â€śâ€¦ The end of summer is a great time to purge a lot of unnecessary items to make way for the new school year ahead.â€ť â€”Allie Mann, senior interiors specialist
The sight of store shelves overflowing with school glue sticks and crayons signals that the beginning of school is just around the corner. While squeezing in one last vacation, the thought of turning an eye to getting oneâ€™s home in order before the school bell rings might be met with dread.
â€śIt can feel like a daunting task to organize when artwork overflows from school or small trinkets come home from birthday parties, the end of summer is a great time to purge a lot of unnecessary items to make way for the new school year ahead,â€ť said Allie Mann, designer-senior interiors specialist, Case Design/Remodeling. â€śAnd itâ€™s always a great time to donate gently used items as well.â€ť
â€śEspecially now as families are preparing to get back to school, it’s so important to get organized,â€ť added Anne M. Walker, Esq., Allied ASID, Owner + Principal Anne Walker Design LLC. â€śNothing is more stressful than searching for something when you’re already five minutes late, itâ€™s pouring down rain, it’s picture day at school, and you have a big work meeting in 45 minutes.â€ť
Now that organization is often considered a part of interior design, the tools and hacks available are more stylish and innovative than ever, say local designers. â€śIn a kitchen in Old Town, Alexandria I installed four shallow drawers underneath the countertop at the island â€” one for each family member,â€ť said Sarah Glenn, interior designer and project manager, Braswell Design+Build, Alexandria. â€śI designed the drawers to be just large enough to store school papers and a laptop so that each family member would have a dedicated temporary storage space without creating four individual junk drawers.â€ť
A Potomac, Md. family recently enlisted Walkerâ€™s help in redesigning and reorganizing their home from top to bottom with an eye toward all things chic and stylish. She began in the bedrooms of the familyâ€™s teenage daughter, creating custom closets.
â€śAfter the new closet was installed, I spent the better part of two days helping this teen fill the closet with all of her belongings, putting things where they were visible and readily accessible,â€ť she said. â€śOrganization is important primarily because of the time it saves. If you can find what you need to get out the door right away, you can sleep 20 minutes later.â€ť
A similar closet was created for the familyâ€™s middle school aged son. â€śAmazing how even young children can keep their rooms tidy as long as there’s a system in place that they can understand and is practical enough for them to use,â€ť said Walker. â€śIf you know exactly where all of your clothes are, and exactly where to put them back after laundering them, it will seem like you just won the lottery. You won’t believe how many things you have, many of which have been long forgotten, stuffed in the back of some drawer or under the bed.â€ť
One of the most important tasks on Walkerâ€™s agenda was organizing a large basement space with abundant shelving to create a home office. â€śIn an office this size, children could easily use it for homework while the parent was working there, also,â€ť she said. â€śSometimes it’s calming and comforting just to be in the same space, even if you aren’t actually helping the child with their work.â€ť
A homeâ€™s mudroom is supposed to serve as a gateway into the main house, creating order and keeping clutter from overflowing into the homeâ€™s interior, but often that isnâ€™t the case as clutter overtakes the space. In a recent mudroom project, Mann incorporated elements into the design that addressed the familyâ€™s lifestyle. â€śCubbies and bench storage for sports and after-school activities for older children are a must,â€ť she said. â€śIf space allows, allocating a designated cubbie for each child is best to keep things separated and from getting lost.â€ť
Even those without the luxury of a mudroom can find space without buckling under the weight of chaos. â€śIf your children are a bit younger like mine, trying to keep rooms tidy from the clutter of toys and artwork can feel overwhelming,â€ť said Mann. â€śOne thing that works for our family at this time is utilizing or borrowing space from a hallway closet.
Mann reallocated space in her homeâ€™s linen closet and created shelf-specific space for her daughtersâ€™ belongings. â€śOne shelf is full of arts and craft supplies, another shelf outdoor activities such as bubbles and chalk, another dedicated to larger toys we donâ€™t want in our living room or their bedroom, and a final shelf dedicated to puzzles and favorite books,â€ť said Mann. â€śThese items are easy to access and easy to put away to on a regular basis.â€ť
â€śWith organization, you are constantly trying to strike a balance between carving out enough space for a specific function without over-organizing to the point that you lose flexibility to change what you store as your life evolves,â€ť added Glenn.