Saturday, May 18, 2013

Home Improvements: new patio door + built-in bookshelves = Love

Disclosure:  We not the best do-it-yourself-ers.  I just have to get that out there lest you think that the following wonders are of our own doing. 

Recently, a friend of ours helped make a few changes around here.  It's hard to even call it a home improvement because it technically only involved about 8 square feet of space.  But have you ever made a small change to your home that netted  disproportionally great results?  That's the kind of change we're talking about here.  It was good for my soul.  

Allow me to introduce our dining room.  It is where we eat breakfast, second breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, second dessert... you get the idea.  It is also where we pretty much do everything else that requires a large flat surface - baking with children, games, puzzles, craft projects, and school lessons.  We're in that room all day long. 

(from last Fall) Although I'm using this photo to show the negative parts of the dining room (dark door and scary bookshelf - which you can kind of just see), I actually love this picture - all of my kiddos basking in the glow of education and my coffee waiting for me when I put the camera down! 
The room is dark red - it was when we moved in four years ago and although we never would have picked it ourselves, we just left it and got used to it.  We definitely don't love it.  At the back of the room is a door that leads to our deck - it had a dark, thick frame that limited the light coming in and it was awkward to use b/c it swung open into the middle of the room.  So we never used it.  Next to it (on the right in the photo) was one of those strange extra spaces that you're not really sure what to do with.  We put a cheap-o bookshelf in there and used it to store art supplies, books, and play-doh. But the shelf left 6 inches of unused space on either side and 2+ feet of unused space at the top.

Finally, I had enough.  It was time to replace the door with one that would slide so that we could have it open during meals and lessons to enjoy the birds and the breeze.  And it was time to put some built-in shelves into the nook.  Our friend did it.  It. is. awesome.  It was just the change we needed to fall in love with our home again!  Well, at least the back 8 square feet!

It's hard to get good photos here because of the cramped quarters.  The shelves are adjustable (a good friend's brilliant idea!  Perfect solution for oversize atlases and those odd-size Math-U-See boxes.)  They are unfinished pine stair treads (the genius idea of another good friend.  hi, ladies!)  

the kids got to use the shelves before I moved all our school stuff in
Voila.  Fabulouso, right?  I couldn't really get it all in the lens though because there's another door right behind me.  So I took this crazy from-the-floor shot:
So, there you have it.  I love these shelves!  Using this space for all our school stuff allowed me to clear out another bookcase and claim wall space for our superb Nat Geo maps - still have to get them up though.  
Here's the completed effect.  Bright, open, airy feeling door.  Beautiful, organized, space-maximizing shelves.
(and poor Clare wondering where everyone else is... she's ready for dinner!)
Children once again immersing themselves in the wholehearted pursuit of wisdom.  (Dom's face gives me away and tells the truth about day-dreaming and distractedness, right?)  But this time, they are soaking it all in with light and fresh air to feed their minds!   And of course, my coffee in the forefront of it all.

Small changes.  Big difference.  Love.

I'd love to hear ideas from other homeschoolers who may have a similar situation - a room that has to wear many hats, so to speak.  We're still working on this and I'd love some insights into how to keep a space feeling like a family meal area, but keeping school materials nearby and accessible. 

Update.  Since first starting to write this... we've primed the red walls and are hoping for happy changes.  I'll keep you posted - unless it turns out poorly and then, I won't!  


  1. I think it's great! Feels so good to have it all in one place!

    1. It sure does, Mary! I could use some more organization tips from you!

  2. So cute! Can't wait to see the color change....although I do like the red :)

    1. Thanks, Becky! We probably should have kept the red; the color change didn't go as expected. We were hoping for a warm goldish color and we've got a color that can best be described at "hot dog mustard." I'm too embarrassed to post a picture!

  3. Looks great! Don't you love how gaining jut a few inches of shelf space yields ridiculous amounts of storage space? Enjoy!!

  4. ohh my......... That's gorgeous! I love the idea and the outcome of it. Also, the color combination is perfect. :) apartment Abu Dhabi.

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