Homework Areas In Kitchen - Homework for you

Homework for you

Homework Areas In Kitchen

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10 Creative Ways to Make your Old Kitchen Feel Modern

10 Creative Ways to Make your Old Kitchen Feel Modern

Whether your kitchen is a fixer-upper from decades ago or your laminate countertop and linoleum floor have seen better days, it may be time to modernize your kitchen. With all of the new ideas out on the market from creative uses of colors, modern appliances and innovative materials there is a world of kitchen amenities to bring your kitchen into the present day of modernization. If you are trying to sell your home, or if you plan on staying in your home for generations to come – use these 10 creative ways to make your old and dull kitchen feel new and inviting once again.

1. Replace old metals with modern innovative alternatives:

Older kitchens were made with materials that were popular decades ago, but with manufacturer’s coming out with innovative materials there is no reason not to try them out in your updated kitchen. Metals are a hot trend in kitchen design from chrome, brushed aluminum, stainless steel, nickel and copper – try these materials out in your cabinetry hardware, pendant lighting, and range hood options.

Update finishes to a modern look in your kitchen

2. Change out old flooring with wood or resilient materials

Flooring is one of those areas of your kitchen that is often forgotten but consumes your entire kitchen. While you may think it won’t make a difference try switching from your traditional rolled vinyl or linoleum flooring to a resilient material such as wood, tile, or stone. These materials will last longer as well as boost the value of your home. In recent years ceramic tile that looks just like hardwood has become popular as well as travertine and slate.

3. Remove upper cabinetry for a sleek kitchen

In older homes the trend was to include walls and walls of upper cabinetry to house dishes and cookware and often times these cabinets consumed the eye. If you want to increase the visual space of your kitchen, consider removing the upper cabinets and just leaving the lower ones. This frees up the wall for adding color, or even attaching floating or open shelving for a few decorative items and dishware. You will be surprised how modern your kitchen will feel once your upper cabinets have been removed and the human eye will enjoy the space too!

For a sleek and modern appeal remove upper kitchen cabinets

4. Change countertops to innovative materials

Countertops are another material that consume a large portion of real estate in your kitchen. The kinds of countertop surfaces options out there are mind boggling from solid surfacing varieties that consist of resin, polymers to natural stone varieties such as marble and granite, there are a plethora of options in the countertop market. Over the last few years designers are becoming more creative and are using materials that used to be considered only for structural purposes now for countertops. Concrete, brick, tile, and aggregate options bring innovative appeal to your updated kitchen.

5. Incorporate modern seating inside the kitchen

Your kitchen is most likely the busiest area of your home. They call it the heart of your home due to it’s traffic as well as bringing the family together for family meals – the kitchen is the “pulse” of your home. To modernize your old kitchen, consider bringing seating from the dining room into your space. Whether you choose countertop stools and seats at a breakfast bar or you opt for a banquette or bench at a window side table, seating can make your kitchen have a whole new appeal. Busy families with children doing homework to parents entertaining friends while cooking make seating essential in your modern-day kitchen.

Bring seating into your kitchen area

6. Replace appliances with energy efficient ones

Let’s face it – we are in the green age of saving resources and your kitchen is a great place to start. Energy efficient appliances should replace your old ones to bring modern styling into your kitchen and to save water and energy from your household expenses. Consider replacing plumbing fixtures as well – low flow kitchen faucets can save water and with the new styles available from kitchen plumbing manufacturers you will love the “touch free” technology and temperature sensor options that are available. Remember updating your kitchen shouldn’t only be for aesthetics; it should help save you money and the Earth’s resources.

7. Paint Cabinetry with Modern Colors

For homes that love their current kitchen cabinets but would like to add modern appeal- why not add color? Painting, staining, and even replacing cabinetry doors with new and modern detailed ones are a great option for homeowners on a budget. There are plenty of faux finishes you can try while painting kitchen cabinets and who doesn’t love a great do it yourself project in the kitchen? From distressing doors to paint glazes and stains, you will be surprised how your elbow grease and some additional color will transform your old cabinetry into new.

