Tag Archives: kids

Funky Furniture for the Little Ones

Full confession: I don’t have children. Nonetheless, I appreciate well-designed, fun furnishings for children. After all, why shouldn’t little people develop their design aesthetic young?

Child's bedroom with swing (Photo: Kidtropolis)

When I was about five, my mother took me shopping for wallpaper for my bedroom. Being the tomboy that I was, I chose a Cowboy and Indian print that was instantly vetoed by my mother in favour of something floral. I suffered through her decision for nearly a decade before I covered it with posters of my favourite punk bands in a fit of rebellion at the age of 14. I can’t say that I would have been happy with my choice as I grew up but the fact that I still remember it so many decades later makes me realize that a child’s room should reflect his or her personality.

Woodland fairy-themed room(Photo: Kidtropolis)

If you are willing to go all out, I would recommend the work of Virginia-based designers Kidtropolis whose rooms really are everything a little kid could dream of. While these layouts are outrageously whimsical, functionality and storage are important elements of their designs.

Cabinets shaped like European buildings(Photo: Kast van een Huis)

If a whole room is a little much, consider fun pieces made to scale for little people. What child wouldn’t be eager to put his or her toys away in these cupboards built to look like a European cityscape? And because each piece can be made with three shelves and a clothes bar, kids can actually hang up their own laundry, a win-win situation for children and parents alike.

Photo: Kast van een Huis)

Italy’s Graziano Moro and Renato Pigatti designed their Queen of Love chair with adults in mind but its bright colours and easy-to-clean Polyethylene construction makes it an excellent for a child’s room. Wouldn’t it be the perfect place to snuggle up your little one for a bedtime story?

Brightly colored "thrones" by Graziano Moro and Renato Pigatti(Photo: Hipster Home)

But if your princess (or prince) needs a throne of her/his own, Linvin carries a smaller version with slightly different colour options.

Small version of the "throne" chair(Photo: Phine & Whimsey)

For children who want to imitate the grown-ups, many designers have created mini-versions of iconic designs. Australia’s Little Nest brings mid-century modern to the pre-school set with items like the Yolk Chair, a riff on Arne Jacobsen’s 1958 Egg Chair. I must admit though, at nearly $600, I would be afraid to let messy little hands near this piece.

Kiddie version of the 1958 Egg chair(Photo: Little Nest)

The next time your child’s room needs a make-over, get him or her involved in the process. While not all of their choices might be the most practical, some of them may surprise you. And I can’t imagine a more fun bonding experience than creating a creative living space together.

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Building A Dress Up Chest

Anyone who knows me knows I love to dress up (at this point it’s in my day’s fashion more than in costumes, but still).  I used to think this was a quirk of my personality, but I recently discovered a bunch of photos of my dad dressed up as a kid  - and not at Halloween – so my quirk is more likely a case of genetic memory.

It’s almost Halloween and I’m especially excited this year as it’s the first year my son will really be able to participate.  We will definitely go trick or treating and have some toddler friends over for a dress-up party and a trial run of trick-or-treating at little house stations (read cardboard doors with a parent behind each) I plan on setting up.  Cue the cute!  But in our house we hardly reserve dressing up for this one holiday.  Indeed we have a bursting dress up trunk full of cool finds.

Image via Pinterest

Over the years I’ve put together a really wonderful dress up chest that my son is making use of now, but that visiting kids have adored for years.  Whether you’re looking for a really unique gift for a little one, or looking to make your child-free home a little more kid friendly without succumbing to a rainbow explosion, a well thought out dress up chest could be just the thing.  Here’s how to start:

Image via Etsy Seller Mahalo.  Aren’t these felt woodland animal masks sweet? They’d certainly make a special touch for your collection.

Vintage and Second Hand Shops, Dollar and Drug Stores

This is a great time of year to start building a dress up chest.  You’ll find great deals on bits and bobs of costumes after Halloween as toy,  dollar, and drug stores, and vintage shops clear their racks and shelves for the next round of merchandise.   A selection of hats and ears, masks, noses, wigs and wings are a great starting point.

