Soundproofing the kids (room)

9 Jul
Wobedo soundproofing panels

Wobedo soundproofing panels

Thankfully, no one in the four 750-square foot apartments in my building has taken up the drums (yet).  But I (sometimes) feel for my childless neighbors who have to deal with us, especially during that twilight hour before naptime, when all bets are off and the stairs to the second floor take a half hour to maneuver.

Leave it to the Swedes to invent soundproofing equipment that comes in the guise of ‘wall art.’  As far as I can tell, they don’t yet have distribution in the US, but I’m sure someone’s going to figure out a way to bring it over here.  The company is called Wobedo, and it bills itself as the manufacturer of ‘decorative soundabsorbents.’  I think it’s intended for office spaces or libraries, but I see no reason why we couldn’t replace our decals with this foam town:


In this room, no one can hear you scream.

In this room, no one can hear you scream.

And check the circles, squares, and mod shapes.


60s redux

60s redux

I especially like the freestanding one, but looks a bit too much like a gong for it to have any chance of remaining upright in my house.

big bubbles

big bubbles

There are some other brands listed on this site, but Woolbubbles (TM) are definitely my favorite.  Wonder if they offer bulk discounts?


aaack! toy storage issues…

25 Jun
game closet, Royal Tenenbaums

the dream game closet, Royal Tenenbaums

My husband says my son has too much stuff. But I think the problem, per se, isn’t the quantity, it’s the under-footedness of it all.
Luckily, the toys we have today don’t bleep and bloop and sing those inane alphabet songs anymore.   But they’re misshapen, sticky-outy, big, and kind of all over the place.

Storage bins,

Storage bins,

The little things (vending machine toys, matchbox cars, balloon animal balloons) have bins, sort of like the one above, except with clear boxes and lids.  It’s not horrendous-looking, and great for the inevitable 7AM whine, “mom, where’s my blinky stretchy ring that we got at the street fair?”

kidkraft vintage kitchen in blue (new?)

kidkraft vintage kitchen in blue (very googie)

The medium-sized things (paints and paintbrushes, marble maze kits, plastic food, toy cameras, etc) get stuffed in the fridge, oven, and cabinet space of Fionn’s 2011 Christmas present.  Like the proverbial hall closet, things tend to fall out on unsuspecting playdate guests, but such is the price of a clean front room (where this lives).

The culprits.

The culprits.

But then, this.  These are the toys that trigger my OCD-panic and challenge my organizational desires. When we changed the room over, we got rid of those cute, but somewhat useless, book display ledges we so proudly drilled into bricks to install.

from a simpler time.

the today me is cackling at the 9-months pregnant me at these.

So I went trawling the internet to find some potential new solves (that might also prevent a spackle-and-repaint for those awesome wall holes).  And it’s not about the bins, bags, or boxes – the goal is to get this stuff off the ground.

Land of not-so-cheap

Land of not-so-cheap

Totally digging this Land of Nod “On The Grid’ bookcase-like thing, but for $200 bucks, it seems a little crazy.  But the whole three potato four-ness of it is pretty awesome.

"For moms who make crafts, prepare dinner, and still have time to go to the gym"

“Oh this? I just whipped something up between soccer practice and bedtime”

This is quite inspiring – wall-mounted curtain rods and hooks, everything hanging off the wall.  One of those “you don’t need to spend money, all you need is a spice rack and a glue gun” solutions, but this one seems to be simple enough to be cool (see link to   It could work on the figurines and soft stuff, but then there’s still the board games and cash register to figure out.

Ikea.  It's always Ikea.

Ikea. It’s always Ikea.

So, like everyone else on a desperate Saturday afternoon of non-finds, I end up at Ikea.  But this could be really nice.  It sort of reminds me of the Elfa systems at the Container Store.  And if it were to work, it doesn’t look like it’d occupy too much space or feel too bulky.  Go Ekby Jarpen and Ekby Gallo.  For $75 I might even do it then change my mind shortly afterwards.

