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inspiration: richard scarry

29 Jun

Apple car shirt, Cluchtees.com

I recently found a great book on the closeout pile of one of the big bookstores. Called “The Busy Busy World of Richard Scarry,” this tome of a book could be best described as a love letter to Scarry, written by his long-time editor (Walter Retan) and art director (Ole Risom), and dedicated to his fans worldwide.

There’s a lot in this book; certainly too much to cover (and too many great images to be nostalgic about) for a single post.  So I thought I’d start with a list of three things I’ve learned, which now endear him to me even more than before:

Richard and wife Patsy, courtesy The Busy Busy World...

1.  He met his wife (Patty) through his work – she was an accomplished copywriter, he was an art director.  They both left advertising.  She became a children’s book author.  He became Richard Scarry.  The two of them led quite a glamorous life, jet-setting and sailing, then moving from Connecticut to Europe and eventually settling in Gstaad, Switzerland.

Best Word Book Ever, biography, Biggest Word Book Ever

2. His books were truly trail-blazing in concept and design.

In 1963, “Scarry wanted to create a different kind of word book for children, one that would arrange words by categories instead of by the alphabet.”  His publisher at Doubleday rejected the idea.  He took the Best Word Book Ever to Golden Press, and ten years later, over seven million copies had been sold.

In 1985, Scarry’s Biggest Word Book Ever was the largest scale children’s book ever published to date (2 feet high), and also one of the most expensive (at $29) and costliest to manufacture.  Random House sold out the entire run.

photo from the book

3. He never thought it was beneath him to sell (a selection of) merchandise based on his work. (I was too old for the video series but hear that it was quite wonderful).  I laughed out loud when I saw the caption under this photo.  It reads, “Dick looks at a variety of samples of stuffed toys based on his characters.  Merchandise and other licenses resulting from Scarry’s enormous international popularity added considerably to his income.”

lowly worms, amazingly handmade by stitchcraft creations

But what’s amazing about Scarry’s influence is that, to this day, people are still inspired to create their own Scarry-ific toys, stuffed animals, busy worlds and clothing.   The McDonalds toys are still around on Ebay, and the videos (as above) still exist, yet folks are staging their own birthday parties (check out stitch/craft’s website) and turning Scarry’s book pages into amazing up-cycled playthings.

Here are two of my favorites, courtesy of Etsy artisans:

blocks by LiliaRose, Etsy

Lilia Rose covers oak wood blocks with vintage ilustrations, then glazes them with a non-toxic, water-based sealer.  The images on the five blocks above are sourced from the Best Word Book Ever.  Find them here for $15.

collage by aboundingtreasures, Etsy

Wow.  Dallas, at the Abounding Treasures shop, makes amazing 3-D collages.  This one happens to feature hand-punched butterflies from Scarry books.  I love the delicate, yet sophisticated, beauty created in these collages – and at $15 for a 5.5″ x 7.5″ you really can’t go wrong (save your money for double-matting and framing!)  And please check out her shop to see other patterns and shapes.

storybook wristlet, Flamingice.com

Lastly, one for the nostalgic moms out there. I found this wristlet, created from the pages of Please and Thank You, then coated with some type of vinyl to keep it from tearing.  It’s $35 and such a cute piece – maybe it could be used in a nursery or kid’s room to keep wipes or small toys?

The only thing I haven’t been able to find is any kind of textile; I suppose you can create your own via Spoonflower … that is, f you were to keep it to yourself (no one likes a copyright infringer).  I’m sure a Richard Scarry bedding set could do a cracking business – has anyone out there seen any?

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sincere flattery and flag bunting

5 Jun

Olivia's room

Fionn's room

Browsing Ohdeedoh yesterday morning, I discovered a very interesting room tour; it’s the first one to feature exactly the same poster, crib set and arrangement of those items as in Fionn’s room.  It could be a total coincidence.  Or it could mean that someone actually liked Baby Daley’s room enough to want to have some of the same stuff.  And that’s really cool.

So in that vein, I wanted to share with you an amazing nursery decor trick that I’m just dying to ‘borrow’ myself.

