A Teacher Lounge Makeover

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on a side project: a teacher lounge update.  Some days involved planning and shopping, while others involved sewing and painting.  The final install happened over the weekend, when a friend and I loaded in everything we’d been stockpiling.  First, let’s look at the before:


Everything was a mish mash of garage sale finds or left over school furniture.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with garage sale stuff, but it all served just one purpose and took up extra floor space.  Over on the opposite side, there’s a built-in cabinet and sink, a refrigerator, and a door to a supply room.  Please note the lovely wallpaper border with cans and lemons.


Freeing up more floor space while giving more storage was the main goal, with bonus points for style.  Oh, and we had a $1000 budget to make it all happen.  To save money, we kept the full-sized refrigerator, drink fridge, and chest freezer.  The tables and chairs were okay, so we kept those too.  The sofa, bakers rack, and random desks/tables left to make room for a full wall of cabinets.  To maximize the budget, we bought two unfinished base cabinets from Home Depot for $157 each.


For a dose of color, we painted these Sea Serpent from Sherwin Williams.


Ben built us a 12 foot long laminate counter top and I stained twelve-foot long 2 by 12 pine boards, to create open shelves.


Before, the built-in cabinet had bypass sliding doors that no longer slid smoothly.  After removing the doors and tracks, I painted the cabinet to match the new ones.


For a little flair, I chose to sand and stain the shelves.


Finally, last Thursday, we got to work in the room, giving the walls a fresh coat of light gray paint, Campfire Ash from Behr.


Already, the room looked bigger.  After painting, we quickly moved the furniture into place, snugging the table ends against the wall.  Straightening the refrigerator left enough room for the chest freezer.


The old sofa had seen better days, so I spruced up a mid-century modern beauty I had planned to use in the pool house, but no longer needed.


Allowing the paint to dry on Friday let us get in on Saturday to start installing the cabinets and shelves.  It only took a few hours with Ben and allowed us to use the vertical space that previously was ignored.  The small drink fridge tucked neatly between the base cabinets.



That evening, we organized all the drinks, snacks, utensils, plates, and the other goodies.



A cabinet full of dishes is equally beautiful and functional.  We’re looking forward to seeing other quotes pop up on that letter board.


Baskets of snacks anchor the center of the two shelves, with extra dishes on either side.  Two matching microwaves allow multiple users to make lunch.  A few teachers asked for an ice maker, so we happily bought a counter top machine.


In our quest to make the lounge feel more comfortable and homey, I created two botanical engineer prints to hang from the tack strip.  A big impact for less than ten bucks is great for our slim budget.  Faux succulents add a much needed look of life, without the hassle of someone having to actually take care of it.


A parent donated the wood art above the sofa and it’s a perfect addition.


Our biggest difficulty was the lack of outlets, so we had to get creative with our arrangement.  Placing the Keurig, coffee pot, and jar of K cups on the table end created another work zone to prevent cramped working spaces.  Though the teachers knew we were updating the room, we kept them out while working on it to make it a surprise.  Monday morning, they were surprised to see the new space and all gave rave reviews.  It certainly functions and looks better, but that starting point made nearly anything an improvement.  Teachers work so hard, we are really happy to give them a space that shows our appreciation.

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