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Back to School: DIY Homework Station

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Now that school is back in session, and we’re in a new home and new school district, we’re working to get our routine back on track. Mornings are pretty solid, but afternoons are a bit trickier. In this county, my daughter gets home from school a full hour later than she used to, so homework has to be an immediate priority. With video games, TV and computer all downstairs, it’s really easy for her to get distracted when she comes home instead of staying on task. And while she’s had a desk in her room for quite some time, she’s never really used it.


When Walmart challenged me to share a back-to-school project, I knew it was time to change that. I set up a DIY homework station for my daughter so she’ll have a dedicated place to get her work done every day.

As I mentioned, we already had the desk, but it wasn’t exactly exciting. The desktop had become more of a place to dump random stuff than a work area.


I headed to Walmart to pick up some supplies to personalize the area and make it more functional, including:


Combined with some artwork and supplies we already had on hand, I knew I could create a space where my daughter could work uninterrupted.

First things first: Ever since I put baby Juliza’s name on her wall, Ja’Naya has wanted the same thing. But since I’m not one to duplicate projects around the house, I decided instead to get numbers representing the year Ja’Naya will graduate from elementary school. However, my store didn’t have all the numbers I needed. Darn it. I caved and just went with the last part of her name: Naya.


Like I did in Juliza’s room, I simply painted the letters in various colors and added sawtooth picture hangers in the back. Click here for more details about that.

The colors were inspired by her duvet cover:


Next, I set out to cover the desktop magazine holder in Duck tape. Because though it will be a functional place to put assignments she’s working on at home — particularly ones that she has a few days to complete — black isn’t exactly pretty. Duck tape to the rescue!


I covered the magazine holder in strips of floral patterned tape. There are a lot of ways to go about this, but I chose to do vertical strips with a little overlap at the top edge. I covered the entire file, including the bottom — a simple project with a beautiful payoff at the end.

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But my DIY streak wasn’t over yet. We have hundreds of pencils around the house, but my daughter can never seem to find one. Of course. So I knew any functional homework station would have to have a pencil cup. I found a cute one, but I wanted nice pencils too. We already have so many that buying more was out of the question. Instead, I covered some of the many we already had with Washi tape so they’d fit the color scheme.


Simply cut a piece of Washi tape about as long as the pencil. Cut one end with scissors so it will be straight. Put the straight edge right under the eraser and wrap it vertically around the pencil. It may take two pieces of tape to cover the whole pencil. Easy peasy!

Washi tape is really thin and easy to tear. When she needs to sharpen a pencil, she can simply peel some of the tape back from the end and tear it off.

Finally, it was time to put it all together. In addition to the painted letters and chalkboards, I wanted to put her framed art back on the walls. I started by laying everything out on the floor so I could see how it would work together before I put it all on the wall.


Once I had decided on placement, I hung everything on the wall. But it still felt a little…spare.


No problem. There’s always more artwork and random items that still didn’t have a place when we moved from the apartment to the house. I added a cork/dry erase board to the right that she’ll be able to use as a “vision board” of sorts, and the new clock above it.


Finally, I balanced the whole art wall with a large framed print on the left.


Please ignore the fact that the chalkboards are blank. I had these grand ideas to draw a homework checklist on one board and something inspirational on the other, but after our move, I couldn’t find the chalk. Whoops. I’ll update the photos once I locate it.

Anyway, the magazine file, pencil cup and tin went on the desk , opposite her alarm clock and piggy bank.


If you’re wondering why she has two clocks, the answer is simple: She needs the alarm clock because she wakes herself up in the morning, but I’d still like her to stay in the habit of telling time on a traditional clock.

The best part about this whole thing? It was a surprise! She came home from school to find a whole new setup in her room, and she was actually excited to do her homework there.

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I can’t lie: The prospect of decorating a home that is so much larger than our old apartment has made me feel a little overwhelmed, but tackling small projects like this one and a couple in the nursery have broken the ice a bit, and I’m starting to get the decorating itch again. Now…if someone can cut me a check for a couple thousand dollars, I can get it all done. No? OK. Like always, we’ll find a way to make our home beautiful on a budget 🙂

Disclosure: As a participant in the Walmart Moms Program, I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and efforts in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Affiliate links have been used.

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4 comments… add one
  • Samantha Sophia August 21, 2014, 6:58 pm

    Awesome, I love the tape on the box!

    • jennae August 25, 2014, 10:35 am

      Thanks Samantha! I swear, I need to use Duck tape on everything, because the payoff is immediate and beautiful!

  • Sheena September 7, 2014, 5:50 am

    Love Ja’Naya’s new space! I hear ya on needing some moolah for decor projects. We can use some new sofas, rugs, and artwork. I’m actually relieved that our new place is smaller. Our old place never felt done. Decorating has been easier in the new place since we have excess that can be used differently.

  • XD December 5, 2014, 6:29 am

    It is such a lovely idea! Even with simple materials, you get to have this corner at home where yes, your daughter, can really study and do her work. Not only is it with a functional design, it’s also really pretty. Kudos!

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