Give cabinets a modern look with a painted finish

8. Install new lighting options

Once you have modernized the major components of your kitchen, don’t forget the lighting! While kitchen lighting can be very minimal it is essential for safety, ambiance and versatility of your kitchen. If you have been suffering with one overhead ambient lighting fixture, look to recessed lighting or “can lights” for a modern illumination source. Consider installing a dimmer switch for versatility in mood and illumination strength while entertaining, cooking, or just relaxing for a midnight snack! Pendant lighting over a kitchen island, under cabinet lighting to illuminate countertops, and chandeliers are all becoming great options for updated lighting sources.

Update kitchen lighting throughout your space

9. Adding decorative elements

While you may not think about it, your kitchen is a great place to add decorative elements to bring a sense of you and your lifestyle into your kitchen. For many homeowners plant shelves on top of cabinets allow area for plants, sculptures, artwork and other decorative items. Built in display shelves below your kitchen island can display kitchen memorabilia, your favorite cookbooks, or display an heirloom set of china passed down through generations. Add a vase of flowers, a fresh bowl of limes or lemons for a shot of color and bring a sense of you to your modern kitchen with decorative additions.

10. Enlarge your kitchen – knock down walls

For many older kitchens the compartmentalized and boxed-in feeling of kitchens built generations ago is very common. If you’re looking to open up your kitchen and share the view with an adjacent dining room or living room – consider knocking down some partitions! This method works well for non load-bearing walls that don’t carry any structural value. Your kitchen can grow in size or it can just get opened up to other areas of your home. While your kitchen could look fabulous as-is, what would it look like without that bothersome wall? If you’re unsure if this is possible – consult a structural engineer or architect to see what possibilities there are for your kitchen.

Bring more space into your kitchen by removing walls

Your older kitchen just got a makeover with these simple tips to modernize the heart of your home. From updating finishes and materials to bringing in color, illumination, and space – the options abound for your older kitchen. While you may not use all 10 of these ideas, see which ones are perfect for your lifestyle, budget and family. I bet you can’t wait to see how your kitchen gets transformed.

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Homework Help - Create A Great Homework Space

Homework Help - Create A Great Homework Space

At our house, the kitchen table doubles as homework central. Whether your child completes his homework in a common area or secluded in his bedroom, it is vital that you create a special space for this important activity.

What makes a great homework space?

Adequate space - Textbooks, notebooks and supplies take up a lot of room. Make sure each child has enough space to comfortably complete their activities. Kitchen tables are great study areas for this reason. Smaller bedroom desks may not provide enough space for all the necessary materials.

Quiet – This is just so important. I used to attempt to watch the evening news (on a small kitchen TV) while I made dinner and my children competed their homework. I was always amazed when they had questions regarding the news stories that I was barely listening too. It really was a distraction for them. Homework time is much more effective now that it's quiet.

Supplies – Each of my children has a “homework box”, one of those plastic pencil boxes you probably purchased for back-to-school. They each have their own supply of pens, pencils, colored pencils and white-out which is kept in their room and brought to the kitchen table at homework time. Extra paper, rulers, a stapler and pencil sharpener are stored in an armoire near the kitchen table. No more searching for supplies!

Lighting – Inadequate lighting at your child's study area can make homework more difficult than it needs to be. The chandelier over the kitchen table may not provide enough light for reading and writing (mine certainly doesn't). Usually task lighting is necessary when performing tasks requiring visual concentration. Task lighting provides focused light in addition to the ambient lighting provided by an overhead chandelier. At our house, a desk lamp on the kitchen table reduces eye strain.

Let the Children Choose – Allow your kids to choose special pencils, storage boxes or folders for homework time. We have special Star Wars pencils just for homework time. These little things make a big difference to children.

There's just no substitute for parental involvement in children's homework activities. If parents treat homework as an important daily activity, the children will treat it as such.

What are your favorite homework time tips? I'd love to hear from you!

Caren Bugay has lots of tips and resources to enhance your child's education. Find more great ideas at http://www.helpyourkidslearn.blogspot.com

School Homework Help: Special Space and Schedules for Homework, Teacher s Advice from Families OnLine Magazine

Special Space and Schedules for Homework

By having a regular plan to complete homework, you will:

  • Avoid conflicts over when it is time to do homework
  • Know where materials are kept that are needed for homework
  • Eliminate unnecessary distractions that prolong completion of homework
  • Establish a positive environment that encourages children to work hard academically

The first thing to do is to have a designated place in the house where homework is to be completed. There are different areas that work in different households, depending on the sizes and needs of each family. Some children are expected to complete homework in a family area, such as the kitchen table. This enables a parent to be on hand to answer any questions and monitor progress; however, this arrangement also can be very distracting for children, especially if there are other activities going on at the same time. Children can also have a homework area in a bedroom, den, or family room, if the kitchen is too busy.