Any advice is very welcome while the drill is charging and the Zipcar is being reserved.

he’s finally getting wall decals

20 Jun
It's A Small World - Gold Moroccan Facade, available at Oopsy Daisy

It’s A Small World – Gold Moroccan Facade, available at Oopsy Daisy

I’ve totally caved.

Over the past few months, our lives have changed again.  Me getting comfy in my big city job, hubby moving offices so we sometimes even see each other in passing or on the way to the subway, and buddy boy strollering-then-scootering-then-walking his way off to preschool.  Now it’s the summer and it’s time for another momentous shift in our lifestyle.

It’s big boy room.  For reals this time.  And we’re living the twin-sized life.

The loft bed

The loft bed

I’d never heard of Cymax before, but I found this South Shore Treehouse loft bed there for the best price – $540.  Cool thing is that it’s got the trifecta of young kids’ options – higher sides to prevent roll-outs, drawers and hiding storage spaces for all the toys that somehow mysteriously end up in our house, and the best part… a space underneath for hiding, reading, and playing.

A little bit of wall space back there...

A little bit of wall space back there…

We put in one of those battery-operated slap lights, Fionn’s little Cosco booster, some storage stuff.  But it just lacked something.

So Mommy gave in to the decal monsters.  But here’s why I’m OK with it.  It’s going UNDER the bed.  And to Fionn, under the bed could very well be under the sea.  (Whatever works, I say).

Gone fishing, via

Gone fishing, via

That’s my answer.  (Found these at Zulily.  They may appear again soon.)

But I think there are three basic ways of doing decals that don’t offend my (not very delicate, after nearly 4 years of parenthood) design sensibilities.

One: Keeping them in a confined, limited space.  Framing a crib, OK.  Filling a gap under the bed, fine.  Adding some great outdoors to a non-great-outdoors-facing space, ingenious.

Flowers from

Flowers from (obvs)

These Growing Flowers are adorable, and purposeful, in a modern, interesting way.

Two: Complementing and reflecting a design theme already chosen for the room.  Skip*Hop has some really bold, kid-friendly  decals that match the bedding designs but, even when put together, don’t go over the top into cutesy territory.  (Criteria one probably applies here too.  Think about placement to avoid ‘floating giraffe’ syndrome).

Screen Shot 2013-06-20 at 5.05.53 PM

Eames, Hirst, or hot air balloons? Courtesy Skip*Hop

Skip*Hop giraffes

Giraffes & shapes, courtesy Skip*Hop

And, three: Finding a GORGEOUS piece that takes the place of a framed artwork.

I’ve never heard of Oopsy Daisy before, but this was truly a find.  Branded “Disney’s It’s a Small World” collection, this line of ‘fine art’ decals are “inspired by Mary Blair’s iconic mid-century modern imagery and vibrant color blocking techniques.”

It's A Small World neutral facade

It’s A Small World neutral facade

Whatever.  All I know is that they’re amazing. Sadly, you’re going to pay for the amazingness – a small one (18×24, I believe) is about $100 and the 20×30 is about twice the cost – versus the $20 average you’ll probably spend.

It's A Small World regular

It’s A Small World regular facade

It's A Small World Indian facade

It’s A Small World Indian facade

If you’ve got a room where these work, I’d soooo go for it.  They’d probably be the perfect size to fit under a loft bed.

orange & gray update: a new kid’s room from target

24 Oct

Chloe & Conner Rocketship Chair

Now that the baby is a boy and the toddler bed is soon to be outgrown, I’ve been thinking about “The Next Big Project” to distract myself with.  While checking out the Target website, I noticed that they’ve recently launched a few new design/furniture collections.  Some seem cribbed from CB2, others look more Pottery Barn Kids with a bit of Dwell Studio thrown in.  Some might say  the cupboard looks a bit ransacked.  But no mind to the source of inspiration, someone in Minneapolis seems to be doing right by the “design for all” philosophy.

So here was my challenge to myself: Design a room in the same colorway as Fionn’s room right now, just with new furniture, rugs, and window treatments, and do it all online from Target. (By the way, for all you grammarians out there,  here’s what I learned while checking the title to this post: “Grey is a colour, but gray is a color.” )

I started with the awesome Calhoun metal headboard and TV/storage unit.  I then complemented with warm gray (nearing brown) accents, introducing a few patterns for interest.

