I wish I never bought desks for my kids bedrooms

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

A few years ago my eldest daughter asked for a desk for her room, it was her prep year in school and I thought it was a great idea as she loved to colour and draw and I imagined in the years to follow she could do her homework at her desk.  Her twin brother didn’t have room in his bedroom for a desk, so we didn’t get him one.

I wish I never bought the desk, it is beautiful and handy to have the extra drawers and cupboard space, but she struggles to keep it tidy and she never does her homework at it.  We all sit at the dining table after an after school snack and work on spelling words, then they have computer homework tasks, we have one computer at a desk in their toy room for this.  I also much prefer them doing homework where I can see they are concentrating, writing neatly and can chat with them to see if they understand it.  However, I know when she reaches high school she will use it more, but for now she really doesn’t need it.

So because big sister had a desk, my youngest daughter wanted one too.  Now this little miss always spends time in her room, writing letters and creating beautiful artwork so I gave in and said yes.  A few years ago I found a great little desk at Kmart and bought it home.  Didn’t take me long to realise it was a bad purchase choice, it was a very basic desk, with no drawers, cupboards or shelves.  So everything she had on her desk was out on show, mess and all, again thinking why did I say yes.

Over the school holidays, after Christmas and her birthday her room looked like this

Something needed to change, it and it was clear that the desk wasn’t working and she needed one with drawers and more shelf space.

 We grabbed 2 large tubs, one for rubbish and one for donating, we then cleared all the clutter, a lot was boxes from christmas gifts and school books.  Putting most of the toys away in her wardrobe and chest of drawers, we then realised we could do away with the little bookcase.  It looks so much neater.

 I purchased her a new desk, I love that she now has shelves to put her books and nic nacs on.  I would have liked more hidden storage, eg. cupboards or drawers, but this area in her bedroom is very small and this was the best desk for this space.

You may not be able to see it in the before photo, but Miss 8 had a really good supply of pens, we have managed to dwindle it down.  This caddy is perfect as she can easily carry it down to the kitchen bench if she wants to.

I do really love these desks, but if I had the choice again, I wouldn’t buy one while they are this young for their bedrooms as we have a computer desk in the toy room, the kitchen bench and a craft area already set up.

Do you have desks in the kids rooms?

I get asked a lot about where I purchase products from, so I will start putting a list at the end of each post for you

Desk – Bambino Home

Caddy – Howards Storage World

Pink Box in desk – Kikki.k

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60 comments

Lisa Uren February 1, 2013 - 7:12 AM

I’ve 3 little people, a 5yr girl and a b/g set of 4yr old twins. We’ve bought them all desks to put in our dining room as they were constantly taking over my dining table with arts/crafts/letters etc. We bought a tiny desk for each of them, with one single drawer in it and it works a dream. I can see them from my kitchen bench which means I can be creating meals and monitoring what they are doing and interacting with them. In their “desk” space, we’ve also created a chart wall with ABC’s and 123 charts and put up a selection of their preschool photo’s. I am quite chuffed with this space, it works well in our tiny house 🙂 and the bonus of having 3 desk chairs in the dining room is when we have guests round we have spare chairs for the dining table 😛

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Jo February 1, 2013 - 7:12 AM

I always found seks a bit of a waste as the girls (3 of them) always did their homework in a central area – the kitchen table when they were in the lower grades – and so the desk in their room became a gathering area for mess. But as high school came around I found a desk useful for time away from the hub bub of the rest of the house and to leave a task in progress somewhere away from the main part of the house

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Jo February 1, 2013 - 7:13 AM

thats should be desks not seks (in my previous post)

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Carly Joyce February 1, 2013 - 7:29 AM

I had a desk as a child and I NEVER used it for homework. It was just somewhere for me to store more stuff. We had this desk in our spare room until recently when we had to convert the room into a nursery and I didn’t even consider giving it to my daughter (Miss 7). Her room is extremely well organised and I knew having this desk would just encourage her to keep more knick knacks – which I would hate!!

