I’ve created several farmhouse classroom decor themes. And I learned along the way, I could spend A LOT of money accessorizing, if I wanted to. But what if I DIDN’T want to? What if I wanted a farmhouse classroom decor theme but within a specified budget? I learned that with a little planning, it IS possible to create a farmhouse classroom on a budget that you and your students will enjoy! Included are tips and tricks to create the classroom you want within the budget you want!
When I was in school, my composition teachers repeatedly said, “Show, don’t tell.” Did yours say the same? Rather than bluntly tell the reader what was happening, my teachers said, we were supposed to describe the setting or the character or the conflict and let the reader piece the details together. According to these same teachers, it was a subtler, stronger, beefier way to write. It was also more immersive. You can use this same concept when decorating your farmhouse classroom on a budget. It has served me well, and I think it will benefit you, too.
Another mindset that serves me well is one I learned from Myquillyn Smith’s Welcome Home, a book focused on what she terms “cozy minimalism.” I use her approach in my own home, and I found myself applying it to the classroom decor themes I created. More decorations for the purpose of more decorations may not really be more. Picking a few focal pieces to highlight your theme and displaying them throughout your home (or, in this case, classroom) can be incredibly effective (and possibly easier on your budget).
NOTE: While I can’t change the cost of book bins and floor rugs or reduce the number of tissue boxes your students will go through in a year, I hope to provide you with ways to plan your discretionary expenses so you get just what you want for your classroom!
Establish a farmhouse classroom budget
First things first. How much do you want to spend on your farmhouse classroom? Deciding a discretionary budget doesn’t have to mean you limit your creativity. Rather, it will help you focus your attention during your search for items that will suit your budget AND your classroom.
Whatever your budget, write down ideas you have for how you want to decorate your classroom. Do you need book bins? They are often pricey, so shopping around or picking a neutral color that can be reused year after year might be necessary. On the other hand, could your classroom use a focal point? If yes, then allocate more time and budget to that particular spot in your classroom (more on that below). My daughters’ teachers followed this latter idea. They’d decorate their classrooms in a way that emphasized certain areas. These spots were usually wonder walls, book nooks, or calming corners.
- Writing down the quantity you think you’ll need for each item or category of items you want.
- Drawing a rough floor plan of your classroom to see just how much space you’ll have to work with.
- Shopping your home (or, if you’re my beloved late grandma, The Gram, dumpsters of stores for damaged decor that’s still usable – the manager caught her in the act, asked her what she was doing – “looking for picture frames” – and gave her MORE frames that were about to be tossed 🤣). Look around your home for items you no long use that could be repurposed for classroom decor use. According to Myquillyn Smith, you might be surprised what you find!
Designate farmhouse classroom focal points
One way to decorate your farmhouse classroom on a budget is to designate a few areas as focal points. Let it be easy and pick areas throughout the room to concentrate your energy and your budget. If you aren’t sure where your focal points should be, then try the following exercises:
- Look around your classroom from the vantage point of your students. What do they see when they first walk in your classroom? If they sit in a circle for sharing or story time, visit your desk often, or sit in groups throughout the classroom, where do they frequently look? And what is it they’ll see? These areas are possible focal points to concentrate your classroom decor. And if you want to make sure their attention is on you, some of those focal points might be areas where you DON’T want extra decor.
- Look around your classroom from the vantage point of a teacher. Seems obvious, perhaps, but try it anyway. What do YOU see? Are you frequently at your desk or almost never at your desk? Do you invite students to the carpet for sharing and story time? Or does your grade not do that anymore? Wherever you sit or stand throughout the day, where do your eyes gravitate? These points are possible focal points to emphasize your classroom theme. Remember, your classroom is for you, too.
