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Painting the Nursery

I am waiting for the ultimate surprise. In t-minus 9 weeks, the gender of Baby T will be revealed! Strangely, a lot of prep work seems to be contingent on old, traditional norms. Pottery Barn, OshKosh B’gosh, Carter’s, Old Navy and other big brands are convinced that “male means blue” and “female means pink.” The birthing industrial complex kindly suggests green, yellow and grey as unisex hues. Onesies, house paint, socks, and animal-themed toys (lions are on “boy teethers” / birds are on “girl swaddlers”) are all codependent on antiquated tropes. Some of the clothes even seem overtly sexist, “Mommy’s littler helper” and “Daddy’s princess.” Sigh.

That said, a few brands get the aesthetically pleasing, gender-neutral baby fashion (and lifestyle) items right without all of the saccharine, cutesie details: Boden, Giggle, Sprout, Tea CollectionBurt’s Bees Baby, KicKee Pants, SkipHop, René Rofé Baby, and hundreds of independent brands found online and via Etsy.

Now that my nesting instinct has kicked in at (just shy of) 32 weeks, my personal struggle with the “gender wars” came this past weekend. In my desire to check errands off of my (never-ending) list, calm anxieties, or feel superficially prepared for the whirlwind of a newborn, I decided this Saturday was the time to paint. Four of my wonderful friends obliged and were paid in delicious Greek food and major gratitude.

Headed to Lowe’s Home Improvement with nothing but a few dream photographs from Pinterest, I had little idea of what color to choose. Originally, I had wanted a minimal and Scandinavian white. But, my friend Sonja said such a dull color was “unnecessarily punishing the baby with bland” and also, not indicative of the excitement, joy and magical exuberance of a child. Tall order.

Hours later, we chose Valspar’s Mint Hint. I’m told it pairs well with Apple Slice, Lime Sherbet, and Pearly Violet. Considered a blue undertoned neutral, it easily complements grey, wood, and pastel. Step one of our unisex mint nursery is now complete!

Now on to modern yet infant appropriate decor.

A Modern, Gender Neutral Mint Colored Nursery

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P.S. Yours truly, neurotic mom-to-be, promises the room was HIGHLY ventilated – windows and doors were open.
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Let the Rumpus Begin – An Artist’s Dwelling (8)

Today’s post is in honor of Maurice Sendak, prolific artist, illustrator, and author. Sendak is best known for his book Where the Wild Things Are, first published in 1963. He is from Brooklyn, NY and was born to Jewish-Polish immigrant parents. During his childhood several of his family members were still in Europe and died during the Holocaust. He decided to become an illustrator after viewing Walt Disney’s film Fantasia at the age of twelve. To read a more complete life story and obituary, go to the New York Times, HERE. 

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Author/illustrator Maurice Sendak standing by an life-size scene from his book “Where The Wild Things Are” at the Children’s Museum of Manhattan. Credit: James Keyser/Time Life Pictures/Getty

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Actress Catherine Keener and director Spike Jonze on Maurice Sendak and Wild Things Way. The intersection commemorates where the book was written in Greenwich Village.  Wednesday, October 14th, 2009 was officially declared “Where The Wild Things Are Day” in New York City. Photo by Julienne Schaer courtesy of NYC & Company, found HERE. 

He has been quoted, during a PBS Interview, as saying, “My gods are Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Mozart. I believe in them with all my heart.” Elaborating further, he has explained that reading Emily Dickinson’s works helps him to remain calm in an otherwise hectic world: “And I have a little tiny Emily Dickinson so big that I carry in my pocket everywhere. And you just read three poems of Emily. She is so brave. She is so strong. She is such a passionate little woman. I feel better.” His work is just weird enough to be off-kilter!

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An organic and tree based canopy just like Max would have! Found HERE. 

Max can’t have all the fun, here’s a room for the Maxine in your life. Under the apple tree canopy bed  features a modern romantic Scandinavian design from Sleep Therapy. I would feel like a fairy or nymph in this woodland fairy tale scene.  Image found via Etsy, HERE.

Found in Belsay Hall in Northumberland. In 2007, the abandoned Belsay castle housed an exhibition called “The Picture House”.  Artists, film directors, actors and musicians were invited to fill Belsay Hall’s empty rooms with installations to delight and amuse the visitor. The above image is from Geraldine Pilgrim who imaged a tree growing directly through a bed. 

Verdant green walls, a convex mirror, branches, stars, and rustic wood make this feel like a hidden childhood jungle. Image found HERE, originally from Toula’s, a home-and-garden boutique that is now closed in Athens, Georgia

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In his New York Times obituary it is noted that Sendak’s work was the subject of critical studies and major exhibitions (recently at The Jewish Museum, in NYC); in the second half of his career, he was also renowned as a designer of theatrical sets. His art graced the writing of other eminent authors for children (Little Bear) and adults, including Hans Christian Andersen, Leo Tolstoy, Herman Melville, William Blake and Isaac Bashevis Singer.

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In the 70’s some really hip parents allowed this fantastic Where The Wild Things Are room-sized mural. The paint even camouflages the door and armoire!

Whole tree architecture is a form of building refined by Roald Gundersun that works with the local ecology and economy to allow buildings to be sustainable. To read more go HERE.

 Designed by Turkish Designer Asli Tunca.

Oh, to build a childhood fort, to live in a secret and private treehouse! Must have a password to enter and NO BOYS ALLOWED. Image found HERE. 

Or perhaps you like your tree canopy beds to be pine wood and a bit more minimal and sophisticated? Image found HERE.

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His work was dark, mangled, odd and yet somehow gentle and nostalgic. He Sendak grew up  lower class, Jewish,  and gay — permanently shunted to the margins of things. His images and text both celebrate and chastise humanity – the judgement on those with AIDS, the expectations of childhood, homeless children, the anxiety of separation and loss during childhood, and the dingy nightsscapes of New York. Sendak explained all with a sense of sharp humor, surrealism, observations, and imagination. His work has touched millions of children, adults, and those in between. Let the wild rumpus never end!

“And he sailed off through night and day

and in and out of weeks

and almost over a year

to where the wild things are.

There, Max leads the creatures in a frenzied rumpus before sailing home, anger spent,

to find his supper waiting, and it was still hot”

Sendak explains, “And it is through fantasy that children achieve catharsis. It is the best means they have for taming wild things”, perhaps through a fantasy room of our own we can tame our “wild things” as well.

NOW HOW TO TAME THESE THINGS AND LIVE IN A WILD RUMPUS?

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