Regardless of what room you have space in, there are certain things that will greatly help your child complete his or her work. There should be a desk or other large writing surface that has a lamp which gives appropriate light for reading and writing. There should also be holders for regularly needed materials such as pencils, pens, highlighters, erasers, rulers, scissors, glue, crayons, markers, pencil sharpener, and paper. Having these materials on hand eliminates the chance your child will procrastinate even more while they look for their supplies. You may also choose to have a dictionary, thesaurus, and stapler. All of these materials should have a "home" in the homework area, so that when they are needed they are easily found.

Jennifer Cummings, has a B.A.in psychology, and a M.Ed. in special education from Framingham State College in Massachusetts. She has been an elementary teacher in Massachusetts for almost 10 years, serving both regular education and special education students. She has taught grades 1,4, and 5.

"I believe that families' involvement in their child's education is one of the key ingredients to creating a successful school experience for children. Keeping parents informed about school-related issues helps parents and teachers work together for the best possible outcomes for their children. Learning together makes learning fun - for everyone!" - Jennifer Cummings. Contact her at A Note from the Teacher.

Likewise, there are certain things that should not be a part of your child's homework area. Televisions should not be a part of any planned homework area; radios, personal stereos, hand held video games, and other electronics should also be kept away. Computers, while often very helpful in the completion of research or other fact-gathering, should be closely monitored by an adult, so you may choose to have the computer in another area of your home. Also, calculators should also be part of the homework area only on an as-needed basis. It can be very tempting to make math homework much easier by sneaking a peek at a calculator. Children may complain about removing many of these objects, but each of these can lead to more time being taken to get the job done.

When a homework area has been established, create a routine regarding your home rules for doing homework. Contrary to what many students believe, teachers generally do not advocate children doing homework as soon as they get off of their bus. Like any adult coming home from work, children should be given some time to unwind from their day with a snack, some music, or a quick game outside. Then, there should be a set time when homework begins. By having this regular schedule, children know what is expected of them, and over time, will settle themselves accordingly. Times can be adjusted to meet the changing needs of your family's schedule, but consistency in this will bring the best results for everyone. When homework has been completed, be sure that there is someone responsible for giving it a quick check to be sure everything is completed well and that it is repacked for the next school day. Having these types of routines for your children can help to avoid arguments as well as forgotten homework. Good planning helps make homework easier for everyone!

If you have any school-related questions, please e-mail us and we may answer your question in a future column!A Note from the Teacher

Decorating Studio Home Decor Article on 5 Trends in Kitchen Design That Are Here To Stay

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Beyond Fads: 5 Trends in Kitchen Design That Are Here to Stay

(ARA) - We’ve all seen them…the decorating TV shows that trumpet the latest high fashion trends in kitchens -- from glass countertops to microwaves that double as flat screen televisions. It’s easy to get caught up in the hype for the latest high-priced item, but what trends are worth your attention and investment?

While industry experts often disagree on style issues, they all agree on one thing: the trend of bigger, more open, more important kitchens in the U.S. is here to stay.

“A generation ago, kitchens were thought of as the place where mom cooked by herself, then brought the food out to the rest of the family. Now, kitchens are the hub of the home, where the entire family gathers in the evenings, after work, to do homework, share meals, and entertain friends. Everything we’re seeing in kitchen design is just another way to make kitchens more multifunctional and welcoming,” said Ellen Cheever, ASID, a well-known kitchen designer, educator, and frequent contributor to industry publications like “Kitchen and Bath Design News.”

Trend #1: The Kitchen Within a Kitchen

As more Americans build homes with kitchens that are open to living and dining rooms, kitchens are being treated more like any other room in the house, with elaborate moldings, specialty lighting, and finely crafted floor and ceilings.

“People need their kitchen to be expandable and collapsible, too,” Cheever added. “On the weeknights, they need to be able to navigate their kitchen quickly when they’re just warming up a simple meal. But on the weekends, they need it to open up enough so they can prepare a fancy gourmet meal and entertain a large group of friends while they are cooking.”

