Homework Spaces

The living room, family room or kitchen is not only a gathering place — part of it can be a work space that serves the needs of everyone in your family. Here are some great ideas to get you started.

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Whether there are two or five or more of you sharing a living room, family room or kitchen, chances are the more functions the space has, the better.

Blogger Susan Penning discusses this very matter on her blog, livingrichonless.com. She describes how, after blogging from the inefficient perch of her living room couch, she decided to use what she already owned and create a "grown-up" dedicated workplace in that room.

Penning repurposed a desk from her basement and a chair from the bedroom — both purchased at auction 10 years ago for $15 and $5, respectively. She covered the chair with a Kmart slipcover and added a pillow she sewed herself. "It literally took half an hour," she says.

The result, below, is a small but effective work space that blends well with the room.

Small workspace in home
Photo credit: Susan Penning

Erin Pruitt, a blogger at ridgewood.tipsfromtown.com, suggests that if your kids like a lot of parental input while they do their homework, set up a permanent corner of the kitchen as their work space, such as shown in the photo below.

"The study space should include specific areas for paper, pencils and pens, and other supplies," she says. "Being organized goes a long way toward the serenity of your home."

Pruitt also explains that when you integrate a study space into a multifunctional room, make sure you don't let the work space stick out — aesthetically or physically. Keep to the room's color scheme and decorating style, and make sure the furniture doesn't impede traffic flow.

Variety in seating areas is good, says Pruitt, but don't forget ergonomics when it comes to seating for written work. The room below is a good example of comfort seating — a window seat, beanbag chairs and a sofa, as well as a desk area. Ideally, a work surface should be about waist height. When a person is seated at a desk, he or she should be able to rest his or her elbows on the table without hunching the shoulders; feet should be flat on the floor. Adjustable-height desk chairs are a great solution if family members of varying heights will be using the desk.

Dual study area
Photo credit: Shari Misturak

If you have enough space, a dual study area is great for encouraging your kids to spend time in a learning environment, says Shanna Shryne of shrynedesign.com. "This becomes an area where you and your child can be productive together." And, when study/work time is over, you can relax on the sofa and read or watch TV.

No matter where you decide to set up your multifunctional study space, it can become a seamless part of your home life. And that will make everyone happy.

More inspiration

Designing a residential office space

Turn a small space into a home office

Styling a small workspace

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