Ordering custom furniture for your school or office can seem like a daunting task –…
Designing your new classroom with new classroom furniture and displays is an exciting time for everyone involved, especially for the teachers and students involved. However, making sure that you get the most out of your budget and space can be a somewhat daunting experience.
This guide is designed to help you get your head around everything you need to think about from space management to colour selection.
Check your space – how much space do you have?
This is the most critical step when embarking on your design journey; if you don’t know what you are working with it will make it very hard to successfully plan your space.
You will need to measure the entire space and map it out. The easiest way to do this is with a tape measure or laser measure and a paper and pen.
If you are measuring the space by yourself, it can pay to use a laser measure. You can pick one of these up from Bunnings for under $40.
Start by drawing a rough outline of the space, make sure to include all windows, doors, gas heaters and pillars.
Begin withthe broad overall dimensions of the room (i.e. overall length and width). Then start from one corner of the room and work your way around.
Pro Tip – make sure to include the thickness of your skirting boards when measuring your room, they may only decrease your total usable space by 10cm but if your short for space this can make all the difference.
Then measure the length of your doors and windows, you will also need to define the position of the windows and doors relative to the closet intersecting wall.
Ensure that you also take the size and position of any columns, gas heaters or any other anomalies.
Finally, you need to log the height of your windows from the floor to the underside of the window sill.
Once you have all this information handy, you can then begin drawing out your space.
You have quite a few options to do this with these days
- HB Pencil
- Coloured Pencils
- Pencil Sharpener
You will need to draw your room at a 1 to 100 scale. To do this, you need to convert each 1-meter increment into 1cm. So a 5m wall would convert to 5cm.
Draw your outline of the room to scale then add in your doors, windows, pillars, heaters and any other anomalies using a different coloured pencil for each. In the top right-hand corner of your page write what each colour represents. This will keep your drawing clean and easy to reference.
Computer program or Tablet
- Computer or laptop
- Internet Connection
There is a wealth of programs available to help you achieve your vision. Many of these programs a free which is an added bonus. However, these programs in many cases are fairly limited in the amount of information you can input into your design.
The best programs we have found are:
- Planner 5D
- Room styler 3d
- Autodesk Homestyler
So now that you have drawn up your space, it is time to start filling it with awesome new furniture. But before you do this, there are a few more things to consider.
How many people/students do you need to fit in the space?
While this might seem like a straightforward and obvious question, it will directly influence the overall design of the space. If you need to fit 32 students within a 4m x 5m space then you probably won’t be able to fit a lot of separate soft seating, individual and collaborative seating within the area – you will need to be more creative. While a larger space opens up other possibilities.
Pro Tip – if you are working with a small space don’t be disheartened Abax Kingfisher has created some fantastic multifunctional collaborative classrooms with tiny areas to work with.
How many different class grades will be using the classroom?
As you would know most primary schools dedicate a single classroom to each grade. But some classrooms need to accommodate a number of different classes.
If this is the case, you need to consider what type of classroom furniture you will put into the space to allow ease of use for both large and small students.
Some ideas for this include increasing the number of ottomans used, utilising standard height tables as high benches/standing tables for the earlier grades and standard seated tables for the higher grades.
Keeping a stack of seat pads in the corner such as the Lilypad Stacker Set.
Using adjustable height tables (it’s recommended that you only use manual height adjustable tables if you are just changing the height once or twice a week).
Will the classroom be used for multiple purposes?
If the room is being used for other purposes besides a classroom, it is important to take them into consideration but not let the ancillary uses of the room dictate the design of the classroom.
If you are using the room as a staff meeting room or patent/teacher interview room, it can be helpful to include mobile tables and a small stack of comfy but cost effect chairs in the corner of your classroom (if space permits) to make the space more comfortable for people other than students.
While this is a great way to increase the functionality of a room, it should not be done if the space cannot accommodate the additional furniture, or if making the classroom furniture multipurpose creates a less than optimal environment for the students.
What are the best features of your room?
Before you start designing the layout and style of the classroom furniture you want to put in your space, it is critical to take stock of the best features of the classroom space.
Not only do they let in natural light which has been proven to increase focus and effective study, but they also allow you to create fantastic study zones. You can put some bean bags underneath to create a great casual reading/study zone, put high benches under the window to allow students to study with a view or even place the student desks around the windows to enable students to get an extra hit of Vitamin D.
While ceiling height may not seem like a significant factor in designing your classroom it should play a major factor in the types of classroom furniture you decide to put in the space. Lower ceiling rooms should include bright colours and minimal high furniture such as high back lounges and tables. Higher ceiling rooms can accommodate more high furniture and darker tones.
Clear wall space
By clear wall space we mean walls free of low windows, heaters, doors etc.. Utilising this space for display, high tables, bean bags and lounges allows you to free up space in the middle of your room for even more creative designs.
If you are redesigning an existing space and are not painting your walls or replacing carpet, it is vital to ensure that your new furniture compliments your current colours. If you have a lot of bold colours on your walls and carpets, it is usually advisable to pick more neutral tones for your larger furniture pieces and pick up some of the existing colours in your smaller furniture pieces.
Alternatively, if you have an existing neutral palette, you have some more freedom on what colours you can choose.
A great resource is www.coolors.co; this website lets you pick a starting colour and matches it with other colours that complement it.
Did you want to create Zones?
You may want to create different zones within your classroom. The extent of the zones will come down to how much space you have to work with.
- Soft Zones -Soft zones are spaces that include soft seating such as lounges, ottomans and seat pads. They are fantastic for casual study or focused group collaboration.
- Hard Seating Zones – It’s not as bad as it sounds! Hard seating is your standard classroom seating and table options. The hard refers to allowing students to have an ergonomic school chair such as the Ariah Chair or the Airley Chair and a solid table surface to allow for focused individual or collaborative study.
- High Zones – High zones include classroom furniture such as High benches and stools. They are fantastic to enable students to use a different area to focus on study or collaborative work.
- Fixed Zones – While mobile and multipurpose zones are extremely useful and advantageous there are times when fixed classroom furniture is perfect. Not only does it generally cost less but it can also be used as a barrier between other multipurpose zones.
- Mobile Zones – Mobile zones are fantastic spaces that allow for individual focused study and group collaborations. This type of setup is perfect for most classrooms as it can allow for both traditional and “21st Century Learning” configurations based on the style of the lesson.
- Collaborative Spaces – Collaborative zones can include booth seating, a simple table with chairs, large benches with active stools, such as the Amy Stool and many other options.
- Focused Individual Spaces – These types of zones can be a single desk and chair, a unique high back lounge, tub chair, single-sided benches with stools, bean bags, and many other options.
The trick with designing a functional and good looking classroom is to not overdo it with classroom furniture and displays. Best practice is to
- Allow 1.2m between classroom furniture items
- Try and maintain a 1.6m main walkway
- A minimum of 600mm of working space per student on a shared bench (preferably 750mm) is advisable
- If using tables for group collaboration, the table should be at least 750mm wide (preferably 900mm)
- Single desks should be no smaller than 900mm x 600mm
These best practices can be modified to suit your space as every classroom is different. However, it is good to have a starting point.
Yes, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. If you’ve read this far I’m sure your thinking ‘well this all sounds great’ but how much is this going to cost to fit out my new space with classroom furniture.
The answer is it really depends on the type of classroom furniture you put in the space and the colours and finishes you choose. But as a guide for a traditional classroom, you can expect to spend around $2,000 + GST. For a multifunctional classroom with all the bells and whistles you are looking at approximately $8,000 to $25,000 + GST.