Big ideas for small spaces

A child doing his homework on a desk in front of a window.

Although today's manufactured home rooms are more spacious than ever before, finding enough space for a homework corner could present a decorating problem. Here are a few other ideas to maximize your child's study area:

  1. Wooden crates make a versatile, stackable shelving unit. Stack multi-purpose crates in a small space for added storage in the homework area. You and your child can even decorate, paint or stain wood crates to match any d├ęcor. Plastic crates are also useful, colorful and often less expensive than wood crates.
  2. Shelving units that hang on the wall free up floor space. Wall hooks or pegs can also provide additional off-the-floor storage near the homework corner. Just be sure they are well secured.
  3. An inexpensive cork bulletin board serves many purposes. Use one to display artwork, homework assignments or show off that “A” paper in your homework corner.
  4. Make your own chalkboard with special chalkboard paint. It's available at most paint stores and comes in green or black. Apply the chalkboard paint directly to a wall or piece of hardboard that can be attached to the wall. If wood is used, be sure to seal it with a primer before painting.
  5. Adjustable shelves are a real space saver, just be sure the shelves are sturdy enough to bear the weight of their expected load. Since wider shelves take more weight than narrow ones, wide shelves are a better choice for your child's homework area.
  6. Bookcases are available in all sizes. Prices depend on size, style and materials. You can buy an inexpensive bookcase for under $20, but a heavy-duty bookcase will hold up better. A sturdy, functional bookcase with 5/8th inch thick adjustable and removable shelves can be purchased for around $50. Some younger kids think it's fun to climb on bookcases, so be sure the unit can hold both books and the child without falling down or collapsing.

Small areas are perfect!

Just because a room is small does not mean you can't have a great study area for your kids. One of the best ways to get ideas is to ask children what they need or want since they are the ones using it. If you're lucky, their ideas may be easy to implement, if not, try suggesting a more workable, space-saving or economical solution that is still appealing to the youngster.

Although teen-agers need more space for studying than younger kids, a small homework corner can work well for them too. If possible, provide your teen with some privacy, room to spread out books, a source of music, and some kind of seating for a homework buddy or friend. A simple folding chair or floor pillow will serve this purpose.

If you need more help on how to set up a homework corner – ask friends how they did it, go to office supply showrooms, look over catalogs that offer desks and accessories, consult decorating magazines or the Internet for more information.

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