School has begun so it’s officially homework season again in the Garvey household. As part of our back to school prep, we started getting organized for homework. One item on the to-do list was finding Collin a new desk. His old desk didn’t have any storage and was a bit too small for his laptop and other necessary gear.

My hunt for a new desk started earlier this summer during my garage sale spree. But I never did find anything at the garage sales. So with school about to start I was starting to panic. I really wanted this project finished up before school started. Luckily last week on a whim (after an online search for new desks came up empty) I hopped on Craig’s list to see if anything had come available. And…look what I found.

New desk

A desk and chair for just $30. What a steal! It’s solid wood with dovetail construction—so it’s great quality. And it’s green approach to “new” furniture. I love re-purposing used things and helping someone else clear an unused item out of their home. It’s a win all the way around. Yes, it’s quite a vivid blue, but that’s easily changed with some paint. (And, for now, Collin actually loves the color. So woohoo!

His room still needs a few touches to make it look more like the hub of a middle school aged kid, but at least with the desk homework can begin.

Next up was Kailea. She has a nice spot to read in her room via her bean bag chair under her loft bed, so we just decluttered her desk a bit to create space for homework.

Bean bag chair

So one would think we were done. But both kids like to do homework at the kitchen table. I remember being the same way, and honestly, I like having them around when they’re doing their homework. (Are your kids this way, too? Were you?) So, we decided to convert the craft cabinet into a homework cabinet. We removed some craft supplies and added some study-related items such as a dictionary and thesaurus, ruler, calculator, protractor, really sharp pencils, and so on.

Hutch inside

All in all it was a really fun project. If you’ll be setting up a homework area for your child, here are some tips to keep in mind.

1. Location matters! While my kids both have a place to study and read in their bedrooms, I know that they both prefer working at the kitchen table where the people and action are. What are your child’s preferences and tendencies.

2. Start with the basics.The basics for any homework area include a desk or other table, a chair, good lighting, and storage space for supplies and tools. Use what you have on hand, or check out sites like eBay or Craig’s list to find low cost furniture options for your child’s homework station. Aside from Collin’s new desk, our homework central is housed in cabinet that sits just behind our kitchen table.

Hutch outside

3. Equip your homework station with essential supplies. Use your storage space to keep basic supplies on hand. If you aren’t sure what supplies your kids might need for their homework, ask their teacher, or use the list below for starters. Then, add to your supplies as the year progresses. Our current homework supplies include:

  • Pencils and erasers
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Paper – lined, colored, plan white, and over-sized
  • Crayons
  • Glue and glue stick
  • Markers
  • Pens
  • Ruler
  • Dictionary and thesaurus
  • Calculator
  • Protractor
  • Highlighters
  • A dry erase board and markers (for working out math problems)
  • Colored pencils

4. Declutter to make space for your homework station.Our homework cabinet previously contained just craft supplies. So to make room for new homework related items we started by decluttering and whittling down the craft supplies to just the essentials. The Play-Doh collection, for example, was scaled back to just two small containers. And Kailea decided it was time to part with some stencils and other never used craft supplies. We also moved rarely used craft items into a storage area in the basement.

5.  Use containers to corral like items together and create a space that’s fun.Most of the tools and supplies in the homework cabinet are stored in containers that make the supplies easy to see, access and put away. Plastic drawer units hold pencils, glue, crayons, markers and other small items. Small ceramic pots from IKEA hold chalk, pens and sharpened pencils. A plastic shoe box holds beading supplies, while an ITSO bin corrals a small stash of Kailea’s scrapbooking supplies.

Hutch inside

A large metal bucket holds arts and craft items such as glitter glue, the two remaining jars of Pay-Doh, as well as special markers, and a full size box of crayons.

Bucket of craft supplies

 And an old muffin tin holds erasers, ribbon, pencils grips, paper clips, more erasers and rubber bands.

Muffin tin storage

Will you be setting up a homework area for your kids? What supplies do you like to keep on hand for homework and school projects? Thanks for sharing!

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and organizing eBooks.

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