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Lisa February 1, 2013 - 7:36 AM

Yes we have a desk and it just becomes a dumping ground for my 11 year old, and she doesn’t do her homework there either. She starts high school next year so I’m hoping she will use it properly (as it will be quieter than sitting at the dining table with her brother)..

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melcspice February 1, 2013 - 7:38 AM

We are hoping to buy a house this year and plan to put in a study nook somewhere in the living area. My eldest has just started school, I’m studying as well and I have just bought a sewing machine to attempt some sewing. My kids also love to craft. So we thought one long desk would suit all these purposes. I’m thinking I’ll put cupboards or drawers underneath each end to store craft, sewing machine, study materials etc. As you said, I would prefer to be able to see them doing their homework/craft etc so I can help out when needed, and also so when I’m studying I can still see the kids.

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Angela Sinclair February 1, 2013 - 7:38 AM

My children all have desks and they never really used them as we also did homework where I could help and keep an eye on what everyone was doing but in years 8 onwards they really need a place to keep all their private things and it also gives them an opportunity for some quiet time away from everyone else. I still see what’s happening with homework but it also gives me an opportunity to work with them one on one.

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melcspice February 1, 2013 - 7:39 AM

Oh and yes, my desk in my room as a child was always a clutter collector. I’d just keep stuffing things in the drawers until they wouldn’t shut anymore! haha.

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Becci Sundberg February 1, 2013 - 8:19 AM

I bought my eldest (now 17 in a couple of weeks) a desk for his 5th birthday. Was just a second hand one as that is all I could afford at the time. Was an old pine one (painted blue) with 4 drawers, no hutch. Was fabulous.
We did homework at the kitchen table too, us mums all know how much easier that is at that time of night than running back and forth form kitchen to bedroom, but he used it heaps. He would sit and drawer and write all the time. He kept it pretty clean, with lots of reminders mind you. Every school holidays we would go through his drawers and remove a heap of stuff. But he was pretty good.
We are now on the hunt for a desk for our 4 year old as a starting school present later in the year. I will definitely have drawers and would ideally like a hutch too. Need to head into Ikea and check out the Micke range, I like the look of them online but not sure what they are like in RL.

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Kate coetzee February 1, 2013 - 8:21 AM

My children have desks in their rooms and they have used them all through high school. We found corner desks at Ikea that have shelves above them and doors on the front of them. That was the best decision ever! Desks are messy things! And kids who are working on projects or studying don’t want to pack away everything every day. This way, they just get to close the doors on them and their rooms look neat. Then they can tidy it up when the exam or project is over. It has worked really well for us.

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Gem February 1, 2013 - 8:44 AM

My eldest has just started Preps and asked if he could have a desk in his room now. I said no to that, but after his first day I surprised him with his own desk and space in my home office. The room is off our lounge / dining so it is close enough to observe him while still letting him have some peace if its needed.

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Maree Weeks February 1, 2013 - 9:19 AM

Love the built in book ends! Great idea!

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Jo-Anne Wells February 1, 2013 - 10:05 AM

All my 4 had desks in their rooms and I only remember them to be a HUGE dumping ground for anything and everything. Throughout their high school years they may have used them from time to time. They each had their own computer in their rooms as well as laptops that were compulsory at their school from yr 5. It only encouraged them to be quite isolated and while they may have indicated they were studying, they weren’t! They are all bright so did well at school but my main concern is that it broke up our family talk and connectedness. All are at university now with only my youngest at home and she does her uni work at the dining table, insisting on total quiet so no tv for me while I’m getting dinner! She also asks me to ‘help’ her from time to time with her revision – anatomy & physiology names I can hardly pronounce! She says if she is in her room she won’t study as she will want to watch something on her laptop or catch up with friends on facebook. If I had my time over, I would not have desks in their rooms, nor would I have computers. Setting up an area in the house with separate desks and shelves would be my solution. They could help one another and it encourages them to put aside that time, which would increase as they get into the higher grades, and develop life long habits that can only be a benefit to whatever they intend to do with their lives.

