Friday, May 19, 2017

Harry Potter Home Office

My husband and I moved into a tiny cabin in the woods almost a year ago, and part of the charm of this property was a very old smokehouse located right across the creek from our cabin.

While it looked cute from the outside, the inside was a disaster. 

However, we've never been ones to shy away from a good DIY flip, so we remodeled this space to create our very own Hagrid's hut inspired home office.

Our budget was basically zero for this project, but I went over by about $200 😉 . That's still not bad for a complete room remodel though!

Here's the price breakdown:

Pallet Wood Focal Wall- $0 but hours of work. We got pallets from a friend and used some old barn wood we had lying around our property as well.
You can follow along at BsBookLove on Instagram 

DIY Standing Desk- $12 for the wood from Lowes (**Tip** If you get a piece that has some splits or blemishes in it, they will give it to you at half off)  and the brackets were around $5 each at Lowes. 

Lighting and Lamps - The main light was $50 from Lowes and it included the cool bulbs. The desk lamps are from a discount store (Ross) and were $30 each. We spent around $110 total for lighting and these pieces are SO worth it. They really make the space what it is. 

Office Pegboard - $0 because we found it in our barn and painted it white using leftover paint. We also used scrap wood from the barn to make a huge frame around the pegboard. If you have to buy a pegboard, they are about $15 for a huge sheet. I really want one in my classroom now. 

I stole the huge writing scroll from my classroom and you can see how I made it hang in my classroom here: Harry Potter Classroom. For this space, I didn't need the track ceiling hangers, so I just used regular curtain rod hangers to anchor it to the wall. The roll of paper is from our local newspaper office (they sell these remnants for $5 each!) 

No Harry Potter office would be complete without a little potion mixing and diffusing! I LOVE my little diffuser I ordered from Amazon years ago because it changes all kinds of magical colors and has a nice wood tone to it. 
I couldn't resist adding in my Harry Potter Literary Device Posters to my new work space!

Furniture- The furniture was mostly free except for the two matching chairs which I found at Target for $40 each. If I had been more patient, I could have found some at yard sales or thrift stores, but it's really hard to find a matching set of small chairs, so I gave up and bought the blue ones pictured. 
 I wanted to add some fur elements to bring in a little more Hagrid into the space, so I recycled a fur scarf that I quit wearing. I'm not too proud to say that I found this stool at our local trash dropoff. My husband threatened to drive off if I jumped out to get it, but I called his bluff. ;) I cleaned it and simply took the seat off (it was super easy because it was attached from the bottom with 3 screws), cut the fur scarf into three sections, stapled the fur over the seat, and put the seat back on. It took all of 10 minutes to do. #wifewin 
I made my husband pose so that I could bask in my dumpster diving win. :) 

Pillows- I found every pillow for $3 each in the "new" section of our local Goodwill store. I think they really add some color and softness to the space. 

Miscellaneous- My favorite part of creating this office was adding in little Harry Potter touches without going over-the-top.
I spray painted these toy dragons with copper spray paint then added moss and the finished dragon into this little $2 ornament I found at a local craft store. I can't find these exact ones online, but here are some super cool teardrop ones that would probably look even better! 
Here's what they look like finished! 

I used the leftover dragons to make some magnets by hot gluing magnets to the back of the painted dragons. I used to the left over copper spray paint to recoat these file folders that used to be bright green. I used the leftover moss to make the numbers on the entryway. 
Another cool touch came from these cheap little skeleton keys I found on Amazon. I knew that I wanted to give a nod to the "Keeper of the Keys" so I took chalkboard labels and added the names of some of Hagrid's magical creatures. I also made some really simple artwork with the keys. 
All I did was take an old picture, spray paint it white, and hot glue the keys on there. 
Though it's not pink, I had to add in an umbrella somewhere! 

I made a Harry Potter wreath out of sticks and a hoop from the craft store

I added "The Owlery" to an old mailbox we had and grouped together our collection of birdhouses from around our property. 
I'm so happy to finally have this space finished so that I can get to work creating resources again! 

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Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up Your Classroom

Any time a book has "life-changing" in the title, it warrants the side-eye from me. Yet, I kept hearing from so people that Marie Kondo's book The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up  would indeed change my life, so I had to give it read. 

That was three years, financial freedom, a half-size house, and an online teaching and traveling sabbatical ago. So yeah, I would definitely say that this book changed my life. 

While I fully embraced the KonMari method outlined in the book for our home, my classroom was a different story until spring cleaning fever hit me a few weeks ago. 😱

You can follow my classroom @BuildingBookLove on Instagram 

I worked a little on decluttering and cleaning every day (by little I mean trash cans FULL for two weeks straight), and I can already feel the difference it's making in my classroom as it did in my home. 

How to apply the KonMari method to your classroom:

***Update*** If you want to join me in a FREE 7-day challenge that walks you through the steps below, holds you accountable, and lets you show off your clean classroom, please sign up here: 
Clean Classroom Challenge 
Our next challenge will begin in May 2019!

1. Declutter. I believe that teachers are natural hoarders, and I was no exception. I've tried decluttering in the past, but mental blocks always held me back. "What if I need this one day?" "I could make so and so craft with this!" "This cost too much money to throw away!" and so forth.  This is where The Life-changing Magic of Tidying Up excels. The way Kondo explains how the Japanese view objects really hit home for me and allowed me to rewrite the narrative I told myself when trying to declutter. 

