to give the chairs a fun, fresh look, I went shopping with my kids and one of my best friends yesterday to find some fabric with which I could recover the seat cushions. This was my first attempt ever at anything like this, and I am so glad I had her along to help me. I was so completely smitten by all the beautiful fabric selections that I could have easily come away with much more than I needed! I finally decided on a whimsical Classic Pooh pattern, a favorite of mine for the sheer sweetness of the beloved character. We also found some really cute gingham lined wicker baskets at Hobby Lobby, which perfectly complimented the print I found for the chairs. I couldn't wait to get to work on them as soon as I got home, and I love the way they turned out!

Last night Darren helped me hang several posters we bought at that amazing yard sale, and I filled the baskets I bought with loose items I knew I'd want to keep close at hand: flash cards, math manipulatives and tangrams, building blocks, and toy food and dishes. I spent most of today moving books; all of my children's story books are now on their bookshelf in the living room, and everything else (poetry, classic read-alouds, religion, literature, nature, history, and science) can be found on the new bookcases in the school room. Meghan also has her own small shelf, which holds a basket of small board books and a wide assortment of puzzles. I just love how it has all come together! One thing I've always loved about this particular room is how much natural sun light floods in during the day, and I am already imagining happy afternoons in there with my children this fall. It makes me feel cozy just to think about it!


Beth said...

Wow that is a beautiful school room!

Mrs Pea said...

That's just a lovely way to use the space productively. And I think children love sharing a room, regardless of the "need their own personal space" camp. I loved sharing. I was recently speaking to an elderly lady who said that she slept in a double bed with her two sisters all her life until she married and still woke up wondering where they were sometimes, 60-70 years later. God obviously knew you'd have a use for the posters :o)

Mom to Four said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!!!! I am so excited for you!!!!!!!!!!!!

It is wonderful - absolutely wonderful!!!!!

I wish I could call you and gush and gush and gush over how wonderful it all is!

You did a fantastic job!

Much love!


P.S. I don't think I have ever used so many exclamation posts at any one time. :))

He who wears the most black wins. said...

I am using as many exclamation points as Celeste!!!!!!

It's just AWESOME, Melissa!!!!! I am SO excited for you guys to start your school year AT HOME!!!!!! What an amazing learning environment for the kids!

Alice Gunther said...

The place looks fabulous!!!

Amy Parris said...

I echo everyone else's thoughts. The place looks great. I do have one suggestion though. I recovered my chairs recently and I wish I had put plastic over the cloth. With all the little hands and big messes we have around here, the chairs were looking old and used in no time.

You just put so much hard work into your project. I'd love to see them continue to look that good.

mom-in-training said...

I saw this post earlier and am just now getting a moment to comment on it. WOW, WOW, WOW, WOW!!!!!! I could not type enough WOW's to express my awe at this lovely homeschooling space you've created. It's gorgeous! How have you managed to make everything look so beautiful and organized with 1400 s.f.?!? It is stunning! And just what you need to inspire you on your road to homeschooling.

Great job! And if ever you're in Houston, would you come do mine? You and Celeste can redo my entire home. I'll even let you throw away without my permission. :)

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

We did put our latest addition in the wardrobe! the doors were kept open i might add!

Mrs Jackie Parkes MJ said...

i tag you for your favourite English (6 hymns) & 6 favourite English...check my blog..

God bless

Jane Ramsey said...

It's awesome, Melissa. I love it! Someday I hope to do something similar. Our "schoolroom" now is a bookshelf in a corner of the kitchen!

Jamie said...

Beautiful job, I am excited for you!