Friday, November 30, 2012

DIY Homework Station

A few months ago I realized that I would not only have a first grader doing homework but I would also have a Kindergartener who needed a homework space too.  I wanted to create an area for my kids to do their homework without the distraction of the t.v. or toys.  I also really wanted to stop using our kitchen table as a desk!  I searched Pinterest to see what fabulous ideas other families had done.  Most of them were out of my budget and above my skill level but I knew I could come up with something...and I wanted it to be easy and cheap.  

Our house has a niche at the top of the stairs that I believe is supposed to have a built in desk.  Since I couldn't afford a real built in, I decided to make a faux built in instead.  

And here it is...

The double door cabinet is a computer desk we purchased from Cost Plus World Market about 8 years ago.  I found two $20 bookshelves at Target.  I placed the computer desk at the far right and the small bookshelves all the way to the left against the other wall of the niche.  My husband went to the lumber store and bought a big piece of MDF.  (Unfortunately he tore his bicep picking up this huge piece of wood....but that's a whole different story.  And one I'll never get to live down.)  After his trip to urgent care, my awesome (and injured) husband made two cuts on the MDF.  He cut the depth so that the top would slightly hang over the computer desk.  And he cut the length the exact length of the niche.  Then he just placed the MDF right on top of the computer desk and bookshelves.  It's wedged in between the walls really tightly too.

Here is a close up of the two bookshelves I picked up at Target (terrible photo, I know).  They were in the closet organizing section.

This is a shot showing the left side so you can see the niche.
Next, I took the kids to Michaels and let them pick out scrapbook paper that they liked.  They chose this greenish, blue paper because it has maps and birds on it.  I tore the paper into a bunch of strips and pieces and Mod Podged the pieces right on top of the MDF.  It's not exactly what I would have chosen but the kids like it and I wanted it to be a place they wanted to spend a lot of time.

We went to the dollar store and found all of these metal cups and holders.  I painted them with some clearance spray paint from Michaels so they'd match the color scheme.

I also found this lamp at a furniture store on clearance for $12.  I tore a coordinating piece of scrapbook paper and Mod Podged little pieces all over the base.  I cut out larger pieces and stuck them on the shade.

Before this little project I had 3 matted pictures hanging.  I'd had them for a good 12 years or more.  I still really like them and didn't want to ruin them so I bought a scrap piece of burlap from JoAnn's and covered the mats with it.  Then I chose a piece of artwork from each of the kids and placed them inside the frames, behind the burlap mats.  If I decide I want to use those old pictures again they are waiting right behind the kids' artwork with no harm done!  I also had an old picture stored in a closet so I picked up a piece of cork board and some fabric from JoAnn's.  I took out the glass (and tossed it) and wrapped the fabric around the cork.  I painted the frame with the same paint as the metal containers and made a coordinating cork board for the kids.

We had a bench that had seen better days so I pulled off the old fabric and stapled new fabric and batting on top.  Now all 3 kids can sit together and do homework or coloring!  And they love the bench!!!

My mom found some metal paper organizers at Target for $10 each.  She picked them up for me and I spray painted them to match.  I used the coordinating paper (also used on the lamp) to spruce up the fronts of them.  And there you have it!  An organized place for my kids to do homework and get creative!

As it turns out, this was one of the best things we've ever done in our home.  I know it's not the most beautiful or even the most sturdy thing in the world but my kids literally sit and color at their "homework station" EVERY SINGLE DAY!  They love it!  And I love that they are being creative and using a space in our home that we used to just pass by.  I'm sure there are more efficient ways to do this project.  And I'm sure there are ways to make it a more beautiful space but this is what works for us!  Hopefully you can take a few ideas, get inspired and create a workable space for you and your kids too!

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