Very busy, heavily decorated rooms bother me. Knick-knacks, toys, excessive seasonal decor, all make me tense. I don't like clutter, and I think most of my students feel the same way. A recent study supports my gut feeling - http://www.cmu.edu/news/stories/archives/2014/may/may27_decoratedclassrooms.htm
Granted this is just one study, and a fairly small sample size, but I believe there is some truth to the idea that too much "stuff" in a room is distracting to many students.
I don't like a completely bare room either. And even though the study stripped down a room to test the students, I think that day after day of a bare bones room would feel cold and unwelcoming.
So what's the happy medium?
For me, it's a color coordinated room. I don't do themes, but I use coordinated borders and such.
When I first walked into my room two years ago, it was covered with posters. Dozens of posters. My ceilings are very high it was originally going to be a two-story building, but the second floor was value-engineered out. There were posters so high that I could not reach them. Our wonderful maintenance crew came in and took down all of the posters and gave the room a fresh coat of paint. Now I had a very clean, but bland room. The chairs in my room are blue, so blue is the color I've chosen for the room. Since my room is a science lab, we have lab tables, not desks. Blue Seat Sacks help keep supplies off the floor and out of the way.
Blue chair slippers protect the floor.
I like to start the year in the U-shape for desks, I can get to all kids easily and it helps with classroom discussion too.
I have very little wall space, so my cabinets become my bulletin boards. My process skills word wall stays up on these cabinets all year. This is also my supply center. Each table is a team, and each team has a spot where they pick up and return lab supplies. Other supplies. like rulers, pencil sharpener, stapler... are over here also. All supplies in one place.
These cabinets will fill up with unit-specific words, anchor charts, and so on as the year goes on.
The only real bulletin board in the room is rather small. I also have a window that looks into the storeroom. I've made it into a quasi-board also. The border matches the color of the chairs and the signs I use to designate team supply spaces. I found coordinating cloth and left it pretty much at that. I use store-bought posters over here because I have to climb on the cabinets to change them, and I don't like to do that too often. They are unit-specific too, so I can leave them up a while. I had a couple of posters made at Vista Print for some specific-to-my-classroom signs.
I do put up some other posters here and there. Teach us delight in simple things is our school motto.
My borders and team signs.
My supplies are usually from a dollar store or Target, and I color coordinate them also. I have a basket with dish washing soap, hand soap, and a sponge at each sink.
The only other real decoration I have are live plants.
My teacher spot is corner of the room where the computer is located. The cabinets over here hold teaching supplies. I don't have a real desk. This corner is off-limits to students.
Other shots of my room.
Kids come Wednesday! I'm ready for them!