Residential Study Spaces: Back-to-School Architectural Ideas for the Family

Elissa Morgante, AIA

Elissa Morgante, AIA
Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson

Aug 14, 2014 - 5 min read

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Residential Study Spaces: Back-to-School Architectural Ideas for the Family

As residential architects – and parents of three kids – Fred and I know well the importance of designated study spaces for children of all ages. Whether they attend elementary school or high school, kids need quiet, well-organized places to spread out with textbooks, laptops, pens and paper. Many of their parents – at least here on Chicago’s North Shore – also request study spaces that allow Mom and Dad to keep a watchful eye on Internet use. Yet they don’t necessarily want their children studying at the kitchen island, where activity levels – and potential distractions – are high. At Morgante Wilson Architects, we know there are plenty of smart ways to tuck homework stations and reading nooks into square footage you already have. Here, some of our best-learned lessons:


This hallway – lined with books from floor to ceiling – provides easy
access to reading material. Designate one shelf for each child to store
their textbooks on, and they’ll never ask if anyone’s seen their science
book again. Bonus: books add incomparable warmth, texture, and visual
interest wherever they’re stored – even on often-ignored hallway walls!

This second-floor hallway is transformed into an ideal homework station thanks to individual computer stations, file drawers, and plenty of shelf space. Bright task lighting, comfortable seating, and a shared printer and telephone complete the office-like arrangement.

A chalkboard wall in a child’s bedroom is fun – think study break! – and functional. Doodle between homework assignments, or work out a math problem by writing on the wall.

Dormers are not only charming architectural additions, but the recesses they create within a room – or in this case, a hallway – are easily transformed into cozy homework stations. Colorful walls cheer the space; an extra chair allows Mom or Dad to offer assistance if necessary.

An inviting reading nook is another bright idea. This one features a cushioned bench and plenty of pillows, welcoming kids to curl up with assigned reading – or bedtime stories – in style. Books store cleverly below; recessed lighting is secreted in millwork above.

Even spelling lists can be made to seem special when they’re studied at a desk like this one. Shelves transition from stuffed animal display to textbook storage as kids get older; deep drawers and a generous work surface make it easy to tackle big projects. A slender length of cork board maximizes wall space.

Of course, planning bookshelf storage into any room of your home reminds kids of the importance of reading. These warm wood shelves make a stunning design statement even as they provide much-needed storage.

Want to learn more about how to incorporate study spaces into your home? Give us a call. We’ve got plenty of ideas that really make the grade!

Elissa Morgante, AIA

Elissa Morgante, AIA

Founding Partner at Award Winning Chicago Architects, Morgante Wilson