Now that we’ve settled into our new house and most of the moving boxes have been unpacked, I’m getting the itch to decorate all the spaces. Unfortunately, we’re lacking two of the main requirements for a full-scale home redesign: time and money. But that’s okay because I brainstormed and developed a plan to decorate and organize the dining room / entryway with a very affordable budget. How’d I do it? DIY, of course. Here’s what I did …
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BUT FIRST, WHAT IS MODERN SCHOOLHOUSE?
I get this question a lot on Instagram since I revealed that my design plan for our California Bungalow is to incorporate more Schoolhouse Design Style into the decor of this home. The term is used rather loosely across the Interior Design community, as it’s technically not a real home style. Rather, Schoolhouse Style actually comes from the use of Schoolhouse Style lighting: electrical light fixtures that were widely used throughout the United States in public school buildings between the 1920s and 1950s.
Over the past decade, as the lighting company Schoolhouse Electric (now known as simply Schoolhouse) has gained popularity, the term has evolved to include an entire home decorating style.
COMMON THEMES IN SCHOOLHOUSE STYLE DECOR
Schoolhouse Style borrows and blends easily into many existing and well-known decorating styles. Most notably, people commonly refer to rooms and homes that are decorated with schoolhouse themes as “Modern Farmhouse”. Some of the most popular spaces designed by Joanna Gaines are actually less farmhouse and more schoolhouse than you’d expect. In fact, the popular decor line that she and her husband have designed for Target is beginning to look more like items you'd see in a Schoolhouse home decor catalog. That is to say that these pieces offer more clean lines and less frills than traditional farmhouse or country-style decor.
Schoolhouse Style will also be recognized by the use of primary colors, linear patterns, and industrial finishes. Lots of schoolhouse fixtures appear to be inspired by the lighting you would traditionally find in a factory setting, versus a home. Another frequent theme in Schoolhouse Decor is vintage artwork and wall decor such as old print advertisements, chalkboards, and commercial signs.
You’ll also recognize that the finishes incorporated into schoolhouse style are; worn wood, lots of metal, powder coated steel, and natural textiles like cotton twill and wool.
WHERE TO FIND SCHOOLHOUSE STYLE DECOR INSPIRATION
There are lots of designers and Interior Design bloggers who incorporate Modern Schoolhouse Style into their work. Here are a few of my favorite spaces, and their designers, that perfect the Modern Schoolhouse decor vibe.
This kids bedroom by Becki Owens is the perfect example of Schoolhouse Style incorporated into a modern home. Notice the iron beds mimic industrial pipes while the bedding and rug reflect a vintage military theme. The modern lighting pulls the primary color scheme together.
This vintage kids’ workspace by Bethany Douglass of Clositered Away incorporates schoolhouse themes with rustic flair. She homeschools her children, so there’s a good reason she’s inclined to bring the school into her home. But even for those of us who don’t have a utilitarian need for it, this schoolhouse style can feel quite nostalgic.
The company that inspired a movement - Schoolhouse - has their own blog and it’s a great resource for inspiration! The above image was taken for their 2019 Catalog in the home of artist Anglea Medlin.
Many of their workspaces embody exactly the vibes that I hope to achieve in my own home. For example, this vignette inside their corporate office in Portland is exactly the look I love.
In fact, there’s even so much inspiration to be found in their messiest spaces. When they took us on a photo tour of their factory in Portland, I was particularly enamored with this haphazard stack of vintage chairs.
MY FAVORITE MODERN SCHOOLHOUSE HOME DECOR ITEMS
Before I get into how I gave my dining room’s makeshift mudroom some Schoolhouse Style, I would like to mention that there are affordable ways to incorporate this industrial vintage vibe into your home without the need for DIY. Of course, I will always DIY anything that costs more than $50, given the time and opportunity, but here are some inexpensive finds you can buy off the shelf to start integrating Schoolhouse vibes today!
MY DIY SCHOOLHOUSE WALL STORAGE FOR UNDER $20!
How To Store Coats, Backpacks, and Bags Without A Dedicated Entryway: No mudroom? No problem. With this super simple and cheap DIY, you can corral all your kid's backpacks, reusable grocery store bags, and outerwear in style.
As soon as we moved into this house, I immediately knew we would need to dedicate a small bit of our dining room (originally the living room + you can read more about my decision to make this switch here: Our California Bungalow) to serve as a mini-mudroom. While we actually do have a real mudroom at the back of the house, its placement is so severely inconvenient - it has a door that leads to the exact opposite side of the house from our driveway - that we always enter our home through the front door.
Since the front door leads directly into our dining room, the result has been near-chaos. My original solution was to hang this $6 store-bought hook system under a piece of artwork.
That worked for a few weeks until our daughter started Pre-K. Now we are finding ourselves competing for space on those hooks so I knew it was time to get a bigger system with more space.
As you can see above, there are a ton of options on the market for vintage industrial style wall hooks but none of them offered the capacity I knew we’d need come Winter (hello, coats and guests’ coats!). Plus, they were all in the $40 to $200 price range and I really didn’t want to spend that much money on something that didn’t even meet our storage needs.
My solution? DIY of course!
HOW TO BUILD YOUR OWN HIGH CAPACITY HOOK RAIL
STEP TWO: Sand wood strip to smooth and create rustic base.
If you prefer a cottage, farmhouse, or coastal look, you would love the look of this wood scrap with about 50% of the white paint landed off. However, since I wanted to achieve an industrial look, I decided to take it one step further.
I opted to add a layered paint look, using some craft paint I already had on-hand. I enlisted my daughter to help me cover the board in a grayish green paint, with touches of yellow. Kids are really good at creating an unintentional weathered look with paint!
I gave her a stencil and told her to paint it however she liked. The result was a layered look that I could then sand back down again to enhance the wood grain.
STEP THREE: Lay out your hooks to measure and mark equidistance.
STEP FOUR: Install hooks directly into your wood strip.
STEP FIVE: Drill pilot holes for screws that will attach your board directly into the wall.
STEP SIX: Screw your wood board into the wall using anchors or directly into studs.
That’s it! Now you’re done!
Here’s how my DIY Hook Rail Board looks in my dining room -
Now we have plenty of room to store our jackets, backpacks, and bags without taking up floorspace! Plus, the industrial look blends so seamlessly into our historic bungalow home!
This stool serves as a perfect spot for our daughter to sit while we puts on her shoes every morning. I’m still searching for a good shoe storage solution for her grab ‘n go shoe lifestyle. I know the perfect Schoolhouse Style bin is out there somewhere. I just have to find it. And if I don’t? I guess I’ll just have to DIY it!
Meanwhile, we use these shoe cabinets for storing our excessive shoe collection.
This tutorial was completed as part of our At Home DIY Blogger’s Challenge series. Each month, we choose a new topic to tackle and come together as a group to motivate and inspire you to get your DIY hats on and get to work!
This month’s topic is $20 DIY Decor and my fellow bloggers are bringing their A games! Click the image above to check out all of the genius money-saving DIYs they’re sharing with us this month!
MODERN SCHOOLHOUSE DECOR + FURNITURE
WANT MORE DIY HOME PROJECT IDEAS?
HERE ARE SOME OF MY READER’S FAVORITES
DECORATING AN OLD HOME ON A BUDGET ISN’T ALWAYS EASY
BUT I’M HERE TO HELP.
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