Wednesday, December 28, 2016

DYI | Emoji Themed Classroom

We have been spending a lot of time at church this year. We have been gradually working our way through the children's spaces, updating as we go. Most of the rooms have lacked much attention in the last twenty years. All the rooms had at least one cabinet from the 70's. No exaggeration. I was around in the 70's, a kid at this church. I remember these cabinets with their orange formica tops. So it was time, past time, for many of these rooms.

Here is the big reveal. This room is about 15' x 15. Not a huge room. It's does double duty. On Sundays it functions as a small group space for some of our 2nd and 3rd graders. Other times it functions as a lounge for our MOPPETS volunteers. So the left side of the room I had limited control of, since it needed to meet the needs of the MOPPETS volunteers. But I think it still worked.


I wanted to start with a blank slate... for me that's grey walls. I got a lot of kickback on that decision. One teacher described my choice as "prison grey" which wasn't what I was going for. I chose grey for three reasons:

1) It works well with just about every other color you can think of;
2) It enables us to change up the colors in a room more frequently with minimal effort and expense;
3) It's calming, which in my book is really important when you have up to eight energetic kids in a relatively small room.

But I get it, we need color too!


I designed the artwork in the room. I got the giant poster printed at Nations Photo Lab. They did a fantastic job. They were fast, extremely reasonable, and the quality far exceeded what I expected for the great price. The black frame was $20 from Wal-mart.


The fun yellow floating shelves were from IKEA. Who doesn't love IKEA? They were about $10 each.

The verse posters on the wall were a DYI project. I designed the posters (11x17) and printed them in-house on the church printer. I mounted them to foam board cut to size. Then I attached them to the wall using Command velcro. That was brilliant, in my opinion. Super easy to change them out... simply re-wrap the foam board when we are ready for some new verses and/or artwork and reattach to the wall.


I don't love bulletin boards and white boards and try to get rid of them whenever possible. But this one is used by the Sunday School class that uses the room one month a year, so it was something they really wanted to keep. So we livened it up with some fun lights I got at Amazon.com for $5 on a flash sale.


I had to use cut vinyl somewhere in the room. Pinterest had this clever idea that I lifted. Great conversation starter with kids too!

My favorite thing in the room was by far the yellow chevron-style arrows. Love. Love. Love. It was made from salvaged materials. The only thing purchased for the project were the pocket screws. It was also my first opportunity to work with power tools, which explains my excitement!



Here are the cut salvaged pallet boards.


I took a rag, dipped it in old paint (literally, I think the paint was about 6-7+ years old) and rubbed it on to get an almost "stained" effect. I love how that turned out.

Now here is a little reality check. Not everything works out the first time.

Did you notice the thin white lines on one of the walls? I saw a wall I fell in love will online and it looked so easy. She even used white and yellow and I thought, I can do that.

Umm. Well. I got started with my white paint pen, yard stick, and level. And it seemed like it was going great.


I love the white lines. I even liked the arrows. But I knew I needed color.

Out came the yellow paint pen. Umm. That didn't work as expected.


Thank goodness I used water based. (Please, please use water based if you try this at home.) I scrubbed that paint off without taking off all the grey paint! And I didn't need to pull out the grey roller!


My next brilliant idea was much worse. Vinyl. It just looked horrid! I hated it. Too much yellow. Not enough white. So I peeled off all that.

Then I just felt stuck. I looked at the room for weeks, literally. All design mojo gone. One night, super late, I stumbled on some really fun emoji vector files and I knew I needed bright emoji artwork to design the room around. So I got thicker white paint pens and went over all the lines two or three times and the result was more of a subtle wallpaper effect.

And now I can say it is my favorite room! So when you get stuck, don't give up!