As a result, designers are creating quick prep areas where a small sink, cutting board, and microwave are close together. Larger homes are often using a small butler’s pantry off the main kitchen for this purpose, with a clean up sink, microwave, prep area and small refrigerator. The butler’s pantry has the added convenience of keeping dirty dishes out of the way while entertaining, and storing large amounts of serve ware, linens and china.

Cheever noted that customers are also putting in larger sinks in the island, to make a food prep zone, and placing larger farmhouse sinks along the back wall for more elaborate “clean up centers.”

“The days when kitchens always had one sink right under the kitchen window appear to be over,” Cheever said.

Trend #2: Eclectic Is In

Customers of all kinds are interested in the new, unusual and artful, according to Jan Aufderhar, semi-custom manager for MasterBrand Cabinets in Jasper, Ind. MasterBrand Cabinets makes many of the built-in cabinets sold in the U.S. including its upscale semi-custom Decora line, sold through more than 1,000 dealers nationally. While the upscale markets are often driving innovation, these trends are now becoming common at all price levels, Aufderhar said.

“Instead of having a solid bank of cabinets with a standard look, customers are mixing and matching finishes, putting cabinets up on feet to make them look more like freestanding furniture, and choosing exotic woods and hardware,” she said. Decora alone offers more than 1,000 different finish and door combinations. The company’s knobs and drawer pulls are often a focal point in a kitchen, providing a “jewelry-like” panache with more expensive and quality made materials.

“White cabinets are still popular, but the sales are going down for those as customers go for painted finishes like chili pepper red, or rich, hand-rubbed finishes like dark cherry,” Aufderhar said.

Customers are adding more display area into upper cabinets as well, putting in clear or art glass inserts into their door fronts and gallery lighting inside the cabinet to show off prized ceramics or hand-blown glass collections.

Trend #3: More Tall, Less Wall

As customer’s floor plans continue to be more open, there is less space to mount above the counter cabinets. As a result, manufacturers are creating more height options for cabinets to help break up the space between rooms.

“We’ve been installing a lot of pedestal cabinets -- these are cabinets which are taller than the rest, usually 42 inches or more, that act almost like a built-in-pedestal at the end of a long run of under the counter cabinets. It’s a great post for a column or other architectural element for the room,” Cheever said.

She noted that designers are also creating counters with two levels. The high level breaks up space between kitchen and living room areas and reduces the appearance of counter clutter. It also provides a handy place to pull up a barstool to do homework. Designers are also creating “baking centers” with lower than standard counter heights perfect for kneading bread or making candy.

Trend #4: Expanded Office/Work Desk Areas

“Used to be, there was a desk in the kitchen so mom could store her recipes and work on the bills,” Cheever said. “But as more homes got wireless internet access, mom didn’t like being cooped up at a kitchen desk.” Today, customers are forgoing tiny kitchen desks for larger desks that wrap around into the family room -- perfect for watching the kids while they surf the internet and paying the bills while enjoying TV with the family.

Trend #5: Everything at Your Fingertips

“Customers today are no longer satisfied to have cabinets that merely look good. They want them to work efficiently for them, too,” Aufderhar said. Decora was one of the first in the semi-custom cabinet market to offer a full line of cabinet storage options, from overhead wine racks, to pull out spice racks and chopping boards, and more. The ACCESSories line, Aufderhar said, has been very popular with the gourmet cook who doesn’t want to scramble around in the back of a cabinet for a pot or pan during a dinner party.

Appliance manufacturers have been quick to capitalize on the trend too, as they develop warming drawers, beverage chillers and more for under the counter.

By offering customers options like buffet storage for linens, fine glass storage, beverage centers, and the like, Decora has made it possible for customers to design more complex areas in their kitchens. “Instead of the kitchens with just a traditional cook, prep, clean-up, and food storage areas, customers can use their kitchen cabinets to create a formal dining area, a casual dining space, a homework area, a wine service/bar area, or anything they need, just by carving out a corner of space in their kitchens. It’s the products and the planning that are truly key to making the open-concept kitchen trend work. It’s a trend that truly reflects how people are living these days, and I think it’s a way of life that will be around for a long time,” Aufderhar said.

To find out more about emerging kitchen design trends, visit www.decoracabinets.com.

