Organizing 101: Study spaces
Whether it's at the kitchen table or in their rooms, school-age kids need space to study. Here are our tips for setting up private study rooms, as well as simple changes you can make in the kitchen, dining or family room for communal-style learners. Also, Toronto designer Robyn Clarke combines inspiring decor and highly functional furnishings in a space for two school-age brothers.
Whether carved out of a bedroom or set up in a separate space like the one coming up, a fully functional study area has these elements:
1 Work surface
Think about your child's personality and the available space before buying.
- A home office armoire combines storage with work surface. This is good for small bedrooms and for children who work independently, though it doesn't offer ample space for large assignments or any shared projects.
- A traditional desk with drawers ensures the surface is big enough for textbooks, notebooks and a computer. If you need to monitor computer use, put the computer in a common area.
- A convertible desk/drafting table is good for young artists.
Pick a sturdy, comfy, adjustable desk chair (for growing bodies).
Use task lighting at the desk, and general ambient lighting in room.
Display frequently changed items like posters, calendars, artwork and photos of friends on shelves.
5 Wall-mounted hooks
Hang backpacks on sturdy wall hooks; include additional hooks for gym bags.
An over-the-door shoe holder is excellent for organizing school supplies.
6 Wall pockets
Keep a few near the desk for current papers -- label by subject.
7 Artist portfolio
Use an artist portfolio to stow flat pieces of art and oversized papers (like those bristol board collages of the solar system). Stash under the bed or in the closet.
Even if you set up a work area in your child's bedroom, chances are you'll need to borrow space from another room for larger school projects or for the child who likes to work closely with you. These tips will help contain the clutter:
Allocate storage space
Empty some lower cabinets (plus drawers, if you have them) in the dining room hutch and fill with pens, pencils, paper. In the kitchen or family room, keep supplies in drawers on casters tucked into corner by table or under breakfast bar. Find shelf space for ongoing school projects.
Consider purchasing sheets of tempered glass to protect the fine wood finish on the dining room table.
Establish ground rules
Shared spaces require the respect of everyone in your house. A simple guideline like “At the end of day, put it away” is in order.
Advice from designer Robyn Clarke
You might not have an entire room to spare, but understanding the process behind the space (above and on previous pages) by Toronto designer Robyn Clarke for two brothers -- ages seven and nine -- will help you create a study area that can take your children from kindergarten through high school.
The area rug was the starting point for the decor. Its blue, green and tangerine stripes are a happy midway point between sleepy pastels and preschool primaries. “We wanted calming, muted colours that would aid in concentration,” says Robyn. The rug also camouflages paint spills and marker ink, and can be dry cleaned. A dark mauvey blue on a feature wall contrasts the white furnishings and is picked up in storage boxes.
Two desks -- one for the shared computer and one as a work table -- provide ample study space. Another storage cabinet needs to hold a printer, ink cartridges, paper and CDs. A round table with stools is perfect for art projects, and in the future for group projects. It's also ideal for parent participation or tutoring. A table topped with easy-to-clean glass makes flash cards or fave artwork easily displayed underneath. A bookcase combines drawer, shelf and bin storage for school supplies. As the boys age, the bins can be removed if more shelf space is required.
3 Finishing touches
Wall hooks keep art smocks and backpacks off the floor, and colour-coordinated bins, baskets, magazine files and boxes divide and conquer clutter in the bookcase and printer cabinet. Lighting is both decorative and functional. “We chose a retro-looking schoolhouse ceiling fixture for a bit of fun,” says Robyn. Two funky palm tree table lamps provide task lighting at the desks. “The palm trees bring some life into the room,” she says, as does a trio of hanging zebra prints.