"I would be the most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of buying enough bookshelves." -Anna Quindlen
When I was a child, September meant back-to-school shopping and new beginnings. Today, September means preparing for Fashion Week, taping for the new season of Project Runway and planning out the next issue of Marie Claire … plus back to school shopping and new beginnings. Each fall, before I worry about any of the fashion madness that will ensue, I take the time to refresh my children’s rooms, from the closets to the paint on the walls to adding some more classics to their bookshelves. After this is done, I can worry about what shoes to wear with what dress and how I am going to survive this month on little to no sleep. Here's how I do it:
STEP 1: Refresh the Closet
It all begins with the closet. If your child's closet is organized and functional, you have a shot at a good morning. If not, forget about it.
Simplify. First and foremost, get rid of what your child does not wear and what no longer fits. Keeping the closet as streamlined as possible is key. Use storage bins and organizer shelves for added functionality. A couple of my favorites are The Container Store Like-it® Translucent Stacking Drawers, $24 and up (pictured below, middle) and The Container Store Large Gingham Storage Bins, $15 (pictured below, far right).
Organize. Arrange the closet according to school clothing and non-school clothing. Keep the school clothing within reach, making it easy for your child to pick out his or her own clothes each day.
STEP 2: Refresh the Décor
Allow your kids to give some input for redecorating and rearranging their rooms each fall. Your children's rooms should be a representation of who they are, not who you are. You don't need to do a huge overhaul. Minor changes can make a big difference.
A Change of Color. Nothing turns a room around faster than a fresh coat of paint. Helpful hint: researchers have discovered that more soothing hues—blues, greens and yellows—encourage healthier sleeping patterns. Here are two of my favorites:
BEHR Premium Plus Home Decorators Collection Sherry Cream Flat Enamel Interior Paint, $32/gallon (pictured below, upper right)
Benjamin Moore Bashful Blue, $37/gallon and up (pictured below, lower left)
De-Clutter. Get rid of old toys, unneeded objects and nonfunctional furniture. Make the space as open and clean as possible by incorporating aesthetically pleasing baskets that double as storage space. Less mess equals less stress and more productivity. But remember, you don't always have to throw it all away; saving clothes that don’t currently fit for your next child is a perfect way to save time and money in the future. To keep it all organized, make sure to clearly label each storage bin with the age range. I'm a fan of the Seagrass Oversized Toy Baskets from Restoration Hardware ($169, pictured above)
Frame Your Kids' Artwork. Buy a few sturdy frames and use them to display your children's creative masterpieces. You can rotate this as often as you like. In addition to framing their artwork, framing family photos is a perfect way to update the décor. Including pictures from their past summer will remind them of the good times and have them looking forward to the next one.
STEP 3: Refresh the Reading and Study Area
I believe that there should be bookshelves and a study area in every child's room. I want my boys to be constantly surrounded by books. I also want them to have a workspace where they can be curious and creative in the privacy and quiet of their bedrooms. One rule that I have in my home is that there are no TVs or computers in the children’s bedrooms. This allows for them to stay creative and active with no distractions in their bedroom.
Create a workspace/study area. Stock this area with all age-appropriate school supplies: crayons, pencils, construction paper and whatever other objects you see in your kids' classrooms.
Build a library. Ever since my boys were babies they have had personal libraries in their rooms. I love going through their bookshelves with them and picking out stories both old and new, to read to them at bedtime. Today they hold Goodnight Moon and Le Petit Prince. And, if I have done my job, one day they will hold The Catcher in the Rye, Lord of the Flies and The Great Gatsby.