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Creating a study area for students

home improvement articel and diy article for studentsQ.I have 2 children preparing to go back to secondary school to do the junior cert and leaving cert respectively, and one starting in university this year. I’d like to organise their rooms to provide a study area for each as well as some shelving to add some organisation for their books etc. My budget is fairly tight – do you have any suggestions?


 All the signs are that it is indeed back to school / college time again - the weather is improving, politicians are resurfacing and parents are faced with logistical dilemmas regarding their offspring’s academic requirements for the coming year. To be upfront I must confess that I cannot provide firsthand experience on the latter – I won’t claim to know what your demands your children have in terms of a study area, how it looks or how many books etc. it needs to hold – but I can give you general information on how to go about addressing the basic requirements.

As with most projects the first thing that you will need to determine is the best ‘site’ or location for your proposed study area(s). Depending upon the available space in your home you might decide to create a separate area for each student or a combined space to address all their requirements. Regardless of which way you proceed the general thought process is that you should try to create a dedicated study area – a space that is associated with studying, that’s free from distractions and other barriers to learning. In reality however most study areas tend to be in students bedrooms with lots of potential distractions – this often creates a juggling act for parents which can be very difficult to address. In all cases, however, it is good practice to ensure that the chosen area should have good natural light, ventilation and be of average temperature. The provision of a computer and internet connection will also need to be considered in choosing a location in terms of power sockets and connectivity.

The basic requirements for a study area incorporates a desk, chair and some sort of shelving – whether wall shelving or unit shelving. The latter can always be supplemented or replaced by a filing cabinet or pedestal placed under the desk – reducing the total area of shelving required. In choosing a desk it is crucial that it provides a suitable work area for each student. The extent of space that you can provide will ultimately be determined by the space available for it in the allocated room(s), as well as the individual student’s needs in this area. In tackling the latter ask the question as to whether the desk will need to accommodate a PC, Monitor, and Printer now or at some point in the future – it is always a good idea to err on the side of caution in making an investment here as a desk that is too small may be rendered useless down the line. To finalise the dimensions of the desk it may prove useful to get the student in question to assume their normal study position on the kitchen table with open books and include any PC’s and materials that they would use on the surface. Measure the area that they occupy and you will have a great idea of your requirements. In choosing a desk you should also factor in the ‘wear and tear’ factor in choosing the desk material – younger children are notoriously hard on furniture and if you want something to last, then it may be worth spending the money upfront on something durable. Many cheaper desks are made from chipboard or plywood and, while they may fulfil a requirement today, it is likely that they will not age well for future requirements. Hardwoods can fulfil the requirement for longevity but will cost more. If you do decide to buy desks for your study area you can choose from a number of sources including second hand units through the internet or your local classifieds, ready made units from local furniture stores or indeed ‘self assemble’ units from the same shops or local hardware stores. A word to the wise on the latter however – they often come with poor instructions and a huge number of screws / bolts etc. The initial joy you experience in making savings over the other desk types can dissolve when faced with hours of assembly work.

The other option open to you is to hire a qualified carpenter / cabinet maker on to build customised units for you. While this may seem like an expensive option it can often work out cheaper for basic units. The big advantages for you in going down this route is that you can control the design and finish of the units, they can be customised for the exact space that you have available and you will have something unique.

From a shelving perspective you will have similar options as touched upon above. As with desks you should err on the side of more shelving space rather than less. The main types of shelving used for these requirements are either wall mounted shelving or shelving units. For the former ensure that the shelves are anchored correctly so that they can handle the weight of shelves weighed down with of books etc. For both shelve types watch out for the materials used in making them – chip / ply board will tend to wear badly and even warp under weight. A suggested consideration in creating additional shelf space is the use of plastic containers in the room in question. The can provide practical storage and can even be stacked on top of each other creating a very cost effective shelving solution for your budget. Again a carpenter / Cabinet maker can also make something for your exact requirements in this area and incorporate your personal designs.

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