Our New Learning Room – Reveal


I confess, I’ve had this post in draft for nearly two months now.  In fact, this post is old enough that our learning room looks a little different today than it did when I took these pictures – I unpacked the geography cabinet and have it in place, the toddler got taller so art supplies moved up a shelf…but I think you’ll get the idea!  The room is cheery with south facing windows that let in an enormous amount of sunshine.  I get this question a lot: “Jen, what are your top recommendations for a learning room?” and my number one answer is always the same – sunshine!

So let’s start with how this room became our new learning room!  Remember, that our learning room used to be in our dining room?  No?  Take a look at these popular posts:

That learning space carved out of what should have been a dining room worked for us – really well!  For several years! And then, this year, we remodeledremember that?  Remodeling our kitchen involved reclaiming our dining room as a dining space.  And that left us with no learning room space.  Which is honestly fine – a learning room isn’t necessary!!  But, I did want a little office area, and I did want to brainstorm to see if we could somehow remodel another space just a bit…and end up with a space set aside…a learning room, which for us, is a great place for our books and things to land and live, and a wonderful place to spring from.

And this was the answer…

Our new learning room was originally my enormous master bedroom.

old master

Do not ask me in what universe a bedroom this large is needed??  It was always an enormous waste of space, I lamented.  So our solution seemed easy – add a wall and make two rooms out of one huge one!    This is how we “found” our new learning room:

new master

And it works so well!  We ripped up the carpet on the new side of the room, put down red oak hardwoods to match the rest of the house, and that was about it.  Decor?  Books and sunshine and a few reclaimed & repurposed pieces of furniture we already had.

I hope the simple layout images will give you a way to visualize what we began with, and how we made a few simple changes to bring our learning room into this space.  And, since this post is photo heavy (fair warning!) these overview images might give you a visual bearing as you “look around” our new learning room.

Come on in…let’s start outside the learning room…down the hall, almost in the kitchen…looking toward the new learning room (it’s the farthest door on the right).


This is a good place to start because I really don’t want to give the impression that we’re limited to a “one-room-schoolhouse” feel in our learning room.  It’s a room that provides a place for things to land, a space for organization, the place where we typically begin, end, and check back a few times a day…but the kids take their reading and work all over – to the left into our family room, to the right onto the dining room table, behind me at the island, and if the weather’s nice – outside!

IMG_9397I also wanted to show you where our family Feast Table is temporarily located – atop this small shelf.  I have more permanent plans for a new liturgical display area in the works, but alas, this is where I set up our monthly liturgical displays and seasonal picture books for now.  (pictured above is January’s display)  And that sunny room to the right there?  That’s the new learning room!  Let’s go inside!


Fair warning: my toddler photo-bombs a few of these photos…and totally steals the show!  She loves this room, too!


That door you see is the door I just walked through.  Immediately inside the room are our two desks and our wall maps. The maps are from maps.com; they’re wallzilla adhesive backed maps.  Here is the US map, and here is the world map. {Note that maps.com keeps moving these maps around on their site so that I’m having a hard time keeping active links here for you. If the links don’t take you to the right product, go to maps.com and search: USA New Century Wallzilla Map, or World New Century Wallzilla Map. Also, I find the maps.com search engine is awful – I find google searching those terms takes me right to the page I need on maps.com}


Both are lovely, with overall tones of blues and neutral colors.  The maps are completely repositionable- the adhesive is a really good quality, easy to remove, yet holds tight and corners don’t peel – and I love the feel!  These maps are actually printed on a fabric-like material, so they’re not thin plastic.  They just stick to the wall, and can be peeled off and reapplied again…many…many times.

IMG_9354The two tables are typically used by my younger students (4th and 1st/2nd grade), but they’re not assigned to anyone in particular and are available to whomever is in need.

I thought I’d just stay in the center of the room and keep slowly turning to my right, and if I do that the next thing you see are our pocket doors…the ones I told you about above, that we added as part of our home remodel.  Behind them…my bedroom.



Continuing our slow turn to the right is our reading chair (which is so wonderful to have as part of our learning room now!  Our chair is actually quite visually assaulting, so I bought a washable slipcover for it and that’s what you see pictured.

