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in praise of the ‘mismatched’ room

25 May

Favor from Tallie’s Vintage Birthday Party by TomKat Studio

There seems to be a recent trend in which children’s birthday parties have started looking like weddings.  Blame it on crafters showing off on the Internet, moms getting tired of the invisibility of scrapbooking, or a simple desire to outdo all the other kids on the block.  But it’s now starting to creep into room design, and it’s stressing me out.  (Mentioned the phenomenon to my husband, who expressed his own disdain as, “My kid’s getting a pinata. That’s it.”)

Think of this post as a unicorn chaser for this overly coordinated, hot-glue-gun-and-grosgrain-ribbon-trimmed, letterpressed and Pantone-chip-matched craziness.   And a chance to feel OK about the state of our kids’ rooms 99.999 percent of the time.

Are those Legos on the floor?

A neighbor of ours, some guy called Gabriel Byrne, is looking to sell his townhouse here in Brooklyn.   The townhouse is selling for a few million dollars (I’m not sure of the exact amount right now, but you can read all about it here, on Brownstoner, our local real estate blog.  The comments section is especially snarky.)  So they’ve set up a website to profile the property.

What do I LOVE about the house?  Not the period copper detail, or the parlor room, washer/dryer, or fantastic location. No, what I love is the fact that they took photos of their kids room WITH CRAP ALL OVER THE FLOOR.

I love that someone decided he/she wanted green floors and blue walls and that’s what they got.  I love that there’s a life sized decal of Cristiano Ronaldo on the wall, and that it hasn’t been removed for the showing.  I love that there are two bunk beds, even though I have no reason to believe Gabriel and his wife actually have four children.

And I absolutely, thoroughly, love the presence of that great furniture democratizer- an IKEA Expedit bookcase.  I have to say that this is my favorite piece of furniture right now.  One-cube-by-four, you have a tower or a bench.  Two-cubes-by-four (as shown), you have a kids’ height storage center.  Five-by-five, and you’ve got a room divider or great storage piece.   I can’t wait for the opportunity to get one.

So fear not, friends.  Think of it as a “Stars, they’re just like us!” feature – maybe it’ll inspire you to skip the straightening up for the day, because after all, the maid will be in tomorrow. . .


really big canvas totes

18 May

I know I’ve already done a post about canvas totes, but we’re running out of room here at the Daley house, and I need more.  Something bigger.  Something funner! (sorry, grammarians).

A few years ago, I really wanted a canvas tool tote for myself.  I think I saw it as a hip, steampunk, authentic, LL Bean Signature (which is amazing, btw) version of a Hermes Kelly bag.   But the dealbreaker?  Carrying around something with my own name (Jaime, nee Klein) emblazoned on the side.

Klein Tools 24″ bag, Home Depot, $68

For toys, though, I think it could work.  And if I wanted something a little more -industrial-, there’s always the Steele Canvas storage totes (as seen virtually everywhere online).

Elevated truck, 24x18x16, Steele Canvas, $95

It’s a chunk of change, for sure.  But there are all different kinds, at all price points.  They’re more than laundry baskets, anyway – they’re more like furniture.  And what amazing hiding places they’d make for little orphan girls!  Enjoy…

luggage storage and fun travel stickers

9 Apr

playworthy toy box, courtesy of Ikea

16 Mar

The weather was bad again today here in the NY area, so Fionn and I did what we often do in these circumstances.  We rented a Zipcar and went to Ikea.

I’m a first time mom, so I’m not yet intimately familiar with the phenomenon of retail temper tantrums.  But there’s some teething going on, so we got to share the pleasure of whimpering, complaining, writhing and full-on GETMEOUTOFTHISSTROLLERNOW shrieking.

But as always, I don’t feel like it’s been a productive Ikea trip unless I bring back at least one item that’s a little too big to carry.

Ikea Minnen toy box, $15

This morning’s Yo Gabba Gabba was all about dressing up, and in the first scene they all take goofy hats out of their big treasure chest toy box (as in this recent ‘Pirate’ post).  Maybe I had toy boxes on the brain, but when I saw this I had to get it.  It’s a typical Ikea nylon pop-it-up-and-fasten-the-velcro jobbie, but the details make it so darn cute.  I’ve already filled it with random blankets, the Ergo carrier, and other things I want off the nursery floor and put away.

And as is so often the case, Fionn fell asleep in the car on the way home.

discovered: madras canvas storage

30 Jan

M79, Vampire Weekend

Synchronicity, according to Jung (and Wikipedia) is the term used to describe a “temporally coincident occurrences of acausal events.” Basically, a meaningful coincidence (and yes, I nearly avoided the Police reference. Nearly.) Don’t think this really qualifies, but the sophomore effort from Vampire Weekend, Contra, ‘dropped’ almost TO THE DAY that I discovered this excellent canvas tote on

Color cuff canvas storage tote,, $29

So, in homage to madras, sail canvas, and the Upper West Side, here are some other outstanding examples of playful storage for kids’ rooms.

