Answers to Church Building Questions Continued: Worship Seating

Once again, Jennifer Snider, our interior designer, answers your church remodeling and new building questions.

One question that always arises at some point in the church building process is the following: What type of seating should we use in the worship area?

There are several options available, and in this post Jennifer gives you her opinions about the three main types.

Pews: A Time-Honored Look for Worship Spaces

While we think of pews as the “traditional” choice for churches, in fact, the earliest churches had no seating options at all; worshippers stood instead.

Parma Baptist SeatingToday, of course, every church building comes with seating of some sort, and pews are the most traditional. This means that if you’re looking for a traditional feel in your worship space, pews might be the answer, as you can see in this illustration from Parma Baptist Church.

Pews might also be the right choice if your church remodeling project involves working with a sloped floor, as was the case with Parma. Lots of older worship spaces have a sloped floor, especially if pews were initially installed in a bigger worship area.

You might find that simply reupholstering existing pews gives you a nice, clean look—but don’t expect it to be less expensive than removing the pews and installing chairs. Reupholstering involves not just new fabric, but also new padding, and of course labor.

Theater Seating: A Variety of Styles for Your Church Building

Grove City CON SeatingAnother option, if your church remodeling project involves a sloped floor, is theater seating, as you can see here at Grove City Church of the Nazarene.

Because theater seats aren’t movable, they also can be installed on a sloped floor. Advantages to theater seating include a variety of styles and accessories to choose from.

Notice, too, how Grove City also places chairs in front of its theater seating. Such an arrangement allows the church to remove those chairs and have a larger, more flexible area up front to allow flexibility for your ministry.

Chairs: The Ultimate in Flexibility

Brooke Hills SeatingAt Brooke Hills Free Methodist Church, metal worship chairs were installed in the multi-ministry space, as you can see here. This allows Brooke Hills to easily rearrange the space to accommodate different types of activities, such as banquets, breakout sessions, or to remove the chairs completely.

We understand that the goals of many church remodeling projects include increased flexibility and a more modern feel to the worship space. In those cases, chairs are usually the first choice for church leaders.

We do want to note a couple of things in this photo. First, you will see that at the end of some of the rows there are a few chairs with arms. These chairs are helpful for people who need the leverage provided by arms in order to stand and sit.

You may have also noticed that these chairs have fully upholstered backs. Most chair catalogs focus on the front of the chair, but when you walk into a worship space, as this picture shows, it’s the back of the chairs that you’re going to see first. Spending a little extra on upholstered backs gives a nice, clean look to the worship center.

Archbold SeatingAnother more elegant seating option is wood framed chairs, shown here at Archbold Evangelical. While more expensive than metal chairs, they look much nicer, still stack for flexibility and can be a bridge between pews and metal framed chairs. Wood framed chairs work best in places like chapels and sanctuaries where the look of metal chairs just isn’t that appealing.

Watch for More Church Remodeling and Seating Posts

There is a lot to talk about when it comes to seating options for your church remodeling or new building project, so look for more information in future posts. Meanwhile, we suggest that you sign up for our free i3 webinar series to learn more handy tips about church building and renovation projects. Simply visit our website to get involved.

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More Answers to Church Building Questions: Restrooms

In this post, we present more answers from Jennifer Snider, The McKnight Group’s interior designer to questions we frequently get about church building projects.

One of the key elements of good church interior design is making a positive first impression, as we shared in an earlier post in our series. This is just as important in a room that isn’t meant to stand out at all—the restroom.

If you’ve ever wondered, “How should we update our restrooms?” when working on a church remodeling project, the following information from Jennifer is for you.

Seeing Your Church Building’s Restrooms with Fresh Eyes

One of the difficulties with becoming comfortable in your church building is that you begin to take things for granted. You walk into the restroom, take care of business, and walk out again, not paying much attention to how things really look because you’ve been in there dozens of times before.

This becomes an issue when your church restrooms get cluttered or aren’t well cleaned. You might not notice such things … but your members and guests will.

We always suggest that you regularly walk into the restrooms and really look around—with the eyes of your guests, as it were. This allows you to better see something that might need to be addressed or to recognize when a deeper cleaning should be scheduled.