Craft paper bunting, The B-line

If you haven’t heard of Amy at the B-line, please check out her blog.  It’s a beautiful and impressive website, apparently an offshoot of her Etsy business.  I believe she’s just had a baby – so the blog (and Etsy store) aren’t currently up-t0-date.  (Amy, if you read this, I’m hoping everything’s going wonderfully for you!)  I discovered Amy through her nursery photos posted on Flickr.  But they’re also featured on the blog, where you can read all about the amazing nursery she crafted and created – especially the bunting, made from scrapbook paper, contact paper and spray adhesive.

Frog made of custom-designed fabric

This woman does everything. Designs her own fabric (via Spoonflower – an amazing company that lets you do just that), makes jewelry, pillows, stuffed animals, wall decorations, among other things, and that’s when she’s not teaching during the day.   I love this frog – and check the pattern!

So onto finding cool bunting inspiration elsewhere.  I’ve uncovered three items, two from Etsy, and one from IKEA, all of which are interesting takes on the triangle flag theme.

1. Flags and garlands made of vintage children’s books

Sailor by Dick Bruna

Dr Seuss bunting, Richard Scarry garland

Bunting by LeJeune, Etsy, $8-$22

Alexandra LeJeune of Sydney, Australia, creates what she calls vintage storybook bunting.  She takes children’s books from the 60s and 70s, cuts and then sews them together with cotton tape.  I absolutely ADORE the Sailor images, and Richard Scarry is one of my favorite children’s book illustrators of all time.

2.  Bunting, illustrated

‘Bunting’ original illustration by Moonbeam Ice Cream, Etsy, $35

An original illustration by Edinburgh artist Kathryn Sutcliffe, this drawing is one of a kind — a real pen-and-colored-pencil piece of art.  And if I had somewhere to put it, it’d be mine.  If someone doesn’t buy this drawing within the next day or so, I’m afraid my PayPal trigger finger might get a bit twitchy for it.

3. Bedding textiles

Vitaminer Vimpel twin duvet and pillowcase, IKEA, $10

I couldn’t not mention this cute (and cheap) child’s duvet set, sold at IKEA.  Don’t know how well it’ll hold up after a few washes, but it’s worth a go. Start with this piece, and you’re room’s all figured out for color, too.  Basically, it’ll match any bright/primary shade – get a red rug and paint a wall sunshiny yellow, and the rest of the brightness can come from all the toys on the floor.

pink walls and "room for children"

7 May

Room for Children by Susanna Salk, Amazon.com
 I can’t remember having been this excited about getting a new book since the Wilco biography came out in the early 2000s.  True, Room for Children often feels like a compilation of now-well-known designs from now-well-known designers (Kelly Wearstler/Jenna Lyons/Amanda Nisbet), but I Don’t Care.  Although I love the interweb and all the versatility it offers, there’s something really satisfying about having photos at your fingertips, and being able to flip through pages and pages of inspirational images.  The accompanying text by Susanna Salk is equally inspirational and succinctly written – I think I agree with everything she’s said about kids’ design and why it’s so much fun.
So plan on seeing me return to this book, over and over in the next few weeks, to share my discoveries. 

For now, however, I’ve got a special task at hand.   My mom & dad have wonderful neighbors, who are in the midst of lots of change.  As they’re renovating their home from top to bottom, Mom is due (next month) to give birth to her second girl.  She mentioned that they’re starting to look for paint for the girls’ rooms; it can be any shade, as long as it’s pink. 

So, onto the book for inspiration (caveat: some of these images are internet-based (and higher-res) alternatives to the dark snapshots I took on my iPhone.)

Ruthie Sommer’s daughter’s bedroom, from her website

Right now, this shade of pink is my favorite – it’s got a blue tone to it, making it almost lilac but not as purple.   I find it soothing and sophisticated – and as you can see from the image, you can go mauvey with the accessories or move towards a fuschia, like on the canopy.

