Reign in Back-to-School Clutter

2013-08-31T11:45:00Z Reign in Back-to-School ClutterMichelle Krueger Times Correspondent
August 31, 2013 11:45 am  • 

Searching for a few clutter-busting ideas now that backpacks, school correspondence and a myriad of special-purpose bags and equipment from extra curricular activities have once again taken over your entry way.

Before winter gear gets added to the mix, consider a few of these space-saving solutions to help tidy things up.

Get started by taking inventory and carefully considering how you use the space where gear gets stowed most frequently. When it comes to maximizing the efficiency of your drop-spot, keep in mind that it also serves as an intermediary between what’s outside your home and what’s inside.

Since these spaces are often doing double or triple duty – from stowing carryalls and outerwear to doing laundry and other tasks like potting plants or assembling craft projects – you need to be realistic about allocating the space in order to make coming and going as easy as possible.

According to the home improvement and remodeling experts at This Old House, every well-thought-out drop spot has five essential features.

1. Storage – The more the better – obviously! A wall-mounted shelving system is probably the easiest and cheapest way to add multiple levels of prime storage space. This open space allows everyone to see what’s there. Tubs and baskets can be labeled to stow smaller items. Freestanding or built-in cupboards are a nice alternative if you prefer to have your things behind closed doors. Tall coat cubbies or lockers with hooks give individual family members easy access to their favorite items. The bottom line, when there’s a place for all the things you need to grab on the go – from snacks and school supplies to coats, shoes and sports equipment plus other items like extra reusable grocery bags plus towels which always come in handy for quick clean ups and wiping the dog’s paws – it makes even the most hectic days a little easier.

2. Seating – A great way to encourage the removal of footwear is to provide a place to sit down. Just make sure there’s also a place to put it so stray shoes don’t become an entryway hazard. Boot benches with space below are ideal, and quite inviting when you top them with a moisture-resistant fabric cushion.

3. Accessories – While we’re on the topic of shoe storage, a few extra catchalls for things like flip flops or running shoes that are used more frequently will keep the prime storage spots open more often. Along with keeping coats organized, hooks can be used so bags and purses aren’t dropped on the floor, to keep the dog’s leash handy and organize hats. A mirror with hooks is another great addition providing the opportunity for one last look before dashing out the door. A tall basket or urn is perfect for umbrellas and other miscellaneous items that tend to get misplaced often.

4. Durable walls – To guard against wear and tear, bead board paneling finished with an easy-to-clean semi-gloss enamel surface can help safeguard walls from dents and dings.

5. Floor protection – With so many homeowners opting for wood floors, rugs and boot trays add a little extra protection for high-traffic areas. Sisal rugs are durable and easy to maintain, while galvanized-steel containers resist rust and keeps water from pooling on the floor when shoes are wet. If possible, finish wood floors in drop zones with scuff-resistant porch enamel or opt for something more resilient and easy to clean up like natural stone, slate, ceramic or vinyl.

Other features that can make life easier include a message board to keep everyone informed, a designated catch-all for important papers that need to be read, signed and returned, office supplies such as pens and envelopes to expedite things, a central charging area for hand-held devices and a hand washing station to leave the day’s dirt and grime behind.

Whether you’re adding a new drop zone or reworking one you already have, organizing an area that works for your family can help make hectic departures and arrivals a little calmer.

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