Homeschool Room Redo

Homeschool Room Makeover : Everyday Snapshots

This homeschool room makeover was a long time in coming. After a couple of years homeschooling all over the house trying to find just the right spot and finally settling on the formal dining space our makeover is done. How about a tour?

Do you remember the before photos?

I am so excited. I have been working in this space for about a week now while finishing it up, and it is so nice to have everything in one spot and right at my fingertips.

Also great is the ability to spread everything out. The kids are constantly pulling up to the table to work on projects, draw, or play with toys.

This space is a pretty dark space for photography purposes. Thankfully before too many months go by we will be painting these walls a nice, pale cream. But for now we have to suffer the orange.

This is the view of most of the room. We replaced the dining table and china cabinet with our Ikea purchases. Fortunately we already owned the two most expensive pieces and were using them in the original school/family room upstairs.

The rest of the redo was funded by the sale of the furniture. Pinterest and internet searches were a huge help in this redo. There is very little original here, but I am OK with that. It means someone else has already tried it out to be sure it works!

And that monstrous lighting fixture? It’s on the way out. Unfortunately my talents do not extend to electrical work, so I have to wait for some help.

This is the opposite side of the room with the new-to-us piano and front door. That storm door is only a few months old and really helps let in tons of light.

For the table and chairs we got three Ikea Ullrik table legs to go with the one Alex unit we were already using under a table upstairs (replaced that with plain legs). Now we have three legs with shelves and one set of drawers — very handy.

The table tops are two 78″ Linnmon in black/brown. I decided the room needed a little contrast, so went with the darker color over white.

I loved the way it turned out. Yes, the legs and table top slide around a bit. That is on our list of things to address. It is not bad enough to be really aggravating, though.

For chairs we got a Jules for me and the junior version for the kids. I would have loved the natural color, but they don’t offer that in the junior size, so we went with white.

I was pretty apprehensive about putting the kids in chairs that would raise, lower, and wheel about, but it really hasn’t been a problem at all. Mine is very comfy and handy.

The shelving unit is Expedit. We had the large one upstairs already and just added the smaller unit. This houses basically all of our homeschool books and supplies. My goal was for it to fit or go, and for the most part, I met that goal.

After scouring Pinterest for looks that I liked and analyzing what they had in common, I decided that the key to calm homeschool storage is neutrality. The stuff itself is often so bright and colorful. Using neutral storage containers is a way to make it all more visually cohesive.

So with very few exception all of the storage is neutral in color. We had many of the baskets and bins already, though I did hit Michaels when they had their baskets 50% off, and picked up a few more to round out the collection. The baskets house manipulatives, flash cards, games, and art supplies — all within easy reach.

School supplies make great decor, don’t you think? I think these items in the jars will pop even more when we get the walls painted. I robbed my kitchen of most of the jars and purchased another one or two. And it is handy to reach up there and grab what we want to use.

Timeline cards are housed in their own basket while stainless buckets hold markers and dot painters.

This idea was genius (and not mine). Those black magazine files hold paperback picture books. Upstairs I had them all in bins, which was also handy and neat, but by moving them to the magazine files I can get so many more per cube.

We had all of the magazine files already (though now we do have a few homeless magazines). I am going to get four more to add in the last cube down there.

The books in the other cubes are hardback, oversized, or teacher resources. Everything fits on here except for our seasonal books. I found them a home in my living room built-ins right next door.

Another great idea I found pinned. Once again, we had the lazy Susan and the large bucket. I picked up the rest from the Target dollar spot.

The original idea had the buckets glued to the lazy Susan, but they actually don’t slide around, and we like being able to pick them up and look inside. So far I have opted not to glue with the option to change my mind later.

Since the only long stretch of wall is taken up by the shelving, I used hooks and ribbons to suspend our timeline cards across the front of the window. Eye-level for the kids is just about right.

This area is the teacher’s corner. You can see the wireless printer up top there. This table, which sat in the entryway before the piano came, houses my spinning desk apprentice and provides a place for my laptop to charge. Having the laptop put away here each day instead of open on the kitchen counter has really increased my productivity.

All of this is within easy access of my chair right there in the foreground. I like to sit next to each child as I work with them, so I imagine when their turn comes they will simply roll their chair to my end of the table to work.

The desk apprentice hold files of paper we use most often, as well as all the current teacher’s manuels and my supplies.

On the other side of the window is our All About Spelling (love, love, love that program) letter tiles and whiteboard. And our spice rack book shelves. I can tell already these are going to be a big hit with the kids, but I am going to need to keep the books rotated regularly.

