If you're battling your teen over homework and are looking for strategies that will yield more study time, then letting your child paint, decorate, and design their study areas could provide results.
A survey conducted by Lowe's and Ipsos Public Affairs, a North American division of the Ipsos Group, the world's third largest survey-based public opinion and market research organization, found that 96 percent of teens say they would like studying at home more if they could design a cool study space.
"A teen's room can be compared to his or her first apartment. It's a place where they socialize, study, relax and experiment with their own sense of style," said Melissa Songbird, director of trend forecasting and design at Lowe's. "When it comes to customizing décor, no aspect of home life is off limits to teens -- including their study nooks."
When it comes to must-haves, some 37 percent of the teens surveyed said technology is a must, saying computers and music are key. Next on the list are comfort items -- items that contribute to a setting reminiscent of a bookstore café or coffee shop.
High-tech looks can be achieved through technical, modern track lighting and wire rack organizing units. And area rugs, warm colors, and smaller desk lamps can add a more intimate feel.
Teens also weighed in on the following:
Some 77 percent would like to be organized with storage shelves, file cabinets and bookcases.
About 52 percent would like a blackboard, corkboard or dry-erase board.
Color is big. Some 73 percent want to pick their own hue. Girls tend to go for the funky, trendy look with brightly colored walls, linens and furniture. Boys prefer a sporty, preppy style with plaids, neutral colors and woods.
In her book, Kids' Rooms: A Hands-On Decorating Guide, (Rockport Publishers Inc., 2001) Anna Kasabian underscores the study's findings. She says it's important to let your child's study area reflect who they are. Kasabian is a writer and editor who specializes in interior design.
"Children's study areas, perhaps more than any other area in their rooms, reflect who they are, what their interests are, and who they are becoming," she said. "They come here for privacy, inspiration, reflection, and creativity."
When it comes to younger kids and their study areas, she suggests beginning with deciding where the desk will go. Then ask them how they would like to decorate. If they have a favorite collection, display it on a shelf above the desk.
"Other items that can enhance a study area are photos of family and friends, trophies, and framed school papers they are proud of," she said. "To ensure the area remains visually pleasing, provide the tools needed to keep these items organized."
Some of those tools, she said, include bulletin boards, unique tin containers that can be freshened up with paint, and special or unusual boxes.
For college-aged students, decorating the dorm room is just as important, according to designers at Home Depot.
"A dull and dreary dorm room isn't exactly the most welcoming sight," said Karen Thompson, a designer with Home Depot. "Inexpensive products combined with creative touches can help turn a new space into more than just a place to sleep."
She suggests the following:
Extra light. Add a desk lamp for studying and a floor lamp for general warmth.
Paint an accent wall in your school colors. Pick up furniture at garage sales or flea markets and paint it, too.
Double your space -- or at least give that illusion by adding a wall or door mirror.
Stay organized. Use plastic totes or under-the-bed storage bags. Closet organizers can double storage space. Hooks and knobs are useful for coats, backpacks and damp towels.
Keep the air fresh. Fans will circulate air and a portable inexpensive air purifier will help reduce odors and common air-born allergens. As a finishing touch, add a few plants.