Girl’s room by Sixx Design

Now, this is some PINK.  Not exactly my style, but it seems to work here.  I guess if you’re going to do it, you might as well throw yourself in.   (BTW, I haven’t seen 9 By Design – perhaps I should? My understanding is that Sixx Design is the same couple from that show.  The Novogratzes also have their own book which also looks pretty cool.)  

Allison Tick Interiors

Another purpley-lavender-tinted pink, which I love.  As you can see, the accessories really make the space, from the candy-pink silk curtains to the white chair and table, to the West Elm Parsons desk at left.

Photographer Tim Street-Porter

This pink is a very light, delicate shade – I assume it becomes more pink as the room loses sunlight towards the evening.  The color picks up intensity through the accessories (like a clever canopy made from fabric suspended from the ceiling) and striped bedding.

Eve Robinson interior

Or, you can forgo color almost entirely on the walls, using your bedspread and headboard as the true focal points to your room.  You can see the contrast against the white window sills and door, but here you’re really staying as close to white as you can.

Incidentally, the Mythic paint company (home of zero-smell and low-VOC paints) has partnered with the Land of Nod on a paint collection of their own.  Of course, as with other paint companies, you can create virtually any color you fancy, but I find this a clever and well-thought-out shortcut.

Here are some examples of beautiful pinks (similar to those shown above) in the Mythic paint collection for Land of Nod:

 Petal-icious reminds me of the color used in the Allison Tick room (above).

  Tippy Toes is a beautiful girly pink – a little like the ‘ballet slippers’ color of countless manicures…

And here are some more delicate pinks from their regular collection.

Do you have a pink-walled room?  Send me a photo!

Fumi’s new space

7 May

Fumi in her new salon

I’d written before about the personal style of my friend and hair stylist Fumi (see the earlier post here).  But I just had to write again after learning that Fumi has recently left her post at Salon de Quartier on Smith Street to strike off on her own.  She’s sent me pics from her new salon, located at 121 3rd Street in Brooklyn, in what I think is the up-and-coming Gowanus neighborhood.  In fact, I’ve spent quite a bit of time around these parts, exploring the neighborhood whilst killing time as Fionn slept in his stroller … I’ll post more of my finds in a future post.

View from the front window

I wanted to share these photos because it seems she’s incorporated her altogether unique and organic Japanese-meets-Scandinavian style in this space.   I must admit I’m terrible with plants because they always look so -lonely- and somewhat unnatural (!) in my apartment, but I love the mini-tables she’s used to house them. 

Oak table from Crate & Barrel

The centerpiece of the space has got to be this heavy duty craftsman oak table.  I love the use of somewhat mismatched, various chairs and the task lighting that hangs above.  Fumi says it’s her favorite piece because it gives the salon a Scandinavian cafe-feel.

Cole & Son wallpaper, Anthropologie

And if you haven’t seen this wallpaper before, it’s one of my favorites.  I’ve seen it in a variety of very different settings, and it really does adapt to fit the mood of the furnishings around it.   It’s another Anthropologie home-decor find and is really beautiful in this setting.

The tree outside matches the wallpaper inside!

If you are interested in getting in touch with Fumi, she wanted me to pass on her new phone number.  It’s 347-763-0413(0414).  Congratualtions again, Fumi – I can’t wait to visit you in person.

Fumi's new space

7 May

Fumi in her new salon

I’d written before about the personal style of my friend and hair stylist Fumi (see the earlier post here).  But I just had to write again after learning that Fumi has recently left her post at Salon de Quartier on Smith Street to strike off on her own.  She’s sent me pics from her new salon, located at 121 3rd Street in Brooklyn, in what I think is the up-and-coming Gowanus neighborhood.  In fact, I’ve spent quite a bit of time around these parts, exploring the neighborhood whilst killing time as Fionn slept in his stroller … I’ll post more of my finds in a future post.

View from the front window

I wanted to share these photos because it seems she’s incorporated her altogether unique and organic Japanese-meets-Scandinavian style in this space.   I must admit I’m terrible with plants because they always look so -lonely- and somewhat unnatural (!) in my apartment, but I love the mini-tables she’s used to house them. 

