Cafe Style Classroom on a Budget

When people see my room, they are in awe, but also discouraged because they think it must have cost me thousands of dollars that they don’t have to spend on their own classrooms. This actually isn’t true. This classroom is full of time, DIY projects, and used furniture. Everything besides the smart board and white board, are things that I have added to this classroom in the last two years.

The chalkboards on the back and side walls of my classroom are made by my husband and myself. The wood frames cost $0.89 each. We bought cheap wood at Home Depot, painted and sanded it to look old, and then glued the boards together with wood glue. The chalkboards themselves are just made out of chalk paint. The can of paint cost less than $5.00, and it took half a can to make three large chalkboards. The burlap bulletin board, is just that: burlap over the wall and framed with the same wood as the chalk board. We also framed the whiteboard (in the front of the classroom) with the same wood.


We found all the furniture used on Craiglists, or at second hand stores. The couch was free, because someone was moving and trying to get rid of it. The coffee table was $20 at a second hand store, and the two black papasan chairs in the corner were $20 at Walmart. The ottoman next to the couch was $25 at a yard sale, and opens up to hold all of our books. The lamp in the picture below was at a second hand store brand new, with two matching smaller ones that are by my desk. It was $30 for the whole set. All the hanging chalk plaques and frames in the corner were from Michael’s when there was a 90% off sale, so they were each literally under a $1.00.


My desk, the bookshelves next to it, and the chair were all being given away for free from another classroom. The antique student desk, that I keep my doc cam on, was given to me by my husband’s aunt.


This corner has the most new stuff in it, but it was all still found on sale. The three matching book shelves are from Walmart and I got them for $150 total. The black cube storage shelf was at a yard sale for $10. The two leather chairs were at GoodWill for $30. The storage chest was given to me by my mother-in-law. All the baskets were on sale at Fred Meyers. The wood/wicket basket storage shelf was $20 at a second hand store and came with all the wicket basket drawers. The standing lamp was $5 at a second hand store. The two expensive things in this picture are the map and the wood/metal table. The map is from World Market and I got it on sale for $75. The table is from World Market too, but we found it used online for half price ($400). img_2390

The big rug in the front of the classroom was on sale on amazon for $90, and the standing table, with all the chairs, was used and being sold online for $150.  The string lights on the ceiling are from Costco and were $49, and the large cube storage shelf, on the back wall, was used and online for $70. img_3699

It does add up to be a little over $1,000 total, but keep in mind that I started from scratch with this room. Most of the items in here are owned by my husband and I, but I don’t regret investing in this classroom at all. The kids feel so proud to be in this room, and comment to their parents about how much easier it is to focus with all the different seating options. On a personal note, as soon as I walk into this room in the morning, I feel at peace, focused, and excited to be at work. This set up, plus all the connections and relationships built in this room, make it an incredibily safe environment to learn, make mistakes, and grow. Many students over the last two years have told me that this is their second home, and I feel the same.