Running a family can seem a lot like managing a business. There are budgets to be balanced, events to be planned, supplies to be warehoused.
Human resource issues crop up daily: What’s on everyone’s calendar? How can schedules be co-ordinated so that everyone will be in the right place at the right time? Productivity is a priority. Homework is due, longer-range school projects need attention, and mom and dad will likely put in a few hours’ work once the kids are in bed.
To keep things running smoothly, many families are creating a central workspace that goes beyond the kitchen table or a parent’s home office. It doesn’t have to take up much room, says interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn, but it does need to be planned carefully to maximize efficiency and style.
This one location — perhaps a corner of your kitchen or great room — serves many purposes.
Hang up a dry-erase board or chalkboard and a corkboard to keep schedules, invitations, flyers, shopping lists, messages between family members and pending mail in one place, says interior designer Janine Carendi.
Using the walls not only saves space, but it helps you stay organized. “If you can see the items pinned on the wall, you’ll remember them,” she says. “Even if things are beautifully filed, you’re going to forget them if you can’t see them.”
Child psychologists and Internet safety experts say it’s best for kids to use a computer in a common area of the home so that their parents have a good sense of what they’re seeing and who they’re talking with.
Flynn suggests using a laptop rather than a desktop the same desk that’s used for homework can be used for art projects when the laptop is stowed away.
The family workspace is a great storage spot and charging station for laptops, cellphones, digital cameras and handheld video game consoles. Hang shelves near an electrical outlet (you may need to have an outlet installed for this purpose) and line it with small bins or boxes to hold small electronics. Carendi suggests buying little wooden boxes, then drilling holes in the back so wires can be fed through.
It may be old, but it’s useful
Designer Brian Patrick Flynn recommends using a vintage metal tanker desk for your station, available online at sites like twentygauge.com or at flea markets. These desks are sturdy, stylish and can be painted any colour.