Create a DIY back-to-school study area

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It's official: School's in. Just keep in mind that your kid's homework grades won't be as high as they could be if they're scrawling answers onto loose leaf while watching their favorite cartoon in the living room. Creating an organized, quiet study area (that's cool enough for your prized pupil to actually want to spend time there) means better grades, but it doesn't mean you've got to add on to the house. Here are some great ideas to create a study area that'll make your kids want to, well, study.

You'll need a work surface, seating, adequate storage, proper lighting, and, if you want to go crazy, a bulletin board. Some of my favorite DIY desk ideas come via Instructables.com. You can...

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...make a wall desk with bookshelves

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...put a work station in a closet-turned-nook

VD01AA-600 When considering task lighting, you want something that'll prevent eye-strain and cover the entire workspace.The Verilux Original Natural Spectrum Desk Lamp (right, $49) is designed to optimize black and white contrast and relax eyes over time, the latter thanks to reduction of flicker and glare.

Oft overlooked when creating homework and study areas is the bulletin board; someplace for students to display good grades and art projects, or leave calendars, notes, and reminders. Not to mention, hang a Hannah Montana and/or Jo Bros poster or two. My niece and I created a fun configuration on her wall out of Quartet 12x12 Cork Tiles ($12). Covering an entire small wall with the stuff might be fun too, if it's something you don't mind doing.

For more on setting up a study area with help from thisoldhouse.com, see:

-How to Install Wall-Mounted Shelves

-Built-in Storage

-How to Build a Bookcase

-Kitchen Offices

-Wi-Fi vs. Your Walls