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Seems like most of you have taken existing space and converted it to the new workshop usage.

What if you could design your CE space from scratch? What would you do?

Our church is in the planning phase for our first building.
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Dear Brian
Folding Doors they are used to divide a larger room into smaller ones. They are made out a flexible material. Sound travel right though them.

Make the Rooms Large Enough!!!!
The largest room I have is 12'x 14'. I have class size from 22 to 10 kids. We have preschool thru 8th grade. I have 12 kids in the older class very hard to move around. Movie time we are on top of one another.

Track Lighting in some Rooms
Track lighting I would use it for highlighting a poster in move room. It can be a spot light in a drama room. Sometimes you want to have low light when telling a story. When I did the upper room a low light for an evening meal would have been nice. I did use candle light but it made it very hard for reading. The overhead lighting is ok most of the time. But if you are going to dream. Go for it.

Doors easy for children to open
Also a two-part door is great. You can keep the top open if you have a room with no windows for safety reasons.

Wired for computers
Even if you not planning them right away. Plug in higher and lower.

Don't forget storage
When we built we had few storage places and Sunday School ended up with none. Now I have a shed out side the building with plastic totes. Not bad in the spring and Fall but the winter with 30 below weather not fun. Also someone will ask for something and its out in the shed. So I spend a lot of time running from the building to the shed.

Check out other church layouts!!!
Is there a church close by you can visit to help you with your planning? Sometimes seeing thing help. They can look good on paper but when they are done it may not work as well.

Have a plan!!!
Have a plan of what kind of painting you are planning to do. Because once there are white walls it can be very hard for others to understand why you want to paint them any other color. If I were you I would get someone on the building committee who understands the program and can speak for you.

In Service for the Lord and His Children
Brenda Goodman

Last edited by Luanne Payne
Here are some thoughts about new rooms:

I would want all the rooms to be carpeted except the art room and the kitchen, if you have one. This makes sitting on the floor sooo much nicer.

Plan Ahead Decorating of Each Room - Paint, etc.
Select the theme for the room and paint the background color appropriately. For instance, we have a Temple School room painted gray with darker shades of gray and black used to make it look like a stone block room. Planning ahead will save you a step in the process. Each of our rooms needed base coats of one color or another before we could even begin painting murals.

Possible Decorating Themes
We chose biblical themes in almost all our rooms so that we could use them in multiple ways.

For instance, during Lent we did an intergenerational "Journey to Jerusalem" using our kitchen (Martha's Table) for the Last Supper.

The Temple School for Jesus driving the money changers out of the temple, etc.

It was a good way to get those people who never step into Sunday School rooms up into them.

Sinks in the art room, as Brenda suggested, are a must

Storage & Cupboard Space
Storage in all the rooms is a definite plus, especially when you have to put away everything in the rooms for some event (like a rummage sale). Cindy
Last edited by Luanne Payne
More ideas:

Acoustically quiet rooms. No concrete pillboxes.
Put insulation between the studs.

Plenty of lighting, but plenty of switch/options too. Natural light too.

Easy to control venting. Invariably rooms get stuffy because another room is controlling the temp, or airflow is poor. And put in Air Conditioning even in cool climates to clean mold and allergens out of the air. The 20% of us with dust or mold allergies will thank you.

Drop ceilings, not acoustic tile against drywall. Why? So you can hang stuff from the ceiling! And easily add/change lights and run wires (like for speakers) over the years.

One of the best things we ever did in a renovation was putting 3 feet of carpeting on the lower part of the wall in the Toddler room. Made it quiet and soft, and saved us from having to repaint where the kids had drawn on the walls and hit it with blocks every year!

A cork wall instead of a cork bulletin board.

W I D E hallways.

A really big storage room with lots of shelves and places to store BIG things too.

A gathering space for kids away from classrooms.
Put a kitchenette in it for popcorn, juice, doughnut holes (and teacher's coffee).

Storage, storage, storage! Every room needs at least one large closet for storing stuff. Ditto on the art room plans-when we renovated we put in two sinks with clay traps and have vinyl flooring rather than carpet. Lots of brightly colored cabinets for storing art materials as well. All our rooms are capable of having computers and other a/v type wiring. The carpet chosen is guaranteed to clean even if bleach is spilled! A bit more in the beginning, but great in the long run!

Good luck!

Other ideas compiled here...

  • Remember those with limited physical ability. Wheelchair-accessible rooms, cabinets, tables, etc.
  • Put in walls that items can be attached easily to. Our rooms are mostly cinderblock, and the only thing that sticks is wax clips. Bulletin boards, chalk or dry-erase boards for writing questions, instructions, etc. are also good. (These items could also be movable).
  • When you decide on the "themes" of the rooms, ask the congregation for donations - you'll be amazed at the response. Be specific in your requests and you'll get most things you need.
  • If you have a drama/puppet room, a big closet is a huge help! We have costumes hung up, shelves for props, and our puppet "tree" slides inside when not in use. This really helps to keep the children (and adults) out of the items during the week when there is no supervision. (But children do get to walk in and carefully choose their own props, etc., each Sunday!)
  • I'd put it lots of electrical outlets (this from someone with a 150 year old building.)
  • Cubbies for mail and forgotten projects.
  • Put a deep sink in the art workshop.
  • Doors with windows so people can easily look in without disturbing the class. In many places, these are "code."

