Thursday, August 12, 2010

Decorating with Books

Not Back to School Blog Hop

In preparing for the new school year, I've been thinking about where we are going to 'do' school.  We have a dedicated school room for this purpose, but for the past two years we have gotten out of the habit of using it for anything but glorified book storage.  It was too difficult for me to go up and down the stairs when I was pregnant with the babies, so we spent a lot of time in the kitchen.  And then when the babies were tiny, all the baby stuff was in the kitchen, so we continued to work there.  But now the babies are not so tiny and very mobile.  While I love my borrowed play yard, I'm thinking I can't keep them inside of it their every waking hour, so I need a plan B.  And Plan B is looking more and more as though we will actually be using the school room for school, mainly because it has a door that closes and we can keep G. and L. inside with us.  Which brings me to my dilemma, which I will share with you after a brief tour.  Without further ado, welcome to our school room.  Come on in, we'll move around counter-clockwise (or anti-clockwise, if like me you read too much British fiction):

Yes, I'm a bit over-organized, and our non-fiction books are sorted and labelled by topic.  It was the only way we could find anything and the stickers help the non-readers put them back (insert light chuckling here) in the correct spot.

The "wall-'o-books" and the computer which our children use for doing Rosetta Stone French and for writing:

The futon for reading together and for use as a second guest room when necessary.  Through the double doors is the former sleeping porch which we use for craft storage.

The second, smaller "wall-'o-books" which contains the rest of our non-fiction books, the storage cubbies for each of the children, and paper and pencil supplies.

And finally, some of the shelves in our craft storage room.  Through selective photography, I can make it look as though the entire room is all nice and organized.  You can just go ahead and think that, OK?

It has just about anything one could want in a school room.  Plenty of storage, a large table, a place to sit and read, a computer...  but I just don't find it a pleasant room to be in and I can't figure out why.  The windows are south facing so it gets enough sun.  It is not too crowded, though it does have a tendency to get messy; it is a room I need to check on multiple times a day to control the chaos.  But still, I don't enjoy it.  Here are some of the reasons I think this could be:

  • You can't see it in the photo, but the futon cover is grayish, dingy, covered with pencil and marker, and just plain ugly.  I need to find some fabric and make a new cover. I'm thinking maybe in a bright, happy print.

  • The windows have the same type of problem as the futon.  The mini-blinds are broken, dingy, and ugly.  They desperately need to be replaced.  Plus, maybe if I made some curtains to coordinate with the new futon cover it would brighten things up.

  • Yucky, peeling paint.  The green wall is new and was done when we redid the kitchen because there was a closet in the school room which had to be removed.  I like the green wall, but I don't like the other walls, especially in comparison.  I'm just not sure we can get to painting the room, though.
I worry I sound just a tad bit ungrateful because really, it is a wonderful thing to have space like this.  And I do appreciate it, I do!  I just know that there must be something I can do to make it a place in which we want to spend time.  So now I'm asking you dear readers, what are your thoughts? I'm open to just about any suggestions.


Miller Moments said...

ahhhh, my favorite decorating is with books! :)

Nichole said...

I would be very tempted to paint the wall behind the fireplace a nice bright color.

Angela @ kinder days said...

okay, totally my two cents... i love decorating, and just completed my school room on a BUDGET...
I agree with nicole, paint the back wall by the fireplace...

I would paint all the chairs and the table.. co-ordinating colors...
then consider a drop down pendant lighting for your cieling lamp...
the white bookshelf and desk are great! but the dark wood doesn't go with it, so if you paint them it will tie it in.
change out the rug,it's to dark....

ifyou can't apint your chairs- take a look at some wooden ones at a thrift store, or craigs or anywhere cheap... they don't all have to match... painting will tie it in.
change the lamp shade on the standing lamp near the futon. change teh futon to a nice pattern sheet, to cover it up, with some throw pillows. this will make a big dfferance.
Set on the table some supplies permanently... like pens and markers to encourage an inviting feel.
have a cd player or an ipod? it' snice to have in there for those moments when it' s free play or art...

i am not sure what your actual ongoing theme in the house is, but these are just my thoughts for more color and a more together inviting space...

add a little desk lamp that you LOVE on your desk... this makes it inviting to have a little spotlight on your area...

i hope this helps, these are all easy and quick fixes that shouldn't cost very much $$$ or ikea... you would only need a small can of paint for above teh fire place...

So, in short: lamp shade ( possible spray paint the base a colorful color)
2. pendant lamp over the table
3.rug colorful sheet and throws for futon (buy as close to size as possible, so it's taught)
5. little desk lamp for you
6. paint what you own- tables chairs. Best is spray paint by kyrlon.
7. perm marker/pens on desk
9. something that inspires you! look on Etsy for cute artwork for kids and see what you can make yourself! and put it above the fireplace. or a map or something inspiring. =)

=) you can see what I did with our room, but it is VERY small compared to yours...

Angela @ Kinder DAys

Tereza Crump aka MyTreasuredCreations said...

hi, I followed you from

I also homeschool and have been looking for a shelf system to organize my craft/ school/ library/ study room. Your shelves look pretty sturdy and I love the color white. Where did you get them??

you can email me at

thanks so much,

thecurryseven said...


I'll email you as well, but in case others are interested, the bookcases are from Ikea. They are the Expedit series. I love them!


Ann said...

I think paint gives the most bang for the buck and bang for the time invested! Include painting a room as a school day because it is a skill that everyone needs! :-) You could even put your teens in charge of picking the color, buying the paint, and painting everything except the trim and edges (which I find my perfectionism cannot allow others to do! LOL!)
Also, you could perhaps find a pretty sheet to cover the futon for now?

Sharra said...

I love your bookshelves and your organization!! Thank you for sharing!!

Anonymous said...

First thing: get rid of that Buchanan plaid! Can you imagine having to call that your family tartan?!?!


thecurryseven said...

OK, Tad, that made me laugh out loud! (You can ask J., he thought I was convulsing.) Yes, yes, yes, the Buchanan plaid throw is going to go live somewhere else. I can't get rid of it, you know.


Anonymous said...

I love your bookshelves and organization. And, the pictures of your children are so precious! Looking forward to reading more of your blog. Have a wonderful school year (oh, and enjoy that applesauce!)

Paula said...

I'm not much of a decorator, but I do know we are much more relaxed, more open and clear-headed, and more communicative when we are in a relaxed, comfortable area rather than what feels like a library. Softer furniture and less rigid lines, more fabric, colors easy on the eye... pillows, cushions, floor mats, lots of comfy places to sit and read or talk.

I've just found your blog, and I'm loving it! I can see I'll get no sleep for a few days while I try to catch up.

busymomof10 said...

Hi! Just jumped over to this post -- would love to see what you did with this room!

I love your organization and the white bookcases!

I think you just needed to find some touches to soften it a bit, or some paint colors to make it feel wamer and cozier. You want the room to draw you in with things you love!

Great room!

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