Leaving Themes Outside the Restroom Door

Restrooms are more likely to feel clean and nice if there is minimal décor. We will show one slight exception to that rule, but for the most part, you don’t want a thematic focus for your restrooms.

Instead, the church interior design goal is for your restroom to feel welcoming without having it stand out. You don’t want to decorate it like the restroom at your grandma’s house. The restroom is not the reason guests come to your church in the first place, so don’t feel as if you need to make a big statement with your décor.

Restroom Church Interior Design Examples

Parma Baptist RestroomThis first image, from Parma Baptist Church, shows an example of an updated restroom. Prior to the renovation, the restroom was mauve—everything from the tiles and toilet partitions to the countertops. The color scheme was clearly dated, so we came in and replaced the mauve with a neutral color. We also expanded the size of the stalls, to give people more room to maneuver.

Cypress Wesleyan RestroomThe restrooms at Cypress Wesleyan also have a neutral tone and feel to them. In this case, there was a little bit more room in the budget, so they placed porcelain tiles partially up the wall, both inside and outside the stalls, as you can see in the back of the picture. This dresses up the room a little while still retaining a clean, neutral feeling in the space.

Evangelical UMC RestroomHere in the restrooms at Evangelical United Methodist you can see that they have extended their Tuscan theme into the restrooms. They have done it very simply, however, just upgrading the mirrors and adding a single painting to the wall. This allows the restroom to retain its clean appearance, while subtly tying it into the rest of the church building.

Blue Grass UMC RestroomThis final church interior design example is the restroom at Blue Grass United Methodist. These church leaders chose to invest more in their restrooms, installing granite countertops and placing porcelain tiles all the way to the ceiling on every wall.

Glass tile adds a decorative feature without making the space feel cluttered. If your budget can handle upgrades like this, your restrooms can really shine, clearly showing guests that you’ve invested in their comfort.

One final note about restrooms. If space allows, it’s wise to incorporate a family restroom into your church interior design. This allows moms and dads with young children, as well as adults with older parents, to have more privacy. It also demonstrates to guests and church members that their welfare and comfort are important to the church.

More Questions? We Have More Answers!

We hope you are finding this Q&A series helpful. Please return soon for answers to other commonly asked questions. And to learn more about all aspects of the church building and remodeling process, check out our i3 webinars—simply visit our website and sign up. They’re free, so you have absolutely nothing to lose (except maybe a few questions).

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Craft Your Budget with Rising Church Construction Costs in Mind

Rising costsThere are multiple factors that influence the construction of a new church building or the process of a significant church renovation. Visioning, planning, budgeting, financing, and many more elements will impact the progress of your building project.

In this post, we want to add another to the list: church construction costs.

Understanding Church Construction Costs

You might think that constructing a church building would not be impacted by the ebb and flow of construction in other sectors, but that’s simply not true. For example, last year skilled labor was in short supply due to greatly increased industry activity. This made it more expensive to hire qualified labor, thus raising overall church construction costs.

This year we are facing increases in the price of many basic building materials, which are used in the construction of both residential housing and church building projects. For example, gypsum prices rose 5.3 percent in February. Gypsum is a non-combustible mineral that is ground into a powder and becomes the center of “gypsum board,” the standard material used for walls and ceilings in just about any building or renovation project.

Another contributor to rising church construction costs is a lumber trade dispute between the U.S. and Canada. This has resulted in a one-month increase of 4.8 percent in the price of softwood lumber, while costs of other types of lumber have risen by as much as 30 percent.

Items such as particle board and concrete are also rising in price, probably due to an increase in demand thanks to the ongoing residential construction boom.

Understanding the Church Building Planning Process

What do these church construction costs mean for your project? Let’s start by talking about the planning and budgeting process.

Church construction projects are not conceived in one week and begun the next. First, a need is observed and discussions are held to develop a church vision. Committees or teams are formed to study various issues and propose solutions, then develop a budget and timeline to implement those solutions.

But once you have your solutions, budget, and timeline, you still are not ready to put a shovel in the ground.

