8 Ways to Set Up the Perfect Homework Nook
Another school year is here, bringing with it a sense of a fresh start (and a whole new schedule to coordinate). Whether your district has returned to in-person classes, went with a hybrid model or you’re homeschooling, one thing is for sure: There’s going to be homework. Maybe a lot of it, depending on their age.
While we can’t give you the secret to getting your student to sit down and hit the books (or laptop), we can say that the same home office-style set-up that make it easier for you to work can translate to your kids. That is: They need a space of their own to focus. Though the kitchen table or favorite spot on the bed may work for the easy tasks that don’t require too much thought, a dedicated area that’s free of distractions yet filled with everything needed at arm’s reach does wonders to make it slightly easier to slog through more in-depth assignments. The other plus? Creating a specific place to work will cut down on homework-related clutter elsewhere in your home.
A stylish homework station doesn’t have to be over-the-top, either. If you have enough room for a desk, you have the starting point for the perfect study space. Here are our top tips to make it happen:
Choose a Low-Traffic Area
Photo credit: SVK Interior Design
It’s an impossible task to read that lengthy English assignment if your student can see (or even hear) the TV. That’s why the most crucial part of setting up a homework zone is location, location, location. That means you may have to go beyond what’s “easy” for desk placement. For instance, your living room may have plenty of space for a desk — but if the media center is in view, it’ll make homework more difficult than it needs to be.
The ideal space is one where your student can easily look over to see a blank wall (or a window). That’s not to say there can’t be art — in fact, that may help provide a focus and inspiration when assignment deadlines challenge — but first, it’s about finding a spot in your home where everyone isn’t coming and going constantly. Consider your dining room, bedroom, guest room or even a basement. This minimalist study zone by SVK Interior Design shows how a simple homework nook can be set up in a dining area. The proximity to a door makes it easy for you to poke your head in to check in on progress, but can be closed when it’s focus time.
Photo credit: Ira Shestopalova for Home Designing
You may have to get a little creative to find a spot for a homework area. Make the most out of limited square footage by placing a petite desk by the bed. It has just enough space for reading, working via tablet (or laptop) and writing.
Other factors to consider when choosing a location: Availability of power outlets, the size of the desk and potential to add shelves for supplies if needed.
Really Consider the Desk
Photo credit: Lonny
A homework station starts with a surface. For the most part, you’ll anchor the area with a desk. The size will be based on the dimensions of your home office or homework space, but also should be chosen based on your student’s work habits. Ask yourself: Are they a “spread outer” who works best when they have everything in sight, or do they do better when there’s just enough room for the immediate task they’re working on?
The second deciding factor for a desk is about storage. If your student uses a laptop or tablet, a desk with a single drawer provides a spot to put it away when they’re finished (along with keeping headphones and chargers handy). The same questions about your child’s work habits apply, though. Some kids thrive when there are multiple defined areas to put things away, so a desk with a lot of drawers (like the above study nook) will make work brilliantly. However, some kids may take the opportunity presented by multiple drawers to create a bit more chaos by putting things away haphazardly — and that’s how things become misplaced.
Consider the benefits of using a smaller dining table as a desk and thinking of it as a “mobile workspace.” (This is what many companies are doing in light of the post-pandemic office landscape.) In this scenario, your student will use the table for homework, but bring everything they need in a dedicated bin. When work is done, everything goes into the bin and stowed away elsewhere. That “elsewhere” could be a bookshelf, or just underneath the table.
Find a Comfy Chair
Photo credit: Ashley Batz for Lonny
Choosing a desk chair sounds like an easy task, but it’s a lot more complicated. What’s comfortable for an hour can suddenly turn painful on hour two of a project. (We’ve all had that experience.) While many designers style a home office space with a chic chair when a photographer shoots a project, in reality, a client may very well use a more utilitarian chair that provides support in their everyday life.
That’s not to say you have to select a desk chair that looks straight out of a corporate office. You just have to consider how this homework nook will be used. Kids who get up and down often, or only have quick homework projects, can find an upholstered dining chair comfortable enough for the task. Older students who will be staring at a computer screen for hours will need a home office-style desk chair with support. Opt for a chair with arms to provide a spot for elbows to rest and to ensure better posture.
