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For this episode of Home by Novogratz, we took the whole family and our crew down to Orlando to help out Winegard Elementary School. This deserving school won a $50K  makeover in a contest, and Robert and I were asked to give a fresh, new look to their music room. Our goal? Make the huge room colorful, comfortable and inspiring. First, we created custom stencils featuring the names of more than 150 famous musicians and arranged them in a border around the ceiling of the room. The Beatles, Beethoven, Placido Domingo, Pink Floyd, Tupac, U2… artists from a wide range of eras, backgrounds and styles to pique the students’ curiosity and creativity.

Courtney and Rob Novogratz

We also painted blue stripes (the school’s color) and piano keyboards on the room’s doors. These are both projects you can easily do at home (with the help of your local copy store) to bring in a “wow” factor to get your creative juices flowing.

Stripes and Piano Keyboard Doors

With a room this huge, we decided divide the space into activity zones working in from the corners. The art station is now filled with brain-stimulating supplies and iconic Panton chairs in orange and white.

Panton Art Center Zone

The chill-out zone, with its comfy mismatched pillows from India that we picked up at Wasburn Imports, is now the perfect place to lounge around and listen to music. There’s also the performance space. We took the whole family to the Discount Music Center to stock up on instruments for these burgeoning artists. Don’t you think the pink electric guitar rocks?!

Chill-out Zone and Instrument Center

Everybody at Winegard Elementary, the principal, the teachers, the kids, were so welcoming and so thrilled with the finished room. Nothing is more rewarding than designing for enthusiastic students and teachers. And as New Yorkers, we were all about enjoying some Florida sun, too! Our kids had the best time ever.

Novogratz Kids and School Students/Teacher

Sometimes all a child needs to succeed is the right tools. The same applies to us adults, too. Don’t be afraid to embrace your hobbies, motivators and dreams when designing a space. Your surroundings should fuel your senses and inspire your creativity. Take chances with design for a meaningful payoff.

26 Responses

  1. Shelley Nordlund says:

    I so thoroughly enjoyed your first show aired on HGTV- really wonderful outcomes. I was excited (thrilled, actually) to watch your second show, as I'm a former/retired elementary music teacher & Orff Schulwerk trainer turned designer. I liked the door, the names of composers, musicians and performers you placed as an upper border of the room. Then it came to space planning: I found it profoundly frustrating to take $15,000 of fabulous Orff instruments that were already in the space, and shelve them in favor of electric guitars and such. Although they are eye candy (just like "real" rock stars use,) they are inappropriate for groups of 30 (or so) children, whether they are in Kindergarten or 6th grade. It would be like introducing reading using Shakespeare- beyond the capacity of children of this age. In elementary school, my job as a music specialist was to TEACH music to children. In order to do this, children were involved in group activities where we all participated. What was your goal in the room's design?

  2. Shelley Nordlund says:

    Continued from previous post: Orff Schulwerk is a wonderfully creative approach to teaching that allows children to learn about music by moving, singing, dancing, and playing instruments. The overall process is imitation, exploration, literacy and creating music. I assume that there wasn't a music teacher involved in the project who had any idea of what to do with the instruments, or I hope so.
    To show the principal as the main decision-maker in the project seemed more than a little odd. Most principals are competent in many areas of education, but few are musicians or music educators.
    I will continue to watch your show as I think you are very talented designers, but I truly believe you were misguided in your final outcome of this project.

  3. Lovestolkien says:

    Unfortunately, I fear that what you say about principals is very likely true in the vast majority of cases. The current emphasis in legislatures on the three Rs and testing leaves little room for art in most elementary schools. All of us who care enough about the arts to read this blog must make ourselves heard at the legislative level, because in many legislatures today education has become the main target of the rampaging government spending cuts.
    At the school where I teach, art has been shoved into one small corner of the music room, so this design would actually be great for our situation. The room showed Bob and Cortney's wonderful genius for playful, colorful designs containing unusual and unique elements. It might not be right for every school, but it would be fantastic for lots of them, and can serve as an inspiration to almost all.

  4. Jsupianist says:

    Wow. Someone has been watching too much school of rock and glee. If someone put six electric guitars in my room they would go to someone willing to take them off my hands. They put away instruments that many, many music teachers would love to have but can't afford. How about going to <a href="http://www.musick8.com” target=”_blank”>www.musick8.com or <a href="http://www.aosa.org” target=”_blank”>www.aosa.org and see what elementary music is really about.

  5. Moose907 says:

    As the husband of a 35 year music teacher, I have to say that looks like no elementary school music room I've ever seen. "Activity Zones?" , It's an elementary school music room! Kids are in, the teachers tries to impart some musical education and they're gone again. Six electric guitars? Drum sets? Classroom speakers? I'm with Drmusic above. Where are the Orff instruments, the Boomwhackers, the xylophones and metallophones, the vibraslap and all of the standard elementary percussion instruments? "Art station", "chill out zone", "iconic chairs"? What about space for elementary music education "movement activities"? Discount Music Center does not appear to have items normally found in elementary school music education.

  6. ISING12 says:

    Loved the piano door. The musician stencils are neat. WHERE ARE THE INSTRUMENTS?!!!!!!! Six electric guitars and a drum set were a waste of money. These instruments are useless in an elementary music classroom, unless you have a small gifted group. WHERE ARE THE INSTRUMENTS?!!!!!! I can live with the tables and chairs (except that the kids would slide out of these) because we do occaisionally write in music class.

  7. Kathy says:

    Where can I purchase the black and white cubes (Ottomans) that are shown in the music room makeover?

  8. Linda says:

    My 6 year old daughter and I watched your show on Saturday where you redesigned David Barry's beach condominium. We instantly fell in love. We are getting ready to redo her bedroom at the beginning of the year and we have been throwing ideas around. She wants to know where you bought what my daughter calls "the shiny squares" that are hanging up in the pink room? Any suggestions on getting something similiar? Her room is much smaller and she is thinking a rainbow theme, so they don't necessarily have to be pink. Thank you! Linda

  9. Bryon Mroz says:

    I am so happy to read this. This is the type of info that needs to be given and not the accidental misinformation that is at the other blogs. Appreciate your sharing this best doc.

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