The Wow Factor Pieces

It’s a dress up collection after all, meant to inspire young minds to dream big, trying on future careers or just pushing the limits of their imaginations through play. So there are a few wow pieces you might want to either shell out for or make yourself (depending on your level of skill).  A beautiful tutu without fail will make the little girls in your life really, really happy.  I surprised my niece with one from Dream Spun Kidslast year and she wears it everywhere (except school), where she garners appropriate oohs and ahhhs.  A cape or crown are also beloved pieces.

Amazing “oooohhhh” inducing tutus from Etsy shop Dream Spun Kids

Image via BabyPop Capes.  Visit their online store for fun custom capes for the whole family!

Fabric, Plain and Simple

Image via Pepperknit during a recent trip to Mood in NYC.  Yes that Mood.

Never underestimate the appeal of fabric ends of various sizes.  These will unleash imaginations in the most inspiring ways.  Good from togas to parachutes, flying carpets to saris, ghosts to forts.

Face Paint!

And for those of you unafraid of a mess, cheap nontoxic face paint is also widely available and always super popular.  Even more so if you volunteer to have your face done by your tiny budding artist friend.

Image via Snazaroo

Happy Halloween!

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Favourite Spaces for Kids

Magic Tree House by Kidtropolis

Design for kids has come a long way. Moms and Dads are putting big money and time into their children’s rooms, and it seems like all the design magazines and blogs are constantly showcasing amazing bedrooms and playrooms that rival an attraction at Disneyland. Why are these spaces so special? Maybe because when designing a kid’s room there is no need to reign in our creativity. It’s the one area of the house where you can let your imagination get carried away; the wilder, more original and fun a room is the stronger the chances that a little one will love it. Here are a few of my all-time favourite kids’ spaces, beginning with the incredible tree-fort playroom pictured above.

via Whimsical World of Laura Bird

Whimsical Boy’s Room

The ferris wheel toy storage is the star attraction in this subtly circus-themed boy’s room. What a great way to add some fun to cleaning up your toys.  Loving the mix of stripes and primaries, and that platform bed/bench combo gives it some industrial edge.

Image via Apartment Therapy

A Bold Nursery

I’m a big fan of bold and bright nurseries. I’m so glad colour palettes for babies have moved beyond pastel blue and pink, and there are so many more design options for modern parents. I’d be hard pressed to pick a favourite aspect of this room, but the art wall and the zebra print rug are definitely top contenders.

Image via House and Home

Splish Splash

I don’t remember dedicated kid’s bathrooms being a big thing when I was growing up. However, now that I have a child of my own I can see the appeal of having a family friendly bath, where you can address issues like sink height and bath toy storage. What I especially like about this bath is that it’s both completely kid and grown-up  friendly at the same time.

Photograph by Steven Visneau via Design Mom

A Place to Play

Kids come with a lot of toys. Finding an organized spot for everything is almost impossible, so in the playroom you may as well embrace the chaos of it all. This playroom is full of colour, creativity, and a pink drum set! I can only imagine it would be oodles of fun to play in here. Oh, to be six years old again.

Via House Beautiful

Boy Den

I don’t know many teen boys who are going to consent to letting anyone besides themselves decorate their room, and I’m pretty sure they would also avoid the term “decorate”. If you do find yourself designing a room for a teenage boy, painting the walls black and framing some cool posters is a good place to start. This room has cool and relaxed figured out completely.

Pirate Ship Bedroom by Kuhl Design Build via Design Milk

Ahoy Mate!

My jaw literally dropped the first time I saw this pirate ship bedroom. Talk about being the luckiest kid in the world. On the other side of the room there is a dungeon for locking up mutinous shipmates. Some might say this is a little extreme, or question what happens when the kid grows up and doesn’t want a giant boat in their bedroom any longer? I say childhood is fleeting so why not embrace the magic while it lasts.

