Home trend: How to create your family information center

If you are trying to figure how to carve out the perfect family information center in your home, you are not alone. The big home trend according to The Associated Press is the family information center and reporter and mom Melissa Rayworth asked designers how to create one at home. Here’s what she learned.

From The Associated Press:

“Increasingly, homeowners are carving out physical space — anything from a single kitchen cabinet to an entire spare room — that can function as a family information center and workstation.

“To battle clutter and keep track of schedules, designer Brian Patrick Flynn helps clients kick the habit of spreading out items all around their homes. “These days, it’s pretty much a given that families use their kitchen islands, dining tables and/or coffee tables as prime real estate for laptops, school papers, iPhones and mail,” says Flynn, founder and editor of www.decordemon.com.

“When I’m designing entire homes, especially ones foryoung families, the first thing I focus on is locating a seldom-used corner, section or nook somewhere easily accessible to create an organizational hub. This usually follows my tirade of, ‘No more using the dining table or breakfast nook as a clutter station!’ “

So how do you design that space and what do you need?

From The AP:

“What you need

“A calendar (paper, digital or both) that the whole family can access; storage space for incoming mail, invitations, etc., where things won’t get forgotten; a message board (dry-erase white boards and/or corkboards are popular) where family members can post and share information; a labeled bin or section of corkboard space for each family member; a power strip for charging electronic devices, with shelf or desk space to hold those items while charging.

“Ideally, the space will also include a work surface. Many families also want to include a laptop or desktop computer for homework or checking email.

“Where to put it

“Homes built in the past few years often come with a “bonus room.” These spaces work well for family organization centers. Atlanta-based designer Mallory Mathison says she has helped clients convert a pantry or small closet into an organizational hub. She suggests removing the doors and adding a deep shelf for use as a desktop. Shelves can be added to the wall above the desktop, along with a message board and calendar.

“If you lack a spare room or closet, designer Cortney Novogratz suggests choosing one corner of your kitchen. Novogratz, co-star of HGTV’s “Home by Novogratz” series, suggests lining the cabinet door with the calendar and corkboard or dry-erase board, then adding small bins on the cabinet shelves for each family member’s items.

“For additional storage, she suggests a rolling cart with labeled drawers, where each child in the family can keep things like pending work or art supplies.

“The costliest option is hiring a carpenter to install a built-in, custom workstation with desktop, shelving and closed storage. A less expensive alternative, Flynn suggests, is to buy two kitchen cabinets from a big-box home improvement store and two prefab bookcases.

“Assemble the cabinets, then the bookcases, and stack the latter directly on top of the cabinets. Fasten them to the wall, then add some basic molding to the front edges, creating “the look of custom built-ins, but for only a few hundred bucks.”

“If space is really limited, Mathison suggests searching estate sales (or your attic) for one large piece of furniture, such as a wooden secretary, which has a desktop and a mix of open and closed storage. Refinish it with several coats of glossy paint and, if necessary, drill holes in the back for power cords.

“How to make it work

“Flynn suggests using bright colors to help draw you to your organizational space, and successful homework projects and tests can be posted alongside your kids’ artwork for added inspiration. He also suggests planning it carefully based on your family’s specific needs: Do older kids need extra space for homework? Are you juggling lots of appointments and need to make your calendar the centerpiece?

“Novogratz suggests using both a family calendar and business calendar so you can easily mark things on both, and kids can see when you’ll be busy with work commitments. If scheduling is key, post items like invitations in a prominent spot, or keep them in an in-box that you’ll check regularly.”

I’ve talked before about wanting those hanging wooden file bins with bulletin boards from Pottery Barn but I just couldn’t pay what they were asking. I opted for heavy cardboard bins and bulletin boards from Target (also one-tenth the price) and they are working great.  When the kids bring home things that need to be signed, studied or kept, I stick them in their bin and I know exactly where to find them. I’ll pin up invitations or church reminders but a lot of times those dates go directly into my Google calendar  so I can access it from my phone or computer.