Your next step is to secure funds. This will probably entail a special fundraising campaign. Drawings and engineering specs must be completed so you can request permits from appropriate local agencies. Only once funds are in place and permits are granted can you finally begin to build.

Understanding the Impact of Inflation and Rising Costs

On average, about 18 to 24 months will elapse between the time you begin to identify your church vision and needs and the moment you finally start actual construction.

During this time, the budget requirements you envisioned a year or two ago may have changed. For example, a 2017 church building project envisioned two years ago could be impacted by both the labor and materials increases outlined above.

In fact, in the 47 years The McKnight Group has been building churches, we have consistently seen construction inflation outpace consumer inflation every year, except for the recession of 2008-2009. This means that if your budget is two years old by the time the first shovel hits the ground, you can expect your church construction costs to have increased by 10 percent from your original estimates.

Plan Now—and Take Action

Yes, this is not easy news to receive. We believe the lesson is this: No one knows with certainty what inflation is going to be in any given year. What we do know is that prices are on the rise and you need to make sure you are planning accordingly.

If your church is sensing a need and seeking solutions, don’t procrastinate. Begin the conversations. And feel free to contact us for assistance in thinking through the first steps of your church building or renovation project.

Also, don’t miss our ongoing i3 webinar series, which will provide additional support for you and your fellow church leaders as you consider a renovation or new building project. Simply visit our website and sign up—they’re absolutely free, so you have nothing to lose.

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Answering Your Church Building Questions, Part Three

With this post, we continue our series on church building and renovation frequently asked questions. The McKnight Group’s interior designer, Jennifer Snider recently responded to some questions church leaders ask about church construction and renovation in a free i3 webinar. We’re bringing some of her answers to our blog. In the first two parts of the series, we covered questions about getting started with your church building or renovation project and how to prioritize the work. This post will focus on the question of style and give some examples of different approaches.

How to Determine Your Church Building Style

Many church leaders feel stumped when it comes to picking a style for their interior design. The most common church building styles are traditional, transitional, contemporary or modern. Whichever direction is chosen, its tone is set with the very first space your guests encounter, usually your foyer or lobby—and that’s why it’s so important to determine the style of your church building at the outset of your renovation or new construction project.

It can also be difficult for church leaders to separate personal feelings about style from the statement their church needs to make. It’s important that your church building style is rooted in your church’s vision and its ministry in your community. Your style must speak to that vision or you will fail to draw in the types of people you seek to serve.

Sample Foyer Styles

Eaton COB StyleIt is often easiest to explain what we mean with photos. This first image, from Eaton Church of the Brethren, shows how you can add some traditional flair to a modern space. We show this partly to illustrate that “traditional” doesn’t have to mean “old-fashioned.” The carpet pattern here conveys a sense of tradition without being dark and stuffy.

Gateway CON StyleContrast that image with this more modern look at Gateway Church of the Nazarene. The pattern of the carpeting creates a very different feel in the space, along with the sleek leather seating. The dark ceiling and deep paint colors also contribute to a modern style that clearly speaks to a modernistic church vision, while the light from lamps and candles maintain a welcoming warmth in this seating area.

Bethany WC StyleNext are the foyer and café area at Bethany Wesleyan. Here the modern element is clearly present in the industrial look of the ceiling. Notice how the white color and style of the ceiling create a very different feel from the Gateway experience. The multi-level ceiling draws the eyes upward, while the pattern in the carpet appears to mimic the layers and industrial style of the ceiling.

Grace Gathering StyleFinally, we have Grace Gathering. Here you can see a blend of modern style elements. There is the carpet pattern, and also the very high metal wall panels. While you might think those metal panels would cause echoing and make the space loud, those panels are actually an acoustic product, created to give an industrial look without the noise. This illustrates how you can use elements of a certain style without creating a space that’s uncomfortable for guests. The fireplace, with its natural stone finish, is another way to add a cozy feel to an industrial style.

Learn More with Our Free I3 Webinars

We hope our responses to common church building questions are helpful. We’ll answer some more of these queries in future installments in this series coming soon. Meanwhile, you can continue to learn about church building and renovation with our free i3 webinars, so sign up today.

