Need Help Organizing Your Family?

BHA_familyfoyers Do you find yourself constantly running after your children, asking them to pick up their backpacks, sporting equipment, coats and shoes? Or, perhaps you’re the culprit leaving briefcases, cell phones and mail scattered around the home. If so, a well-planned family foyer may help to keep your busy family organized. For several years now, homeowners have opted for a second, less-formal entrance to the home for use by family and close friends. Typically located near the garage, yesterday’s “mudroom” spaces were often small and dark, and usually also served as the laundry room. They weren’t particularly appealing nor exceptionally organized. Recently these spaces have evolved and taken on more importance, and now frequently serve as the home’s organizational command center. A 2006 survey of architects, conducted by the National Association of Home Builders, showed that redefined, reconfigured “family foyers” or “transitional rooms” are becoming increasingly popular, especially given the trend to move laundry rooms to the second floor or lower level. Whether in repurposed space or an addition, today’s family foyers are well designed, well executed and given the same attention to detail as the rest of the home. What makes a family foyer work? With a goal of organizing “stuff” right where it enters the house, dedicated storage spaces for each member of the family – from kids to adults and even pets – are a common feature. Consider lockers with hooks for jackets and sporting equipment, and cubbies for book bags and shoes. Adding a bench, perhaps with closed storage below for seasonal items like hats and gloves, is convenient for putting on and removing shoes and boots. As if a well-organized storage area isn’t reason enough, with a little planning, the space can be further designed to provide convenient solutions for many other household needs. How about adding a mail station for sorting bills, shredding unwanted solicitations and recycling countless catalogs? Or a charging station that brings order to all the wires we have for our mobile phones, iPods and other gadgets? Or a tiled dogwashing center with its own floor-level faucet for cleaning muddy paws, and an adjacent space for your pet’s food bowls and cozy bed? Also consider a message center with the family calendar and a blackboard or corkboard for posting notes, invitations and important phone numbers. The options are endless. If you can almost feel the weight of the clutter lifting just reading this, perhaps a family foyer is in your future. If so, keep in mind the following additional tips as you begin planning:

  • Think carefully about all the ways the space can be used to help bring order to everyday life, so you can plan features that make those tasks easier.
  • When selecting materials and finishes, make sure they are durable. Keep in mind that you want the room to get a lot of traffic and, especially when kids and storage are involved, things are bound to get banged around a bit.
  • Use water-resistant flooring, such as stone, tile or cork. Choosing a natural stone with a rougher finish or a smaller tile with more grout lines will help to prevent slips, especially when the floors are wet.
  • Consider adding a child-friendly powder room in this area so it’s convenient when the kids are outside playing or coming in from school. This should help to keep your formal powder room ready for company.
  • Include lots of light. A combination of natural light, from windows, doors or skylights, and well-planned task lighting will help to make the space more family friendly.
  • Pay attention to the details as you would the rest of your home. Add the crown molding, wainscoting or beadboard; add children’s artwork or photos of the family; and decorate the room with great colors and fabrics.

The bottom line is a well-planned family foyer is an ideal way to help bring order to your home and family. Furthermore, it is a great way to protect the investment you made in the rest of your home from muddy-shoed kids, dirty-pawed pets and piles of endless clutter.