So what are you using for a home information center? What have you retrofitted, built or added? How can you get organized for less? What is the most essential tool in your information center – is it file storage, pin boards for posting, or white boards for reminders? Do you have a paper calendar or use your phone? Do your teens share your Google calendar or iPhone calendar on their phones too?

21 comments Add your comment


February 6th, 2013
6:31 am

Why does every paragraph have an open quotation sign?

Where is Dadmania?

Is the point of this column to prove the stereotype that women like staying in the kitchen?
That women are helpless: Should we travel alone?
Not very intelligent and need a column to help them with the Major Challenges of their World:
Should I use a paper calendar?


February 6th, 2013
6:52 am

After yesterday’s column DB and I are taking a trip together…to Chicago! We will keep an eye on each other :).


February 6th, 2013
7:33 am

Bubba… I agree with you 100%. I’ve started to feel very emancipated reading this blog. I’ve come a long way baby.


February 6th, 2013
8:15 am

What is the point of a laptop if you only use it in one place? I think most folks figure out a system that works just fine for them w/o having to pay for it.

MJG- how many weapons are you taking?


February 6th, 2013
8:19 am

Family information center=Mom.


February 6th, 2013
8:31 am

We kept a dry erase board in the kitchen with a weekly/monthly calendar. We didn’t need to remodel the entire house or spend thousands of dollars for an “information center”.

Agree 100% with Catlady!!!


February 6th, 2013
8:42 am

Gee, Bubba, judge people much? You seem to like questions, so here are a few:

- Why did you capitalize Major, Challenges, and World in your blog?
- Why do you read a blog you obviously have no use for and don’t like, then blog that you don’t like it?
- Are your kids just like you?
- Do you or your kids think someone is stupid because they watch a television show you don’t like? (My guess is yes.)
- Your momma’s just like you, right? Many of our adult behavioral problems develop during childhood and are learned from our parents.
- It makes you feel better to belittle or judge others, doesn’t it? (That’s why folks judge others – to make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings.)


February 6th, 2013
8:54 am

When we moved into our new house we took the dinning room over and put two desks and a bookshelf in there and made that our computer station/scrapbooking/craft room. I wanted a space where I could see what our daughter was up to on the computer as well as having one spot in the house where I could keep things within reach and know that it is all in the “one room.” While we do entertain and without having the dinning room, we have found it much more fun to sit outside and have dinner (weather permitting) than it would be in a “stuffy” unused room. Most homes that have dinning room use it as a dumping ground or it is just a nice room to look at.
Mind you, this is just our home, but whatever works for one person, might not work for the next.


February 6th, 2013
9:07 am

We keep a calendar on the refrigerator. We also keep sports schedules on it, or on the desk in the kitchen. If you want mommy and daddy to remember it, put it on the calendar! Also, if I’m told I will put it on my phone with a reminder buzz. I always say, if it’s not on my phone or on the fridge, it will probably be forgotten!

Sk8ing Momma

February 6th, 2013
10:58 am

Our kitchen is our information center:

1. Wall calendar, with space enough to write on each date, on the side of the refrigerator. It’s our master calendar and we all live by it!

2. My husband and I maintain calendars on our phones. It’s a must to have our calendars on the go.

3. We have a slotted container for mail on the kitchen counter. (We really need to do more on-line billing!) Mail is our nemesis…too much paper. ACK!!

4. We have a chalkboard wall in our kitchen. *thumbs up* Although we don’t really use it for messages, it’s there if we’d like.

5. We use a small cork board and magnetic clips on the refrigerator for hanging notices, invitations, etc.

6. Annually we purchase an A-Z accordion file for storing important household documents. (Never mind that we often get behind in our filing…ACK!!!)