Koons-SuckUK mashup lamp

I’m kicking myself for not buying this lamp (above) when it was available.  Now it says “not available” online or in stores.  But it’s genius, isn’t it?  A Jeff Koons balloon dog combined with the Teddy Bear lamp from SuckUK, but decidedly less creepy.  Hope they bring it back.

So here’s the assortment.  Click the image to enlarge.

Target room, 8 pieces

1. Calhoun Media Stand $169.99.  Meant for a TV, but can be used with storage bins for clothes/toys/junk.

2. Chloe & Conner Rocketship Chair $99.99.  The most ‘kiddie’ item in this room, but so cute.

3. Target Home Basketweave Window Panel $24.99.  I much prefer grommet-top curtains to any other kind.  These may need backing with room-darkening curtains, but would still be a bargain.

4. Calhoun Headboard (twin) $109.99.  It comes in black too, for the more risk-averse.

5. Dog balloon lamp (unavailable?!) $34.99.

6. Upholstered Storage Bench in Gray $249.99.  Expensive but super cool.  It comes in multiple fabrics… for a brighter look, there’s the Panama Wave Storage Bench , $279.

7. Threshold Basic Border Rug $179.99.  Reasonable enough to loosen the Play-doh restrictions.

8. Room 365 Dot Comforter Set (Twin) $69.99.  Love.  Want this for our own bed.

If you’ve discovered anything surprising or cool at Target, drop me a line- I’d like to know.

richard scarry + mid century mod = little lionel jones

2 Oct

Little Lionel Jones, bandleader of the 18 Karats

I am so excited to feature this artist on RFYO; Rob Bridges embodies everything I love about design and fits my aesthetic to a T.  And, even better, Rob’s an up-and-coming artist whose prints (and awesome back story) are available for anyone to buy on Etsy.

The story begins with Lionel Tiberius Jones, “or as he is better known, “Little Lionel Jones,” who cites Django Reinhardt as a major influence.  Little Lionel and his band the 18 Karats has four members, a fox bassist named Tricksy Mingo, Buddy Hambones (a piglet) on the trumpet, and a toucan percussionist named Chico LaRoca.

Tricksy Mingo

Buddy Hambones

Chico LaRoca

Lionel, as Rob writes, “hails from the small fishing hamlet of Rutabaga Island, just a hairs throw off of the coast of greater Maine. The runt of the litter, his mother gave him his moniker as the result of her oft “stymie-ifcation” due to the youths herring sandwiches and sprung guitar chords piled in forgotten lumps on his bedroom floor.

Lionel first met up with The 18 Karats because of an ad in the Atomic Music Review classifieds, placed by Tricksy Mingo and Buddy Hambones who were looking for a competent jazz player that knew how to play more than the “Triangle” and didn’t say “Daddy-O!” ad nauseam. (That was Tricksy’s bag…)”

Rob sells his painted illustrations here on Etsy for $40 each or $120 for the set.

But this isn’t the only work from Rob.  Of course I love the Richard Scarry influence and clever use of Eames and Saarinen references, but Rob’s got a broader range of work that’s equally lovely.

image from A Trip to the Moon

His gouache-on-paper works are incredible, and perfect for children’s books.  In fact, this is a sample from a book he’s planning, called A Trip to the Moon.  And here’s another: Summer and the Red Banjo, a bit more traditional in vein.

Summer and the Red Banjo

If you’re curious to learn more, read Rob’s posts here on Neatorama (a great website, btw) or Juxtapoz.  A graduate from Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, he’s now based in Lexington, KY where he lives with his family.   Check out the listing on Etsy, or visit his website – he’ll be glad to hear from you.

bright color + brass hardware = campaign mod

30 Sep

Image courtesy (Traci Zeller)

There are two vintage furniture shops in our neighborhood.  They sit side by side.  The first one on the corner is called Holler & Squall.  (Zak and Gillette are two of the most amazing shopkeepers you could meet.  We’re very lucky to have gotten to know them).   The second shop next door, Jarontiques, is more in line with the mid-century style to which we’ve all become accustomed (but cooler, and definitely more hipster than the expected DWR-lite stuff you often find at these shops).