Happy Friday everyone!

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Lil’ Pumpkin and I Make Pumpkin Loaf

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

Image via Not Quite South Surrey

Pumpkins!  Between dreams of pumpkin donuts and pies; of idyllic images of kids frolicking in pumpkin patches; with Halloween around the corner and the decision on what and how to carve the jack-o-lantern weighing heavily, I’ve got pumpkin on the mind.  And if there was an icon for the season, the pumpkin would be it.

From elegant pumpkin displays, via Ciao Newport Beach

to the sexy pumpkin via Better Homes and Gardens that just made me laugh, it's the season of the gourd.

And I do plan on doing as much with pumpkin as I can in the next couple of weeks.  We will be taking the kid to a pumpkin patch – his first farm visit! And it’s Thanksgiving in Canada next Monday so there will be many, many pies.

But this evening, the little guy and I home together just the two of us, the weather outside kinda gross we chose to bake. These pumpkin loaves were our tasty project tonight:

Pumpkin Loaves with Chocolate Chips, recipe adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking via Pittsburgh Needs Eated:

3 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbs cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp ginger
2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil + 1/2 cup butter softened
1 3/4 cups pumpkin puree (15oz can)
2 cups granulated sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup water, room temperature
1 cup (12 oz) chocolate chips or chopped semisweet chocolate

Preheat your oven to 350F and grease two loaf pans (silicone bakeware doesn’t need greasing, FYI).

In a large bowl combine your dry ingredients and give it a quick whisk.

In another large(r) bowl, mix your wet ingredients including pumpkin, oil, butter, sugar, and eggs (one at a time).  Add vanilla, water, and chocolate chips.

Slowly add dry mixture to wet mixture until just combined, careful not to overmix.  And pour into prepared loaf pans.

The pumpkin loaves bake for about 1 hour -1 hour 15 minutes. I used one silicone and one metal pan and you should note that the silicone pan loaf will cook faster.  Check after an hour with a toothpick in the centre – it’s done when it comes out clean!

Posted in Food | Tagged , , , ,

Back to School: The Case for Crayons

Don’t let schooling interfere with your education.
– Mark Twain

A person is composed of mind and body — emotions and senses, muscle, bone, and brain with analytical and creative sides. Clearly, a person is a complex being to grow up to be, and becoming one takes more than just learning letters and numbers. If we are to take the advice of Mr. Clemens, there’s more to education than what schools teach.

To nudge the young ones towards the lofty goals of holistic personhood, how about showing the right side of the brain some love? You can nurture creative instincts by handing over a box of crayons — it’s very handy and fabulously versatile. You’ll  marvel at what can be done with these schoolbag staple.

Here's something that can be done with an interesting water-soluble type of crayons.

Crayons can be melted and cut out in these adorable butterfly shapes. Image from Butterfly Dreams. Click on the it for directions.

Another way to melt crayons. By Etsy user JKCreate.

Out-of-the-box thinking by Ryan Peter Miller -- using individual crayons as a pixel. Awesome!

Or you can just carve them, like Vietnamese-American artist Diem Chau does.

So stash some crayons in your child’s bag, and put a box in your own purse too. Here are a bunch of other little nifty things aside from crayons that you can pack in a backpack that’ll bring out the artist and creative thinker in anybody, whether child or adult.

Brushes Leveled Up

This is what talent can make out of the most basic materials, if it is nurtured and developed. Image created by Roz Wound Up.

Pocket-sized Music

No, we’re not talking about digital music players. But musical instruments to compose and create music with.

Image from Harmonica Songs

Young ‘uns can channel Bob Dylan or Alanis and put out some mind-blowing melodies with a harmonica in their back pockets. Or they can just take out their iPhones — if they’ve got music apps installed, like GuitarStudio or TableDrum.

TableDrum for iPhone turns tapping into drum beats.