February 6th, 2013
11:22 am

Evidently it is just me, but I have no use, nor need, to keep anything on my phone, on a calendar, or anywhere else in the house (OK, maybe a grocery list).

I was able to keep up with two kids through multiple sports and activities before HS, during HS, and during their college days, and wev did not miss a thing at any time or place because we “forgot”. To me, this is just another nail in the process of “dumbing down” America, because, IMHO, if you cannot remember who goes where, and when then it is because you are just not paying attention.

And, I agree with Mayhem, 100% – We didn’t need to remodel the entire house or spend thousands of dollars for an “information center”. LOL – this sounds like an ad for both a home construction company and a “community organizer” – UH, OH!


February 6th, 2013
1:28 pm

Calendar on the fridge door worked fine for us. When they would bring papers home, I would sign them immediately and they would go back into their bags. I tended to collect a pile of papers on my kitchen desk for backup after I had put a date on the calendar, and I’d go through them periodically discarding what I didn’t need anymore. When the kids were in high school/college, we all used Google Calendar, so i could open it up at any time and see when their classes were, what their schedules were — not because I needed to manage them, but so that I would know not to call at 3:30 pm on Thursday because that’s when they were at rehearsal, etc. They would also post dates on calendars such as graduation, concerts, fraternity parent days, spring breaks, exam days, etc. Seems to work pretty well. Now that my son is on his own and working out of state, his calendar is his own business, he’s dropped off the “family net”. :-)


February 6th, 2013
1:44 pm

Growing up, mom had a paper calendar and a four color pen. Each person had their own color and everyone’s events made it on the calendar. Our blended family has a lot of scheduling changes, and the kids may be at the other household when they have sports. So, we have a family Google calendar. I’m the family organizer, but I can’t be everywhere with each of the 4 kids no matter how hard I try. The calendar works great. Everyone has access to the calendar and can add anything they need to including assignments due in school. When they are with their other parents and have ball games, the calendar has the game time and address even though of course schedules are provided to the other parents once they are received. It just keeps me from having to repeat everything to each member of the family. If they try to act as if they aren’t aware of something, they get my response, “it was on the calendar”.


February 6th, 2013
1:47 pm

Now, getting rid of the mail clutter is another matter…since we pay most bills electronically, most items that come in the mail are junk. But of course, every once in a while, we get things that look like junk but are actually important. I’ve finally gotten to the point that I look through the mail once a week standing by the shredder. However, it seems that no matter how hard we try, the mail ends up in different stacks each day…


February 6th, 2013
1:53 pm

I have a really big calender on my refrigerator that everything gets written down on. We have been doing this for years…it really keeps everyone on track. It is one thing to have a good memory- but with multiple kids, multiple schools, MANY sports, clubs, activities and appointments- I KNOW that if it is on the calendar it won’t be forgotten.


February 6th, 2013
2:01 pm

Tiffany – you sound like a VERY busy person. Do you ever have/make time for yourself with all that going on???? LOL

A Realist

February 6th, 2013
2:30 pm

Lame topic. Next! Is it Thursday yet?


February 6th, 2013
3:01 pm

I agree. That past few subjects have been lame….should MOM’s travel alone (I’m sure MJG would be an EXPERT on this)… Would you sign in to a web site to shop? do you need a home organizer? Should I tell my spouse I want a divorce or just spring it on them……


February 6th, 2013
3:34 pm

Mayhem, I actually got a kick out of reading the divorce one but agree the others have been less than interesting.


February 6th, 2013
5:44 pm

I did myself a favor a year ago and installed a wall mount file folder holder. Each day’s mail goes in it (no clutter on the table) and I only go through it once a week. Sort, shred, done.


February 6th, 2013
6:04 pm


re: – It makes you feel better to belittle or judge others, doesn’t it? (That’s why folks judge others – to make themselves feel better about their own shortcomings.)

You were looking int the mirror when you typed this, weren’t you?

Many of us readers share the same opinion – this column is pathetic