Tips To Stretch Your Budget

Before you come up with big plans to make over your school’s lounge, ask teachers what they’d like. Don’t fill the space with couches if it means eliminating the tables where they routinely grade assignments. Run your ideas past the principal and the PTO teacher liaison (if you have one) to make sure the changes make sense for the teachers.


Check with the principal to find out whether there are any restrictions that will affect your plans. Some schools don’t allow changes to the flooring or walls. If you’re not allowed to put in new carpet, consider adding colorful rugs in a few places. If you can’t paint the walls, look for vinyl decals that can be removed without damaging the paint or hang new curtains.


Save money by “upcycling.” Find out whether your district has old furniture in storage that it would give to the school. Check thrift stores for furnishings, and pick up used pieces at garage sales or by searching online classified listings. Often, old pieces of furniture can look like new with a coat of paint or a slipcover.

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For items that you’d prefer to be new, set up gift registries at stores like Target or Amazon. Parents can purchase some project supplies and have items shipped directly to the school. You might also want to share the gift registry on your group’s public Facebook page or on neighborhood apps like Nextdoor to expand the potential base of donors.


Reach out to parents for help. Ask school parents who work in construction or interior design for makeover advice or know-how about where to get good deals. Get the word out that you’re looking for parents who can help—in group text messages, in your newsletter, and in emails to parents. If you’re lucky, you might even find a parent whose employer is willing to offer services at a discount or even donate them outright.


Ask retailers for product donations. A local hardware store could donate paint, an appliance store could give a new refrigerator, and a craft store might provide decorative items. Anytime you publicize the makeover project, publicly credit any businesses that contributed.

Credit for all photos: Melissa Mitchell/Sippycupmom.com


Inexpensive Ways To Brighten the Teachers Lounge

  • Dress up dated cabinets with a fresh coat of paint or new cabinet pulls.
  • Give a new look to a backsplash by adding adhesive tiles or removable wallpaper.
  • Add corner lamps to brighten up a dim room.
  • Ask a carpet cleaning company to donate its services.
  • Banish countertop clutter by adding cabinet organizers.