Thursday, February 22, 2007

How To Design Your Child’s Desk Area

A well designed space can make a big difference in a child’s willingness and ability to study. Thinking ahead, we can create a space in which they feel comfortable, productive, and eager to learn.

Whether your child is 7 or 17, the elements of a desk area are the same: surface space, storage, lighting, and privacy. How you design their room today will affect their study habits tomorrow. Teaching them that each item has a place will help them stay organized as they grow older. Teaching them to maintain a clear workspace, their mind will be clearer and more focused on their studies. Learning to categorize and properly store their belongings, they will continue to maintain a more organized space in the work place and at home, spending less time looking for things throughout their lifetime.

Surface Space
I was blessed as a child with a white Formica desk as large as my bed. It was both deep and long allowing me to have key items at a hand’s reach and plenty of surface area to lay my textbook above or to the side of my papers while working on them. It was also entirely open underneath, like a table, so I could move to one side or another working on different things. There are a number of things to consider when selecting a desk. My childhood desk had many benefits, but became less attractive with the advent of computers and traditional monitors. It could not support the weight and the keyboard was too high. The funny thing is now that flat screens and laptops are more common place; the desk is becoming usable again. Sometimes we can not foresee a change in tools, such as computers, but we can do our best to consider the general needs of a child at various stages in life.

Older children are learning many subjects at once and need to keep track of books, binders, and To Do Lists for each class. Some people like carrying one big binder and others like carrying a separate binder for each class. Having a space on the desk to prop up the books so they are visible and in reach will help your child remember what needs to be done and will save them time. The child should be able to switch back and forth between their computer, their textbook, their binder, and paper they are writing on with out moving the items. To accomplish this, the desk should be deep enough to sit with paper in front of you and a book above it and wide enough for a computer to one side and a binder to the other.

For younger children, consider leaving an extra chair at the desk so that you can help them with out always taking the time to grab a chair. This will also keep them (and their things in their bedroom) and not sprawled all over the kitchen table.

Consider the tools needed for school at age 7 or 17, are they the same? Since most of us don’t want to buy furniture over and over again, thinking ahead will benefit our pocket book and the study habits of our children.

Like other parts of the house, items should have a defined storage location or they will be out and in the way. Think about the items your child will need for homework and art projects. Group the items into categories and determine the best way to store them (a drawer, a shelf, a container, a tray or cup on the desk). Young children need a way to keep various types of pens organized. Older children tend to have similar desk accessories as adults. Take a look at your own desk and see what they will likely need (stapler, whole punch, pencil sharpener, a place for files, a paper sorter – computer, lined, a letter/notes sorter). When they are young, buy furniture that will grow with them. Accessories can be purchased over time, but remember to select furniture that will accommodate them.

How good is the lighting in the room? Where is it in relation to the desk? Is there both over head lighting and a desk lamp? Your child will be doing lots of reading, writing, and intricate projects at their desk. Save their eyes and set them up right with good lighting. Position the desk in such a way that the window or overhead light do not cause a glare on the computer screen or such that they end up shadowing the light on their papers. Sit in the room at various times a day and try different positions.

In what environment do you work best – noisy, quiet, music in the background, people around? Our habits develop when we are young. Giving our child their own special space to study will give them the solitude to focus on their studies. Keeping their study space in their bedroom, they can set it up and maintain it on their own and not be in the way of the rest of the family.

While many of us would be inclined to provide a child with a hand-me-down desk or small nook really think about what their needs are going to be. The decisions we make today will have lasting effects. Keep in mind surface space, storage, lighting, and privacy as you begin to design their space. Ask other parents if you can see what they have setup for their children, look at some magazines about setting up office spaces, and browse the aisles of your local office store for ideas.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Welcome to the Organizing Guide

I am a Professional Organizer in the San Francisco Bay Area. I love to help people with organizing projects. My favorite aspect is looking at how we use space and setting it up more efficiently. Of course, seeing the smile on someone's face when they look around at their newly organized space is always nice too!

Do you have projects you have been meaning to get to or areas that always drive you crazy? The purpose of my blog is to provide organizing tips, news, articles, and other information. Take a look, there may be a great tip to use on your next trip, a hidden gem for creating space where you never thought you had it, or information on resources in your neck of the woods.

Did you know there is a whole network of Professional Organizers out there to help you get through your next project? The information here will help you brainstorm ideas, but there is nothing like having someone by your side guiding you, making the project more manageable, and cheering you on.

If you would like help on an organizing challenge, feel free to submit a question. I may include it and my suggestions here on the blog so others can benefit from it as well. If you would like further guidance and live in the San Francisco Bay Area, take a look at For other regions, take a look at


Colette Lamm