Back-to-School Home Improvement: Get Your House in Gear

Prawny/morgueFileWhere did the summer go? It seems like the end-of-school party was just yesterday, and now all of a sudden we’re getting ready to send the kids back to class. While you busy yourself stocking up on school supplies like Sharpies, exercise books, and glue sticks, don’t forget about another important aspect of back-to-school preparation. Get your house in gear for a successful year of studies by making a few basic home improvements.

Dedicated Study Space

Whether your child will be sitting at a desk or one side of a table shared with siblings, he or she will need a quiet, purposeful spot to concentrate on homework and school projects. If your house is squeezed for space, consider installing a foldout desk. This is also ideal when the study area is located in a bedroom; this type of desk can simply be folded away when it’s time to go to sleep. Install appropriate task lighting above the work surface to reduce eyestrain.

Storage, Storage, and More Storage

You’ll need room to store not only books, pens, and pencils – or make that iPads, laptops, and printers – but also backpacks, lunch boxes, jackets, equipment for sports and other back-to-school activities … Phew! The list goes on and on. Adding a mudroom to your home is an excellent way to organize all that extra stuff. However, if that’s not quite within the household budget for this year (or you live in an apartment), you could construct an artful arrangement of wall cubbies, shelving, and/or coat hooks to pinch hit.

Art Gallery

Your offspring are likely to be bringing home a whole slew of stunningly artistic creations. Designate one wall as a gallery area to show it all off. Paint a subtle background color, in the tradition of the most prestigious art museums, and change the display regularly. Afterward, stash any particularly beloved Crayola sketches or finger paintings in a convenient cabinet, together with any school notices worthy of long term storage. That way, you run less risk of children’s artwork gobbling up your refrigerator (insert evil laugh).

Family Command Center

A potential school year sanity saver might be a family command center. Build your own; then fit it out with such staples as a master calendar for coordinating everyone’s activities (be sure to note essential dates and times on your virtual calendar as well); a bulletin board to pin up important notices); and a dry erase white board or chalkboard for urgent messages, doodles, and hastily scrawled “I love you”s. Stock the latter with plenty of washable markers or colorful chalk.

Decluttered Kitchen

Set up your kitchen to make it a breeze for you to pack nutritious, appealing lunches and rustle up quick snacks. Hang an accessible shelf in your pantry or on the inside of a cabinet door, as the perfect place for bags and containers. Position it at kid height if you are in the process of teaching your youngsters are learningto prep their own meals … and be sure to stock the fridge with lots of fresh, healthy finger foods. Baby carrots, anyone?

Cozy Corner

Back-to-school time tends to mean that everyone in the household will be even busier than ever. But don’t sacrifice the closeness you felt as a family over vacation (we hope!). Here’s a top priority home improvement: establish some place to pursue a common interest in those precious hours between home time and bedtime. How about an indoor herb garden to plant together or a cozy storytelling nook?

Laura Firszt writes for

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