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Answering Your Church Building Questions, Part Two

Question markWith over 40 years in the church building business, we’ve learned that church leaders have a lot of questions. This is why we devoted one of our recent free i3 webinars to that very issue, sharing the frequently asked questions we get about church building and renovation projects.

This is the second installment in a series that will flesh out the answers we gave to some of those questions.

In our first post, we introduced Jennifer Snider, The McKnight Group’s interior designer, who has worked with us for more than a dozen years on 75 church building and affiliated projects. In that post, Jennifer tackled questions about getting your church design started. In this post, we’ll cover Jennifer’s recommendations on the question of how to prioritize what’s most important in your church building or remodeling plan.

Making a Good First Impression

When it comes to prioritizing, we believe you should begin by concentrating on making a good first impression. Certain areas and the way they look show guests and members what matters in your church, and believe it or not speak volumes… without ever saying a word.

Here are areas we believe are most important when it comes to making a good first impression:

  • Lobby and Foyer

Obviously, the first places that people see are going to heavily influence their first impressions. Which is why we believe your lobby and foyer are key. Your lobby needs to be easy to navigate, feel welcoming, and reflect your vision.

People need to get a sense of who you are as a church community and what matters to you. Guests who walk in need to easily get a sense of what your ministry is about.

  • Restrooms

Think about the restrooms you visit at a restaurant. If they’re not clean and well stocked, you might find yourself worrying about what the kitchen looks like. If the décor in the restroom doesn’t match the theme in the rest of the establishment, you might wonder about the vision for the place.

The same is true of the restrooms in your church building, especially those right off the foyer. If they are not clean, well-cared for, and reflect the interior design of your foyer and worship space, guests might wonder if you really care about the people who come to your church.

  • Children’s Area

If you have a brightly lit, clearly themed, colorful and welcoming children’s center, you are telling guests and members that you care about the next generation. You are telling them that your church vision includes children, not just the adults in your worship center.

  • Worship Center

And speaking of the worship center, naturally, this beating heart of your church building should clearly show the vision your church has for ministry to guests, members, and the surrounding community. Your worship center needs to function well, have the technology necessary for worship, and make everyone feel comfortable and at home.

Church Building Renovation Versus New Construction

How you tackle your priorities will vary depending on whether you’re renovating an existing church building or starting new construction. With new construction, you will be working with an architectural firm that will have a design team to assist you in the process. With church remodeling or renovation, it’s important to involve a professional firm that understands how church buildings work and what’s necessary to implement your vision.

That’s why The McKnight Group offers consultations on interior design for church remodeling projects. We can give you guidance that will help you understand the people you’re called to minister and what they are drawn to. This is essential for defining your church’s style—which will be the focus of the questions we answer in our next blog post.

Find More Answers

Meanwhile, we suggest you sign up for our i3 webinar series so you don’t miss the insights we’ve learned from our 40 years of church building experience. Simply visit our website and sign up. They’re free, so you have nothing to lose (and all sorts of knowledge and inspiration to gain).

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Answering Your Church Building Questions, Part One

Infinite question marks on a plane, original three dimensional iWe here at The McKnight Group are called upon to answer a lot of different types of questions when church leaders decide to embark upon a new building or church remodeling project. Recently, Jennifer Snider answered many of the common questions we get in a free i3 webinar. Over our next several posts, we will share some of her responses

Jennifer is The McKnight Group’s interior designer. With a degree in interior design and more than 20 years of facilities planning and interior design experience, Jennifer has been working with us since 2004. This means she has provided interior design services for more than 75 church building and related facilities projects—and she has certainly responded to a lot of questions over those years.

Begin at the Beginning

In this post, we’ll focus on one question we hear frequently from church leaders, “Where should we start?”

We certainly understand why we hear this asked so often. When you’re starting to consider a church remodeling project or constructing a new church building, it can feel quite overwhelming. So, let’s talk about the three important elements that will get you to the starting line.

1. Defining a Vision and Assembling a Team

You’re not going to get very far if you don’t know where you’re going. If your church doesn’t have an agreed-upon vision for the future, you don’t know the ways in which your church building can help get you there—or hinder you from accomplishing those goals. So, step one is to define what that vision is.