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Katie B of HousewifeHowTos.com February 1, 2013 - 11:00 AM

My son has a desk in his room. What a waste of money! He sits at the kitchen table to do his homework since my laptop is there where I can keep an eye on him. The desk? It’s strewn with Pokemon cards and cat hair. I hate that thing.

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Annwen February 1, 2013 - 12:55 PM

We have just installed desks in our boys bedrooms because we have found that them doing homework at the kitchen table became difficult when one had to read out loud and the other was trying to write, or when there were distractions around. So far, the desks are working great. Ours are ones that are attached to the wall, and fold down when not in use, so they have been pre-warned that if they clutter up their desks, I will fold them down so they can’t.

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Sam-o February 1, 2013 - 3:44 PM

No. Bedrooms are for sleeping. Desks are in the playroom and office.

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Megan Harrington February 1, 2013 - 4:26 PM

Looks fantastic, and great to see a pic of your mum on the desk!

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Yermomma February 1, 2013 - 4:28 PM

You could always put a cheap thin curtain rod with a cute kitschy fabric across one of the shelves to make it more “hide the stuff” friendly, too. Thanks for showing the before and after. I now realize I need to get my daughters’ small bookcase out of her room, too…it’s just collecting junk & is unneeded.

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Tamara McCann February 2, 2013 - 11:51 AM

We needed to buy our 4 year old a new bed so decided on a cabin bunk for the added storage and it also has a pullout desk. At the moment it is pulled out halfway for her to use as a bedside table for her nightlight, stereo and drink. We thought this would be better than having a separate desk for when she is at school which would take up more room. The kids also have a craft table in their playroom.

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Jules February 2, 2013 - 1:51 PM

I have a 22yr old at uni and a 17yr old in yr12. Both have had desks in their bedrooms since primary school, which have served multiple purposes through the years, including a dumping ground for junk, clothes etc. Our house is relatively small.. we had/have no office/study or playroom, so the kids did their homework mostly at the dining table in primary school, and now work in their bedrooms (sitting on their beds!) I would get desks again (with shelves and drawers).. Whilst not always used for their original purpose, they are handy for keeping books and assorted school ‘paraphernalia’ together.(rather than on the floor!! .. anyone else with a teenage daughter? :))

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naomi February 2, 2013 - 2:19 PM

i don’t have a child old enough for a desk yet, but totally get how they can get messy, i had a desk as a child and similarly did not use it for homework as it was always too messy!

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Falon Downing February 10, 2013 - 12:02 AM

We have a desk in the front of the house where homework is done. It makes so much more sense than in the bedroom!

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Wendy November 12, 2013 - 7:12 AM

I have a whole spare room which eventually will be my sewing room, but am also considering making it part study space for my little man once he needs it. The room is quiet, bright and airy and I can cook tea and semi supervise while giving him space at the same time, perfect set up

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Wendy November 12, 2013 - 10:27 AM

I had a similar issue. I purchased a small desk, no drawers for homework. But I also sit with my son to do his homework at the dining table. The little desk in his room has become yet another surface for family members to stack stuff! Urghhh will I ever purge my house of clutter!!!

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Emily November 16, 2013 - 3:13 AM

My son has recently started asking me for a desk in his room, I’m uncertain on if i should or shouldn’t, I originally never did because the bedroom is for sleeping and I know what he is like, he will make any excuse to sit up, that and he isn’t the tidiest and I dont wont it to be another thing for him to leave his messy mark on lol.

On the other hand he does like to draw and colour so it would be nice for him to have his own set up and space.

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Monique (messpots) January 17, 2014 - 11:37 AM

I think you’ve made some really helpful and valid points regarding the need for a desk at a young age. But the end result of the makeover is beautiful and I love the caddy! Will be getting one for myself!! 🙂

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Jen January 17, 2014 - 11:39 AM

When they get to high school they will still most likely do it at the kitchen table and the desk will become a dumping ground for everything and anything.

