(Edited from AP) Getting a family organized requires more than a few well-chosen New Year’s resolutions. In an effort to battle clutter and keep track of schedules, designer Brian Patrick Flynn helps clients kick the habit of spreading out items around their homes.

(Edited from AP) Getting a family organized requires more than a few well-chosen New Year’s resolutions. In an effort to battle clutter and keep track of schedules, designer Brian Patrick Flynn helps clients kick the habit of spreading out items 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 decordemon.com.
Here, Flynn and two other interior designers offer tips on creating the perfect family headquarters to wrangle homework assignments, invitations, permission slips, calendars and more.

WHAT DO YOU NEED?

The key pieces are:
– a calendar (paper, digital or both) that the whole family can access

– accessible storage space for incoming mail, invitations and permission slips 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 assigned to each family member

– a power strip for charging electronic devices, with shelf or desk space to keep those items while charging

Ideally, the space will also include a work surface where kids can do homework and parents can handle tasks like filling out permission slips. Many families also include a laptop or desktop computer for homework or checking e-mail. If you have a computer handy, you’re more likely to enter information digitally and eliminate paper clutter.

WHERE TO PUT IT?

Homes built in the past few years often come with what Flynn calls a “bonus room” with no designated purpose. These small, spare rooms work well as a family organization center, as do mudrooms.

Atlanta-based designer Mallory Mathison has helped clients convert a pantry or small closet into an organizational hub. She suggests removing the doors to open up the space, then adding a deep shelf that can be used 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, since it’s a room the entire family uses daily. Novogratz, co-star of HGTV’s “Home by Novogratz” series, lives in Manhattan with her husband and seven children. She often works with clients who have limited space, so she advises them to use a single kitchen cabinet as their organizational hub.

WHAT FURNITURE DO YOU NEED?

The costliest option is hiring a carpenter to install a built-in, custom workstation with a desktop, shelving and closed storage.

Flynn suggests a cheaper alternative: Buy two kitchen cabinets from a big-box home improvement store, and two pre-fab bookcases. Assemble the cabinets, then the bookcases and stack them directly on top of the base cabinets. Mount them to the wall and add some basic molding to the front edges, creating “the look of custom built-ins, but for only a few hundred bucks.”

HOW DO YOU MAKE IT WORK?

Even the best system won’t work unless you use it. Flynn says beautiful, bright colors can help draw you to your organizational space, and successful homework projects and tests can be posted alongside your kids’ artwork for added inspiration.

If scheduling is key, post pending items like permission slips and invitations in a prominent spot or keep them in an in-box that you’ll check regularly.

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