There are already a few earth science and medieval titles up there in anticipation of the new school year. I decided that the bottom right rack would hold those favorite picture books that I don’t want Thomas to miss.

Back at the other end of the room is our little handwriting desk and new clipboards of work. The desk was a gift from our sweet Classical Conversations tutor, Jackie, to Olivia last year.

We did CC in each other’s homes. Jackie took note of how much Olivia loved the desk and since her kids had out-grown the desk, she gave it to her. I love it because it is a perfect place for the kids to sit properly to work on their handwriting.

The clipboards are my new system for school work. I plan to load the clipboard each night with the next day’s work — math sheets, copywork, notebooking pages, etc will all go on the boards.

And that is it! I can tell already we are going to love this space. I am hoping it will keep my purchasing under control as well since I do not want to outgrow it!

We shall see over the next few months what parts work and what parts will need to be tweaked. It’s a spot that makes me happy, though, and I think that’s important since I spend so much time here every day doing hard work. And so do the kids.

Education is an atmosphere and this is a part of ours.



  • Nicole says:

    Beautiful! We, too, do school in our dining room and love it that way. I need to get a bit more organized, but it works for us. Because our table has a tile top, it is bumpy and hard to write on, so the kids have been using clipboards all year. Each morning I copy their table work and put it on their clipboards. It words great! This year I am going to decorate new clipboards for them for their First Day of School gifts. We also use an old schooldesk for handwriting. It is the perfect height.

  • Pam says:

    Thanks Nicole. We have tile countertops in the kitchen. I imagine trying to write on them would be tough. Wonderful to hear that the clipboard system works well for you. Can’t wait to see the ones you decorate!

  • Jen says:

    This looks lovely and inviting! It must be so nice to be able to have everything together and handy (our stuff is all over the place!)
    I have seen the lazy susan idea done with magnets – glue one to the bottom of the bucket and another (or a washer or something to the lazy susan. That way you can remove the bucket, but it stays in place when you want it to as well.

    • Pam says:

      What a fabulous idea! Thank you so much. I think I have some magnets in the craft closet.

    • Mermaid says:

      That is a good idea! I was going to suggest velcro but I like magnets better. I have something similar but my buckets are in a plastic shoe box, since that’s what I had on hand.

  • Jen says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Erin says:

    Awesome!! Beautiful!!!!!! It looks like a totally different room. Lighter, more spacious, fresh and inviting!!! Love the lazy Susan idea, going to pinch that one (though mine is marble, still may as well use it) Love it, LOVE it!!!

    Nicole, We use clipboards to, finally found a solution for all those loose papers, at the end of the week I slip them into a file.

    • Pam says:

      Glad you like it. I just can’t wait to get a wall color that is closer to yours, though! Please write more about how you use those clipboards and manage paper!!!

    • Erin says:

      Every day any loose papers are clipped to their individual clipboards (behind their ‘expectation sheet’). At the end of the week they are slipped into the hanging file, each child has a hanging folder with their name poking out (see here these folders hang in an attractive little file carrier. At as I’ve shared before all papers are bound at the end of the year.
      Btw not all loose papers are clipped and popped into the hanging folders, sometimes the children like to punch and store in their two ring binders. No real rhyme or reason as to where they end up, main thing is we respect our work, store it and Mum is no longer driven mad!!

    • Erin says:

      Oh and I’m so touched you like my wall colour:) blush

  • Michelle says:

    It’s lovely! We made a trip to IKEA today (it’s 3.5 hours away from us) to outfit our school/play room and my sewing room (formal dining room) in our new home. I LOVE your desk. Our budget required us to use an existing table, but I think it’ll work nicely.

    I didn’t think about the neutral storage — that makes sense. We are just beginning our homeschool journey this year, and our curriculum collection consists of three textbooks so far. 🙂 I bought super bright boxes for the Expedit, so they may be too bold once we start filling our shelves with a rainbow of books!

    Your blog is a blessing. Thank you!

    • Pam says:

      The closest IKEA to us is five hours, but well worth the drive, no? We stopped our vacation (two different stores!) to get these items. Thank goodness the kids love the play area. Then we rented a truck to get the furniture and the piano home. Do blog about your room when you get it together.