Now, if you would have asked me a few years ago what my design style gravitated to, I would have walked you right up to a Nelson bubble lamp and an Eames fiberglass chair in celery green, and been done with it.  But I have a husband, and his taste leans way more to the browns and oranges than the cool blues and greens I love.   Taxidermy? Yes.  Worn down leather club chairs? Totally.

campaign chest, Lonny Magazine

All of this is a super roundabout way of explaining (to myself, mostly) why I’m so enamored with these “campaign chests/dressers,” which I surely would have dismissed as heavy and overwrought a few years ago.  But having happened on the image at top the other day, I’m newly curious.

Apparently, this is not a new thing to the internets (i.e., I’m very late; see roundup from Apartment Therapy here).  But for those of you with changing tastes, or new winter clothes storage needs, or newly-graduated-from-layette-furniture homes like mine, it could help.

So, first, to browse.  Here’s the Pinterest page.  Second, to learn.  From Wikipedia:

Campaign furniture is evocative of luxurious travel and a time gone by… The appeal of its nature has been picked up on and modern furniture made in a campaign style is produced by a number of makers today. Often, the consideration of portability has not been a factor with the overriding concern being to achieve the look by adding brass corners and strap work. Another group of manufactures have produced direct copies of period campaign furniture seeing that there is still a call for it today be it for safaris or the high class camper.

Kelly Wearstler vanity

Oops.  Ok, so the stuff we love isn’t exactly British Army Issue (good thing, with all the not-so-appealing connections to colonialism and stuff), and is much too heavy to fold up and carry with us, and was certainly not EVER intended to arrive in bright green or hot pink. No mind.

So you want one? How hard do you want to work?  Let’s take it in three steps:

Rast Ikea hack

For Chic Sake blog hack

1.  Hack it.  It’s Ikea furniture, paint and hardware. Ikea hacks have done it, so have the For Chic’s Sake blog.  It doesn’t look super hard.  Apparently, you can get the brass from Ansaldi & Sons.

2. Refinish it.  The amazing Jenny Komenda from Little Green Notebook did this herself.  Bless her.

Ebay treasure, 9/30

3.  Buy it. (My preferred method).  They’re all over Ebay.  This one (above) is a little different, but I really love the style and the storage possibilities.  Currently at $600 and shipped from Miami.  Think of all that BabyMod you’re about to throw away after the drawers are falling in for the third time, and it may not seem like too much of an investment.

Tip-N-Rok = Eames + Kid-O

23 Mar

February 1962 Popular Mechanics (Google Books)

Somewhere between the furniture of yesteryear and the toys of 2012 lies this awesome find, a chair-toy hybrid called the Tip-N-Rok.   Although mentioned on multiple websites as a vestige of childhood memories in the 1970s, this wonderful item dates back to the early ’60s (at least).

from eames shell to bilibo?

The ad from Popular Mechanics lists the manufacturer as the Tip-N-Rok Sales Co.  But over time, it seems to have been made by a number of manufacturers, from the MTA Company (any info would be much appreciated!) to the Infantseat Company in its latest iteration.  To me, it’s a children’s “missing link” between an Eames shell (without legs) to the modern day Kid-O Bilibo (available at

Finn's room, courtesy Deuce Cities Henhouse

Then I found the chair again in the Apartment Therapy (formerly Ohdeedoh) archives.  They found it on the Flickr feed of Alison, mom to Gus, Elsa and Finn, and the woman behind my new favorite blog, Deuce Cities Henhouse.  Check it out if you’re into feeling inspired (and very envious…).  And for more random chair inspiration, you can find it on this guy’s Pinterest collection too.

on ebay right now!

on ebay right now (intothepines)

And then I found two (well-loved, but lovely) Tip-N-Roks on Ebay today. This one (above) is being sold by intothepines. With about a day left, bids are around $30.  (The other one is being sold for a lot more, btw).