You also need to assemble a team that has embraced the vision and has the energy and drive to get you there. They need to have the internal discipline to ask, “Does this help us reach our vision or not?” Because if the answer is no, it shouldn’t be part of your church building project—even if the members of your team think it might be a great idea.

2. Creating a Master Plan

The second starting element is to create a master plan. That’s because it’s important to think broadly at the start. This is your church’s chance to dream big, put everything on the table, and imagine an ideal church building.

You should involve more people at this point because you want to hear the ideas of all your church leaders. You need to know what each part of your church leadership believes is critical in order to achieve your church’s vision for the future.

3. Prioritizing and Budgeting

Once you have all the dreams out on the table and a master plan in place, you can then start to prioritize.

If you’re fortunate, you might be able to afford to do everything at once, but most churches find they need to choose the most critical elements for now and save other parts for later stages in the master plan.

Often this is due to budgetary concerns, but other times it may be because one element of a church building or remodeling project is clearly a necessary first step before the other pieces of the plan can fall into place.

More Questions … and Answers

Hopefully, now you have a good idea where to start. We will be answering more of your church building and church remodeling questions in future posts, so come on back. Our next topic: Which areas are most important to focus on first?

We also answer many questions via our various i3 webinars. To sign up for our webinars, simply visit our home page. They’re absolutely free!

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Fun Church Children’s Interior Themes on a Variety of Budgets

You can tell right away when you walk into a place that children are going to enjoy. Whether it’s a child-friendly restaurant or great church children space, you know kids will be drawn in by the bright, colorful décor and interesting, child-friendly themes. In this post, we’ll show you some ways to create fun and fabulous church children’s interiors that use themes to excite both children and their parents.

Plan Ahead

We can’t emphasize enough the importance of planning ahead of time when you’re considering a church remodeling project or new church building. Doing so allows you to build your theme into every element of the children’s spaces.

Paving the Way for Children

Children Theme 1As you can see in this picture, a roadway was created that leads children into their worship space. This type of theme works well for church remodeling jobs on a budget. The sky and grass are simply paint, which is not expensive. And the road signs and barriers are easy to obtain, plus they don’t need to be customized in any way to get the message across.

But we have paid attention to the content of these signs: Children are going to see the “school crossing” sign and recognize that this means they’re going to be learning something here at church. Parents will recognize these signs and receive the message that you care about their children and their education.

Giving Church Children’s Interiors a Fun Vibe

Children Theme 2In this second picture, you can see extra steps have been taken to make a large, open space more inviting for older kids. This worship space is called the “garage,” which is going to be a fun place to hang out.

A brick vinyl wall covering on the back wall makes that “garage” statement loud and clear. The added expense of vinyl is offset by paint on the other walls. Plus, we’ve intentionally created a graphic look that helps the ceiling feel lower and makes the walls more interesting than what you would get with just a single color.

Fabulous Options for a Higher-Budget Church Remodeling Project

If your church can invest more in your children’s interiors, you can consider customized full wall graphics like the theme pictured here, using a floor to ceiling design on vinyl.

Children Theme 3In this situation, the theme planning took into account the locations of the classroom doors and incorporated them into the design. Extra lighting was also added to take full advantage of the design investment.

No matter what theme you choose, the full-wall approach provides a strong, dramatic effect. It’s pretty much impossible for children—and parents—not to be drawn in by such a hallway.

Addressing the Question of Changing Themes

When it comes to making an investment in themed children’s spaces, we are frequently asked: How do you keep your children’s spaces fresh and exciting? How often will you need to change themes?

While we as adults might see the same theme, year after year, children will be growing up and moving into new areas of your church’s interior spaces. The younger children who take their place will find those themes exciting because they will be new to them.

Find Out More

Whether you’re first considering the question of a church remodeling project or are already in the midst of constructing a major new church building, we have ideas and solutions that can help. This is why we created our free i3 webinar series. Visit our website and sign up today.

