Command Center: a Useful Back to School Project

A new command center to catch the family’s piles of stuff when they enter your house has been my most effective Back to School organization project so far.


This unassuming shelf holds everything.

A command center is a must-have for a family with school-aged kids. I have two boys, one starting middle school, and one in elementary school. For the past several years, they have come in the front door after school and dumped their backpacks, jackets, shoes, and socks right inside the door. Because stuff attracts more stuff, their father does it too. Not all of these all the time, and not necessarily in that order, and sometimes including extra projects or stuff they acquired on the way home from school.

This is what that area was supposed to look like:


I love the Pier 1 bookshelf and my pretty gardening books and photos of the boys. It even had room to temporarily store things that were on the way out of the house to be returned to their lenders (which explains the pile of plates and cloth napkins).

But this is what it usually looked like:


Let’s put all the things here! On the floor!


Not pictured: backpacks and jackets, which spread to the kitchen table/floor/stairwell

It drove me crazy to trip over my kids’ and husband’s stuff all the time and have to see that mess when I came and went. My mission was to hide all of that stuff and create a command center! So I grabbed a kid and headed to Ikea. Naturally.

The challenge: create a family command center that holds keys, wallets, shoes, and backpacks.

command center ikea desk

He loves coming to Ikea with me. Obvs.

command center ikea meatballs

Okay maybe it’s just for the meatballs.

Originally I envisioned a mirror with hooks on the wall for hanging jackets and backpacks, with a storage unit/bench to hold shoes and serve as a seat for putting on and taking those shoes off. But Brady wanted a “cubby,” and since he and his brother would be the ones using it, I relented and got the 4-unit Kallax shelf. He wanted all 4 cubes to have doors, but I put my foot down on that one—mostly because those doors were a giant PITA to put in, but also because backpacks are bulky and tend to hang over the edge of the shelf.


A peach Smirnoff Ice went well with this DIY project.

One afternoon of cursing and sweating was all it took to create this command center. I banished all shoes to their proper closets, unless it’s boys’ everyday shoes. Those go in the bottom cubby behind closed doors. Backpacks go in the top cubby. Husband’s wallet and keys go in the basket on the top shelf. Jackets are hung in the front hall closet on the other side of the hallway. (What? That’s not for random junk?)



Look how nice and neat it is now! 


This only works if everyone does what they’re supposed to. (Isn’t that a line from “Bad Moms?”) For example, even though they have a shiny new cubby, the boys will literally come into that door, dump their backpacks on the floor, and take off their shoes and leave them there.

Ten…nine…eight… (that’s me gritting my teeth and counting so I don’t lose my ever-loving mind).

It doesn’t happen often. Anymore. After a few too many times of losing privileges when The Cubby was not respected, the boys got on board and put their belongings in their respective places.

So, see? You too can have something as awesome and organized as this. If your family cooperates.

Kallax shelf unit – $35.99 plus rock star cursing, a Smirnoff Ice, and lots of sweating too

Kallax insert with door x 4 – $80, plus kicking yourself because you only used 2 so you just wasted $40 because you’ll never go back to Ikea in time to get your money back

So technically this setup cost a total of $75.99 plus tax and pain and suffering. You’re welcome.

This post was not sponsored by Ikea in any way. We just love it there.

create command center