Oh hi there friends! I went away for the summer to do this but now I am back and ready to rumble. I'm busy with work, wouldn't you know it, so this blog might look like I've died even though I haven't. I am very much alive. More than ever. SEE?!
So, I have this client. He's 4 and he's the cutest. There's something about designing for a cute and sweet kid; it turns on some kind of auntie/maternal energy that seeps into my work and gives it an extra shot of meaning. See how cute he is?
Designing for kids is a totally different ballgame (here come the sports metaphors! He loves sports). It drives me nuts when I see designers spend a lot of other people's money on things that a kid will hate in 3-4 years: literal themey stuff like Dinosaurs! Pirates! Princesses!, furniture that can't grow with them (size wise but also in function; multi-use furniture is the way to go), and infantilizing decor (let's be honest, pastel cuddly stuff is for parents, not babies).
Jake is a sports fanatic. Like, he could rival my most rabid Red Sox fans friends on any given day, and that is saying a lot. What I love about his fandom is how un-jock, un-bro it is. He loves to dress up in his team jerseys, changing them out several times in an hour, he watches televised softball games and can discuss the differences in pitching between it and baseball, when we play catch it is with seriousness and purpose, AND he still sucks his thumb while cuddling with his blankie. I wanted to design his room to honor of all of these things without making it look like a literal recreation of a locker room or what have you. However, it couldn't be so subtle that Jake didn't see the sportsyness in his new room as 4 year olds are not known for their comprehension of subtlety and he definitely wanted a sportsy room.
When I met him, Jake's room was fine. It had the basics, a furniture arrangement that made the room feel smaller than it is and no finesse. His parents were hilariously upfront about how much they don't know about setting up a room, something I appreciate in clients more than anything. Knowing what you don't know is the best thing to know.
We started with the floor plan. The first problem was the bed placement. Having a twin bed in a 10 x 12 room jut out into the middle of the floor obstructed traffic flow and divided the room into two weird spaces that didn't function well, especially for a kid. Adults like to have space on both sides of the bed but kids don't need it, and in fact they like closed-in spaces that feel less exposed (think forts, bunkbeds, etc.)
His parents wanted to keep what furniture we could, so we settled on the bed and dresser, storing or donating everything else. We started the project with a purge (always purge before making concrete floor and decor plans so you know what storage you actually need, and because it feels good). We hired painters to paint, ordered things, I hunted for things in thrift stores and flea markets, and over the course of a weekend in which I kicked them out of their house (have I expressed my love for these people enough to you? do you get how much I love this family?) I went about making Jake's room sportstastic.
When I had presented Jake's parents with rug options I was SO GLAD when they both liked this rag rug (it's even better in person). I wanted Jake's room to feel homey and humble and semi-timeless and a rag rug is the perfect way to do that. They are not precious or expensive, hide dirt and stains like nobodies business, have a very long tradition, and this one was perfectly modern with it's hot pink and yellows woven in occasionally.
They liked the idea of giving him a reading nook and of lockers for copious storage and beyond that they let me do what I wanted, and what I wanted was patent prints of baseball gear. What a great way to be sportsey while being nerdy and sciencey and historyey! Mounting them on foam board ensures that I will not be responsible for any nighttime earthquake catastrophes too. Whew. I also wanted a chair without it's legs (it came with legs which can be added later when he is taller - the idea came to me when I unloaded the delivery and it had detached legs) so that his reading nook felt super cozy and grounded.
It took two days to pull it all together and I had so much fun doing it it felt silly to call it a job. I'd do it every day if I could.
As always, please note that I am not a photographer and that at the end of an install it's hard to care about taking good photos, which is unfortunate but all too true.
So there you have it! I'll be working with this family for a long time, room to room, so you'll get to see the whole house and meet the whole family eventually. Go Sox!
Massive computer clean up underway over here. Like all surfaces in my house, I can only stand a certain amount of clutter in my files before I feel like I'm drowning, so here we go! Begone random screen shots and redundant photos!
I just came across these pictures of a house I owned in Montague, MA (population around 800) from December of 2002 to 2007. It was a two family, two acre former llama farm (I got two in the sale) with an enormous old barn, feeble orchard, and wonderful neighbors. I was just 27, completely not rich, unemployed, and only able to buy it with the extreme generosity of a family friend, my parents, rental income and the insane post-9/11 pre-recession interest rates and lending practices. I was an undergrad at Smith and I walked into a bank and asked for a large mortgage and they gave it to me! Times have changed.
Buying this house changed the course of my life immeasurably. My future husband lived in town and we very quickly became a couple opening a cafe three doors down in an old mill building. I and my housemates opened our house, barn, and land every Friday night for spirited and slightly embarrassing potlucks ("What's your superpower?") and the relationships I developed in that period are the ones that I count on the most. I don't have old high school friends and having been an older college student who never lived in dorms, I have no old college friends either, so these guys are my guys, you know? I also lost some friends, the way that that happens when living communally, or trying to. And I learned a lot about that I am not in those years; I am not a farmer, landlord, housemate, or cafe owner. I gleefully fled those roles within the span of 4 years. I fled to a tiny house on a spot of land into a non-profit administration career (I kept the future husband). I never regretted that period in my life but I never yearned for it again either. I'm glad I did that. I'm glad it's over. I'd take this yard back if I didn't have to mow it ever again though.
I had no idea that I would become a designer at that point. When it came time to renovate one of the kitchens I went on instinct alone. No research, no reading, design blogs didn't exist, Facebook, Pinterest didn't exist. I just took my limited budget, worked with a carpenter friend, and redid the kitchen. I don't have before pictures to show you because this was a new age of digital cameras and while I had one, I used it poorly and without much thought for the future of my portfolio!
The second floor kitchen had been put into a bedroom when the house was made into a two family, meaning, it was awkward. It was ugly and cheap; it looked like every bad farmhouse rental in New England. There was no way I could afford much beyond paint, so I did what I could do: took some doors off the upper cabinets, painted it white, put in a new counter top and sink, and added my flourishes where I could: iron brackets, antique hardware, and cozy lighting. It's funny to look at this now; I see the roots of my style: vintage mixed with new, white and turquoise, shabby chic without the saccharine, plant life, nontraditional lighting, collection display. I hadn't discovered midcentury design at that point but this old farmhouse didn't need it anyway.
Sigh. I still love this kitchen.
I haven't shown you my living room in years dudes. YEARS. Whoa. It's the only room in my entire life ever that has felt completely and totally and definitely complete. I don't change things around and it doesn't get messy; it's just constant and steady and safe. It's calm, neutral, and filled with things I've inherited or friends have given me and it makes me feel warm and fuzzy looking at it.
I didn't style these or even plan on taking these pictures, I just shot these while having my morning coffee. Someday, I'll show you the whole room.