Still thinking about…

Still thinking about design. I've been trying to think about where's a good space for Kevin's blackboard to go. This is something that he'd primarily use when he had a colleague over, for them to stand at and do math. So a wide piece, not too high, I think would be ideal? And I think as locations go, the library may be the best bet, since his office will have a fair bit of furniture in it for his daily use (and it's smaller now, with the addition of the closet). You want to be able to walk around freely in front of the blackboard.

We don't have a lot of free wall space, not without sacrificing bookcases. But I had a thought. Given that the walls are so high, maybe we could do what we do in the classroom, and stack two boards, one on top of the other, on sliders. If we did that, I think we could actually do it in front of a bookcase, mounting the sliders on the edge of the bookcase walls. Is that crazy? We have a 6' wide built-in bookcase in the library in David's latest library plan (next to the window seat). Can we put sliders to either side of it, and mount two 4x6 pieces of slate on there? Ideally in such a way that we can slide them both up to the ceiling easily when not in use? We can slide them down if we need to access the books behind them, and if Kevin's actually using them, he could slide first one, then the other, down to easy work height.

Am I making sense? I'm picturing the library with a sort of industrial / steampunk vibe, with the Edison chandelier hanging above a round work table in the center of the room, a couple of comfortable leather chairs, a dark red Oriental rug, lots of books, and the slate blackboards. I think it could be really cool-looking and a great work space -- and when we're not using it for work, the kids can always draw on the blackboards too.

9 thoughts on “Still thinking about…”

  1. Blackboards in front of a bookcase which slide up and down seems like an inspired idea! I am envious. (Scurries away to figure out how to implement something of the sort for himself.)

  2. Thank you for the plans! It’s great to look at them although it is causing tension between Adrian and I as I suddenly pop up with home improvements for us “out of the air”. Hey Adrian, I’m obsessing with Maryanne! It’s not out of the air!

    The only worry I have about blackboards in the library is that chalk dust is going to get all over your lovely books. Especially after a good session. Is Kevin really against whiteboards? They wouldn’t look as nice, but neither of you like to dust and I can just picture this huge cloud of dust accumulating…

    On the kitchen front, have you thought about putting it in the wall behind the eating area? I know right now you’re thinking about a built-in eating area, but if you had a movable table, it would be simple to move a table out of the way when it was actually being used. It might also be nice to have a fire going at mealtimes, or candles in the summer.

    If the pizza oven doesn’t work in the house, why not put one in the backyard? I know it would be …how shall we say it? …. less appealing to use in the winter, but it would be lovely to use in the summer and it wouldn’t heat up your house.

    Now, off to work. Much to do. Little time to do it. How many days until Thanksgiving?

  3. I have no opinion on having the blackboards in front of books, but I do like blackboards on vertical rails—that does seem to work well in classrooms. (Though I think I’ve mostly seen them in lecture-hall kinds of classrooms, where a fair number of students were sitting high enough up that the upper blackboard was more or less at eye level. But I may be misremembering.)

    …I’m a little confused about the idea of sliding the blackboards into the ceiling—wouldn’t that mean you’d need 4 feet of space above the ceiling to hold them?

  4. Not into the ceiling, just ‘to’ the ceiling. The walls in that room are 10′ high, I think. So you could stack two 4′ high blackboards and still be a few feet above the ground. Does that make sense?

  5. Oh! Sorry, I completely misread that—thought you said “into,” but now I see you just said “to.” My mistake.

    So, yeah, that does sound like a cool system. Nifty!

  6. I love the visuals of blackboards sliding up. Very steampunky cool. But don’t forget blackboard paint. You can actualy turn any wall into a blackbaord. I’ve even seen a player of blackboard paint over a ltyer of magnet paint creating a blackboard magnet board which could be very handy for work. You might want to give the kids they’re own blackboard so they don’t erase daddy’s equations with their art!

  7. Andrea, I tried making Kevin a blackboard with blackboard paint at one point, and it came out great — but it turned out not to work for him for math, because it was too fatiguing to write on; the painted wood just wasn’t as good as actual slate. So he never really used it for math, sadness.

    I’m sure we’ll have blackboard-painted walls for the kids elsewhere, though. 🙂

  8. Yes, there is NO substitute for slate blackboards. Expensive, yes, but absolutely the best. And, white board markers are OK only if you have really good ventilation; the marker ink solvent is smelly and probably toxic.

  9. Kirsten, Kevin is okay with whiteboards, but I don’t like them. Blackboards just *look* so much better. Also, our books aren’t lovely — they are mostly going to be cheap and battered sf/f paperbacks in the library, so I think it’s okay. 🙂

    Although that said, Kevin says all the glide mechanisms he’s found are very expensive. So maybe it makes more sense to just find room in his study for a permanent blackboard. Which is fine too — I just thought my idea was cool.

    Our architect asked me today if he could please ditch the pizza oven, as it was making his life difficult. I told him yes. If we decide we really need one, I think we’ll just put one outside, and use it half the year…

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