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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.


julie morstad, alphabet cards and personalized name art

15 Jun


Julie Morstad is one of my favorite illustrators. If you’re unfamiliar with her work, please check out her website (for limited edition signed prints like “Race” ($60), above, and children’s book illustrations).  I first learned of Morstad about a year ago, while browsing an increasingly eclectic and growing selection of alphabet flash cards for kids.

Jargon Boy, Lisa DeJohn, Julie Morstad

These are my three favorites:

M is for Modern ($25), created by Greg Chinn (Jargon Boy) is a fantastic primer in mid century style.  Nearly 3″ square, the cards would look fantastic displayed checkerboard/wacky-pack style.  Get a large RIBBA frame from IKEA and mount with some double-backed tape on a white board.

Alphabet Animals by Lisa DeJohn looks like it was designed in the 1950’s (a great thing, in my book). A description on the Buy Olympia site (an excellent resource, by the way!) reads thusly: “Printed on sturdy board and featuring an engaging collection of animals—including dragonflies, sea horses, and warthogs—these cards are perfect for little fingers and inquisitive minds.” The cards are almost 5″x7″, plenty big to enjoy and spread around on the floor.

But back to Julie Morstad.  Her ABC cards are truly unique in the subject matter covered… instead of Apples or Ants, you get an Acrobat.

The 4″x6″ cards come in a glossy cardboard box with magnetic closure, and are available on Amazon (I’ve added a link in the sidebar) for less than $13.  I’ve placed my favorite chain of letters in an IKEA RIBBA frame, purchased for $14.99. (BTW, please click image to make it larger).  I’m in love with the flapper girl in the red chapeau – in fact, I want to BE the flapper girl in the red chapeau.

For my future niece

If you’ve got some wall space to fill, I’d highly recommend getting a set of alphabet cards … they’re so ready for framing they almost call out for it.  And either arrange them as a grouping (as with the letter chain) or mount them individually.   And if you’re lucky enough to have a son or daughter whose name has zero repeating letters, how about creating your own personalized artwork?  This one (above) is for my soon-to-arrive baby niece. (Finished via three sets of NYTTJA frames, at $2.99 for the pair).  Thinking of you, K, and your soon-to-be little one.

salvage shop picture frames

18 Mar

Spring! Finally.
In honor of today’s perfect weather, we took a long walk, which gave me the opportunity to visit some of my old favorite haunts on the way to Prospect Park.

One of the best shops for homemade, authentic handicrafts is called Cog & Pearl. It’s on 5th Avenue in Park Slope – if you live nearby I highly recommend a visit.  It’s great for gifts (for oneself and others), the items never feel too cutesy or hipster-ish, and there’s always something affordable to take home with you.

Liam’s 4 lens camera photo 

Liam’s mum’s Venice watercolor

Today’s visit reminded me of the two picture frames we’d purchased there.  Made of tin ceiling tiles and old clapboard wood, they’re made by a group of folks who run/own an architectural salvage store in Oneonta, NY.   The company is called Architques – but the frames, mirrors, and shelves are creative by-products of their salvage business (New York Salvage). 

I love the idea of ‘upcycling’ when it comes to home decor, especially when used as a contrast or accent piece in a modern room.  Here’s a description from the Architiques website:

“Our decorative home accents are made from Authentic Architectural building materials. Antique ceiling tin, Old wood(molding, clapboard & beadboard) is used to make these one-of-a-kind pieces. We try to keep our products as authentic as possible to have a variaty of colors, so there are times when our salvaged materials are enhanced with color. Shades may vary, level of distress varies & due to our ever changing stock, our tin patterns vary.”

Tin and wood frames, up to 8×10, $38-$75

The salvage shop has some interesting finds as well. 

Carnival ride sign, 1950’s, $350

Their Ebay store seems a bit more affordable, but to be honest, I’d stick with the frames.