Oak table from Crate & Barrel

The centerpiece of the space has got to be this heavy duty craftsman oak table.  I love the use of somewhat mismatched, various chairs and the task lighting that hangs above.  Fumi says it’s her favorite piece because it gives the salon a Scandinavian cafe-feel.

Cole & Son wallpaper, Anthropologie

And if you haven’t seen this wallpaper before, it’s one of my favorites.  I’ve seen it in a variety of very different settings, and it really does adapt to fit the mood of the furnishings around it.   It’s another Anthropologie home-decor find and is really beautiful in this setting.

The tree outside matches the wallpaper inside!

If you are interested in getting in touch with Fumi, she wanted me to pass on her new phone number.  It’s 347-763-0413(0414).  Congratualtions again, Fumi – I can’t wait to visit you in person.

inspiration: house to home online

14 Apr

View Larger Map

For the first time since Fionn was born in late August, Grandma Daley is coming to visit.  In fact, she’s en route right now.  We’re so excited to see her, and we’re probably equally excited to use this visit as a chance to take the week off from our (lovely, yet) shrinking apartment here in Brooklyn.  For the next week and a half, we’ll be out on the North Fork of Long Island, the home of fantastic vineyards, beautiful rocky beaches, and farm-fresh vegetables.  I’m also anticipating a lack of internet access, so this will be my last post for about a week or so.  Hope to see you all on the other side, with a new post near the end of April.

In honor of the Daley homestead, I’ll leave you with some excellent inspiration from a UK website I’ve recently discovered.  It’s called House to Home, and as I understand it, H2H is the parent website to a series of ‘shelter’ magazine titles published by IPC Media (which includes LivingEtc, among others).  

Here are some of my favorite rooms, starting with a striped British stunner:

Union Jack shared bedroom

Four-poster with cozy curtains

Brilliant built-ins in a shared space

Bunk bed-slash-play house

Painted floorboards, bright space

 Antique sleigh bed (awesome…)

Check out even more kids’ inspiration here.

Take care, everyone, and talk to you soon.

jungle room inspired design

5 Apr

I had a dream last night that I was at Graceland.   Maybe I was listening to too much Vampire Weekend, which reminded my brain of Paul Simon.  Who knows.

Elvis’s famed Jungle Room

Regardless, if you’ve never been to Memphis, I’d highly recommend a visit.  The Mansion, well, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  (Unless you’re a die-hard fan, once will be more than enough).  The Jungle Room is one of the most (in)famous rooms in the house – I haven’t been there in almost twenty years and I can still remember the indoor waterfall and shag carpeting (on both floor and ceiling, I think).  The story is that Elvis decorated this room in one day against the wishes of his father, Vernon, who Hated it.  But as with everything in the house, the room still has its OTT charm.

I was thinking how great an inspiration/jumping-off point the jungle room would make.  Of course, the trick is to maintain that precious balance between homage and kitsch while staying on the good side of taste.  And, of course, time heals many design wounds, such as the ones caused by shag carpeting.  We’re at the point where I’d actually consider it, whereas my mom would make a puke face at the mere suggestion.

So here goes.  The first thing I found was this awesome vintage-looking safari print bedding from the Company Store Kids.  (It reminds me of the Star Wars sheets my brother had as a kid, except with animals).   I built the room around the green rug and yellow accents (very 70s), including faux animal print textiles and lots of wicker and wood.

Clockwise from bottom left:

Giraffe print kid’s rocking chair, Toddle Rock, $54.95
Benjamin Moore color swatches
Half Moon snake charmer basket (aka hamper), Target, $65.99
Big Game Safari comforter cover, Company Kids, $69.00
Zebra mini-print photos by Amelia Kay Photography, Etsy, $12
Vintage amber glass pendant lamp by Fishbone Deco, Etsy, $98
Large cardboard rhino, PopDeluxe, $48
Surya green shag rug (3’6″x5’6″) Rugs USA, $285
Live edge coffee table by Lorimer Workshop, $775
Wood grain vinyl blinds, Target, $10-$18

Then all you need are some fun stuffed animals, a Land Rover play truck and some plastic snakes, and you’re all set for safari.