Layer in Lighting
Photo credit: Addison's Wonderland
The best lighting for a homework station (and for that matter, a home office) is from the sun — whenever that’s possible. The placement of the desk will determine how much natural light you’ll get, so have a window nearby whenever possible. Good to know: If there will be a lot of screen time happening at this spot, make sure there won’t be a glare from the light. Placing the desk next to the window is a good strategy, as is having curtains that can be open or closed to filter light.
If there isn’t a window in the room, don’t worry. As we roll into the fall and winter, days will be getting shorter, so there’s less opportunity for catching a little bit of sunshine. That’s why the next tip is important: Make sure you have “layers” of lighting. This means instead of relying on a single overhead source (which can create eye strain), include floor lamps that provide lighting at a standing level, a table lamp that adds light at seated eye level and then a desk lamp to provide task lighting when needed. Having multiple elements of lighting is more pleasing (and comfortable) for the eyes.
Photo credit: Colorroom
After adding the basic elements of your homework setup, the second consideration is storage and organization. Again, this is another thing that’ll be determined by the dimensions of the work space. However, it’s also another element determined by your student’s work habits.
The natural choice is to pair a desk with a couple of bookshelves. This way, you have a few places to store reference materials, a printer and other supplies. It’s a great way to develop good habits about having a dedicated spot for everything your student needs, teaching a very important lesson in organization. For some students, having a bunch of stuff in sight can be a distraction, or can encourage clutter — just think of how quickly a counter or table can be overwhelmed with everyday items.
In that case, you may want to simply position your bookshelves behind the desk area. This way, the storage options exist, without the potential to create a new clutter magnet. No matter the bookshelf placement, you can minimize visual disruptions by placing odds and ends in bins or baskets, like in the above home office nook.
Create a Focal Point
Photo credit: Amy Bartlam for Lonny
Just because the focus is on work, doesn’t mean you have to skip out on adding a fun focal point. Having interesting art above the desk (or anywhere that would be in a sightline from the desk) gives the eye a place to rest. Choose pieces that fit the personality of your student, or inspire a smile — very well-needed when they’re on hour three of trying to figure out their chemistry homework. In general, avoid putting up personal photographs. While these can be a heartwarming addition, they can turn into a distraction if they serve as a reminder of a vacation or fun times with friends. Abstract art, photos or art depicting landscapes, or bold graphic art are better choices.
Don’t be afraid to get super-creative here. For instance, the above study corner has a chalkboard wall that will really spark inspiration when the mood strikes. If you don’t want to paint the wall with chalkboard paint, you can get a similar effect by hanging up a chalkboard or whiteboard, or by opting for a cork board that can be customized with art whenever they need a visual lift.
Just Add Accessories
Photo credit: The Boo and the Boy
Now it’s the really fun part: Adding a little character with accessories. Keep feet comfy by adding a plush or shag rug underneath your homework space, along with a pouf-style ottoman if there is enough clearance under the desk or table. Inspire their senses with diffusers that provide a hint of a low-key scent (just stay away from lavender, which can prompt sleepiness). Create an interesting vignette with colorful crystals, minerals or smooth rocks on a tray or bowl — these can almost function as “fidget spinners” when they’re trying to solve a problem. Incorporate a plant to help filter the air and create a calm vibe. Instead of a typical trash can, line a pretty basket with a bin liner.
Even the type of supplies you choose can add an eye-catching element that also helps make work fun. Pick up colorful folders, pencil cups, notebooks, staplers and other work essentials, but select them in a coordinating color scheme. Not only does this add a hint of happy hue, selecting matching colors comes in handy in case these elements migrate to other rooms of the house.
Remember Your Goal
Photo credit: Len's Decor
A dedicated homework zone is a must-have for giving your student the breathing room they need to ace their schoolwork. However, it’s also a fundamental aspect of helping your student develop a routine. When they have a specific place where they do their work, stopping by the desk is another part of their day. It also helps them shift into “homework” mode a lot easier when there is only one spot where this happens, as opposed to having to take over the dinner table after eating a meal. While the decorative elements certainly help make this area a stylish one, they also serve as prompts to remind your student to do their work. (For instance, seeing the art will draw their eye to the desk, which in turn prompts them to remember what homework is on their plate.) Overall, the homework zone is so much more than a desk — it’s the foundation for the best academic year ever.
Does creating a dedicated desk feel like too much homework? Let our designers help!