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Choosing the Right Flooring for Your Church Children’s Spaces

One area we recommend our church building clients give special attention to is what’s going on under their feet. The right flooring choices are very important—especially when it comes to church children’s spaces. This is because a lot of children will spend time on the floor of those areas, and what they touch matters.

In this post, we present some flooring options for the children’s interiors of your church remodeling or building project.

Counting on Quality

The quality of your flooring materials matters. Church buildings require commercial-grade flooring by code. Even with commercial flooring, be aware that some options are more durable than others.

You also need to consider the maintenance that will be involved in keeping the floors of your children’s spaces clean.

In addition, make certain that the flooring comes with a good warranty to protect your investment if trouble arises.

Carpet Options for Church Children’s Spaces

Carpet is a popular option for church children’s interiors because young children are likely to be more comfortable on carpeted floors.

Carpet OptionsYou have two options with commercial carpet: broadloom and carpet tile. Broadloom (pictured, on right) is the more traditional option and is typically a 12’-0” wide roll. Carpet tile (pictured, on left) is available in a variety of sizes – 18” or 24” square, 18”x36”, and even hexagons. Carpet tile makes it easy to add a splash of color too, as you can see here.

From a practical standpoint, stains and damage are more likely to occur in church children’s spaces. Carpet tiles can be easily replaced if one is damaged, making them an increasingly popular choice for children’s spaces when one’s budget allows.

Understanding VCT, LVT, and Sheet Vinyl

Other flooring options to consider in children’s spaces are hard surface varieties.  Hard surface flooring is often used around sinks and counters in children’s classrooms, in part of the room, or even the entire room for crafts and snacks because it’s easy to clean up.

VCTVinyl composition tile (VCT) is your least expensive flooring option and comes in a wide variety of colors, but it requires regular maintenance (stripping and waxing), which means that in the long term it could prove just as expensive.

LVTLuxury vinyl tile (LVT) is a newer product that has become increasingly popular in recent years. As you can see here, these tiles come in a number of shapes and patterns to create a wide variety of looks, from a warm wood look to cool water or even bright green grass. LVT is lower maintenance, because it doesn’t have to be stripped and waxed, but it is a softer product that can be scratched or scuffed.

Sheet vinyl is a rolled product that can have a seamless look. It comes in fewer colors than VCT and is softer, like LVT, yet also requires less maintenance.

Regardless of which flooring option you choose, you will want to coordinate the colors of your flooring with the theme of your church children’s spaces. An integrated look in your children’s interior will demonstrate to parents that you care about their kids.

Discover More Church Remodeling and Building Tips

Whether you’re looking to complete a church remodel or construct an entirely new church building, consider your children’s ministry needs when selecting. Learn more at our website, and while you’re there sign up for our free i3 webinar series for important tips for your church remodeling or building project.

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Wall Color Makes for Stand Out and Inviting Church Building Children Spaces

Every church building needs appropriate children’s spaces, but sometimes it’s difficult to know the best way to create a welcoming place for children on a limited budget.

This is why we recommend color. Color offers an easy way to make these spaces in your church building stand out—yet it doesn’t have to be expensive.

When it comes to upgrading children’s spaces, you can use color in many ways, even on floors and furniture, but choosing bright, colorful paint for the walls offers an attractive and inexpensive first step toward making your children’s spaces stand out.

Color Adds Drama to Children’s Spaces

Children_Color1As you can see in this first picture, blocks of bright color add drama to this space for younger children. Each wall is painted in a different, vibrant color. This makes it easy to see which area of your church building belongs to the children and also coordinates easily with the brightly colored chairs and partitions.

The overall impression is cheery and welcoming for children, but it didn’t require a second round of church financing in order to create the desired effect.

Paint Speaks the Language of Youth

Children_Color2Color also adds drama to spaces for older children, although here you can see that we chose not to use bright primary colors. Instead, the “cool” colors and varying stripes let youth know that they’re no longer stuck in the children’s wing.

The great news is that this paint job also isn’t expensive—all you have to do is tape off sections of the wall, then paint with a contrasting color to obtain this bold effect.

You can even involve the youth in the paint job, which gives them ownership of their space and reduces the labor cost line when it comes to church financing.