"as advertised on tv" (intothepines)

The kid on the sticker seems to be having a good time.

getting the basics right

20 Mar

They look innocent enough.  But they’re intent on destroying your carefully-designed, thoughtfully-appointed, simple but beautiful baby nursery.

Because guess what?  That adorable DS or DD (or, bless you, combination of s’s and d’s) – whether you’re ready to admit it or not – has outgrown ‘baby’ mode and is now firmly putting his or her foot down into young kid territory.  And with the changing table, so goes the crib, the pom poms, the bedding you spent hours agonizing over and coordinating with paint colors, and virtually anything else that’s too delicate to have lasted this long.

And as you may find, a daytime dalliance with Geo and Milly might just morph into a super-obsession.  Then Grandma finds out.  And a couple of days later, you find yourself with officially-licensed character sheets and a new bedspread straight from China to you.   What to do?  Console yourself with a super heaping of the basics.

As Miss Sarah Brown says, “follow the fold and stray no more.”

You know the room is going to be taken over by Super Shapes.  You know Wubzy is yellow, and everything’s painted a lovely shade of pink.  Here are some tips for making the new toddler room a sea of calm amidst all the stuff your modern-furniture-loving-self is starting to get twitchy around.  Remember the power of simplicity and knowing what you can control.   At the end of the day, everyone wants to be happy.

1.  Shapes - make sure your new furniture is bold and graphic, but not too delicate or serif-y.

2. Colors – keep them neutral, save for a pop or two of brights.

3. Density – everything needs to be climb-tested.  Twice.

(Click image to view larger)

To put these rules to the test, I wanted to see what I could do with items from one retailer only.  Curious to see what was going on at the re-styled JC Penney, I checked out the new website – which is full of offerings only available to online shoppers.   And I was more than pleasantly surprised by what I found.  For anyone who’s gone one round (or ten rounds, as it seemed) with the Ikea/WalMart/Target furniture the first time around, this stuff will seem a little more on the expensive side.  But it should also last a LOT longer and feel a lot more sturdy.

1. Colors Kids dresser and mirror $400 + $150

So the room here starts with white and neutrals, and pops into red and turquoise for some flash.  This dresser/mirror combo is the perfect shape and size for bedrooms of any size.

2. Hollie tufted headboard $300

It comes in a million colors.  Jonathan Adler would be proud.

3. Colors Kids nightstand $200

The companion piece to the dresser, but in RED.  How cool is that.

4. Cameron storage tower $190

I doubted whether to include this one; it doesn’t look like it would pass the #3 (density) test.  But you get the idea.

5. Flush-mount ceiling lamp $50

Score. I love this piece. It lends a vintage-y feeling to the design without being old fashioned.

6. Champagne washable shag rug 5×8 $250

A washable shag area rug. What will they think of next?!

7. York circular frames $25

To finish off the theme and to remind the kid of the folks who really matter.

If you’ve found any great decor for your toddler lately, let me know- I’d love to see it and hear it.

Russel Wright for the kids

12 Mar

Hi friends. Image Last time we spoke, I had a toddler.  Maybe even an infant.  Six months or so later, we’re in full KID territory.  And in that move from crib to toddler bed, from squeezies to go-gurts, and from tossing to outright *throwing* (balls, forks, tantrums), my interests as a mom have changed slightly too.  So expect me to cover fewer “isn’t that cutes” and more “will it last”s over the next few months.

Image So back to the story.  We’ve got a kitchen (of course, this one: KidKraft Kitchen).  And we’ve got the nice wooden play food from Melissa & Doug and the crappy plastic stuff from the dollar store (that the dog really loves crunching on).  But no plates or tea sets for my little boy.  And every little boy needs a tea set.