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willowtttee January 17, 2014 - 11:49 AM

you could put storage under her bed some plastic boxes with wheels on them 🙂

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Infoxicating Lady January 17, 2014 - 11:50 AM

My oldest girl (aged 11) has a desk in her room. It’s an old school desk that we bought when hubby was at uni. The local boarding school was updating the accommodation furniture, so we picked it up for the bargain price of $5.
Retrospectively, it isn’t a great idea. She rarely does homework at it, and even though it has a lift up storage area, and shelves for books, it never gets used to store school stuffs.
My other two girls (ages 8 and 6) don’t have a desk in their room – and I like it that way. Middle Girl is very distracted, and requires a _lot_ of help with homework – she’s ADD, ODD, dyslexic, and just generally off with the fairies. Youngest Girl is only just starting year 1 this year, so homework to date has been sight words and reading – something I’ve had to do with her anyway.

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Lirit January 17, 2014 - 11:52 AM

My Miss 8 has had a desk in her room for about a year.. I say desk, but it is infact just a deep shelf built into the side of a chimney breast as her bedroom is only about a metre wider and longer than her bed (aside the extra 40cm ish depth of the tiny alcoves down the sides of the chimney – the other alcove has rails down it for her hanging clothes) Like others though, no mater how often I tidy it for her, it becomes a dump for clothes and junk mostly, but she isnt the tidiest of children.. How I would LOVE to know how to make the most of her room and give her the most practical and space efficient storage! I will not let Miss7 and Miss5 have a desk int he room they share, for the simple reason Miss 5 is notorious for drawing beyond the paper and over the table, walls, carpet etc if she is bored and left alone with a pen for too long….

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Meebeefee January 17, 2014 - 11:52 AM

I too had desks with hutches on top in both of my children’s bedrooms thinking they would sit in there and do their homework, drawing, etc, but they just became “dumping” space, there was never any room to “work” at the desk (and both often did homework at the kitchen table). The drawers of the desks would often fill up with items from the desk working space when they were told to clean their room and left there when the items should have been thrown out. I took the desks out of their rooms, sold them and put cube shelving in the rooms, taking up less space and more effective for storage/display.

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Mumme Halfdozen January 17, 2014 - 12:03 PM

I, too, regret buying desks for my childrens’ rooms. They dump everything on the desk and do their homework at the kitchen table or on the floor! I’m trying to convince hubby and the kids that we need to get rid of the desk and use a bookshelf or small cupboard in those spaces instead.

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Mich January 17, 2014 - 12:35 PM

We made a decision not to have desks in bedrooms when our eldest was a toddler (we also don’t really have toys in their room) we asked a lot of friends who already had children, where their children worked and almost everyone said the dining table, at least until those last few years of school. We love it, our computer is attached to the tv so we can keep an eye on what is happening there too! Thanks for affirming our choice!

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Shelly January 17, 2014 - 12:43 PM

My daughter has a vanity that was mine when I was little. I never kept it neat and used it like my mom had hoped either. Neither does my daughter, but I don’t really think it matters what furniture I get. I just don’t think she’ll keep it neat. lol

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Kiki Pitman January 17, 2014 - 1:23 PM

I grew up with a desk in my room and used it as a dumping ground. Knowing my daughter is quite like me I put the money into a great bookcase with blanket drawer instead. She occasionally does homework in her room on her bed (like I used to) but for the most part sits at the dining table to do it.

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Elce Maree January 17, 2014 - 1:42 PM

beautiful! I had a corner desk and hutch growing up, it had lots of shelves and three drawers to keep all my school books and reading books all tidy, though it rarely was 🙂 I LOVE this desk, it’s perfect! I also like the ones at Pottery Barn. My children are 2 and 4 this year so it’s a bit early for desks yet 🙂

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Nadine January 17, 2014 - 5:32 PM

Whilst the kids where away for a week these holidays I tackled the bedrooms and GONE with the desks too we now have a little study corner set up in a kinda nothing area other then a bookcase works a lot better then the rooms and the rooms are sooooo clean well the kids have only been home for 4 days lol

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Kylie Rogers January 17, 2014 - 7:35 PM

We have the same issue here. I love that caddy though, awesome idea.

