Neal's Home Remodeling and Design Blog

What to Include in a Family Communication Center

Posted by Christina Temple on Tue, Nov 24, 2015

Unless you were born with the ability to remember every single detail about the schedules, committments and needs of each member of your family, the chances are high that you rely on shared calendars, and any number of other organizational tools to keep it all straight. These days, mobile apps go a long way to assisting us with the task of keeping up with the family, but there are plenty of bits and pieces in the physical world that should be tracked, displayed, or exchanged. This is the usefulness of a Family Communication Center in your home. The communication center or kitchen desk is a single dropping-point for all the various things your family needs to know and remember as you each go about your daily lives.

A counter in this kitchen remodel is accompanied by a cork board, small cubbies for paper and mail storage, and plenty of drawers to create a convenient communication center over the family dogs' bed.
A counter in this kitchen remodel is accompanied by a cork board, small cubbies for paper and mail storage, and plenty of drawers to create a convenient communication center over the family dogs' bed.

Generally-speaking, the communication center should be located in a high-traffic area on the main floor of your home. For most homes, this will be near or in the kitchen, but every home, and every family is different. The center needs to be located in an area where all the members of your family (or at least all those contributing to the schedule or with commitments that need to be shared) can easily access it. If it's out of the way, tucked into a corner, or in an area that's barely used, it won't function at its optimal level for you.

Between the living room and the main hallway, the communication center in this kitchen remodel is a great spot for the family calendar. With plenty of outlets, the counter doubles as a charging station.
Between the living room and the main hallway, the communication center in this kitchen remodel is a great spot for the family calendar. With plenty of outlets, the counter doubles as a charging station.

At the very least, a communication center should have a pin board, chalk board, or a magnetic dry-erase board. The exact board you go with will depend a lot on the style of the room, your organizational aesthetic, and what sort of things your family will be using it for. You need a place to post party invitations, business cards for service or repair providers, school lunch schedules, etc. that would otherwise be lost or never referred to.

Tip: Even if your family is connected via digital calendars, and you have each other's schedules available at the touch of a screen, it's a good idea to keep a physical calendar for capturing important dates that might be coming up, like vacations or visits from family. This way, the reminder that those things are approaching is a visual thing you can see every day, rather than suddenly coming up as a "one hour reminder" on the day.

Just off the mudroom entrance, the family communication center in this kitchen addition sports a long cork board for important papers, a power strip for device charging and lots of extra storage.
Just off the mudroom entrance, the family communication center in this kitchen addition sports a long cork board for important papers, a power strip for device charging and lots of extra storage.

Speaking of digital devices, including an outlet or built-in power strip in an easily accessible location on the center can give you a convenient place for charging phones, tablets, or other devices. This is particularly useful for electronics that the whole family uses, since it creates a "home" for them, rather than having to search in everyone's room for where it might have been left. If you'd like the communication center to be the location for everyone's over-night charging, be sure to count things up and plan your outlet needs accordingly. You may also want to look at designated drawers, appliance garages or cabinets to store all the extra cords and charging plugs.

Tip: There are more and more products on the market that provide wireless charging. Leading the way is LG Hausys's TechTop, a counter product with embedded device charging. Simply place your device in the right spot, and charging starts. If devices are a big deal in your home, take a look at the wireless charging options for your communication center to keep things neat and easy.

Taking advantage of a corner near the kitchen table, this cabinetry solution is an all-inclusive communication center, but taking up very little of the kitchen's square footage.
Taking advantage of a corner near the kitchen table, this cabinetry solution is an all-inclusive communication center, but taking up very little of the kitchen's square footage.

You can never have too many places to store things that everyone in the family might need access to, such as flashlights, batteries, the stapler, pens, or a safety pin. While the time-honored "junk drawer" has long been the standard for these things, consider including space for them in the communication center. The more you can establish the center as a hub in your home, the more likely family members will remember to check there for the important stuff (like school permission forms, or letters that need to get into the mailbox).

A desk on the end of this U-shaped kitchen provides a droping point for the family, but also makes sitting down to fill out papers, do homework, or write letters more convenient.
A desk on the end of this U-shaped kitchen provides a dropping point for the family, but also makes sitting down to fill out papers, do homework, or write letters more convenient.

Do you exchange cars on a regular basis with others in the house? Consider including key hooks in the communication center as well. Anything that needs to be swapped from one person to another should have a place in this area. Having a set location for these items helps families establish habits that keep things running smoothly, particularly when you're all in the morning rush to get out the door.

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