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.
“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?
“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?