IMG_9352And my new desk area – which I like tucked there between the reading chair and a sunny window!  I have been working for a couple of months now to really organize my desk area and my planning files (since I’m planning for next year right now) so my files and books and resources look different now, but the basic layout is the same and since I know you’re wondering…

IMG_9415You’ll probably recognize a lot of my favorite things from past posts on our old learning room.  I’ll give you a run down on a few of the items on my desk (left to right):

  • Life planner from Erin Condren – see review here.
  • Clipboard behind my life planner holds our Morning Basket lesson plans and I keep all three of the kids’ table of lesson plans on my clipboard, too.  It just works well right now to have them all in one place. Next year, we may go back to each individual child keeping their lesson plan grid on their own clipboard.
  • Sitting on my desk is my big lesson planner book.  During construction I wasn’t able to print lesson IMG_9417IMG_9416plans so I went back to the old fashioned way of hand writing them all in this lesson plan notebook…and I remembered why I loved formatting and printing lesson plans again!  But after construction was over, and I could print again, I found that I really enjoy recording more open-ended learning in this book.  My lesson plans have evolved into a one-page table overview of a term of work that I print and keep on my clipboard, and that makes it easy to see at a glance what has been done, what’s next, and where we might have been slacking.  But it leaves no room for recording some of the other tangential learning (just as important) – the rabbit trails we enjoy!  I journal our Morning Basket read alouds, as well as keeping booklists, goals, seasonal ideas and more in this lesson planner notebook.  (*Note that the lesson planner is made to be used in a classroom setting, but I found that only a few pages in the front of the planner were useless, the majority of planning and organizing pages were nicely laid out and enjoyable to use!)  I find I really like using this format for wrapping up loose ends and I plan to continue to use this lesson planner in this way next year.
  • On top of my lesson planner book is my iPad, which contains some of our reading for this year.  It was handy to have the complete library of ebooks from Yesterday’s Classics on my iPad when all of my books were inaccessible!
  • Tissues, cute lamp from Target, iPhone…that stuff…
  • Above my desk, Rob hung several shelves for me (all of which we repurposed since they actually all came out of my old kitchen!)
  • I keep my notebooks (commonplace), special reading material, all my files on the smaller shelf immediately above my desk.  File folders are from Erin Condren (jolly jester pattern).

IMG_9424A better view of all the little things I keep close at hand each day…and my perennial prayer.  🙂


Shelves above contain other useful books, teacher’s manuals, files for planning, notebooks, art files, and other various sundry items that one usually has near one’s desk.  The two Fold-n-File containers come from Thirty-One Gifts and are great for organizing yearly work, next year’s plans and ideas, catalogs, and about a million other things!  You can read a detailed review of my desk-in-a-bag which makes use of the Fold-n-File and Utility Tote from Thirty-One Gifts.


Moving to the right again, I keep our term book cart situated between the two bright windows.  This is something else I discovered quite by accident as we got ready to remodel and prepared to lose most of our library of books, as well as preparing to lose our original learning room.  I found our picture book cart is so useful for holding term books, so it remains in use with the Morning Basket reading on display, and stacked below are the books that our three school age kids use for this term of work.

IMG_9351Turning again, I wanted to show you a little corner of toddler delights.  In home education, we have all our children about us, and setting up any learning space has to consider the big kids and the littles!


I rotate simple toys in and out of a few corners of this room specifically with my toddler in mind.  It’s important that she has some “yes” things to visit – her blocks, her books, her toys and silks, her red p’kolino chair.  Little things.

IMG_9347The big wall unit is actually something we bought off Craigslist for a song a few years ago.  This unit has always “lived” right where it is now, except that it has now been drafted into service as organization for our learning room, and it does so very well!


I keep some natural history picture books, seasonal reading, and some favorite nature reference materials here.  Also stored on these shelves are picture books, some of which I set out seasonally or by interesting themes.  And then our collection of art supplies and our kiwi crates for craft days …

…which my kids really enjoy!  The Kiwi Crates come monthly, with a theme for that month and everything needed to craft (and sometimes do a little simple baking) right inside the little green shoebox sized box.  If you’re feeling rather craft-impaired, or just don’t have the time to coordinate crafts but have kids that love crafting, you might consider a subscription to Kiwi Crate!  By the way, my teen son really enjoys the Tinker Crates for older kids!