*Start with nonsentimental items. Don't go straight for student projects, notes, awards, or books. You have to build up your decluttering muscles before tackling sentimental items. 

*Do one cabinet or drawer at a time. Take EVERYTHING out. This part is very important. Your mind will see a clean slate and will automatically not want to clutter it back up by filling it with junk (This is also how I've saved so much money since reading this book; I think long and hard before buying anything now).

*Declutter as much as possible. As Kondo explains in the book, our need to tidy will continue as long as we allow clutter to live in our lives. It's impossible to keep mountains and mountains of items organized day in and day out. The less you have, the tidier your room will be. 

*When dealing with paper items, discard almost everything. If you are in a paperless classroom, then you are well on your way to achieving this lofty goal! While I grade essays fast and effectively online and use Canvas for assignments, I'm still giving my tests on paper. However, one thing I love about using ZipGrade to grade paper tests is that it scans tests and keeps the "copy" in the app and in the cloud. Therefore, I can scan tests and throw them out right away.
Use digital solutions to cut down on paper clutter

*Throw out PD material that you never used. That PD served you in some way at the time, but if you have never used or reviewed the copies or brochures, they no longer serve a purpose. By getting rid of old material, you will create space for new, better-serving material and ideas to arrive. This rings true for all items in your life which bring me to my hardest category...

You can follow my classroom @BuildingBookLove on Instagram 

*When cleaning out your bookshelf, ask yourself, "What overall start rating would my students give my bookshelf?" For example, we all know those 5-star books that we can't keep on our shelves because they are constantly checked out. These are the ones are worn from so much reading love, but still look fresh enough to be picked up again and again. These 5-star books bring up our total bookshelf star rating. But what about the lonely classic you keep hanging around because you are hoping you will get a mini you as a student one day (still waiting 10 years later...)? That poor book would be a 5-star on my shelf at home, but it's bringing down the rate of my classroom's bookshelf. Other 2 or 3 star books include books with unfortunate covers, books that are falling apart so badly that they irritate students to read them, and books that had their moment of glory but are now a passing fad. My students deserve the highest GPA bookshelf I can afford, so I want to keep the best books on the shelf. If my shelf looks empty after I've purged, then so be it. The universe just might fund a book grant for me to fill it back up with 5-star books. :) 

*Get students involved. Cleaning, decluttering, and getting rid of papers in your classroom is a HUGE undertaking, and you shouldn't have to go at it alone. Here is a little freebie I created that both you and your students will love. It says end-of-year, but it can be used any time the cleaning bug hits you! 
Student jobs, End-of-year gifts for students

2. Keep Joy You will need to read the book to get the full explanation of how to be in tune with joyful items, but for most things, this will be obvious. 
The life changing magic of tidying up your classroom
The life changing magic of tidying up your classroom
The life changing magic of tidying up your classroom

*Throw away, donate or recycle all of the things that do not bring you joy (the book reiterates this constantly). 

*Do not transfer your discarded junk onto others. Whenever you ask someone if they would like something you want to discard, they feel obliged to take it. It might make you feel better to believe that it will be used, but all you are doing is transferring the burden of an object onto someone else. Instead, put a box outside of your classroom door and send a picture of it to the staff. Tell them that you plan on donating it this evening so come get anything you want before it's gone. If teachers are truly in need of the items, they will make the trip to your room after work. 

*Once you make it to the sentimental items in your room, consider how each item is best honored. If it's truly something precious to you, how should you display it so that it gets the recognition it deserves? Most have heard of the tip to create a feel-good-file for your most thoughtful student notes. However, to take this a step further, I've started taking pictures of these notes (hiding the student's name) and tagging them with a personal hashtag. That way, I can search this hashtag any time I feel like reminiscing. 
Teacher feel-good-file

*Add things in your classroom that make it a more joyful place to be. So far, this post has leaned heavily on getting rid of things in your classroom, but it's also acceptable to add things in that bring you and your students joy. Actually, that is the entire point of the book. You should get rid of things that are weighing you down, causing you guilt, or hindering your best self so that you can highlight and appreciate the things that bring you joy. For me, this is my Harry Potter decorations. This little spot on my desk brings me so much joy!
 You can see my entire joyfully decorated classroom here:
High School Classroom Decor: Semi-Flexible Seating 

3. Organize by Use- Once you have decluttered, it's time to put things back in an orderly way. I personally didn't buy expensive organizing containers to do this because all of my stuff is hidden behind a cabinet. Although, Kondo advises not to be frugal with things if they truly bring you happiness, so if pretty containers are your thing, go for it! I simply grouped things according to their use. You can see in the pictures that I have plenty of open spaces which are waiting for my year-long replacement teacher to use for his or her liking (Not going to lie, I'm feeling super territorial over my room, but I want my students to have an amazing teacher for next year, so I need to leave room for that in my heart ...and shelves).

Sidenote: The headphones in this last picture are SO adorable and CHEAP. You can find them here: Koss Headphones 

As you can see, my room is far from minimalistic, but the things that are left in here are useful and bring myself or my students joy. Clean classrooms are happy classrooms!!!

Update: I happily participated in the Educators 2 Educators  Teacher Reboot Conference, so now I have a video to accompany this blog post. You can watch the replay here:

***Remember*** If you want to join me in a FREE 7-day challenge that walks you through the steps below, holds you accountable, and lets you show off your clean classroom, please sign up here: 

This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog! xoxo