Today’s the big day! The big reveal for the Super Secret Design Project! I can now tell you that the Super Secret Design Project was a renovation of the teachers’ lounge at my daughter’s school!
First, you have to understand what we started with…
The room was dark and dingy-looking. The walls were painted what can best be described as “institutional green.” There were four matching chairs at the table and then a bunch of random desk chairs.
And it was clear that it had not been painted in some time.
There was very little storage – and what storage was there were cobbled together pieces that didn’t really work.
For example, they had a sink and cabinets, but one cabinet was plastic-coated melamine, and one was unfinished and clearly was past its prime. The countertop was stained and cluttered.
Wouldn’t this space inspire you to shape young minds every day? NOT.
So I was honored when the PTA asked me to makeover this space! But this was a project that evolved into so much more than just a room makeover. What started as plans to paint the walls and redecorate quickly turned into a full-on renovation:
- Paint the walls;
- Add new storage;
- Improve seating around the table;
- New cabinets;
- New sink and faucet;
- New countertop;
- New refrigerator;
- New plates, mugs, and silverware (before, they just had a mish-mash of plasticware that people had brought in over the years); and
- A better space plan for the room.
Whew! Oh, and did I mention that this was to be a surprise for the teachers?!? That’s why I had to keep this project quiet and I couldn’t start work until school was out and the teachers were off for the summer.
So the first thing I did was meet with the principal, who is one of the coolest, nicest people I’ve met, to talk about the design plan. I asked her what she wanted for the room. Here’s what she said:
- A style that was “vintage modern”;
- Color scheme of teal, red, and yellow;
- Vintage Coke crates in the room;
- The table needed to seat 8-10 people on any given day;
- The feel of the room should be calm, fresh, and happy.
Got it. I had my marching orders and I got to work. I am so grateful that we had a few amazing, dedicated volunteers to help, including our friend Jack who is 6’3″! (Did I mention that the ceiling is about 13 1/2 feet high??)
First, we primed and painted the room. We used Benjamin Moore Fresh Start primer to cover the institutional green first; then we applied two coats of Benjamin Moore paint in eggshell finish, so it would be easier to clean. The color is called “Full Moon.”
On the left side of the room is some electrical conduit. Rather than just leave it the same color as the wall color, I decided to paint it teal (“Aquarium” from Sherwin Williams, using Benjamin Moore paint). It created a graphic feature in the room that was consistent with our color scheme. If you can’t beat the features of the room, showcase them, right?
After we painted the walls, it was time to move on to the cabinets and sink. This proved to be somewhat of a challenge: the school was built in the 1930s and I’m pretty sure the plumbing was from that same era!
We thought that changing out the sink and faucet would be no problem – ha! You know what they say about the best laid plans? Yeah, that. Turns out there was an old, bad valve that had caused the pressure to build up and, when we tried to turn the water off, water gushed everywhere!
I don’t have pictures of that. I was too busy grabbing buckets and towels! Not our best moment anyway…
Once we got that cleaned up, my awesome contractor Craig Reising came and saved us. He fixed the plumbing issues and installed the cabinets, sink, faucet, and water line for the ice maker in the new fridge.
For the cabinets, I chose white cabinets with clean lines; I wanted something that would brighten up the area and be easy to clean. The knobs are vintage-looking glass and chrome knobs (from Target). The drawer pulls were generously donated by D. Lawless Hardware – they look just like card catalog pulls, perfect for a teachers’ space!
For the countertop, I chose a black durable laminate with white flecks in it (also from IKEA) to go with the cabinets.
The backsplash is faux tin tiles – they are plastic!
I love the vintage look of the tiles, but they are plastic, which makes them easy to clean and maintain. They are really easy to cut and install; I will do a separate post on that (and may need to install them in my house!).
I added a system from IKEA for hanging storage for scrub brushes and soap – something to keep those things off the counter, keeping the counter clutter-free!
So, I added lots of storage with the cabinets, but I still needed to include something that would hold both microwaves plus serving plates and bowls (for lunches and events) and other items (remember the table with the coffee maker on the floor??).
I found this mid-century buffet on Craig’s List for $175. It was the perfect size and it’s teal! Perfect for our color scheme and design, and it was wide enough to fit both microwaves!
Above it, I hung a shelf for the toaster oven and added a Coke crate for more (cute) storage. I found the Coke crates at the Scott Antique Market.
Next up: the telephone table corner. Remember it looked like this before:
I wanted to create a bright, less cluttered corner. They need a landline phone there; plus, I wanted to add a place where they could write down notes or numbers.
To keep with the vintage modern theme and to stay within budget, I made a memo center out of an old door from the Atlanta Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I’ll share in a future post how to make this (it’s easy!).
I added two matching chairs (from Marshalls), a funky metal table for the phone (from HomeGoods), and a lamp (from IKEA).
For the table, we removed the oilcloth cover, which had been stapled to the table to protect it, and found that the table was beautiful and in amazing shape. I cleaned it up and it’s now perfect in its original condition.
For the chairs, I found four matching mid-century-looking chairs at the Scott Antique Market. They came out of an old school library – perfect! And at $40 each for solid wood chairs, they were a deal!
So now around the table are four wooden Windsor-style chairs and four of the mid-century modern chairs. Different styles, but the same wood tones. They coordinate without being matchy-matchy. That’s seating for eight, plus the two chairs in the telephone corner make ten!
Last – but certainly not least – COFFEE!
Does that coffee cart look familiar? It’s my bar cart, repurposed into a coffee station. It is the perfect size for the two coffee makers, plus shelves for coffee, sugar, and other stuff.
I added new dishes in the teal and red color scheme, new coffee mugs, and new silverware.
And added a few decorative touches, including this art I made out of pencils (No. 2, of course!):
And the teachers’ lounge is ready for the big reveal and – more importantly – the first day of school!
This was such a fun project.
I’m so grateful they asked me to do it.
I hope they love it!
I want to thank the following people who went above and beyond to help with this project:
- The PTA, who provided not only a generous budget, but eager volunteers and their own elbow grease;
- Craig Reising of Hunter Reising Design Build, who fixed our water disaster and installed the sink, faucet, counter, cabinets, and ice maker, despite uneven walls and old plumbing;
- Intown Ace Hardware, for the primer, paint, and supplies;
- D. Lawless Hardware, for donating the drawer pulls;
- The Atlanta Habitat for Humanity ReStore, for picking up our old refrigerator;
- Our fabulous volunteers: Jack (our tallest volunteer), Sarah, Allison, Karen, Kelly, and especially Ginger, who made a trip to IKEA for me, which, to me, is going above and beyond the call of duty!
- The amazing staff who moved all of the furniture out of the teachers’ lounge before I even got there on day 1 (!!), and who let me in the door too many days to count and cheered me on. Mr. Rall, Ms. Wilson, and Ms. Gutfriend are the best and they helped me every day I was there!
- My family, who put up with the pieces of this project in our office, front porch, and dining room, and supported me, and especially my kiddos who came with me and helped many days when they would have rather been playing somewhere else.
I couldn’t have done this without them!
BUT WAIT! There’s more! Stay tuned for more posts about this project, including the makeover of the adjacent bathroom, how to make a memo center out of an old door, installing a faux tin tile backsplash, and more!
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