    And some important dittos...
  • No carpet in the art room, but put in a sink if you can. It helps to have clean up capabilities in the room, and not send kids down the hall to the rest room to wash brushes.
  • A great functional drama closet for storage of reusable prop and scenery items and costume storage. You should not have to go to the depths or the sky of a facility to store creative dramatic supplies. They will be used more frequently if they are easy to access.

    With thanks to...
    julie burton
    Barbara in Portland
    Neil MacQueen

    Exchange Volunteer Carol condensed this info.
Last edited by Luanne Payne

Well, if I could have new space, this is what I would ask for:

  1. At least one room with tile floor, sink with running water and counters. (this would actually be handy in all rooms!)
  2. GOOD LIGHTING and windows!
  3. Plenty of electrical outlets
  4. Handicapped accessible
  5. Walls that can be painted- not concrete block
  6. Bathrooms close by!
  7. Space that can be used for cooking/food activities
  8. Doors with windows in them

One thing I have enountered is that when you have new space, all of a sudden people don't want it used by children- watch out for that.

For nursery/toddler care:
Clean, bright, and looking like a day care centre! Weird, I know, but young parents expect it and judge a church by the child care areas. If the nursery is in the basement, people will not come back.

Invest in a pager system- worth every penny in peace of mind and good will.

I hope that helps!
Jan S

Last edited by Luanne Payne
An issue for me, that was never taken seriously is safety. If your nursery is not in a "convenient" location, it might make it difficult to get the children to safety if necessary. Let's assume this: the building has to be evacuated. Who is going to help with the children? You could end up with hoards of parents running to the nursery, causing more harm. If there are a number of TRAINED people in your congregation, then a disaster could be averted. (By trained, I mean certified by the hospital or Red Cross in CPR, how to use a fire extinguisher, etc. Most fire departments will conduct safety seminars free of charge.

One thing I would ask for in an addition is a safe place for severe storms. In the congregation I worked in children had to walk down a long hallway, go down two flights of stairs, passing two glass doors along the way. It would be much better to have reinforced rooms near the classrooms, or quick access to a safe place. Also, have well marked emergency exits.

All the things Jan suggested are good too, but I would add:
~ telephone for emergencies (not a cell phone)
~ weather radio
~ some kind of rapid information system to tell teachers quickly about approaching dangers, like a storm.

I know I sound grim, but I live in Tornado Alley and have had to take cover with the children on more than one occasion.

Keep us posted!


Julie Burton
Along with the above. I am dreaming of a day were this will be asked at my church.

I wish we had a LARGE supply closet. Some place to store large rolls of paper (on a cart), an overhead protector, basic craft supplies (as to not interrupt one class for last minute supplies). And large enough for a small table/work surface for a cutting system. Basically a very large closet/small room that can be locked.

I would include a large gathering area. But it also need away to be secure. Wouldn't it be nice to have a place to do small performances?

One church I visited had an enclosed counter area w/ a small swinging door, in front of the nursery. I think it was a kind of check in station.

Also make sure the design includes a way to add on (if the land is available on any side). Our church has a lot of odd connections and odd doors that don't line up w/ hallways, in each new addition.

Go visit churches in your area. I have found most CE people are willing to 'show off' their area. If you look at a church as large or larger you might get idea to grow into. If this addition helps to grow the church it will also grow in the amount of kids that come.

Do you need an office or workspace? Where do you store curriculum and children's files? Is there room for a computer and printer.

Also, what do you like and dislike about you current area? What do you do that stretches you currently?
Build in flexibility. Who knows what tomorrow may hold? There are ways to build a room so that it can be broken into two rooms if needed. These aren't walls that would be changed weekly, but something that can be moved with less effort than sledgehammers and drywall.

I agree about bathrooms. Our elementary school adapted so that there is one unisex bathroom adjacent to every classroom. Teachers feel that it has given them dramatically more time and peace of mind.

Zone heating. You don't want to heat an entire building if you are only using the youth room or nursery.

Doors with glass and/or glass windows to the hallway (which are not curtained over). Sexual abuse prevention people all will tell you that abuse is much less likely if any passerby can see what is going on in every corner.

Some sort of livingroom-ish corner in a reception area for parents to sit down and chat with each other.

Youth room with pool table or ping pong table, or something that will draw them in.

Don't forget the adults. They need good interesting usable spaces for Bible Study, too, if you want your adult program to grow.

Lucky, lucky you say those of us in historical downtown properties.


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