Well, folks, we’re taking this outside. Outside the walls of our house, that is. The timing of this project worked out nicely because I was getting a little bored with our own home stuff (although there is plenty more to do and share) and have been itching to take a breather in exchange for something new. And boy, is this new! At our church we have two (well, now three) rooms that are used by the Youth Ministry- a small classroom that we use for HS Sunday School and some Small Groups and a larger classroom that we use for MS Sunday School, some Small Groups, and regular Youth Group. The bottom line? We were quickly outgrowing our space, so we were thrilled to adopt a new, even bigger room into the mix. All three rooms are in the same hallway, making it really easy to use all at once or have everyone all together in one space.
As thrilled as we were for the new space, we had just about a week to switch it from its former role as a Pre-School room into a brand spankin’ new Youth Room. Are you picturing long days and longer nights to make it happen? Well, you’re right on the money. But let me tell you- it was totally worth it. Enough from me, though, let’s get on with the makeover! Here’s what the room looked like before any work started- purely Pre-School:And if I pan a little to the left:
A big thanks goes out to our movers (aka. some of the High Schoolers) for helping me take out the Pre-K stuff and bring in a few of the bare essentials- couches, Foosball tables, etc. Before we get too much further, let’s talk about the room itself. In thinking about how we would use more space if we had it, I had already come up with a vision and a list of things I would love for the room to be able to do for the ministry:
- Be a space that could hold everyone all at once (our previous large room was not big enough for all of us).
- Have the capabilities of being broken into “zones” (more on this later)
- Be a space that students can come and hang out outside of programming
- Have some sort of space with couches for comfy sitting and talking
- Have some sort of space with tables and chairs for games, card playing (we play a lot of Dutch Blitz), and homework (we have students who come and hang out after school to do homework and have never had a space that they could actually spread out and work from)
- Have a bar of some sort to separate the two, but maintain the open, airy feel of the room
- House our Youth Library (organized and maintained by one of our very own students) and information desk (aka. “In the Know)
- Be a space full of places for students to let loose, create, and be free to use their imagination
- Have capabilities of projecting movies, song lyrics, etc. somewhere
- Be able to one day serve as a space for other teens in our town to hang out (Coffee House, open game room, etc.)
Whew, that’s a long list! Some of this will happen over time, but most of it was accomplished using the space we had and very few newly purchased items. I think the best way to do this is to show you the finished product and then we’ll go more in depth about “how did it get from Point A to Point B” breakdown. Ahhh, this is so exciting! I’m grinning like a fool and wringing my hands as I try and write this. Ok, here we go:
So here’s how it went down… I’m actually going to do this in “zones” (see Vision #2 from the list) so you can see how each part of the room developed. Let’s rock and roll.
Comfy Seating: When you first walk into the room from the main door, you are greeted by the seating area. We pulled in two large couches that we already had (one L-shaped wrap around and another regular one) and arranged them in a large L-shape. We debated bringing in a large square coffee table, but are holding off to see how this room gets used before pulling the trigger. So far, less “stuff” in the way has been helpful for piling in more bodies.Game Zone: If you turn to the right, you’ll see we dragged in the Foosball tables for optimum game playing and tournament happenings.
A word about the lights- I grabbed two lighting kits from Ikea (the kind with a bulb attached to a cord that just plugs into the wall- no ceiling light box needed) and stuck them in a couple of lampshades we had from unused lamps. Boom, two hanging lights.
Let’s round that corner so I can show you Favorite Part of the Room #1…This wall seemed like a great spot for some “go ahead, draw on the walls!” fun. All it took was a can of Rust-Oleum Chalk Paint, some painters tape, and a bit of patience (you can’t actually write on it for a few days while it cures).
Some tidbits that might be helpful to you if you’re planning on using this product: It went on just like paint, we used two coats, and it calls for a four hour drying period between each coat with a three day curing period after the last coat. Also, make sure you condition the surface (rub a piece of chalk on its side over the whole surface and then erase and wipe clean) before writing on the wall. When it was finished curing/conditioning, I just added a message at the very top, encouraging anyone and everyone to start creating.Ok, moving on to the other side of the room (and Favorite Spot #2)…
Dry Erase Nation: I knew I wanted somewhere in the room to function as teaching space, projecting space, and a wide open area for students to create/write/do homework/etc. In the spirit of using what was already there and not sinking a lot of time and money into the project, we opted to embrace the obstacles on our only blank wall in the room.
We were dealing with a bulletin board (glued and screwed into the wall) and tack strips that ran the length of the wall (also glued and screwed). Both would have caused major damage to the dry wall that would need extensive patching and repainting if we removed them. Since we were on a tight budget and had a fast approaching deadline, we decided to change plans and work around them. The decision: We would use the bulletin board as our “screen” for projecting things and the entire U-shaped space around it would get the Dry Erase treatment. Now, this is the cool part: Rust-Oleum also makes a Dry Erase Paint that you can literally paint onto the wall and create a huge canvas of white board. I ended up getting two kits and using one and a half for this project (I might have used more than necessary, but I wanted to be thorough). Since the “during pictures” don’t look any different than the before shots, let’s just skip to the finished product:To help our artists remember to keep their art on the actual dry erased treatment, we lined the covered bulletin (covered for projecting purposes with a sheet from Ikea clearance) with border strips (found at Becker’s). We also created an outline of the dry erase space to help students differentiate between DE and regular white walls by adding teal zig zag borders along all four sides, utilizing and hiding those boring brown tack strips while we were at it. I even painted a “reminder” on the wall next to it: Hey Artists! Please keep all dry erase art INSIDE the marked box and off of the screen. Thanks!
