Mirrored shelves

Published by Lori Pickert on August 25, 2007 at 08:48 PM


This week we’ll share some of our tips for making a beautiful learning space (at home or at school) without spending much money.

Our preschool classrooms, like many in America, were located in the basement of our building. Yet we still managed to have a very bright and open space, and we received a lot of compliments on its warm and welcoming feel.

One way we accomplished that goal was the right paint color — light, bright, but also warm. It was a very light yellow, and it even managed to warm up the overhead fluorescent lighting. If you can manage it, full-spectrum paint is the best (but it’s more expensive).

We bounced our available natural light around with several mirrors, making the most of our two small windows. In the picture above, you can see students choosing art materials from mirrored shelves. Mirrors not only bounce light and reflect views, but they give the illusion of extra space. Setting a mirror behind a plant gives you two plants, and so on.

These mirrored shelves were easily (and cheaply!) accomplished with inexpensive metal shelving hardware, wood planks, and five-dollar door mirrors (bought at this time of year, meant for dorm rooms) laid sideways and attached to the wall in-between the shelves.

Set out art materials in garage-sale wooden bowls and berry baskets, and you have a beautiful, affordable display.


Comment by Allison Goodman on January 2, 2009 at 01:10 AM

I am reading through your blog and love your posts about environment. I view environment as the third teacher and found your pictures quite inspiring. I would love to see more old photos of your preschool classroom if possible... my space is fluid changing with the children, the needs, the community, and I always looking for beautiful ideas. I really appreciate your use of authentic materials.
Do you know of other flickr or blogs that share their environment ideas? or books/resources?
Also where did you find classroom items? I am working with a limited (well nonexistent) budget and have to be resourceful--which I prefer because I am then reusing, re-purposing, and freecycling (such a great thing!). Particularly your containers, the wood bowls?
thank you! hope to hear from you, by email? happy newyear

Comment by Lori Pickert on January 2, 2009 at 02:33 AM

hi allison, i’m glad you are interested in Reggio-inspired aesthetics.

if you browse around the blog you’ll find more photos of my school and classroom spaces.

you can browse in my Reggio resources; there are a couple of links to articles by Patricia Tarr that have photos of Reggio classrooms.

re: finding classroom items, we found some aesthetically pleasing wooden furniture at school supply sources, but most of what we purchased was furniture from thrift stores or things that we customized ourselves, like the shelves we backed with galvanized tin.

we also had a very limited, sometimes nonexistent budget ;^) but i think being forced to be resourceful worked in our favor. and i agree, it’s great for the environment. :^)

wooden bowls and trays we bought for as little as ten cents each at places like Salvation Army and Habitat for Humanity ReStores. baskets were easily obtained there as well.

good luck, and i hope you keep finding good stuff here!

Comment by Deborah Reynolds on March 6, 2014 at 05:56 PM

Hi Lori,

I know my reply is about 3 1/2 years after the fact - but I wanted to let you know that I read and thoroughly enjoyed this 'mirrored shelves' walkthrough you put on your lovely website.

I actually built some myself (after being inspired by your website) and my kids love them!

Thanks again

<3 Deb

Comment by Lori Pickert on March 6, 2014 at 06:04 PM

thank you, deb! :) what a great note to find 3.5 yrs later! ;o)

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