Time for home work: 8 ways to get your home back-to-school ready

Getting the house ready for another academic year takes a bit of planning

Neptune Edinburgh boot room seat and rack

Neptune Edinburgh boot room seat and rack

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1. Once the school term begins, the hall can become a dumping ground for school bags, sports kit, shoes and coats. If you have a utility room with space to hive off an area for each child, install a locker-room style set-up where each student has a coat hook and there’s a seat to sit down and remove filthy sports boots, with a basket underneath to put them in once they’ve been cleaned. Bags can sit on the seat when they’re done. This Edinburgh boot room bench, €460-€630, filled with Somerton bench basket, €81, is a smart way to manage clutter, especially if you also install the coat rack overhead. It comes in three sizes, from €81 for the 90cm one to €135 for the 1.5m-long rack. This new collection from Neptune lands in stores on September 3rd. Before the weather turns cold, a set of wall-hung baskets, one for each member of the family and filled with each person’s gloves, woolly hats and scarves, is another useful piece of hall furniture and it might cut down on the panicked “I can’t find my . . .” cries. Neptune.com

Broken plan – a closed off take on open plan
Broken plan – a closed off take on open plan

2. Getting the house ready for another academic year takes a bit of planning but one of the main considerations is a place where the kids can do homework, observed but not overlooked. For this project in Fitzrovia, London-based Roselind Wilson Design has conjured up the perfect near-and-far-away balance with a “broken plan” living cum kitchen area. Rather than being open plan, broken plan offers a sense of rooms within a larger open space. Here a study room, which has a been decorated in a smart monochrome scheme, is situated off the kitchen cum living room and can be closed off by shutting the steel-frame glass doors that can also fold right back to open the room so that study can be supervised. A simple board will recreate this desk set–up, while Dublin-based KCC Architectural can supply doors very similar to these pictured. Roselindwilsondesign.com; Kccarchitectural.com

Sleep well – shutters
Sleep well – shutters

3. Getting students back into term-time rhythm starts with regular bedtimes during the week. Setting a sleepy-time scene in the bedroom will also be conducive to a good night’s sleep. Blackout blinds are one option and an affordable and easy-to-install way to ensure the room is enveloped in utter darkness. Prices for a simple roller blind start from €45 at Argos (1.83cm wide); Harry Corry sells polyester designs in a 180cm width from €21.99, while a smaller Skogsklover, 100cm wide, is €30 at Ikea. Shutters, the old-fashioned solid door kind or the louvered plantation kind, will also keep the light at bay. If you live in a period home you may already have them so use them. If not, UK-based Shutterly Fabulous, whose design is pictured here, offers a wide selection. Shutterco, based in Monkstown, Co Dublin, can supply something similar. Prices start from €400, per sq metre supplied and fitted with a lead time of six to eight weeks. The three-door design, pictured, approximately 60cm wide by 1.4m high, costs about €400.  

Christopher Wray balloon lights
Christopher Wray balloon lights

Painting a room a dark colour, like this marine blue will also create a cocoon-like effect. A smaller child who may need some ambient lighting will adore these balloon lights, from about €260 each, ex delivery, from London-based Chistopher Wray.  Shutterco.ie; Shutterlyfabulous.com; Christopherwray.com     

Made LB3 Grid desk
Made LB3 Grid desk

4. Older kids need peace and quiet to study so a bedroom desk set-up will better suit students of exam ages. This customisable Grid desk by London-based Ying Chang can be adjusted for height and rebuilt for a left or right-handed user. You then slot the metal boxes down into the frame in an arrangement that works for the student and lay the colourful boards wherever you need a flat surface for storage, or, for example, a laptop. Your child could even organise his or her nooks by subject, freeing up shelf space and getting them off the floor. About €600, ex delivery. Yingchang.co.uk

Nedgis, extending light
Nedgis, extending light

5. No matter how well-lit your child’s bedroom, your student will need task lighting to illuminate their books while studying. There is a slew of desk lights on the market but in smaller bedrooms, where the desk size is limited, it can take up desktop space needed for books, worksheets and/or tablets. In this instance a wall-mounted option might make more ergonomic sense. This industrial style, by House Doctor and available from Nedgis, €312, ex delivery, has a reach of just over one metre which means it can shine a light on homework, no matter what slouched angle the student is sitting at. Nedgis.com

Sostrene Grene desk and chair
Sostrene Grene desk and chair

6. Sostrene Grene is selling a smart-looking office chair, €48.92, in cool Nordic shades of green, blue and slate grey. Set on castors and 50cm high it is a practical desk seat and is just one of the many covetable finds you will discover in the chain that recently opened a new flagship shop on South Great George’s Street in Dublin’s city centre. The wire wall grid, €46.40, and solid base desk light, €19.98, are other affordable accessories in its range that also includes book boxes and stationery. Sostrenegrene.com

Monocle cat clock
Monocle cat clock

7. Is there anything more annoying that your kids asking what time it is, over and over again? The question, asked repeatedly, seems especially jarring in the mornings when home life is hectic and every second counts. And as long as you keep telling them the time, they will never bother to glance down at their wristwatches or check their devices, so install an old-fashioned, battery-operated alarm clock in every bedroom and teach them to set it. You will need another timepiece for the kitchen, ideally one with a large face. This fine bone china monocle cat clock has a 22ct gold rim and comes in four sizes, from 16cm in diameter to 41cm wide, €53-€219 and available from UK-based Rory Dobner. Rorydobner.com

8. Once they get a decent breakfast before departing all that’s left to figure out is the lunch box conundrum. There are any amount of options to fit the personality of each schoolchild but before you buy consider how a box shape can take up a lot of valuable school-bag space. Ditch the cubes in favour of a reusable and insulated take on the traditional brown paper bag. This little number has a magnetic fastening top and costs about €15, ex delivery from Luckies of London. Stock Design on Dublin’s South King Street has a couple of insulated fabric lunch bags that look more like picnic containers, €6.50-€10.50. Luckies.co.uk 

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