Homeschooling in a Dual-Purpose Room

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Welcome to our family front room slash dining room slash daily homeschool area! We have been homeschooling in a dual-purpose room for the past four years, and I have reorganized this room every summer to better combine its many functions.

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For starters, it’s the first room you see when you walk in the front door, which isn’t ideal for the room you spend most of your day in when you are hole-punching, pencil sharpening, craft cutting, coloring and note taking among several stacks of books. Each year, I’ve tried to do a better job of camouflaging our school supplies while keeping things accessible and useful.

Here’s a pictorial reflection of this journey:

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This year, we finally achieved what I would call “harmony” between the two major functions of this room: Hospitality and schooling. The improvement that I’m most excited about is the addition of a solid wood TV cabinet (that we picked up FREE at a curbside giveaway) where we can store the majority of our school supplies — including poster boards, our Well Planned Day Wall Calendar, and Wifi printer — completely out of sight when not in use.

Here’s a peek inside the cabinet (below): It holds almost everything we need for school work and activities. It’s missing a top shelf, but once we add that, we’ll be able to better organize the school tools bins (crayons, markers, glue, tape, etc.) that are now stacked high in the open space. Thanks to existing cable cutouts in the back of the cabinet, we can easily connect our printer and have set up a charging station for handheld devices as well. Best part: It’s all behind closed doors!

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Although I was able to squeeze most of our books, notebooks, and supplies into the new cabinet, it doesn’t have drawers — so I have tucked our existing portable drawers (above) in between the cabinet and my antique desk, which I moved downstairs from our master bedroom earlier this summer. It’s not my favorite solution, but it’s camouflaged enough for the time being. On top of my desk are the girls’ “to do” and “done” folders, which we use on a daily basis to keep written work organized until I have time to review it and file back into their school binders.

The second major improvement we made was moving the solid wood bookshelf my husband made to the wall behind the dining room table (below) and clearing it out for more decorative purposes. On the top of the bookshelf is a fabulous fold-out timeline, “Adams’ Chart of History” published by Master Books, that is both decorative and educational. I’ve added framed photos, photo books, souvenirs and other memorabilia to make the shelves more visually appealing and less academic.

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Finally, I’m using two beautiful organizers (above) from Thirty-One Gifts — one for the wall and another for my desk — to keep my work area from looking like an office. I love that I can carry the file organizer easily thanks to the built-in handles and that it fits perfectly inside my Thirty-One utility tote so I can take my work with us on the go. The wall organizer is a great replacement for a disorganized cork board, giving me a place to store the girls checklists and progress charts that are used on an ongoing basis, as well as to display current photos, flyers, award certificates and such without creating clutter. I have my sister-in-law Rosanna, a Thirty-One Gifts consultant, to thank for these pretty and practical pieces!

As you can see, we have a lot of multifunction (decorative and useful) accessories that harmonize with the furniture and wall colors instead of brightly colored school-inspired accessories. The addition of the free solid wood cabinet that matches our existing furniture was really an answer to prayer. I was finally able to replace the open cubby cabinet that was almost impossible to keep organized, and now I feel like we can literally close the doors on our school day and use this room for relaxing meals and entertaining.

If you’re homeschooling in a dual-purpose room, I hope this walk-through encourages you that it is possible to create a beautiful, useful and hospitable school space on a budget. Don’t be discouraged when you see photos of colorful, classroom-style homeschool rooms online and you don’t have a dedicated room to work in. Quality education doesn’t require a Pinterest-perfect homeschool room — it’s what we do in our homeschool that matters most!

 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” — Deuteronomy 6:6-7

Do you have a dedicated school room in your home, or do you homeschool in a dual-purpose room like I do? If so, what strategies have worked for you to keep your school supplies and books from taking over your dual-purpose room? Share your homeschool organization tips and questions with us in the comments below.

Join us at iHomeschool Network’s Not Back-to-School Blog Hop, where this week is school room week! See what others are sharing and share your own homeschool room too.

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About Renée Gotcher

Renée Gotcher is a wife, writer, entrepreneur & home-educating mother of three daughters: Audrey, Claire and Elise. A former journalist, Renée was homeschooled during her last two years of high school and started homeschooling in 2010. She is editor of NextGen Homeschool and blogs on personal topics at A New Chapter. Her family lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.

Comments

  1. Your room looks beautiful, Renee! I love, love, LOVE what you did with it.

  2. Julie Deisch says:

    Your room is wonderful…so organized and peaceful at the same time!

  3. Gorgeous! We also have a dual purpose room (triple, actually, as it’s an eat-in kitchen… no dining room in our 760 sq ft home). My husband and I have decided that we don’t mind if people see our home as a school first. Is that lazy? LOL! Thank you for sharing your amazing space!

    • It’s not lazy! ;) I think it depends on what makes you feel most peaceful and productive when you’re using your multipurpose space. For me, I couldn’t enjoy eating dinner and entertaining friends in our front room when there was so much visual distraction — and I’m a very visual person. Most of my friends said they hardly noticed they were sitting next to schoolbooks and a printer when we had meals on that table, but I did — and I needed that separation from the school mess to feel comfortable having friends over at a moment’s notice. Do what works for you, and if your husband is on board, even better! I hope some of my ideas helped. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Oh now im going to start looking for an entertainment center like that! Love this idea!

  5. We’ve done it all. Exclusive room in the basement (when they were all little), upstairs for a dining room take over, then a combination of both. Now, it’s computer work in the office, reading where ever, mostly outside when we can, and seat work is usually somewhere wrapped in a blanket on the floor, on a chair…

  6. Yes! I’m not the only one. Well, we are going into our 4th year. We started out in the smallest room of the house, then we moved again and again. I’ve finally settled on taking the living room & turning it into the school room/office/office space/play space. I don’t have all my stuff tucked away behind beautiful cabinets but I did realize that I had all of our things mixed together & that wasn’t working. So, I not-so-gracefully dove into the biggest project of my homeschool life. I purchased crates, and had enough binders hanging around to actually be useful for once. I organized in such a way that it makes so much more sense to me. My kids know what is theirs & what’s mine. I’m finally happy. It is the first room you walk into when you come through my front door too. I do have a nice, comfy chair & a rocking chair in it just in case the rest of the house is in chaos! LOL. Anyway, I’m happy now that I have decluttered the whole house but especially this room. It’s comfortable for the kids to be in & I can’t seem to get out of it (even on the weekends). What’s wrong with me? Ha! There’s always work to be done. Anyway….3 cheers to multipurposing (is that a word?) one space!

  7. Encouraging post. We use our dining area as well. Thanks for sharing!

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  1. […] to school a few weeks earlier than planned. And we aren’t even using the tidy, reorganized school area I wrote about a couple of weeks […]

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