Go for subtle, but effective
When I first gathered farmhouse decorations for my Modern Farmhouse and Festive Farmhouse themes, I thought, I need a sign that says farmhouse. That would be fun. And it would have been, except the farmhouse signs I found were either well-made but out of budget, low cost but prone to breaking, or the wrong size. I also didn’t have a lot of free time, so a DIY project was out. I promise there’s a silver lining in all of this. It forced me to get creative about HOW I set the tone for the farmhouse themes I created. And I found I didn’t need expensive decorations to declare I had a farmhouse setup. I could show, rather than tell, creating an immersive experience. Here’s how:
- Color: Farmhouse classroom decor themes are often black, white, and green. Beige and brown are also common colors. Simplify your decor by choosing items in these colors. You might be able to reuse them in other themes down the road, and, in the meantime, they will accent the focal points you set in your classroom.
- Patterns: We’re talking plaid, stripes, quatrefoil, wood grain, wicker, polka dots, or chevron, to name a few. Invest in patterns carefully as they may not transition from one theme to another if you switch things up in the future. Exceptions include higher-priced, higher-quality materials for bulletin boards and high-traffic areas.
- Materials: Wood and metal trays, organizers, baskets, and bins are popular. They also come in several price points and are often fairly durable.
- Accessories: Greenery, florals, tree cookies, wooden planter boxes or flower pots, chalkboard surfaces. The more rustic, the better. Sometimes, even one piece, like the lemon tree I used to set up my Farmhouse Lemons and Lilacs classroom decor theme, will do the trick (I bought it in the off-season on clearance!).
NOTE: If you’ve used brightly colored classroom accessories and supplies in the past and want to reuse them, then look for a farmhouse florals theme. This theme often includes more colors that might also better incorporate colorful materials you already have. For example, my Sunflower Classroom Decor Bundle is farmhouse-inspired but incorporates more than just white, black, and green in its color scheme.
Think outside the classroom supply store
Here’s where it gets interesting. I find awesome deals for classroom setups in the following places:
- Summer decor: Plastic bins in a variety of colors or metal bins in a variety of sizes, these make great organizers for table activities.
- Fall and autumn decor: This is where I find a lot of my wicker, woven, and wooden materials.
- Spring decor. This is where I find some of my best greenery, along with chalkboard accessories.
- Kitchen and housewares: When I taught college courses at a local community college, I switched classrooms each period and lived out of a diaper bag I converted into my instructor’s bag. Teachers at all levels of learning know how to creatively cram supplies into small spaces. And rather than pay fancy dollars for classroom organizers, you can often find cool alternatives in the kitchen section of just about any general merchandise retailer. Trays, charcuterie boards, and more often come in a variety of shapes and sizes (and, therefore, price ranges).
- Back-to-college dorm end caps: Like their instructors, college students learn quickly how to creatively store large and small items. Organizers with dorm rooms in mind are another way to find equipment you can use in your classroom. Find these in short-term, seasonal sections of retail outlets or on end caps of aisles. Keep an eye on prices, though. Sometimes these prices are higher than what you might find in a classroom supply store or in kitchen and housewares. I found the colorful pocket folders featured throughout these images in the dorm room section of my local grocery store, if you can believe it.
- Classroom decor theme bundles: A lot of teacher-authors add accent pieces to the classroom decor bundles they create. I know I do! Some of my classroom products, such as my bulletin board kits, come with bunting, while others, like my teacher binder covers, come with blank circles that can easily be repurposed from cubby tags to a banner. If you purchase digital, ready-to-use classroom materials, then look through your purchase to see if what’s include can be adapted into classroom decor, too! Use your printer’s scale function to size materials larger or smaller, depending on how you want to display them.
If you plan far enough in advance, then buy seasonal materials in the off-season or just as it’s ending to take advantage of discounts. Check store ads and communications for any coupons or available discounts. But don’t feel like you have to buy something just because it’s low cost or on sale. If it doesn’t meet your needs, then it’s not worth it! Save your bucks for what will really work best for you and your students!
Spiriteds, take care and be well. I’m glad you’re here! ❤️