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Back to School: The Perfect Time to Refresh your Home

Around this time every year, parents of school-age children start plotting -- they begin to dream up the ways they can reclaim their home from the kids as they go back to school. Summer gives us much needed quality family time, but it also gives way to a house in disarray.

But now, the time has come! The kids are in school, and it’s the perfect time to give your house a refresh. Here’s how some of our favorite interior designers in Chicago and Atlanta make it happen.

Amy KartheiserAmy Kartheiser, Chicago [view profile]

Our house has non-stop traffic in the summertime! With that comes dirty feet, sticky fingers, and sandy clothes. When the kids go back to school, I find that our house needs to be scoured to feel like a home again. This is a three-step process for us. The first area I target is the upholstery and carpets. It is so worth it to have a company come in and professionally clean all of it to get rid of all the sand, grime, and sticky messes that have been left behind. Once they are done, make sure you fluff all the pillows on the sofas and chairs and rotate them. Voila! Your furnishings will look and feel new again. The second step is getting a clean Magic Eraser and hitting all the walls and baseboards. Those fingerprints and scuff marks will come off with little effort. If you want to go that extra mile, you can grab the old paint and touch up all the dings and dents. Lastly, I stage an old toy and clothes purge where we donate all the items we are not going to use anymore. You will be amazed at how much more space you gain back! If all else fails and you do not have time to get all of this done, bring in some fresh flowers. They always make me smile, and I feel so much better about my space when they are around.


Alice Cramer
Alice Cramer, Atlanta [view profile]

As a mom of two kids I have “been there” with the back to school process. It is a wonderful time to take your home back! With the kids out of the house, take time to declutter. I always clean out closets and toy bins to gather things to give away. It is surprising how much kids can accumulate over a summer. Once things are decluttered, you can actually see your house in a new light and determine what is needed for that overdue “big boy/girl room” or other design project you are putting off. Paint touch ups are always needed after a summer at home. Go through and touch up dings, scuffs and all other nicks that inevitably happen when the family spends a lot of time indoors. Lastly, use this time to focus on yourself. Maybe it’s time to make your master bedroom a true haven or to create an ideal work space for yourself!

Sarah Mellor, Leo DesignsSarah Mellor of Leo Designs, Chicago [view profile]

Although only one of my three boys is in school all day this year, a secret operation to purge and organize the toys will begin soon! With the help of one of my favorite cabinet makers, we will create the fireplace built-in of my dreams that will double as toy storage. When you live in an apartment, you have to get creative with storage, and there is no better way than custom cabinetry. Superman, Spiderman, Batman, and all of their superhero friends will soon be together in an organized fashion. Hopefully this holiday season I can host an adult gathering in a sophisticated atmosphere! 

Stephanie WirthStephanie Wirth of Leo Designs, Chicago [view profile]

My back-to-school ritual is as follows: hire the organizer, throw out old sports jerseys and all clothing that no longer fits, hire the painter to touch up my son’s wall surfaces, and organize storage areas so there is enough room for all of those papers and projects that invade the house during the school year. I also always make sure that his school supplies match the decor of his room. I just bought some amazing bright yellow desk accessories that match his vintage metal desk exactly!

Brandy RinehartBrandy Rinehart, Atlanta & Chicago [view profile]

Though initially a welcomed change of glorious fun and relaxation, Summer transforms your house into beach bags peppered about the hallways, toys strewn about common areas, hiking-altitude worthy mounds of laundry, and sleep-over monstrosities of messes. My obvious recommendation is simply reorganization. Sneaky Insider Tip: If your kids or significant other don’t notice it’s gone after 2 weeks, by all means donation is an option! Next up, hit the decor refresh button – change up the location of items in children’s bedrooms to ring in the new school year. Rearranging a bed, moving a dresser, switching out artwork, adding a mirror, or moving pictures around always contributes to refreshing a room and will immediately allow for new energy into a new season that will make a difference.


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