February 3, 2013

Call it what you will (hub? nerve center?), every home needs one

By MELISSA RAYWORTH The Associated Press

(Continued from page 1)

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Before and after: Brian Patrick Flynn turned a disorganized catch-all room, above, into a clean, colorful, usable space, below.

Photos by The Associated Press

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Additional Photos Below

For additional storage, she suggests buying a rolling cart with labeled drawers where each child in the family can keep things like pending work or art supplies. This can be wheeled around the kitchen or other rooms as needed. Novogratz says it helps kids stay organized and feel a sense of ownership over their work when they have a permanent space for it, even if it's just a labeled drawer.

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."

To save even more, he suggests plundering the rest of your home in search of old furniture. "I recently took one hot mess of a bonus room, which was used for checking email, working on art projects and keeping kids' artwork and files stored, then turned it into a colorful, designer-caliber multipurpose space using 100 percent leftover pieces from other rooms," he says.

He placed two old dressers next to each other, using their surfaces as a place to collect mail and pending paperwork. He outfitted the dresser drawers with a hanging file system, then brought in an old table and chairs from a child's playroom.

"You can make just about anything work together, as long as disparate pieces are united with the proper color story. In my case, I gathered white, brown, gray and blue pieces, then set them all against a fire-engine-red backdrop."

Another option: If space is limited, Mathison suggests searching estate sales (or your own attic) for one large piece of furniture like 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 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.

Plan the space carefully based on your needs -- do older kids need extra space for doing homework? Are you juggling lots of appointments and need to make your calendar the centerpiece? Novogratz suggests hanging up a family calendar and business calendar together so you can mark things on both, and kids can see when you'll be busy with work commitments.

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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Providing ample storage in a limited amount of space was a goal for designer Mallory Mathison, who created this office zone that doubles as an entertainment center.

  


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