BY JENNY REIMOLD
PHOTOGRAPHED BY MELISSA WHITLOCK
With summer camps coming to an end and school supply lists circulating in mailboxes, back to school preparation is on the horizon! This time of year is often a bittersweet time for many parents as we look forward to a more routine schedule, yet prepare for the onslaught of homework and after school activities that follow. In an effort to encourage academic success and ease the afternoon chaos, this mother of seven, armed with a Master’s Degree in Education, suggests creating an organized and motivational homework station as part of your back to school planning.
Recently, I had the opportunity to co-design a functional learning and study space for one amazing Franklin family with Bloom Family Designs, a nonprofit that creates cost free, beautifully designed rooms for foster/adopted children and NEAT Method, a luxury home organization company. Kris and Breanne Hammons are the parents of four children, including one special needs child requiring twenty-four-hour medical assistance, and one beautiful toddler in foster care. While the Hammons homeschool two older children in the heart of their home, the family room needed to be stylish and practical to serve as a gathering place for family and friends.
Bloom founder Melissa Whitlock shared, “The word ‘unity’ was the inspiration from mother Breanne, who teaches her children at home every day. They needed a place where the kids could fluidly do their school work, stay organized and inspired without losing the heart and comforts of home throughout the week. When thinking of the design for this space, I immediately thought of a low profile, round coffee table with ottomans that the children could gather around for lessons during the day. At night, it can easily be transformed into a family game table for everyone to enjoy. For more in depth studying time, we selected a small wall desk from IKEA with two chairs that could all be adjustable to accommodate each family member’s height and age group.” We then added two mint cork boards from HomeGoods as a stylish way to display important calendars or school information.
Holly Trepka, owner of NEAT Method Nashville, created well organized shelving units from Ikea to hold each of the family’s books, games and learning activities. Holly states that, “Labels are the key to defining a homework space and staying organized. We made custom Cricut labels for the Hammons, but we often use chalkboard labels that can be personalized with a chalk pen as well.” Holly offers these organizational tips when designing a homework space for your family.
Utilize clear shoe boxes. We were able to create categories for all homeschool and craft items. Clear, labeled boxes reinforce the concept of “environmental print” as children begin to recognize the spelling of the word on the labels. When they see the actual crayon, they can see the word on the label starts with a C, and therefore can begin to recognize the word "Crayon."
• Labels, like the custom vinyl ones used here, ensure that everything goes back into its “home” after use. It also helps to create order amongst supplies.
• Divided, acrylic Lazy Susans can help contain all of the shared homework essentials.
• Use a rolling cart to create a homework station if you don’t have the designated desk space. This allows your family to have one place for all of your craft and homework needs.
• If you don't have the space for a three tier cart, divided Lazy Susans help contain all of the shared homework essentials.
• Create a drop zone. Even if you don't have a mudroom, you can create a "drop zone" with kid friendly, multi colored hooks for backpacks, lunch boxes and jackets. Then use textured baskets for shoes or sports equipment you can easily grab before heading out the door.
“In combination with the functionality of this design, we wanted to ensure that the space reflected the joy and inspiration of the Hammons family,” said Melissa. “By keeping a cooler color palette with whimsical touches and focusing on a well-functioning and organized design, we were able to create a one of a kind family room that any child would be happy to study in.”
To learn more about Bloom Family Designs and the work they do for children being adopted or for those in foster care, please visit their website at bloomfamilydesigns.com. For more information on the organizational services provided by Holly Trepka of NEAT Method Nashville, visit neatmethod. com.
Jenny Reimold, Your Williamson writer, HGTV Contributing Writer and HomeGoods national “Style Expert” can be found at jennyreimold.com or @jennyreimold on Instagram.