Going to School with The Decorologist

kristie barnett

kristie barnettIn the part of the country where I live, there are many families who decide that homeschooling is the best option for their children.   I have had multiple clients over the last few years who homeschool and have particularly challenging decorating dilemmas.

kristie barnett


This particular family has been successfully educating their 5 children in their home for many years, but their surroundings had been less than inspiring.  This is the front room of their home as it was before The Decorologist stepped in:

 Before – Homeschool Room


It was lined with bookcases full of books and curricula, a few tables and chairs (most of which were too small for their growing children), and various toys and other items.

 Before – Homeschool Room


Such a big room with untapped potential.  It seemed that there might be a more effective way to use this space to better-suit this family’s needs.

 Before – Homeschool Room


This smaller room adjacent the homeschool room was their dining room – it was also where the older kids did their schoolwork.

 Before – Dining Room and Workspace


An important part of a decorator’s mission is to marry function with beauty.  Is that possible in these two rooms where so many needs must be met?  I certainly believe it is.  Before I reveal the transformation of these rooms, I must explain that a lot of discussion and planning went into making these rooms not only more visually-pleasing, but also more functional for this busy family.  This wasn’t just about creating pretty spaces – it was about creating pretty spaces that WORKED. Now, here again is the larger of the two rooms in its “before” state:

Before – Homeschool Room


Ready for the “after”?  Now the larger of the two rooms is a roomy and inviting dining room with a table that easily seats 10.  The pair of overhead lantern lights adds warmth and character to this transformed space.

the decorologist

After – Warm and Welcoming Dining Room


The paint color is Benjamin Moore’s Boca Raton Blue – a perfect foil for the dark wood tones.

dining room by the decorologist

 New Dining Room/Workspace


We purchased the beautiful dark wood furniture from my friends over at Merridian Home Furnishings on 8th Avenue in Nashville.  This trestle table is gorgeous but doesn’t have to be handled with kid gloves.  The older children do most of their schoolwork here and have plenty of room to spread out.

kristie barnett

Trestle or pedestal tables accomodate more chairs than tables with four legs at the corners.


This is a room the whole family truly uses now – both for homeschooling and for dining together as a family.  It also is a great place to entertain and display their beautiful family china, which was previously stored away behind cabinets.

Family China on Display


Here again is the adjoining former dining room/homeschool workspace before:

Dining Room Before


The wallpaper and border went bye-bye, and white beadboard wainscotting was installed below the chair rail.  We decided on a rich expresso color – Benjamin Moore’s Clinton Brown, as a backdrop to all the white bookcases that hold schoolbooks and supplies.

 After:  HomeSchool Room


All the furniture was existing – this smaller table and chairs were moved in from the kitchen.  Pairing down and relocating all the school supplies into this lesser-seen room made a lot more sense than continuing to squeeze this family of 7 into a dinner table for 6!


New HomeSchool Room


The younger kids now do their school work in this happy, cozy area.  I love this candy bowl on their work table!

“The Best is Not Too Good for You”


There’s no reason why functional, multi-use spaces can’t be lovely and inspiring.  The children in this home even help keep these new rooms organized and clean, because they enjoy working in beautiful, peaceful spaces as much as their parents enjoy having such a lovely home to live in!

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29 thoughts on “Going to School with The Decorologist

  1. Sindy says:

    Mmmmmm! So awesome Kristie! You absolutely did it–beautiful and functional! LOVE those homeschoolers, too–so much to be admired there! Wow!

  2. Kelly says:

    Amazing job, Kristie! So much more than just a pretty space. I am sure your clients are thrilled.

    And thanks for mentioning that this “makeover” took lots of planning. I can see that it did – but well worth it, right?


  3. Holly says:

    A switcheroo – that thought didn’t even cross my mind. How brilliant! And I agree that much planning should go into the functionality of the space as much as the untapped decorating potential. Do you believe wainscoting added into a room adds warmth or do you consider it to be more for the look and wear/tear? I’m always curious what would be a good situation to include it into a space. Or is it a matter of keeping the space bright but balancing with some color on the top half? Thanks Krisite – I enjoyed this post!

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      holly, a couple of reasons for adding the beadboard below the chair rail – to counterbalance the dark color above and create more architectural detail in this small room, but also we decided to use painted beadboard in the adjoining kitchen as a back splash. using beadboard in this room helps create flow with the kitchen, which you don’t see in this post. don’t worry, i’ll post about it in the future. honestly, it’s more dramatic than what i’ve posted here today.

  4. Paula Van Hoogen says:

    Good Morning Kristie! I appreciate so much what you said that it was about making those spaces “work”! But they did come out sooo pretty! Bet the family was so happy & content & school work gets done even better now that Mom’s happier!….I will be 65 this fall and we just took my wonderful 14 yr old grandson in to live with us. He asked to be home schooled, so we are INTO it!! I like to say I am the “World’s Oldest Home School Mom!” My whole dinning room is also the school room! We are not tooo far from Nashville—in western NC. I know who I am calling when my home is ready for refreshment!!!
    Thanks—REALLY did enjoy this post!

  5. D says:

    What a fabulous mix of form and function! What a great designer you are to LISTEN to your clients and meet their needs stylishly!

  6. Allison says:

    Love it!!!! Just curious where the piano and all the toys went. Did they get rid of them, store them, or put them somewhere else in the house?

    • Kristie Barnett says:

      many of the toys had been outgrown. some were goodwilled, some were long-term stored, and the rest were organized in a large closet in the front hallway. as for the piano, it sits in the entry hall now. i’m trying to talk my client into painting it red . . .

  7. Melissa S. says:

    Hey Kristie,
    I really enjoyed this post. We are currently looking for a dining table, and I really like the trestle table you found. Where did you get it?

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