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Deb Horne January 17, 2014 - 9:40 PM

No I don’t have a desk in my 2 younger boys (yr 2 and yr 4) rooms, and not sure why I do in my 13 yr old boys room either. I find no matter what age they are during school, they need to sit at the table for spelling, assignments, and other homework. We have a family computer where they all take turns at doing their computer related homework…and we check for tabs besides the one we can obviously see…usually games if we don’t check it. We also don’t let them spend their credits to buy stuff on the school programs until the weekend, just school work during the week and outside play. Mean, probably, but they are all doing well at school. I will continue to do this through high-school as well, my eldest is 22 now, and it’s one thing I regret not doing with him. He is doing well now (web designer), but it took him a long time to get to the place of study, now he sits in a clean area to do his studies and assignments, sometimes with the 3 younger boys. Good family time too – blessed mum of 6

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Kerith September 5, 2014 - 1:12 PM

I finished building a house about 12 months ago. We designed it with 2 studies ( adult & kids). We are now waiting for the joiner to complete the job of adding 3 IT workstations to the kids studies. Hope they use them 😉

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Katrina September 5, 2014 - 2:54 PM

That is a fantastic idea, Kerith!

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Katherine Dickson September 5, 2014 - 1:49 PM

My daughter is grade 9 and she hardly uses her desk for school work. It looks a lot like your before shot. Next year when we move, her bedroom will almost halve in size and her desk will be moved out of her room to the study. Here’s hoping it gets used for school work then.

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Katrina September 5, 2014 - 2:58 PM

Yes we also have a desk in the kids rooms but they do their homework at the dining table.

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Faith Gray September 5, 2014 - 2:53 PM

We’ve never had desks in kids’ rooms. The main reason nowadays is that as high school hits, computers and internet are major components to think about. Cyber bullying and on-line predators shouldn’t have access to your kids behind their closed bedroom doors. In primary, our kids did homework where I could keep an eye on things. Now for high school (and we’re almost finished), we have a big open plan study – every member of the family has a desk there and everything is visible. Phones, iPads or laptops aren’t allowed upstairs. Bedrooms are for sleeping in!

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Katrina September 5, 2014 - 3:01 PM

Totally agree with you, Faith. The kids sit in the dining room to do homework.

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Jo Cochrane September 5, 2014 - 11:24 PM

LOVE my 11 yr old boys desk in his room. Got one when he turned 9 and started wanting to use HIS laptop where he wouldn’t bother us. Don’t worry, we removed net access mostly and he was allowed a few choice sites like abc3 to play on.
Now his homework doesn’t require much mum assistance, he likes doing homework in there where he’s looking at a wall 🙂
Talking to me was always too big a distraction for him in the living room.
But the reason I actually love his desk is that it IS the dumping place for stuff…the stuff he leaves all over the lounge room, which I get to dump back on his desk…for him to sort.
I tidy it once a month or so, but yes it’s full of Star Wars toys and Pokemon cards and really makes his space his own

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Katrina September 8, 2014 - 10:10 AM

Jo, i am pleased to hear it is working well for you.

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Daniella January 24, 2015 - 12:33 PM

we have a desk in our open space living room – my 6 year old an sit and do his reading and minor homework on the mornings – and I am nearby getting everything done. He also does his craft/drawing there instead of all over the house. I will put an old laptop there for him as well when the time comes we can always see what is going on.i also use the desk for me to work on when both hubby and I are working from home (not very often).

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toni January 24, 2015 - 1:39 PM

My 6 yr old daughter wanted a desk for christmas. Knowing the mess would drive me crazy I purchased an old roll top timber desk and sanded it back and painted it white. Now when it’s a mess I just pull down the roll top and you can’t see it. The desk only cost me $40 plus the time of sanding it back and painting it but I’m really glad I went the way I did. She sits at it all the time to colour in and draw but still does her homework at the dining table ????

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toni January 24, 2015 - 1:40 PM

My 6 yr old daughter wanted a desk for christmas. Knowing the mess would drive me crazy I purchased an old roll top timber desk and sanded it back and painted it white. Now when it’s a mess I just pull down the roll top and you can’t see it. The desk only cost me $40 plus the time of sanding it back and painting it but I’m really glad I went the way I did. She sits at it all the time to colour in and draw but still does her homework at the dining table ????

