Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Repurposing the Loft

A start to the new layout for the loft

In the almost four years we have lived in this house the loft space has undergone a number of reincarnations. It's served as an office, a studio, a family room/den, and a TV room in our short years here. As Echo gets older we are realizing the need to transform the space yet again and we have big plans this time!

I have always appreciated this space as a bonus room, giving us the extra space for whatever we needed it for at the time. Now that Echo is getting big enough to play with toys, do art projects and generally interact with the world around her more we want to create a "work space" that the whole family can use. I have recently been reading up on something called Project Based Home Schooling (check out the blog to learn more and realizing the importance of giving the kids as well as ourselves a dedicated project space where we can experiment, make a mess and spread out whatever projects we are working on. Project based home schooling is a lot like unscholling in that it is child directed and the parents act as mentors and facilitators but it is a little more structured than what I would like to do with our kids. Nonetheless, it is a really exciting way to learn and there are lots of ideas I plan to incorporate in to our lives as the kids get older.
Reading nook

We have a lot of ideas for this space and want to make it an important part of our family life. It will need lots of storage for art supplies, books, blocks, puzzles, games, media and raw materials that can be used to create. We also want lots of floor space for work and play (which should be basically the same thing for kids, at least as far as I'm concerned).

Eric usually reads to us while we do art or work puzzles so we left a big comfy chair that he can sit in while he reads. It's positioned nicely by the window so it's a nice place to day dream as well, and it's big enough for the girls to snuggle up and look at pictures in the books we read.

The most important aspect of the work space however is giving Echo (and later Clover) her own space to work. So we started by lowering an existing table to kid height and stocking it with materials. It is still a tiny bit tall for her so we put out a chair that is her size as well as a floor cushion she can stand on.

Echo's desk
 I put out paper, glue, beads, buttons, scissors, stickers, natural materials like sea shells and acorns, colored pencils and office supplies to name a few. The idea is to provide her with exciting and stimulating materials and let her take the lead on what she wants to do with them. She has been very interested in learning how to cut and sew lately so I have been working with her a lot on that.

Supplies to inspire Echo

Speaking of sewing, I also made space for my sewing machine and computer in the loft. This lets me work on my projects right alongside Echo. If you are going to raise self directed learners one of the best things you can do is show them what life long learning looks like and be passionate about your own projects as well as theirs. Luckily I always have a million projects I want to do so this is no problem for me ;-) We moved my computer to the standing desk that Eric used to use before he moved his office to our basement and it is a great resource for looking up tutorials, playing music or watching videos.

Our next step will be to install more shelving and move the rest of our reference books up to the project space (these will range from art books to music books, computer programing books to writing books, pretty much anything you can think of). We also want to rip up the carpet and put in some kind of hard floor that is better for building blocks and doing messy art projects. I want to make this a priority over the next year so that we have it full functional by the time Echo is 3 and Clover is 1. We have started to get some use out of it already and it has been a wonderful place to hang out as a family so far!

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