Courtesy of ARA Content

Homework Tips - Part 1

Homework Tips – Part 1

It was a warm, Friday evening and I was sitting with my girlfriends at the local coffee shop savouring one last, carefree latté before the start of another school year. Indeed, the summer had flown by and it was going to be a challenge to get the kids back into the school routine, which also meant a renewed focus on homework.

My daughter, entering Grade 3, was the youngest of the kids among my friends whose kids were approaching high school. I figured these experienced moms would know best which homework strategies actually worked. My daughter usually had no problems the first couple of months of the school year, however, it seems to be around Thanksgiving when the dreaded homework doldrums set in. There are so many competing priorities and things to do that are a lot more fun – yet so little time after school. There’s the crunch to get to piano and swimming lessons, not to mention soccer games and playing with friends. And, let’s not forget the daily rituals – getting through dinner, planning lunches and getting ready for the next day, and if there’s time left over after homework, getting a good night’s sleep.

So, here’s the low-down on homework strategies that really make the grade – at least according to some experienced moms that I know and trust.

Choose the Time
It’s important to select a regular time for your child and yourself to do the homework. Will it be right after school, from 4 to 5 pm, or after dinner from 7 to 8:30 pm? The time you pick may depend on other activities you have planned after school, the schedules of other siblings, and your availability (i.e. if you work outside the home or if you’re at home with the kids). Try sticking to the same homework time every day and focusing on getting the homework completed within this time. This helps establish a routine along with good, lifelong time management habits.

Choose the Place
Where homework will be completed is an important consideration. So far, we’ve gotten away with using the kitchen table – it’s been handy for both of us, as I can often help my daughter work through problems while cooking dinner. The drawbacks include a lot of distractions for her – the phone ringing, not to mention the time she wastes searching for pencils, erasers and whatever else she needs to get the job done.

This year, we’ve decided to designate a homework space away from the kitchen, primarily because the workload is increasing as she enters a higher grade. Nevertheless, the homework area that you choose should be where it’s fairly quiet and where your child can concentrate her best – but ideally within earshot of you so that you’re able to supervise or offer help.

Getting Organized
The ideal homework area should include a proper desk, an ergonomic chair, and a reading lamp at minimum. If space permits, a cozy armchair is a good investment – it can provide a nice spot for taking a break or reading lengthy chapters and studying. It can also be used when you come to check on your child’s work.

Storage bins are the perfect solution for systematizing your homework gear. All the essentials like loose paper, folders, calculator, dictionary, stapler, tape, paper clips, glue, markers, crayons, ruler, geometry sets, pencils and erasers can be stored in size-appropriate bins. Other helpful things to consider are a trashcan and recycling bin, a school calendar to track homework assignments and some trays to sort work.

Computers are becoming a necessity for children in higher grades. When choosing a computer, make sure the computer screen is at eye level and the keyboard at a comfortable height. You’ll need a printer and may want to consider a copier, scanner, CD or DVD player too, but remember to plan for sufficient electrical outlets to meet your needs.

Involve your child in setting up the homework area. If you’re shopping for a new desk or lamp, get her input. She may even have some ideas on how to organize and decorate her special space – a couple of plants, posters, or cushions can help make the area inviting and inspirational. Once you’re organized, make sure your child is accountable for keeping her homework space tidy – whether it’s each night or once a week. Keeping the area clutter-free means she will be able to find things easily and will be able to get her work done faster.

Setting the Right Mood and Eliminating Distractions

The right work space should be a quiet and calm environment – at least for some children. You are the best expert when it comes to knowing your child: there are those who prefer silence when studying while others thrive on noise. The experts say it boils down to personality types. Extroverts often prefer noise while introverts tend to like silence and no distractions. So, if your child likes music and her homework is getting done well, let her have a CD player nearby.

Distractions that are essential to eliminate include: the TV (yes, it should not be anywhere near the homework area where it can be heard by your child) and the telephone. And then there’s food. Some kids like to have a continuous snack while working which can interfere with quality work being done, not to mention juice spills over assignments. Try and get snacks out of the way before starting, and if the hunger pangs strike, schedule a break time and eat away from the homework area. This way, you’ll be eliminating the likelihood of greasy fingerprints on homework and you’ll have a cleaner work area.