First, my favorite Etsy finds. (Disclaimer: I found these items on my own, which means I haven’t been asked, or -heaven forbid- paid, to feature anything on my posts. When this happens, I’ll let you know).

12×12 canvas storage bucket by rubystella, Etsy, $25

This one is handmade and hand-stenciled with the cutest red-ticking ribbon handles, and at a great price. The stencil can also be customized.

Yarn keep by ink lore, Etsy, $30

Now I love this one, but as it’s meant for yarn I assume it’s pretty small. But how great would it be for a desktop, to store mini-toys or Lego pieces?

These are the baskets we have at home:

Canvas buckets, Pottery Barn Kids, $19 and $35

I’m not quite sure why they’re considered ‘boys’ buckets. I guess because the ‘girls’ ones are really, really pink with a capital P. But for what it’s worth, we now use these buckets for our two boys – the boy dog ended up getting one for his toys too. And, as with everything PBK, they can be customized (and probably monogrammed, to keep with the theme here).

Floor totes, Pottery Barn Kids, $27 and $35

And I especially like these floor totes, which feel slightly more modern than most of the other items in the PBK catalog. (Make the dots touch, and you have a DwellStudio print).

Create-Your-Own Jester Ottoman by Simply Sauce Designs, Etsy, $35

Lastly, thinking outside of the tote/bucket box, here’s a creative idea from Simply Sauce Designs, back on Etsy. I double-checked to make sure I got the price right. You get the store-and-stow ottoman, and from what I understand, five paint colors. You can even go to the craft store, get more paints, get more brushes, and voila, you have an afternoon decorating party.


16 Jan

Poster by Office at 826 Valencia shop, $20

Say the word “pirate” and a few things probably come to mind. Captain Jack Sparrow, for one. Somalia, perhaps, or for those public-radio/McSweeneys fans, the 826 Valencia writing workshop and store in San Francisco (see link above). Me, I think of this:

Nevertheless, I found myself reconsidering my pirate associations upon discovery of these antique steamer trunks at Sterling Place on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

This is the one I gravitated towards first. For $245, it’s a steal (pardon the pun). Trouble was, the locks weren’t in great shape. So the lovely people in the shop introduced me to this one instead:

For $345, it’d make super storage for any kid’s room, boy or girl. The only trouble would be how great a hiding spot it’d be, so it’d definitely need some safety retrofitting so there’s no slamming of fingers or accidental locking… But now only wish I’d taken photos of the inside. Although easily contact-paper lined, the trunk contains some original Victorian paper illustrations and clever inner boxes for smaller trinkets or hidden treasure.

A quick search online brought me to The Pirates Lair. Personally, I wouldn’t pay their prices for these trunks, but they do provide great inspiration and give you a sense of what the interiors often look like:

Of course, once you buy one of these, you might be inspired to visit this website, courtesy of Pirates Lair… . It’s a member of the Pirates Ring collection of web pages.

places for stuff

15 Jan

Posh Tots “Beaver” cabinet $7200

George Carlin had a routine in which he described home as “a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.” It always reminds me of something I once read about the movement towards minimalism in the early ’90s — it’s really hard to be a true minimalist, but it’s easy to fake with lots of closets. I feel the same way about dressers, aka closets for people without closet space.

That’s why, next to a crib or bed, a closet is such an important piece of furniture in any kids’ room. Whether you use it for clothes, toys, diapers or linens, a great dressers can become the centerpiece of your room.

Walmart BabyMod “Olivia” dresser

As mentioned earlier, we have the ParkLane style of BabyMod furniture, available online at (For a discussion of Walmart baby furniture, including their business practices, see here). As echoed by many reviewers, the stuff is nice and the price is wonderful for modern design. Better than IKEA, not as nice as Room and Board.

Room and Board “Calvin” dresser $1200

The Calvin line at RNB is gorgeous. But for $1200 you’d better make sure your whole family is going to love it for a long time.
Seekmod mid century dresser, available on Ebay $400

Of course, safety
is always a concern, and even more so in a child’s room. But once you’ve thoroughly inspected your items, why not go secondhand? I am dying for this mirror-front mid-century dresser, currently being sold by Seekmod on Ebay for $400! With a storefront based in Brooklyn, this guy has some great stuff.

CB2 Shop Chest $399

Or, my other current favorite. CB2 has great stuff for kids. Yes, they own Land of Nod, and you can easily go there first. But for furniture you can grow into, that’s not too expensive, and really fun, items like this Shop Chest really fit the bill. Reminds me of the Craftsman chests of drawers I was always fascinated by during my trips to Sears as a kid (yes, I was an odd child).

Or if you’re a celebrity living in LA, an idle millionaire, or someone who likes spending ridiculous amounts of money, there’s always the Beaver cabinet (at top) by Posh Tots. I LOVED this, and then saw the price tag. For $7200, I want to watch a family of beavers carve it especially for me.