Oh, and that teal caddy? The first basket holds all different colors of Expo markers, a few Expo erasers, and some cleaning solution. The middle basket holds tons of chalk and chalkboard erasers. The bottom is empty, providing some extra storage space should we ever need. This came from Target and caught my eye because each basket is removable so that students can take them out and bring them anywhere they might be using those supplies. And just like the chalkboard, I added a few examples and a note to get things started:
It was so much fun to see people crowding around this wall, putting their own drawings and art all over it- I can’t wait to see how this space evolves. The dry erase wall leads seamlessly into our “command center”, aka. In the Know.
In the Know and Youth Library: There’s not too much before/after action here because we just dragged the shelves in from the previous Youth Room to create this nook. The two large shelves on either side make up the Youth Library (you can see the check out clipboard on the left there). The middle shelf has all of our school supplies, Newsletters, and Sign Ups. Each clipboard has a different event on it, allowing students to sign up for upcoming events and activities at any point in time. The calendar is also a new addition, but I that’s all I’m giving you for now because there’s a full post coming your way on the “how to” (hint: it involves more Dry Erase paint) so stay tuned!
Coffee Shop: Here comes that coffee bar/seating area that I had dreamed about. We’ve already put it to good use as students ate pancakes and played cards around the tables. I look forward to them actually having a space to spread out their books to do homework when they come after church. We’re taking some Dollar Tree white plastic table cloths for a spin as we figure out what we’ll use (if anything) to cover our mismatched tables.
So far, our “bar area” is two Ikea Expedit shelves on their sides, pushed together. It’s a nice divider to the room that doesn’t break it up visually and adds some awesome (and much needed) counter space. Oh, and we were even able to squeeze in a mini fridge and microwave on the one side of the bar. Function, function, function people! From the other direction, this side of the room looks like this:Wait, before we move on, let me just harp for a quick second on those lights. These were my most exciting purchase for the room (we already had one, so I grabbed two more from Ikea to match). They’re called Knappa (if you’re looking) and are so stinkin’ cute and make that side of the room feel extra special. I mean- what’s not to love about a geometric (?), flowery pendant light that DOESN’T NEED A LIGHT BOX?! Here’s the money shot for ya:
Yep, they have 15′ cords that just plug into an outlet, so we ran them along the ceiling and wired everything into the same surge protector so all it takes is a flipping one switch to turn them on and off all at once. And this , my friends, is the lap of luxury for me- rather than unplugging each individually. It’s the little things.
Which brings us to (we’ve almost made it full circle!) the Sink Nook:In my mind, I refer to this as my Favorite Spot #3 because it is the first thing you see upon entering the room and immediately draws you into the space. Not only is the sink super functional for us (hallelujah), we’ve outfitted the area above to be yet another space for our young artists to dream. Except this one has a twist… I’ll get to that in a second. First, the how to:
For the most part, it was the same process as the other chalkboard. The only difference is that I added a border (again, from Becker’s) to give it a little bit of spunk. As soon as it went up, we all stood back in awe of how much of a difference the red edging made- so simple too! Let me take a minute to pontificate on my new love for bulletin borders… they were the MVPs in helping us add color to an otherwise white-walled room. They come in all sorts of colors and patterns and ran us $3.99 per pack- best $3.99 we spent by far. Subtle, but total game changers. Just scroll up a few pictures to see the photos that don’t have them vs. the ones that do to see what I mean.
See it? Check out the P.S. at the bottom. We decided that instead of being a free for all, we’re going to use this board to host a seasonal art contest. Students will get the chance to submit their board designs and the winning designer will get free reign (within reason, of course) of the Sink Nook to decorate it and have their artwork displayed for the entirety of the season. Can’t wait to get this underfoot and I’ll be sure to pop back in every so often to show you some of the talent that we uncover!
Our other bulletin boards started out gray (like the projection screen), but I thought they needed some color. In the interest of saving on fabric, I grabbed an XL sheet set that was on Clearance at Target and was able to cover three bulletin boards (two inside, one out in the hallway) for $10! The left sports information on upcoming events and activities and the right is designed to be a space for students to let us know what they are involved in outside of church activities. They post their sports schedules, club activities, musicals, concerts, etc. and we encourage them to go to each other’s stuff and I do my best to show up to as much as I can throughout the year.
Another simple, yet noticeable upgrade are the bright white curtains (just scroll through the pics to see them in action). We grabbed three packs of Vivan panels from Ikea and they have been great- light and airy, but still helpful in grounding the windows and creating a homey feel in the room.
Annnnndddd that about wraps it up- consider this your grand tour around our brand new Youth Room. We’re psyched about it and can’t wait to put it to good use… there has already been art on the walls and pancake syrup on the tables, so I’m happy. This is where I leave you, friends. Thanks for sticking with me through this novel! You’re the best.