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Emily January 24, 2015 - 5:43 PM

We have very differing ideas on tidiness… I didn’t think the before photo was too bad! Maybe just a touch cluttered, but I would be fairly happy with that!
But then, I’ve got a 19 month old who makes a constant mess and things are usually hastily put on a shelf so he can’t reach it…. I dread to think what you would think of my house lol! But I know that further down the line, when he’s older, I’ll be able to sort things out better and clean properly more often too, so I don’t fuss too much. (About once a month, I’ll go in a rage though and shout that everyone needs to help me out “right now! Today! We’re sorting things out!!”)

With regards to the desk issue – I can’t remember not having a desk in my bedroom. It probably came along when I started primary school. But then, I had a very big bedroom and I didn’t do my homework at a separate designated space. I’m not sure how I will do this here with my son, as my personal desk is quite small and gets cluttered very easily – and our dining table aready doubles up as my sewing table! We’ve found some cute old fashioned school desks (the kind with the kid that lifts up!) and I already keep his pens and colourful papers in there, so I think I will make this his homework space too, when the time comes.

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Sally January 24, 2015 - 10:45 PM

Got my kids desks for their rooms even before they went to school! They did some of their homework at the dining room table, but stuff they needed to concentrate on was done at their desks in their rooms. Have to say the desks were often a mess, but all worked out in the end. One is busy with the last year of becoming a doctor and the other is well on the way of becoming a chartered accountant.

I also have always had a desk. It is still often a mess, but is an essential part my career as an academic. Love our desks. 🙂

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LEE January 25, 2015 - 3:33 AM

we have 3 kids and 1 on the way. we wanted to find a better solution than buying 4 study desks for each child and all the accessories to go with it for their studying (gets very expensive when you think about it). Also we want our kids to defrienciate that our bedrooms are for sleeping in, not for studying. so we decided to buy a conference table (2nd hand) to use as a study desk (our master bedroom is now a computer/study room). so that every member can use, see and help each other with their homework. (at least one of us if not 2 parents is in the computer/study room to help out). we also have 1 bookshelf (4 rows 4 columns) in there. kids get one cube each to put their things in (will change as the kids get older & more homework comes in..might need to get another bookshelf later on, but thats okay) and then the rest of the sections has either pens, paper, etc. accessories that the family can all share). we also have 3 computer tables in the study room (2 is for us and 1 is for the kids to share..if we are not using it than the kids can use it, but its unlikely as we both need it for our work). we also use the conference table. i think its great for the kids to see that mommy and daddy also needs to study/work and their not alone with their studies. we are very happy with our little layout and plus its family bonding *^___^*

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Kids Desks Brisbane - Bambino Home July 12, 2016 - 4:56 PM

Thanks to Katrina for sharing such a relevant post on kid’s furniture. Owing to the smaller size of the room for kids, accommodating surplus furniture is ill-advised. These furniture like chairs, tables, desks and others can eat up a lot of space in the room, thereby restricting movement in the room.

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Kids Desks Brisbane - Bambino Home July 18, 2016 - 11:04 PM

Among the must-haves furniture for your kid’s room, there’s nothing more important than kid’s desks. Brisbane boasts of a number of excellent kid’s furniture stores that offer attractively designed yet sturdy kid’s desks for daily use. However, as pointed out by Katrina in her blog post, making the most of the available space in the kid’s room is important and overstocking the room with unnecessary furnishings is ill-advised.

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Xenia February 10, 2017 - 11:40 AM

I really appreciate your honesty in saying you made a mistake.

Then I love the way you fixed it.

Right for you = right!

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Kadi March 25, 2017 - 10:31 PM

Oh wow, the desk and shelves you bought is just what I’m looking for. Do you remember where you purchased it from?

I love how the room looks now!

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alex August 20, 2019 - 7:17 PM

Keeping your child active and fresh while doing homework is a tedious task. Ergonomics desk and chair keep your child physically engaged so they can focus more on doing their homework.

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