Biography for Karen Sibal

Karen Sibal is a freelance writer, researcher and communications consultant. She is the owner of Sibal Writing and Consulting, a firm that specializes in public policy research, effective communications and web solutions. Over the past 15 years, Karen has done work for local and provincial governments and several not-for-profit organizations. Karen has written extensively on children’s issues and has recently helped with launching an association for mothers and children in her community. She is a member of the Halton-Peel Communications Association and has also served as the managing editor of a government child welfare journal. Karen is currently authoring a children’s book series for preschool children and keeps busy with various community projects.

Karen lives with her husband and two girls, ages 2 and 8 years, in Oakville, Ontario Canada. For more information about Karen, please visit her web site at www.sibal.ca or call 416-580-9097.

No part of this article may be copied or reproduced in any form without the express permission of More4Kids Inc © 2006

Kitchen Remodeling: Family-Friendly Kitchens

Family-Friendly Kitchens

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Whether it's to grab an after-school snack, prepare dinner or simply touch base, everyone in the family passes through the kitchen, leaving little question that it is, indeed, the hub of the home. But how do you create a space that comfortably accommodates all of these activities, yet still leaves plenty of room to cook, clean and do all of those daily tasks it was originally intended to handle? The answer, according to Mark Karas, a Certified Master Kitchen and Bath Designer (CMKBD) with Adams Kitchens in Stoneham, Massachusetts, can be summed up in two words: careful planning. Here's how:

Size Up Your Space

The most family-friendly kitchens have a place for kids to work on homework, craft projects or just play without getting in Mom or Dad's way. How much space this requires depends on several factors: the age of your children, the number of children and others using the room on a daily basis, and the activities that take place. "A family with preschoolers has very different needs than one that has teenagers," says Lynda Wilhelmus, CMKBD, with Lensing Home Consultants Center in Evansville, Indiana. "Younger children most likely need a play space while teens need a computer." The bottom line is that there are no hard-and-fast rules for the amount of space that should be devoted to these various activities. Both Karas and Wilhelmus recommended starting with a pad and pencil, noting how you really use your current space. "If your children don't do their homework in the kitchen, there's really no reason to allocate space to that function," says Wilhelmus. That said, a homework station could be an oversize dining table with electrical outlets nearby for powering laptops, or it could be a complete desk that matches your kitchen cabinetry set off in its own corner, says Carolyn Cheetham, CMKBD, with Design Works by Cheetham in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. Likewise, she says, "A play space could be as simple as a toy-filled drawer just above the toe kick, or it could be a corner cabinet fitted with shelves for craft supplies, books and playthings."

Get in the Zone

Once you know how your family plans to use the space, think about how these activities—a seating area for watching television, a craft corner for the kids, plus preparing and serving food—will work together in the space, and how individual areas or zones should interact. For example, cooking and food-prep areas are sacred space. "The cook or cooks should be able to move from refrigerator to stove to sink without having to step over toys or move piles of paper out of the way," Cheetham says. According to Wilhelmus, the easiest way to make this happen is to separate the cooking area from the rest of the room with an island or peninsula.

When planning a desk or homework area, make sure there is plenty of surface for spreading out books and papers. And don't ignore the wires, says Cheetham. The last thing you want is a cord stretching across the room. To remedy the situation, Cheetham makes certain desks or tables are equipped with outlets as well as hiding places for wires. "Channeling out a table leg so cords can run through it is a good solution," she says.

A message center is crucial in a family hub. It could be as simple as hanging a chalkboard near the door, but most families need a way to handle all of the school papers, notices and mail that tend to pile up on counters. Wilhelmus suggests installing a cabinet fitted with a plate rack and designating each section to a different family member. Place a corkboard below for important reminders and notes. For a streamlined look, most cabinet companies offer a variety of shelving and custom organizing options that will let you include cubbies and shelves. You can even hide the corkboard on the inside of a cabinet door.

If your kids like to cook, design an area that's sized so they can help. According to Karas, this could be a lowered section of counter (say 30 inches high instead of the traditional 36-inch height) or a low shelf that pulls out from an island. Make sure there's a drawer or cabinet nearby to hold their supplies. Even if the kids aren't interested in cooking, a snack space complete with undercounter refrigerator, bar sink and microwave (if they're old enough), so they can grab a snack or even breakfast is a smart addition, says Cheetham. Locate it away from the main work triangle and they can help themselves without interrupting the cook.

Think About Safety

The more people using the kitchen, the more opportunities there are for something to go wrong. However, says Karas, avoiding potential mishaps is easier than you may think.

