When it’s time for kids to go back to school, smart parents know that in addition to buying school supplies and lunch ingredients, they need to prepare a dedicated study space in their home. Once a nook is claimed for studying, though, the challenge comes in making it a place a child wants to be. Because if your kid doesn’t like cramming for tests there, what’s the point?
Whether your child is studying at the kitchen table or has a whole room devoted to scholastic endeavors, personalization, ownership and especially color are key. “I am a firm believer that color sparks creativity and affects the way you feel in any given space,” said Jenna Gross of Georgia’s Colordrunk Design. “Bright colors can be energizing, and a fun atmosphere will encourage them to work and study.” Balance a generally calm, white study area with bits of color, she advises, and you’ll encourage that perfect mix of focus and engagement.
Gross and Andrea Houck of A. Houck Designs in Arlington, Va., both mothers themselves, encourage parents to let kids help choose the color of paint, chairs, rugs and more. Then they suggest focusing on organization and lighting. And don’t forget to provide display zones for kids’ awards and funny pictures of friends. As Houck put it, “The most important thing is to make sure the child has ownership over the space and uses it.”
Suggestions for a home study space:
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▪ “The older kids don’t need a desk as much because they’re typing on their laptops,” Houck said, “whereas the younger kids still do need a surface.” Pick something versatile that will grow with your kids, if you have the space, such as the Adjustable Activity Table, in small or medium ($239-$249, landofnod.com). Perfect for a toddler’s train table and a first-grader’s homework spot.
▪ “If kids aren’t great at sitting still, a wobble stool or a swinging chair are other great alternatives,” Gross said. “I would steer clear from a chaise lounge or beanbag; kids may just fall asleep.” The Kore Wobble Chair ($50-$80, reallygoodstuff.com) for kids comes in four heights – for toddlers, preschoolers, older kids and teens – and has a rounded bottom that lets users rock in small movements.
▪ Not just for fun, Rustalgic’s typographical decorations, such as the Marquee Ampersand Wall Decor ($126, wayfair.com), which comes in eight colors, also shed light on a study space. They add a whimsical and industrial touch to a room.
▪ “Make sure kids have proper task lighting,” Houck said. “You need a desk lamp.” Swivel two lights in one fixture with the Olson Collection Two Head Task Lamp ($40, target.com). “You might also need an overhead. Make sure any recessed lighting is placed in the right spot to give light but not create a shadow.”
▪ With Flor carpet tiles, even the floor is an opportunity to be creative. “You can almost create any design that you want to,” Gross said. “And if there’s a spill, you can take that one square up.” Her pick for happy-making color is Picnic Breakfast, a plaid-inspired medley including turquoise, seafoam, pink, magenta, orange and cobalt ($301-$812, flor.com).
▪ Basic cream meets bright cotton tufts on the Rainbow Tufts Basket ($20-$28, anthropologie.com). Use it to tote binders and notebooks around the house if your student is a mobile learner or to store textbooks bedside for teens.
▪ Chances are, Poppin has your child’s favorite color in chairs, desk accessories, notebooks, pens — or even the Stow Three-Drawer File Cabinet ($229, poppin.com). Bye-bye, boring steel. Hello, orange, yellow, navy, blue, aqua, pink, red, black, white, light gray or charcoal. “When they’re younger, try to teach them that this goes here, this goes there,” Houck said. “Then they have a steppingstone to how they can organize later in life.”
▪ There are lots of seating options for kids today that don’t look like traditional, hard, straight-backed chairs. For its Fur Rockin’ Roller Desk Chairs ($149 each, pbteen.com), PBteen takes an exercise ball, covers it with a slipcover and adds a chrome base. The chairs come in faux fur or fleece.
▪ “Having a space dedicated just for students and their studies helps them stay organized and get things done,” Gross said. Organize paper clips and thumb drives in the Rainbow Mobin Wall-Mounted Organizer ($15, containerstore.com). Each container tips down and can be removed individually.