  • fancyrock says:

    I love it–very inspirational!!! –Becky in OR

  • Angel says:

    Pam, are those magazine files anything special? Where did you get them? If I remember correctly, I think your picture book bins were a lot like mine. I’ve been forced to take most of our picture books out of bins because of space issues, but I still don’t like them that way. Magazine files sound like they might work. Are they easy for the kids to take out and put away?

    Also, how do you like your piano in the entryway? Our great room is just stuffed right now. It’s too small for all of us + all the functions we want it to perform. If I could find a new place for the piano… that might help.

    • Pam says:

      Yes, my bins were just like yours because that’s where I got the idea. As for the magazine fles, nope, nothing special at all. In fact most of them are over eight years old (pre-Olivia) and I am having trouble finding new ones that look just like those. If you look close the three on the far end don’t match the others. They are just plain old black plastic magazine files. I am sure the cuter ones would work as well, but this is what I had.

      As for the piano in the entry, it has been there about a month now. So far it has not gotten in our way at all. That said, no one in our house plays the piano yet. Olivia will start lessons this year. Of course if we couldn’t put it there then there was really no other place for it.

    • Angel says:

      I just borrowed your idea and used some metal mesh files I had recently liberated… but I don’t like the look in the shelves I have. They’re good to do a trial run with the boys, though. Thanks for the idea!

  • Tara says:

    It all looks great and ready to start being used! I love the way our room looks right before we dig in! If only I could maintain that look.

    • Pam says:

      Confession: I moved a number of “projects in progress” to another room so I could take the photos. 😉

  • clipboards work great for us too!

    your learning room looks great; have a wonderful year!

  • Elizabeth says:

    Wow! I was looking forward to your big reveal and I LOVE it!! We recently bought 3 Expedit shelving units as our anniversary gift and put them in the homeschool room. I noticed that a lot of online pics used more neutral containers too so that’s what I’m trying to do. I can’t wait to get our room painted so I can put things in the shelves. I LOVE the desk idea.! I was thinking of going with a round table so that I didn’t have to worry about a certain 2 year old bumping into corners but he can be trained, right? ;-). Seriously, love the storage in that table.

    I’m pinning this so I can revisit the ideas. (Seriously, I have quite a bit of the stuff you’re using, but never thought to use it the way you did).

    • Pam says:

      We had round upstairs and in the kitchen and they really do work fine, but you would sacrifice the storage. Thomas does well with this one — no bumped noggin yet. I can’t wait to see what you do.

  • Tracy says:

    Another inspired mom here! We have Billy’s along one wall and a desk for Mom that I rarely use. If our dimensions are big enough I think the table in the middle would work better and get everyone off the kitchen table. Thanks for helping me plan my August!

    • Pam says:

      Isn’t IKEA the best? Moving out of the kitchen last year was the best move we made. It made life so much simpler to be able to walk away and leave the mess, eat, and then come back to it without having to clean in between.

  • TheFiveDays says:

    Gorgeous!!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Unknown says:

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  • Unknown says:

    OH! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it!! What a great way to utilize your space. You got me eyeing my own house now, trying to figure out how I can be more efficient.

    [email protected] (not sure why it won’t let me login….)

  • yvonne says:


    Love the buckets on the turntable idea. I wonder if you could put velcro on the bottom of the buckets instead of glue–wouldn’t fall off, even if you moved the whole turntable, but you could still pick one up and carry it to another table to use.

  • Tracy says:

    It’s IKEA week for us! I am searching google images and still like your set-up. I keep coming back to it. We are thinking of a similar set up but with the drawer units even though they are more expensive.

    I am wondering if you can tell me how your table is working out? Do your children mind not having a wide opening for leg space?

    My bigger kids will be in 8th, 6th, and 5th, so I am hoping this arrangement works for bigger kids too. I already have a wall of floor-to-ceiling white Billy bookshelves. We’re setting up the basement with the Trofast system for toys/play area.

    I am also trying to decide rooms and dimensions. Our current room is only, like, 10’x11′ and would only fit a 4’x5′ table. I am aiming to leave at least 3′ between the wall and table edge.

    If we moved to the den (with French doors that close) it would fit a 4’x6′ table. Or we could move to the unfinished basement and have more room, but I would not have natural light, painted walls or hardwood floors ; (

    Decisions, decisions. Advice?

    • Pam says:

      So exciting for you! Our table is working great, but we did get the 78″ top, so there is plenty of leg space. The openings between the leg units are big on the side and then they are still placed far enough in under the ends that there is room there. The end pictured belongs to the three-year-old, so it is skewed toward that end, but the other end is not much different in space and I sit there. I have no problem with leg space. BUT I will say that I went with the 78″ top for exactly that reason. The leg space concerned me with all the set-ups I saw online. If I only had space for a shorter table top, I might look at using two drawer units and two legs or something to free-up extra room under the bottom. I can’t imagine working with no room for the legs.