I still use my desk-in-a-bag, especially as I’m planning, and I keep it neatly stored on a shelf here as well.

Inside the drawers and cabinets I keep all of those supplies that are useful in a learning space, but you don’t necessarily want on display – like my printer, which is housed in the bottom right cabinet, and paper, pens, clips.

And that’s really it, friends!  Hope you enjoyed the tour!  It will be fun to live here, and think more about these learning spaces, changing and refreshing them to meet our changing needs….and share more pictures with you!

IMG_9370Source:  eeBoo Counting Birds Wall Cards

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  1. Thanks for sharing! I love seeing how the new learning room has worked out. I had it on my list to clean my desk last weekend and I struggled with it and didn’t get it done! I like seeing how you have things arranged for some ideas. Not everything has a place and some items are in the wrong place. It’s also lacking the pretty which makes it an eye sore for me. I really need to fix this since my “desk” is located by the front door for everyone who comes to the front door to see. It’s usually embarrassing!

    1. I know what you mean, Cassie. Our old learning room was next to the front door and was THE first thing you saw when you walked in…and it meant I had to keep it tidy all the time! I sure hope you can find a couple of pretty items to help you enjoy your desk area – Target has some really nice notebooks and file folders and office things out right now! They’re so hard to resist! Maybe there’s an Easter trip to the office aisle in your future??!! 🙂

  2. Beautiful as always, Jen! I just LOVE those maps!!!!! The ones we have now were a great value and are laminated…but right now I have them taped to the wall because I haven’t found a frame that will fit them that doesn’t weigh a ton. And then edges curl up ever so slightly–it has been such a bother to me. I wonder if these are the answer. Thank you so much for linking them.

    1. I can’t tell you how pleased I’ve been with the wallzilla maps, Celeste! I tried so hard to save our old stick-on-the-wall maps that we used pre-remodel (like yours, ours were very affordable), but when I removed them from the wall they wouldn’t stick again – they kept falling off the wall – and the corners had already been peeling off before I even tried to take them down and save them. I searched all over for better quality self-adhesive maps and when I found the wallzilla maps that are actually printed on a fabric-like material (it feels almost like a very, very thin oilcloth laminate…if that makes sense…it’s quite malleable, yet feels sturdy) I thought I might have stumbled on our answer! Then finding the pretty blue/neutral color theme cinched it for me! 😉 They’ve been hanging for over 3 months now, and we just love them!

      I use the map dots available at maps.com as well (http://www.maps.com/map.aspx?pid=13178), and the kids and I love them! We use green dots to mark Richard Halliburton’s travels, yellow dots for the Ingalls family, blue dots for a pilgrimage route to Paris and Europe that our oldest daughter is preparing for…and so on. The map dots work great for marking places on the map, but they don’t permanently mark up the beautiful maps!

  3. What a lovely “new” space! I’m so happy for you! Thanks for sharing…..the pics and organization are inspiring! Oh, and thanks for the link to the toddler chair. I have a couple tikes that would get a kick out of their own cozy chair…..and probably fight over it too. 😉

  4. Thanks for the tour! At the risk of sounding like a groupie here, I have waited ,not so patiently, for this! Lovely!

  5. It’s so beautiful and inspiring! Simplify, simplify, simplify…I have to keep reminding myself. Where do you keep each of your child’s work? Is it on the book cart? Or do they have a spot on the large wall unit? Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Tina!

      The kids’ work is filed in one of the file folders above my desk. We don’t use workbooks, nor do I employ a number of busy-work activities in our day, therefore, paperwork stuff is kept to a minimum and that which is generated is easy to keep in a small file. Each child has their own file for the year. At the end of the year I purge most, keeping only a handful of excellent work for that child for the year. 🙂

  6. What a wonderful repurposing of that space! I love all the natural light and the colors of the walls and in the room. It is so cheery and lovely. Thanks for sharing!

    1. A truly beautiful space! We are in the midst of house hunting and the only requirement of our learning space is lots of natural light. I have learned that for us, the amount of light directly predicts the amount the space is actually used. You have created a lovely room.