Enter Russel Wright (Ideal vintage advert, above).  Mummy has her own set of this lovely, wonderful, beautiful tableware, why not Fionn?  For the uninitiated, imagine Russel and his wife Mary the disciples of Frank Lloyd Wright and the predecessors to Charles & Ray Eames.  Or in more modern terms, they were Martha before Martha even started organizing her dolls.  In a truly fortunate marriage of equals, Russel was the industrial designer and Mary was the promoter.  He had a vision of introducing high quality design to the post-war generation – at the dinner table – and she has a vision for marketing it as a guide for ‘easier (not better or simpler) living.’

They wrote a book to that effect, their mission (as it were) to “liberate readers from the stiff dinner party, the formal tea party, and fussy houses that ‘make scolds out of so many women, who are constantly after their families to keep coke bottles off the coffee table, feet off the sofa’” (via the Cooper-Hewitt guide to their exhibition).  So what better way to celebrate the freedom of casual life then by getting my son an entertaining set of his own? I promise I’ll try not to force the fork on the left or move the spoon to the right when he’s not looking. (I have been known to do this.)


There’s a set currently up for auction, but I won’t tell you where until Wednesday.  (If you bid against me I will be very unhappy.)  The pieces are exact replicas of the teapot, cups and saucers, creamers and sugar bowls I, myself, collected as engagement gifts to Fionn’s dad.  They’re on display most of the time, though we take them out for use on special occasions, the irony of which I am supremely aware.

So if you find the plastic Russel Wrights, snap them up. They’re a lot nicer than anything you’ll find today.

goose barnacle, rodger stevens and wire dog decor

23 Jun

We have two super-creative neighbors, who happen to be sister and brother.   Sister Marissa is a jewelry designer who sells her beautiful wares in a shop around the corner from our apartment.  (Every mom within a three-block radius of State Street seems to be sporting Marissa’s beautiful initial pendants; to me, they’re the modern version of those boy/girl shapes our own mothers used to sport).  And brother David recently transformed a creaky, tumble-down storefront on Atlantic Avenue into a beautiful wood-hewn tribute to the best in no-fuss but gorgeous, solidly made, durable menswear (In fact, the stuff is perfect for the way my husband shops; unlike me, he spends a lot on one piece then proceeds to wear it (out) every day – so it had better be made to last).  But Goose Barnacle isn’t just a clothes shop, it’s also a place for David to show off pieces of art that match his hand-crafted aesthetic.

That’s why I smile when I walk by his store window nearly every morning:

front window, goose barnacle

I was reminded of his wire display while browsing one of my other favorite shops in New York (this time, near work).  If you’re not familiar with Mxyplyzyk, you should be.  Of course, there are more of these MOMA-store-inspired tchotchke shops popping up all over the place, but Mxyplyzyk (look it up) was an originator of the scene.  And it’s one of those design-centric shops that seems to always keep its inventory new and fresh, no matter how often you visit (it’s been there for as long as I can remember).

wall of dogs, mxyplyzyk

For those of you who are slightly bored by the Wallcandy-Blik-decal overload of the past few years, but don’t have a lot of space to feature big posters or the patience for wallpaper, these fabulous metal dogs are full of personality and only $65 each.

french bulldog? closeup

It’s funny to find something so similar to something you walk by every day, so I thought I’d try and learn a bit more about David’s colleague and collaborator for Goose Barnacle.

Turns out this guy is a pretty big deal!  His name is Rodger Stevens and his work has been featured all over the place -from private residences of the rich and famous to some really gorgeous retail locations around the US.

driftwood/wire, barney's, scottsdale, arizona

He calls his work “shadow-casting metal narrative pieces” – to me, that’s one fascinating thing about this work.  Whether mounted against a wall, hanging from a ceiling, or standing on its own, these thin sculptures end up occupying more territory and feeling ‘fuller’ than you think they would at first glace.   Here’s a video of his technique, courtesy of David’s website on behalf of Stevens.

Untitled from Goose Barnacle on Vimeo.

Which takes me back to the dogs.  I bet they’re probably imitations of his work (an impression based solely on price point) but if it builds an appreciation for three-dimensional sculpture and the place it can have in a kids’ room, to me, that’s pretty cool.

Check out more about Rodger Stevens here.  Could be a nice option if you’re looking for some new art in the rest of your home too.


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