      We LOVE this table. It is huge and we spread out all over the top. It is just so handy. We also wheel the chairs around to sit next to each other on various ends and sides so that we can work. The only issue we have had is the occasional slipping, but someone suggested grip-like shelf liner between the tabletop and legs. I got some this weekend and hope to install it this week.

      And I totally would have gotten more drawer units if not for the money issue. The shelf units are OK, but they are not being used to their fullest potential and I have yet to figure out how to best utilize them. A standard binder will JUST squeeze into the bottom section and won’t fit in the top at all. 🙁

      As for me, I would go for the biggest space I could get with the paint, light, and floors. And I can’t school away from the heart of the home. I need to be right in the middle of everything. Good luck and can’t wait to see it!!

  • Jill Foley says:

    I just bought a similar desk system from IKEA after seeing yours here…thanks for the inspiration. We love it already. I’ll be posting about it soon.

  • Katherine says:

    I would love to go to school in that room 🙂

  • Mary says:

    Love it! IKEA is the best!

  • Christie says:

    What size is your “dining room”? Love what you did. Thanks for the ideas – we were just actually in the process of getting ready to redo our homeschooling areas so I’m glad I found this post.

    • Pam Barnhill says:


      Our room is open to the entry and living room but I would say the space proper is about 12×14 feet.

  • LindseyLoo says:

    What a beautiful space! I actually love the orange. It’s a happy color.
    I love your old fashioned wood desk. And I really like how it’s simple, organized, uncluttered.
    I imagine that it’s so soothing and peaceful to school here on warmer days with the door open and a nice light breeze coming through.

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Thanks Lindsey. We finally got the orange replaced with a much lighter yellow color. I am loving that one much more. It is a great school room and I spend so much time here!

  • tanya says:

    I love this room…but I have 5 kids and they range in age from 3-12. I have them in a room all seperated with their own desks..even the little guy…who has a lap book, colouring books…a book shelf and his own crayons, pencils etc. scissors, sticker drawer, and a tub of play doe and his mat beside the desk. My biggest issue is not the organization of what is out and used daily..its all the stuff for years that are waiting to be used again…I have totes in a cupboard but I feel so disorganized in it…sometimes forget what is there. We use some Char. Mason, some online courses, a few Abeka books and a few texts from my teaching days that funny enough my kids devour and then research more at the library to learn more. I have been homeschooling since we pulled my first son out of School a few months before the end of Sk. He has focusing issues…quite poss. ADHD..though not tested, we are working on eye contact through a whole conversion…daily. and The hardest to deal with is his Dyslexia…I worked with a few programs so he has overcome the difficulty of reading and now is powering through books daily….writing and spelling are still a challenge…but slowing down seems to help a lot. So now, how do people organize stuff that is not in you just get rid every all looks great while I read it again. I dread Aug. when I need to re-go through everything. i think I am an educational hoarder…only a bit…lol..but I am frugal and don’t like to re-buy…and buy used almost 95% of the time. Bought life of Fred series b/c everyone says its amazing…honestly..I can’t get my oldest to understand any of it. But, still have it b/c maybe it will click with another one of my children soon. Stuff like that. Any suggestions? PS excited to hear my first pod cast on homeschooling topics in a few min. 🙂 thanks for this resource

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Tanya – I think a spreadsheet is the answer to your problem. I would stick all the extras in bins with labels and then create a spreadsheet with the item, recommended grade or level, subject, and bin number. Then when you are thinking you need a new history curriculum or you want a handwriting curriculum for second grade you can pull up your spreadsheet, sort it and find out what you have and what bin it is in. Would take some work up front, but might be worth it in the long run. HTH. Pam

  • Dianna says:

    (I know this post is older, sorry!) we live in a tiny apartment with our three, and i am DYING to create this space as soon as we buy a home! clutter makes me crazy and this just looks so peaceful. can I trouble you for the model of your printer? I am on the market for a good homeschooling printer and ours is just not cutting it.

  • Linda says:

    I can’t find the spinning desk apprentice that you have pictured. Any suggestions? I just live this organized room, I’m dreaming. Thank you

    • Pam Barnhill says:

      Linda — Sadly Staples has discontinued it. 🙁 You might try eBay.

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