Saturday, January 12, 2013

Apartment Remodel Project

Some people asked for some more information on this project so here goes...

First of all, it has been SO fun this year.

Project started by telling the kids that were all the proud new owners of their very own apartment.  I told them that they were such a great deal that everyone bought one in the same complex, hence the identical layouts.  Since they were such great deals though, they are in need of some serious work and we are starting with the flooring.

On the first day I had them do all the rectangular rooms since they were pretty simple.  They were given 1/4" graph paper and had to draw out each room to scale, where each box represents a foot.  For some rooms like the dining room the measurements were both there so it was no problem.  For ones like the living room though they had to use some logic to find missing measurements.  I purposely left off some of the measurements so they would have to think.

The next day I started the foyer with them. We went through that they could find the area by expanding it into a square and then subtracting out the corner triangle, leaving us with the area of just the foyer.  As they are doing their work, I am really stressing that they have to show me all of their calculations.  I want to know where all of the numbers are coming from.

Something that I love is that they are all doing their work different ways.  The student above liked the subtraction method of finding irregular area, but there are tons that are cutting up rooms and adding the areas together too (especially for the rectangular like rooms) and the majority of kids are using a combination of the two methods.

Something that really helped a lot this year was using to create a 3D model of the apartment.  I can't even take credit for it because the push for a 3D model was all the kids.  Sure it had crossed my mind before, but just I never took it to that level.  I totally should have because it really helped them to visualize things I was talking about.  Some of the kids actually suggested that we use The Sims game to draw models so they could put in their designs.  I would absolutely love to do this. was pretty easy to use and free.  I created the design in 2D, adding the furniture and flooring styles.  When the kids make a particularly funny design decision I will put it up to check out how it looks.

Then we could look at it in 3D.  In this mode you can spin it around, zoom in and out, and really get a good feel for the layout and rooms.

I have been leaving the 3D model up on the board all period as they work so the kids can refer to it as needed.  They are also welcome to use my computer to move it around or do whatever they want to it.

The last part is the cost.  I took many many trips to many different Home Depots and collected a substantial collection of free samples.

The kids got a huge kick out of it and are having a ball making fun of me.  They are standing firm that they don't think there's any way that was all free.  Every time someone comes into the room the kids can't wait to tell them that I've been stealing from Home Depot.  They are too funny.

After the first day I got complaints that there were not enough tile samples.  There were actually none because they weren't free.  Eventually I gave in and picked up a collection of some single tiles.  It was like $20 total which isn't bad because they were relieved to finally have some tile options (who are these kids?!).  Also they don't think I actually paid for them.

In addition to their graph paper work, they will hand this cost breakdown sheet to me.  They will give the area of each room, type and cost of flooring in each room, and the total cost for each room.  Then they will calculate the total area and total cost including tax.

My favorite parts of this project this year have been the conversations it has sparked.  I had a ton of kids look at the floor plan and immediately start discussing which walls they would take down and how they would want to combine rooms.  I have three kids that are all planning to live together since there are three bedrooms so they are discussing all of their flooring choices and making group decisions.

I have some kids that are just being silly and coming up with the most ridiculous choices which is really funny.

I walked into a conversation the other day between two boys about which type of tile to put in the kitchen.  One kid was telling the other that it was going to be dependent on what color cabinets he was planning to use, because white cabinets would go well with one while dark cabinets would go better with the other.

On more than one occasion we have tuned to Pinterest during class for inspiration.

One kid really wanted red carpet so I told him I'd go back to Home Depot (yet again) that night to find him some red options.

One kid was joking around and being insistent that I needed to find him diamond flooring while I was there.  Well clearly Home Depot doesn't have that, but I did find this article for him.  It is about diamond studded tiles that are $1 million per square meter.  He loved it and ended up using it for some of his rooms.  I loved when he came to me and asked me how to change square meters into square feet. It ended up a little over $92,600 per square foot.  He put it into his master bedroom, master bath, regular bathroom and hallway.  Love.

If I have the time, ideally I'd like to take a picture of their samples together and have them take turns putting their ideas into the 3D model.  I would print the pictures so that their finished project would include a cost sheet, scale drawing with their work, photograph of their color scheme, and a printout of their 3D apartment.

These are a couple of the pictures I started taking.  Tell me you don't love the pink + turf + faux tile vinyl in the bottom left picture.

Floorplan files (scanned so they're not perfect)


  1. This is AWESOME! Thanks so much for posting it! So glad to have found your blog!

  2. Love it, especially the much easier than trying to figure out Google Sketchup.

  3. Wow! This gives me some good ideas to improve a similar project that I created a few years ago.

  4. Hi! Did you have your kids find the area of the hallway? How did you have them do the math? Thanks!

    1. I actually did the hallway for extra credit. I first checked that all of their room areas were correct and then they found the entire area and subtracted out each room so that they were left with the hallway area. Some needed a push in this direction, but in the past others have been able to get there on their own.

  5. LOVE this lesson! Thank you for sharing it!! Such great applications for math and career & tech.

  6. This is an awesome and equally amusing lesson with your kids! Who would've thought that you can teach mathematics when renovating an apartment? They were able to learn how to apply mathematics in everyday life, and also gained knowledge about the cost of things. It's really practical and plausible. Kudos to you!
    Homer @ Pinnacle Group

  7. LOVE this!!! Do you have a copy of your file?
    Some of my students are getting hung-up on the technology aspect of the project and I'm new to the app.
    This is such a cool lesson - I don't want them to give up because they can't figure out the app.
    Jasmine Solano @ Liberty Middle School

  8. I really want to do a version of this, except focus on one room: making it a dream room. I was wondering how many class periods this took you? Did you limit the students to just the samples you had, or were they able to bring in their own?
    Do you have a rubric for it?
    I love your ideas and read your blog a lot, thanks so much for taking the time to be awesome and to blog and share your awesomeness!

  9. Is this a pre-algebra project or an algebra project? I have a 9th grade algebra class that is more a remedial level. Do you think this is an appropriate project for this class? They would enjoy the applied aspect. I am just concerned that it is covering algebra level objectives. What are your thoughts?

  10. Hi! I was wondering if you knew which common core standards this project covered. I'm trying to figure out if this is an appropriate project for my future Math 2 class because I love the idea. Thanks in advance!!

  11. hey , I know this is a little late but which grade would you recommend this for? Also great project. love it!


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