The back-to-school season offers the perfect opportunity to create a kitchen designed for homework and family organization. If your child is able to sit at a kitchen island or table while doing homework, you can give them some oversight and help answer any questions they may have. The final design we create is always individual to the client we are serving and the ages of their kids. We’ve come up with some great solutions through the years to manage clutter so that the overflow of book bags, school supplies, endless papers, and permission slips don’t take over your beautiful kitchen. The kitchen is the most logical place for family organization and school success. Let’s look at some ways you can create a multi-use, school-friendly kitchen.
SOLUTION #1: CREATE A COMMAND CENTRAL
There are several ways to make the kitchen design work for you, and creating a “command central” tops the list. In this phone and charging station cabinet, we added two narrow drawers so our clients could keep an oversized calendar in one drawer and invitations to events in another drawer. Two tabbed file drawers on the left are labeled for school physicals, school forms, bills to pay, kitchen product guides, and more. One of the two deep drawers on the right is used as a mail drawer and the other is a library book drawer. The upper cabinets on the left and right have open shelves and are used for cookbooks, mom’s pocketbook, keys, and school supplies like loose-leaf paper, report folders, and construction paper. Behind the pocket doors is the phone and answering machine.
Drawers above the deep drawers store pencils, pens, highlighters, scissors, staplers, and other miscellaneous school supplies. You may be surprised that the client chose to use the two narrow small drawers flanking each side of the upper cabinet for last minute grooming. On one side is a brush, comb, pony-tail ties, and a nail clipper. The other side stores toothpaste and toothbrushes. How’s that for efficiency in a small space? There’s even room for overflow wine glass storage in the far top cabinet, and by mid December, those might be very handy to have within reach.
SOLUTION #2: CREATE MULTIPLE FUNCTIONAL AREAS IN THE KITCHEN, DEN, OR BEDROOM WITH SMART STORAGE
If you have very small children, kitchen-cabinet baskets or easy to reach drawers are a wonderful place to swap out the potatoes and veggies and store crayons, markers, coloring books, puzzles, or small toys. Storage should be smart and work for your needs. Under counter refrigerator drawers allow your kids to get their own drinks and snacks — quite empowering to do things for themselves. If you have room to build a custom desk in their rooms, we can help with this too. Here we created a desk area in black cabinetry in a teen boy’s bedroom.
SOLUTION #3: EMBRACE ISLAND LIFE TO ENCOURAGE INTERACTION
I personally love a kitchen island with stools if you have the room. It is a perfect place for kids to spread out their books and papers. There is also nothing better than being in the same room to encourage conversation while cooking and capture their attention in the morning while eating breakfast. For years (and I still do this), I kept a small chalkboard like this one from our Amazon affiliate on the kitchen island. I add a vocabulary word each day to it. By the weekend there are five new words. For every word the kids remember, I’d give them a dollar. That is their allowance; chores are mandatory. Some weeks I let the kids choose the words, and they would try to stump us with their picks. In our home, the kitchen island naturally became our homework station. In some instances, a kitchen island can potentially eliminate the need for a separate kitchen table. In an ideal world, you have room for both. Work with your designer to determine what works best for your family.
SOLUTION #4: ADD A KITCHEN CLOCK
If your microwave doesn’t have a clock, add a clock to the kitchen. Some kitchen clocks are so beautiful they look like art in and of themselves. I wouldn’t bother setting the clocks ahead to avoid being late. My kids figured that out quickly and knew exactly how fast the clock was and how much time they “really” had.
SOLUTION #5: DISPLAY THEIR ART AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Showcasing your children’s art is a wonderful way to add personality to the kitchen (or any room) and make them feel valued. There are plenty of ways to display artwork, ceramic projects, and certificates attractively. This frame is designed to easily swap out artwork, and you can always use a countertop display stand or cake pedestal to showcase their ceramic creations.
SOLUTION #6: BUILD A MUDROOM
If your children are athletes with a lot of sporting equipment, then you may want to create a mudroom if you have the space. A mudroom is also a fantastic place to display their creative works. See this post: The Secret to a Great Kitchen is a Great Mudroom. Another fun idea is to take a picture of your child’s artwork. Later, you can create a photo book timeline of their creations.
With a few simple modifications, you can turn your kitchen into a place that encourages school success.