Work Space

Now that the kids are back in school, what changes do you need to make to your home to accommodate the new academic year? Your children have grown in size, and their maturity level has grown as well. This may require a shift in the space for everyone, because they have new educational needs.

This is an opportunity to talk with your children about their goals for the coming academic year and what they would like to achieve. This can lead to an interesting and fun discussion about what environment they need to succeed. What do they need to work comfortably and how does that look and feel for them?

Since this may be the first time they have ever reflected on this, it can be a learning experience for them to create a setting that works for them and helps them to achieve. It could also lay the foundation for them to create awareness about their living space and realize they have control over it.

The home environment is always a learning place, but to formalize it as an extension of the classroom requires thought and a personalization of space to help your child reach peak performance. So here are some sample questions to ask your children:

  • Where do you prefer doing your homework? Would you rather be in your own room, at the kitchen table/counter, or in the family room?
  • Would you rather sit on the floor or at a desk?
  • Do you like to sit up or recline?
  • Do you like to sit in a chair, sofa or bed?
  • Do you like to work outside on the patio in nature?
  • Do you need the phone close by? (Maybe the question should be do you want a phone close by?)
  • Do you need a computer?
  • What is the best lighting for you and how much lighting do you require?
  • Do you need quiet or do you like to have the radio or TV on?
  • Would you like to work in solitude or do you like having people around?
  • Does music or a burning candle soothe you?
  • What are your storage needs and do you have room for your supplies?

Even though you may not agree with your children’s answers, it is important to listen and be open to the different ways they may like to work. Together, you can come to an understanding that will work for you both.

This is also the time to note if your children have grown to the point of redecorating their rooms. Do they need a bigger bed, more clothes storage, bookcases or areas to house their growing interests, such as computers, electronic equipment, etc.?

Rooms can be designed to grow with your children. Consider the permanent pieces of furniture and make them more neutral. Then you can be more creative and personal with the less expensive pieces such as bedding, window treatments, paint and accessories. Most often, these items can change as children grow. Our environment influences us even when we don’t realize it. Here’s your opportunity to create an environment that is conducive to learning and happier children. JN

Barbara Kaplan, IFDA and Allied ASID, is a Phoenix-based interior designer with more than 30 years of experience. She is the CEO of Barbara’s Picks, an online resource for interior design. For more information, visit

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