[Smart Spaces: Back to School]
Words by Ursula Hegvik
Photography by Dan Francis Photography
If your house is like mine, mornings can feel like a circus. Sometimes rounding up my monkeys goes smoothly and sometimes it’s like herding cats. So I’d like to share some things this ringmaster has learned along the way to help your mornings be more enjoyable. To help get my point across, I recruited my wonderful neighbors and clients, Holly Hass and her two daughters, Kianna (11), and Justice (15).
In the mudroom or entry closet…
The place where you leave the house and come back in every day is very important for organization. When there are shoes scattered all over the floor, in the way of the door, backpacks don’t have a special spot, and hats and gloves get strewn around - it makes for chaos. If you have a nice large mudroom, awesome! Ideally, there should be hooks for backpacks, jackets and hoodies. I cannot stress the importance of shoe shelves enough. I would give up cubby space to max out vertical shoe shelves.
If your entry area is small and cramped, it’s even more important to maximize the organization in this area. At a minimum, hanging space and shoe shelves are a must. If the closet or hallway is tight, perhaps there’s other wall space nearby that could be utilized. Hooks can go just about anywhere without being in the way too much.
In the garage...
If your needs can’t be met in these areas, there’s usually available space in the garage. During our cold winter months, that may not seem ideal, but if you have extra shelf space for shoes or more hanging space to accommodate everyone in the family, you can have your kids get in the habit of moving the things into the house when they wake up in the morning so that the items will be nice and warm by the time they need to leave for school.
I like to have baskets, drawers or containers for each family member’s gloves, hats and scarves in the mudroom or entry closet. These don’t have to be super large or in the way to help with the clutter problems. Extra hats, mittens and scarves can be kept nearby, but the everyday items should have an easy-to-access place near the door.
One of my favorite tips for this area of the home is to have socks in a drawer, basket or container near the shoes. This has been so helpful in my house. If the socks weren’t in the mudroom, I’d forever be sending them back to their rooms every single morning to find socks. It saves so much time and energy if socks are right where they need them.
In their closets…
We’ve made setting out clothes for the next day part of the bedtime routine. It’s helpful to have a garment valet (shown in Justice’s closet) or simply a hook on the wall or behind the door so that the morning outfit has its own special place.
Kids’ closets need LOTS of shelves. I’ve found that most kids keep much more than clothing in their closets. There are often toys, stuffed animals, books and games in the closets, so these items need shelf space along with the clothes.
Shelving needs to be reachable. Kids can take much more responsibility for the organization of their things if they have shelves and hanging space that is easily accessed for their height. The more organization you can add to the closet will mean less clutter in their bedrooms. When a closet is maxed out to hold as much as possible in an organized way, kids can clean up their rooms faster; they’ll know everything has a place - and that place is not the middle of the floor.
In Kianna’s closet, featured here, there’s a standard wire system, and it does have more shelf space than most wire closets. Wire systems are not ideal for closets because there’s no adjustability and folded items, along with small toys and books, tend to fall through the cracks or off the sides.
Kianna’s a pretty neat kid (plus crazy smart and talented!), and she could be much more organized - and fit a lot more in a closet - with more customization and solid shelving.
Justice’s closet shows the benefit of adjustable shelving and maximized organization. Her items are easy to see and to keep in order on a daily basis. Drawers are great for toys, undergarments, pajamas, etc., and offer the added benefit of not having to have a dresser in the room, which may open up space for a homework desk or other piece of furniture.
A special thank you to the Hass family, and especially Justice and Kianna for letting us invade their rooms and closets. You girls rock and you are as smart and kind as you are beautiful!
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