If you have a toddler, view the room from their perspective. Sit on the floor of your present kitchen and survey the scene, says Wilhelmus. You'll probably see cabinets and drawers begging to be explored, sharp corners and lots of tools and objects that might look interesting to a curious child. At a minimum, you want to make sure things like cleaning supplies, knives and small appliances are out of reach or in cabinets that lock, and that any unused electrical outlets are covered.

Where appliances are concerned, look for models equipped with child lockout settings, get a stove guard that creates a barrier in front of burners on a cooktop, or perhaps explore a new technology, like induction cooking. "With induction, no heat is generated unless there's a pot on the burner. It's the pan that gets hot, then, not the cooking surface, so when the pan comes off, the burner is cool," says Karas.

If you're renovating, pay particular attention to the materials you select. For example, says Karas, honed natural stone and smooth tile floors, especially those that have a high sheen, can become very slippery when wet. Instead, he suggests using something with a bit more texture, like vinyl or cork. An added bonus: "Both materials are resilient," says Karas, so they're easier on the feet and more forgiving should someone slip and fall. "And always round the corners on countertops," says Cheetham. Also consider counter heights. Standard height is 36 inches, which may be too tall for a child to reach without a stool. To avoid creating an environment where kids have to climb to reach everything, Wilhelmus suggests working in a seating area centered on a table rather than a counter. "Whether you use chairs or a built-in bench, the height of the seat will be more comfortable for them to reach." For areas where a stool may be necessary, such as a sink, Cheetham suggests using one that's built into the cabinetry so there are no issues with tipping. "Most cabinet manufacturers offer stools that fold back down into toekicks," she says. "They don't tip over and they also disappear when you don't need them."

Keep it Clean

Finally, think about upkeep. Stainless steel may have a nice, modern look, but it's a chore to maintain, especially when you have lots of little hands touching it. Karas doesn't recommend shiny silver appliances for families with small kids. "Black or faux stainless is a much better choice," he says. Similarly, Cheetham and Wilhelmus avoid using natural stones like granite or marble in highly trafficked family spaces because they stain too easily. Alternatively, both recommend counters made of solid surface or quartz. And cabinet finishes, they say, should not be too shiny. "A cabinet with a glossy sheen is definitely scrubbable, but it will show everything—you'll be scrubbing it often," says Wilhelmus. Instead, go for a semi-gloss, which has a more muted look. "After all, you want to spend time enjoying your kitchen with your family, not constantly tidying it up," she says.

11 fabulous homework stations and study areas - Craving some Creativity

11 fabulous homework stations and study areas

It’s that back to school time again and everyone has different emotions around it. Some love the feeling of getting organized and ready while others are sad to know how much their babies are growing up. My son started doing daily homework in kindergarten and this surprised me even though it made sense. Often times the kitchen table will suffice for a quick review or a worksheet, but it’s nice to have a zone specifically designed for homework where school supplies, books, and school calendars can have a place of their own.

These dedicated homework station ideas will certainly keep your kiddos focused and on task. You can create a lovely space to inspire learning. And even if your short on space for an exclusive study area, there are some options to get their creative juices flowing.

How about turning an unused closet into a cute study area?

An inspirational quote tops off this cute and genius homework area.

Don’t have much space? This bedside desk doubles up by serving as a functional homework station and side table.

This desk utilizes a stacking bookshelf to easily store books and supplies for the perfect homework station.

This study desk folds out from the wall and can easily be put away when their homework is done. Bonus: The chair folds away too!

Create a calm and separate area to keep the distractions to a minimum while studying. The see through walls also let you keep an eye on them if needed.

A simple wall to hang their past work is a great inspiration. Hang quotes or past homework assignments that excelled for inspiration. I really need to update that picture now that the cabinets are finished.

This area truly melds learning and fun, especially if you have multiple children. The play area can also accommodate amazing lego buildings and a study area.

If you have two or more children, figure out how they learn best. Do they prefer to study together? If so, set up the desk so it can accommodate two.

Turn your window area into a small office or study area. Install a built-in desk and shelves under a large window for a work area with a view.

Study areas don’t have to be boring. This colorful room inspires creativity and keeps assignments and supplies organized.

Do you have a dedicated studying area in your home? How do you handle the daily kids homework and assignments?