The Family Resource Center did not always look like rainbows and butterflies. Take a look at how we transformed our space from a dark, church storage room to a bright and engaging space for children and families!
The Original Space:
When we were going through the ideation process of the Family Resource Center, Julia and I were initially looking for stand-alone spaces or store fronts to hold our operations. However, we had always envisioned the Family Resource Center to be co-located in the same space as Monarch Montessori School, our sister nonprofit. Luckily, Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church had an empty storage room they felt would be the perfect space for a local, early childhood education focused community center.
To launch our Family Resource Center space, we received grants from numerous Twin Cities and national foundations. Inspired by our mission to create connections and foster a supportive community, our initial start up funding helped us bring the space from drab to fab.
What did we have in mind as we began the ideation process of the Family Resource Center? We wanted a bright, happy space to feel warm and inviting to young children and their families. We also wanted to not be Instagram perfect, but show to families that spaces loved by children do not have to be spick & span, trendy, or costly. We were eager to make a space feel like home.
We also wanted elements of Montessori in our space. We envisioned the space to have low, child-accessible shelves, a staple in Montessori classrooms, so that children could access the wonderful materials we had on display. We also envisioned quiet corners, like our reading corner and our newest feature coming soon: the Peace Chair. Finally, we wanted families to relax, so we have a wonderful couch for parents to observe their children.
Transforming the Physical Space:
While the actual room was not in disrepair, we noticed that the space had a rather dark, cool look, and there were areas that need some TLC. Soon after we received our keys, I went to work! I scrapped paint, re-caulked the window, and prepared the room for painting. Because the room is on the smaller-side, I wanted to make the room feel bright and open. Our board member, Jeff Johnson, who is skilled at design, recommended painting the room white to open and brighten the space. I picked a slightly-warm, soft white, but I had the expectation that the room would be filled with colorful materials and, of course, our mural.
It took me about two weeks to fully paint the room white. Because the room had an existing dark paint on the walls, it took one coat of primer and two coats of white paint to achieve the look I was hoping for. I also use some of the paint originally purchased for the mural to create pops of color on the north facing wall. If you look at the Family Resource Center room today, you can see that the frame of the window is green, the pipe along the ceiling is yellow, and the grate at the bottom is pink.
The focal point of our Family Resource Center space is our beautiful mural, designed and created by Theresa Kallmes (who is also our summer in-person coordinator). I told her our relative branding, which are the butterflies of our logo and the abstract shapes you see around our website, and she created a color masterpiece that will permanently stay in our Family Resource Center space. Theresa will share her experiences creating the mural with a different blog post--stay tuned!
To create that iconic Montessori look, we enlisted the help of our dear friends (who are also some of our biggest supporters), the Holub Family to design and create all the shelves in the Family Resource Center. We are extremely grateful for their donation to our space (and the shelves look so beautiful)!
Why are Montessori shelves so important to us? While we are a Montessori centered organization, we do not necessary believe that we have to follow every-single Montessori trend. However, the quintessential Montessori shelf is a very practical piece for furniture for early childhood education spaces: it allows materials and toys to be displayed for children while also remaining accessible to even the smallest of children.
Our other furniture, including our iconic Bean Table at the center of our room, is from small-batch, Montessori inspired, children's furniture company Sprout. Kaleidoscope Learning worked with Sprout to outfit our Family Resource Center space and our Educational Materials Library with dozens of beautiful furniture pieces from their collection. I spent hours assembling each furniture item, and it was a joy to see each piece "come to life." The furniture pieces are as functional as they are beautiful! If you are interested in exploring our furniture from our Educational Materials Library, you can view our inventory here.
After we built every piece of furniture, we started with the final touches of the space. This includes adding rugs, pillows, artwork, and a work-space for our in-person coordinator. We added plenty of our materials from our Educational Materials Library to our shelves. We officially opening our space to our community on June 20, 2022, and we were so happy to finally see people in the space we worked so hard to create!
Ta-da! The Family Resource Space is complete! Be on the look out for future changes to the Family Resource Center space, for we continuously rotate in new materials, pieces of furniture, and art.