1.  WHY?  
Is there a Biblical foundation for being design conscious?
YES!  God models design-conscious behavior for us.  His design talks.  So should ours! 
God repeatedly speaks to all peoples through design/creation: biology, botany, astronomy
God repeatedly spoke architectural and interior design plans to:
 Moses - the Tabernacle Ex. 25
 David - Solomon’s temple 1Chr. 28
 Ezekiel - the future Temple Ezk. 41 
 John the Beloved - the design of 
  Jerusalem descending Rev.21 

 Packaging communicates whatever you want it to say about what’s happening inside!    
 Transparent packaging reveals the contents - what we currently have to offer.
 Packaging reveals vision - what we aim to become.
Be honest!  Packaging always sells whether it’s truthful or not!  Straight out of the Bible: David masqueraded as a madman to save his life (1Sam. 21:13).   The Gibeonites persuaded Joshua to make a covenant with them by using designer costumes and a few accessories, tattered clothes, coordinating shoes, along with moldy bread and old wineskins (Josh. 9:1-5).  They signed the deal based on outward appearances.  Man sees the outward, God the inward (1Sam. 16:7).  Packaging sells!  Eve bit the apple because of its look.  Delicious sells!  

One thing you need to know: Renovation is engaging and rewarding hard work! 
One thing you can do immediately: Get rid of junk!


3.  WHEN?
   The best time to renovate any part of a school is when the building is unoccupied. 


Plan A      A lot of money and professional designers, craftsmen and students
Plan B      Moderate funds and a skilled worker or two, along with volunteers and students (approximately $5,000 per classroom)
Plan C      Less money and a core of passionate semi-skilled volunteers and students
Plan D     Little money, big dreams, genuine steps of faith and willing hearted parents and students (free paint and other materials from local suppliers, school members and relatives with unique furnishings they need to donate) 

 We don’t design educational spaces.  We help educators realize the dreams they’ve not yet had concerning their learning spaces.  Effective interior design is an extension of the ones who live in those spaces.  The ruling personality of a classroom is the teacher.  His or her character, interests and motivations play a major role in designing their rooms.  Personality is the springboard for practically every design decision.  If the teacher is happy, most likely the students are happy. 


  FUNCTION    What are the various functions that happen in the space? (Computer stations, reading areas, free time space, quiet zone, food service, counter space, prayer space, wet or dry crafts, lounge, etc)  What furnishings are essential to function?  What junk can be eliminated from a room that’s been inhabited by the same people/person for years?  Ouch!

  ATTITUDE    What conceptual words communicate the prevailing ambiance you wish to create?  (sleek, warm, professional, upbeat, classic, green, retro, contemporary, vintage) Oftentimes a theme-word or seed-image may germinate into a vision for the space (cafe, old study, coffee shop, global travel, my backyard, automotive, garage, attic, urban, ethnic)


 The inspiration for this elementary library is “my backyard.”  It fits the librarian’s personality while providing fun spaces for kids to read.  Children climb in or under the tree fort and porch.   The trickling sound of a fountain and forest mural invite escaping to far away places as children turn pages and travel in their imaginations.   A perfect marriage of function and theme!

Details are personal and engaging.  In our attempt to be less institutional, we intentionally use home furnishings to our social gathering places.  It brings graciousness to our fellowship. 


“Coffee shop” supplied our theme-word or seed-image for this student lounge.


  ZERO PEEKING!  First impressions are everything!  The finest chefs know that visual presentation powerfully impacts the taste buds.  We tend to think that beautiful food tastes better than ugly food. 

(4th graders and 40-year old custodians)    

  TWO CONTRASTING ELEMENTS collide and energize the space (classical and contemporary).  The richness of our Christian heritage spoken with traditional motifs, merge with contemporary elements and tell everyone we are building young lives on a solid foundation while being relevant today.  Yeah!    

  THREE FOCAL POINTS are based on function: 
1) the walk-by view 2) the command station 3) the stage.

  FOUR WALLS are never seen simultaneously.  We can’t see all of them at once!  
Use this fact to visually transition from one functional focal point to the next. Move the viewers’ eyes around the room. 


  FIVE SENSES are always operative.
Sight – What is the meaning and effect of your color, line, form, shape and texture choices?
Sound – How will you use the acoustics of your space to enhance its function and message?  What sounds do your students bring to the space?  What sounds will you intentionally integrate?
Touch – How institutional are the textures in your educational environment?  Can you create an age-appropriate playpen for yourself and your students?  “Playpen” is code for safeguarded discovery learning environment.  
Taste – Is your educational style edible?  Did Jesus feed His students to satisfy their bellies and/or reach their hearts?  “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” Ps. 119:103.
Smell – Food and fragrances speak to the human soul and trigger many good memories.  

  SIX TIMES THE GRATITUDE to everyone involved

7.  THE VISUAL ELEMENTS   Visit “God & Graphics” at, chapters 4-9 for more thorough information about the visual elements. 
  LIGHT    What types of lighting fit your function and voices the character of your space?  Consider lamps, floor lighting, track lighting, recessed, windows, skylights, incandescent floodlights, spotlights and florescent bulbs of all sorts. 