        1. The stainless steel wall mounted shelves were from a clearance bin at Home Depot 12 years ago. They used to be on the wall in my old kitchen, and they were left over after our remodel. Since I was trying to make use of things I already had…I had my husband hang them in our learning room. They’re very sturdy and functional, if not a little unexpected – stainless? In a learning room? Sorry though – I know that’s not much help for you if you’re looking for something today! A good place to try would be Target.com or check out your local Lowe’s or Home Depot or hardware store – check in the industrial sections, closet organizer sections and kitchen sections.

          Oh…the cream shelf which is just below my stainless shelves is from Lowe’s – they have a whole section of floating shelves there. It wouldn’t hold much weight, so books would be too much for this shelf, but there may be other choices there that could hold more weight.

          1. Thanks so much, Jen! I will check out our Lowe’s and Home Depot. I am currently in the midst of renovating what was our school room and moving the dining room in there, plus moving the school room into the dining/living room, and I want to make the most of the space and make it work for me as I reorganize everything!

  7. Lovely pictures! Thank you for sharing! I am now inspired to get my “mom space” organized. Where are your wall mounted shelves from? They look like they are made to fit a lot on them.
    Easter Blessings,

  8. This is so beautiful and inspiring – thanks so much sharing. Our learning room is in dire need of sunshine and a makeover. Thanks for all the ideas!

  9. Where are all the various matching light blue organizational boxes you have above your desk from? That’s just what I have been looking for, but I need something more durable than the cardboard ones at target (as they are for the toddler…) Thanks!

    1. Hi Elizabeth! The light blue organizational boxes are from the Martha Stewart office line at Staples. They’re probably similar to what you found at Target though – a heavy-weight cardboard. So they might not hold up to what you’re looking for.

  10. Hi. Would you mind telling me the size of the maps you have? Are you happy with that size? Also, where ever did you find that cute plaque – “Lord Grant Me The Patience to Endure My BLessings?

    1. Hi Jill – Sorry it took me a few days to reply! We’ve been basking in the sun at the beach! 🙂

      The maps shown in the post are wallzilla maps. The US map is 37″ x 24.5″ and the World map is just slightly larger – 38″ x 26″ – but you can’t tell when just looking at the two side by side – they look the same size. I’m really happy with the size. In case you missed the link above, they’re here:

      US – http://www.maps.com/map.aspx?cid=22,1727,1728&pid=17897
      WORLD – http://www.maps.com/map.aspx?cid=22,1727,1728&pid=17750

      They’re perfect for the amount of detail we need, and we were somewhat limited by the wallspace we have.

      As for the “Lord Grant me the patience to…” plaque – it was a gift to me a few years ago, so I’m not sure where it came from, but I did a quick google search just using the words of the plaque and found a few signs available at ebay and etsy – or you could just use your word processor, make it pretty with a nice font, print it on a nice cardstock and frame it!

      Hope that helps, Jill! Best of luck to you!

      1. Thank you so much for your response. You have helped me so much over the years in my homeschool decor and ideas for curriculum, books, toys etc. God bless you!

  11. Hi Jennifer – I’ve been meaning to purchase the maps that you recommended. However the links no longer work and I have searched high and low for the same maps at maps.com to no avail. Any ideas where I might be able to find them?

      1. Thank you for hunting for these but this is what I had previously found and it always goes to error when I try to check out. I noticed that this website is different to their new website. I will try and call them in the morning to see if they can help. Very strange isn’t it! Again thank you though for responding so promptly!

          1. I received an email reply today stating that due to printing issues they are not carrying the New Century format anymore unfortunately. Oh well!

  12. What a welcoming space! Thanks for sharing the inspiration. Sunshine is our number one requirement for a learning space too! Would you tell me what paint color you used in here? It is so warm without being dark and I just love it!

    1. Melissa,
      Thanks for your note!

      The paint in here is Sherwin Williams fennel seed #1101. It’s a very creamy color overall with hints of yellow. The overall effect is very warm. It’s a semi-gloss; I did that for ease of wiping and to reflect light.

  13. I am so glad I scoured your blog after coming across a morning basket ‘pin’ on Pinterest! We’re beginning a basement remodel that will include a school room and I have been searching and search for inspiration! This is so perfect! So many good ideas! I will have 4th, 1st, and a toddler this coming school year so this set up totally speaks to me! Thanks for all the wonderful pictures!

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