Color Defines the Children’s Wing of Your Church Building

Children_Color3This picture shows the entrance area to the children’s wing of a church building. You can see that we’ve used paint to define the space, but it’s not as overwhelming as it might be in a space dedicated to younger children.

These colors speak to every age range, with the brighter, fuller blocks of paint reserved for the younger children’s area, as you can see on the purple wall at the end of the corridor. Again, this is a relatively inexpensive way to designate the children’s wing in your church building.

Adding Thematic Additions to Your Color Blocks

Children_Color4If your church financing plan allows it, you can also build upon those basic blocks of color by adding themes to your children’s spaces. The wall graphics you see here are added on top of the basic paint job, creating a playful outdoor space—indoors. Dollars are easily stretched by choosing just a few large graphics, such as the tree and the child, and sprinkling in a few bird graphics to fill out the wall space.

You can also see in the same photo that we’ve chosen a wood-look vinyl flooring which fits in well with the theme (We’ll cover more on children’s space flooring in a future post!), and even added some color to the ceiling, helping to tie the entire space together without adding a lot to the church’s budget. Props are another possibility, as you can see with the colorful, patterned awnings installed above each classroom.

Learn More About Church Financing and Design

Since we’ve been constructing church buildings for over 40 years, we’ve learned a lot about how to make children’s spaces pop without breaking the budget. To learn more about getting the most out of your church building project, visit our website, where you can sign up for our i3 webinars—absolutely free.

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Looking to Expand Your Church Children’s Spaces to Include Child Care and Preschool?

Preschool_ChildMany churches are looking to expand their children’s ministry to include daycare and preschool programs. It may seem an easy leap to turn children church space into facilities for daycare and preschool, but different state requirements have to be considered. In this post, we want to clearly outline these differences so that, if you’re looking to include child care or preschool in your church remodel or new building project, you won’t find yourself limited by the decisions you’ve made.

Moving Beyond Code Requirements

All building codes must be met when childcare or preschool programs are offered. We’ve discussed aspects of building code requirements in a prior blog post. Be aware that these codes cover everything from the number of bathroom fixtures to whether you must have classroom doors that lead directly outside the building. So, if your church remodel plan includes turning an old basement into a child care space for children less than 3 years old, it is not a practical proposition.

Expanding Your Church Children’s Spaces to Accommodate Child Care

In addition to code requirements, states have specific ratios for how many children you can have for each adult caregiver. For example, with newborns from 0-12 months, some states say you must have one teacher for every five kids. As children grow, that number increases. So, for example, if you want to have a preschool program with children ages 30 months-3 years, the ratio is one teacher for every eight children. With 4-5-year-old children, you can have one teacher for every 14 kids.

These ratios are important when it comes to budgeting. Say you have an existing Sunday church children’s space that you want to use for 4-5-year-old daycare during the week. One teacher on Sunday might be able to handle18 kids, but the state regulations say you must add a second teacher if you’re going to have 18 kids for child care. This means you need to budget paying two teachers instead of one for the daycare in that room.

Room size is another factor. If you’re designing a new church building or wing from scratch, it’s easy to make sure the classrooms are sized correctly—either for 14 kids and one teacher, or more than 14 with two teachers. But if you’re planning a church remodel, you might find that you’re limited in the number of children you can have in your preschool or daycare program because of available classroom sizes.

Thinking Beyond the Classrooms Themselves

There are other spaces you will need to consider if you’re looking to run a daycare or preschool. Most states require 50-60 square feet of outdoor playground area for these programs. This doesn’t mean 50-60 square feet per child enrolled, but rather 50-60 square feet per child on the playground at the same time. Elementary schools stagger recess times for different classes, and you certainly can too!

Another thing to keep in mind is that child care and preschool programs are rated by the various special programs that they offer. If you want your program to receive a higher rating, consider adding a special art room or computer lab to your church children’s spaces in your church remodel or new building design.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider if you’re looking to incorporate daycare and preschool programs into your church children’s spaces. The best way to learn more about these spaces and other types of church remodel or new building projects is through our free i3 webinar series. Sign up today.

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