  COLOR    What colors best convey your theme and attitude?  What are the current color trends, and how should they influence your interior design message?  Note: By limiting your color pallette to about 2 or 3 main colors and tints and shades of those colors, you automatically create visual unity.  It’s no different from selecting the clothes you wear.   
You can do it!  

Valentine red and taupe, along with flags of nations, airport signage, luggage racks and clocks displaying Beijing, London and New York combine to make this the perfect space for international students and Mandarin classes. 

                                   BEFORE                                       AFTER

  SHAPE    What preexisting shapes fill your space (desks, widows, bulletin boards, white boards, emergency exit diagrams, flags, etc.)?  By repeating selected shapes you create a visual rhythm.  Just as music fills a room with its beat, likewise, visual elements fill a room with visual rhythms - a pulse.   Without this pulse, there is no life.  


  FORM    Form is the three-dimensional volume of objects.  All forms carry a visual message of weight and mass.  Interior design is a balancing act.  



The massive Arch de  Triumph, delicate glass-topped cafe tables with raffia seat cushions and French streetlamp convey an exclusively French ambiance.  Everything is dwarfed by the looming presence of the arch, while cafe tables welcome guests/students to learn French.  These forms live well together.  

  TEXTURE     Creature-comfort instincts compel us to touch!  While the textures of a preschool are often different from the high school physics lab, comfortable seating works in both places.  One wise preacher said, “The mind and heart can only handle what the seat of the pants will tolerate.” 
Cement block walls emit a succinctly “institution vibe.”  Do all within thine power to eradicate this sensory numbing enemy.  These victorious photos are trophies of conquest over this foe.   

The Spanish room offers several solutions to cement block walls. Graffiti, particle board and dry wall overlay several walls in this classroom, adding authentic textures germane to various Hispanic motifs.


Fake brick wallpaper in the English classroom soothes the eye along with six-panel doors that panel the room.  Oversized tassels, shear curtains and a padded Cornish board speak well to the vintage study feel.

Warm wood shutters and a classic striped valance help this computer lab feel homey amidst the technology.


Visit “God & Graphics” at, chapters 10-15 for more thorough information about the principles of design. 

The visual elements (light, shape, color, form, texture) are obviously visible, whereas the principles of design (balance, unity, repetition, movement and tension) are invisible forces.  (See Rom. 1:20, Heb. 11:27).  

These principles are like wind.  Although we cannot see it, we can see its effects.  We feel the wind’s fury; we feel its gentle caress, and every velocity between these extremes.  Even so, balance, unity, repetition, movement and tension exert their powerful influences through design.  Intelligent design and designing intelligently always employ these principles.

In fact, these principles of design are at work in our lives to conform us to Christ’s pattern of transformational life.  

Interior design is all about functions and arrangements.  Take your living room for example: Why is your furniture situated as it is?  If we personify your sofa, chairs and other furnishings, we could say they’re relational.  They work together within your space to serve you well.  


Visual equilibrium or the lack thereof is the designer’s prerogative.  Artistic balance or imbalance occurs as the sensations of weight distribution are manipulated.  When an artist deliberately creates imbalance he initiates feelings of uneasiness and sensations of movement. 


A thirty-second television commercial maximizes every millisecond of media flashing before your face.  The goal is to reach into your heart, head and wallet.  Advertising prospers because this principle of unity is a powerful communicator.  

Just as random clanging on a cymbal is meaningless, so random arrangements of furnishings are meaningless.  The sounding cymbal requires ordered tempo to make sense in our ears.  

Unity is the magnetic arrangement of visual information that makes the many parts one concise visual statement.   


Could life exist without patterns, without repetition and rhythm?  At the close of the first day of Creation, God said, “It was good.”  After the second day of Creation, God said, “It was good.”  

After the third day of Creation, God said, “It was good.”  We get the idea!  Sun rise, sun set, sun rise, sun set - this cycle continues through the cycles of seasons, through the cycles of years and decades.  

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.  There’s a time to laugh, a time to cry, a time to weep and time to laugh,” according to King Solomon (Ecc. 3 paraphrased).  

God ordered the universe with patterns of sequence - the stars, planets and moons in their orbits.  The rain feeds the rivers; they flow to the sea, evaporate, and re-nourish the earth, to repeat this cycle of life.  In Genesis 8:22 we read, "While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, and day and night shall not cease."   Pattern is inherent in all of God’s works.  Use it well! 


The principle of visual movement applies to all art forms.  A static sculpture or building has no physical movement while it possesses the visual quality of implied movement.  For example, the prevailing style of domestic architecture of the 1950’s was 
single-story, ranch like structures.  Trends have moved upward as of late; homes are far more vertical.  Neither style actually moves, yet both styles have a sense of directional movement in their forms.  

The principle of implied movement, which results from the artist’s use of composition, directs the eyes of the viewer to travel about the canvas, sculpture or building.  The observer journeys through or around the work of art.  The artist’s composition influences the path of perception.


We are surrounded by and also participants in the greatest tension of the universe, the battle of good versus evil - good design versus bad design. God’s design versus the devil’s design.     

This war is not entirely natural; it’s mental, it’s soul-ish, and above all it’s spiritual.  It’s personal and it’s global.  This conflict generates purpose in designing educational spaces.  


Digital Media Classroom

International Classroom

French Classroom
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