When we moved to Vancouver we decided to hire someone to homeschool our children instead of sending them to a daycare. This was a tough decision for me because the kids had previously gone to an amazing daycare in Kansas City that had a fantastic educational curriculum. Although I would have preferred to send them to a daycare (both for the curriculum and the interaction with other children), daycare options in Vancouver for infants are extremely limited because of the year-long maternity leave offered in Canada. When we moved to Vancouver Thomas was only six months old, so we made the decision to have them home-schooled and we began re-designing our basement to make the perfect place for our kids to learn.
The basement was the kid’s room for them to play, create, and discover. But because they were being home-schooled, the room needed to be both fun and practical for education. I like to think that my eye for design would be defined as “organized, minimal, with a splash of color and fun”. So that was the theme for the kids basement room. Because the cost of living in Vancouver is outrageous, we were also on a budget. IKEA’s children’s products were the perfect solution.
The first thing we did was paint the entire room in a light grey color that had warm undertones. We used Revere Pewter by Benjamin Moore. Since we are renting our house we can’t do much with upgrades, so I rely on paint to transform every room. Revere Pewter can look grey or slightly beige depending on the light. Because we couldn’t paint the fireplace, the color matches with the beige tones in the fireplace without being “too” beige. Sorry beige lovers – beige is out and grey is in.
After we painted, I shifted my focus on the toy storage and room layout. The large room in our basement is one giant rectangle so it was important for me to make “areas” in the room to break up the space. Having areas helps the room feel more like a school and it gives Charlie and Thomas separation when they need to have alone time.
The first area in the their schoolroom is the storage and reading area:
- The 4X4 storage piece is from IKEA and we enhanced it by adding cabinet doors and drawers. The cabinets and drawers were a bit pricey and a pain to install, but they are definitely worth it. In the drawers we store TV remotes, wipes, small toys not suitable for Thomas, and other miscellaneous school items. In the cabinets we store movies, puzzles, board games, and a trash can to keep it out of sight.
- The PLAY letters and the ABC blocks above the storage piece are from Pottery Barn Kids. The blocks are one of my favorite things I got at a baby shower when I was pregnant with Charlie.
- The fur rug, fur stool, and the fox wall decor piece are all from Hobby Lobby. The fox head was brown when I bought it so I spray painted it orange to add a splash of color.
- The teepee is from Target (this design is no longer sold online, but here is a similar one available on Amazon). This teepee used to be in their bedroom but they hardly used it. So I moved it downstairs and it gets as lot of use and gives the room more personality.
- The gray and white basket next to the teepee is also from Target and is still available online and in stores. The basket comes in different shapes and sizes.
To complete the reading area I recently purchased this kids bookshelf from IKEA:
I like that the bookcase sits on the ground, otherwise Thomas couldn’t reach all of the shelves. Thomas’s chair is from Pottery Barn Kids and was a gift from Matt’s parents for his first Christmas. The chair comes in three different sizes (this one is the Regular size). Charlie has a similar one in purple that is the smallest size. In hindsight I should have asked for matching colors and similar sizes for both kids (such as PBK’s white faux fur color) so they could match and look good in any room in the house.
The next area is the entertainment area. One of my favorite storage pieces in our home is this storage piece under the kid’s TV:
Just like other IKEA products it is a great price and is very functional. We’ve had that piece for four years now and it is still in great condition. You can also switch up the size and colors of the bins. On the left is a storage bin for all of Charlie’s horses. It used to drive me nuts that I would constantly be picking up horses around the house. I explained to Charlie that the bin is now their new home and she happily picks them up with no fuss and stores them away. This is not a normal behavior for her people, my daughter has some very lazy tendencies.
One thing we added to the entertainment center was an Apple TV. We had one in our living room upstairs and we initially set the basement up to just have a DVD player. We had a lot of Disney movies on DVD but we had even more on our Apple TV. When the DVD player broke we decided to ditch the DVD player altogether and jump ship to Apple TV. We bought a new one for upstairs and brought the old one to the basement.
The next area is a mixture of play and learning:
All of these pieces were purchased over a period of four years but they all flow together which is why I love IKEA so much. I know a lot of people that have this IKEA kitchen set – but if you don’t, it is one of the best children’s products out there. And it’s less than $100! If I had more of an artistic personality I would renovate their play kitchen to look something like this adorable one I found online:
One of my favorite new pieces in their schoolroom is this kids desk:
This desk replaced their old white desk that had stickers and markers covering it from head to toe. If you keep on reading you will see that there is one more desk in their schoolroom. I highly recommend having two desks if you can, one for art/creativity and one for schoolwork. I love the built-in storage that this desk offers to store their school materials. The colorful toy on the desk is a great way for Charlie to practice her math. I love toys that aren’t super tacky and that also serve an educational purpose.
The next area of the playroom is the art/creativity area:
The wire above the chalkboard wall is a cute and unique way of displaying their art. I also love the hanging supply storage and art desk to make the space truly function as a creative space. Both Charlie and Thomas can spend hours drawing at the desk with this handy paper spool.
In the hanging wall storage I organized all of their art supplies into six bins. My advice for keeping art supplies organized is to routinely go thru the markers and other supplies to throw out dried up or empty products. Especially Play Doh!
Hanging on the chalkboard wall is a weather board that Matt’s mom created. Cathy is a teacher and is responsible for 99.9% of ideas for my children’s home education. She is brilliant! The hanging organizer is for permanent and dry erase markers that I wanted out of reach from the kids.
The last area in their room is full of more IKEA products as well as a fun way for the kids to learn about continents and animals:
I couldn’t find this couch online but I remember it being around $700 when we bought it five years ago from IKEA. I love the durability of the fabric. Vacuum it and wipe it down with a rag and it looks brand new. I also love having a dark color that absorbs most of the spills from the kids snacks. This rug is still available online and in stores.
The wall art hanging above the couch is something I recently purchased from ETSY. I downloaded it for $9 then I had it printed on a large canvas at a drug store close to our house. The total cost was around $50. Another great option for a children’s world map is this one on Amazon. I chose a canvas over a wall decal because we will most likely be moving within the next few years and want to take it with us.
I hope you enjoyed the tour of Charlie and Thomas’s new schoolroom! Don’t hesitate to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.