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Creating Gender Neutral Spaces

A little something for everyone

It’s more common to read about gender neutral decor in the context of nurseries and kids’ rooms, but what about for grownups? It’s probably a question that cohabitating heterosexual adults should ask themselves at least once: How can one create a space that’s appealing to both women and men? (Which, for the gay couple or roommate pair, can become: How can one create a space that’s appealing to both people living in it.) In the spirit of that question, here are five tips for creating gender neutral spaces in various areas of your home:

1. Go for balance. Mix furniture and accessories that have clean, strong lines with more delicate stuff. Think antique silver filigree on a parsons table, traditional feminine touches paired with modern art, and mix vivid colors with softer neutrals.

Branch out to include her or him

2. Ditch the florals, and replace them with botanicals, because there’s nothing quite like bringing the outdoors in. Branch patterns are beautiful, as are stylized leaf patterns. Just show some restraint, and don’t turn your bedroom or living room or bathroom into a forest.

3. Don’t make gender neutrality the focus of the room. Let’s say a hetero couple is decorating a bedroom – his nightstand might have a different lamp than hers, or they may simply have different nightstands. In the living room, the chair she uses most might be somewhat girlier than the other furniture in the room, which he has a favorite footstool that’s decidedly more manly.

It's the little touches we all add

4. Go for greens. It’s the color that so many parents gravitate toward (along with yellow) when creating gender neutral nurseries, but green is great for grownups, too. There are so many different shades of green and greens coordinate with so many other colors, that you’re sure to find a color palette you both like.

5. Keep it classic, because classic decor is less likely to start to get on one of your nerves. The more trendy your decorating choices, the more quickly it’s going to happen that someone in a couple will start to hate the colors or the accessories or the pictures hanging on the walls.

For Kiddies or Maybe You: A Little Something Adorable from Robin & Mould

I’m loving these super cute hand screen printed pillows, cushion covers, stockings, and cozies from Robin & Mould! Everything they sell is printed using water-based inks on natural linens and cottons at their little shop in the UK. Yellow and teal seem to be the colors they favor, but they’ve taken custom orders in the past!

My Very Favorite High Chair

The Stokke Tripp Trapp is, in my opinion, the best high chair out there. If you’re starved for space but still need to feed a baby or toddler, it simply takes the place of a normal dining chair right at the table. Add to that the fact that they’re easy to clean and come in amazing colors like red and purple and black aaand they’re just so much cooler than the plastic monstrosities covered in animal prints that can absolutely overtake a kitchen.

What else can I say? My daughter loves sitting in her red Stokke Tripp Trapp because it means she gets to sit at the table with mama and papa instead of off to the side, and that I think is my favorite thing about it.

The one caution I’d offer up is that some people have posted videos of their toddlers tipping the Tripp Trapp. Personally, we’ve never had that happen and I’ve heard that it’s only really an issue if the seat isn’t placed correctly for the height of the table. And every Tripp Trapp high chair comes with base extenders for anyone with a particularly leggy toddler.

Has anyone out there reading had a different experience – perhaps an instance of a tipping Tripp Trapp in your own household? I’d love to hear about it because it seems exceedingly rare.

So What If It’s a Kid’s Room?

Yes, I know. This is a kid’s room. But double the bed and scale up the desk and I wouldn’t mind at all if it was my room – though I might also replace the tiny little side table with this one so I could actually set a few books down. I’m sure The Beard would be just thrilled to serenade me to sleep on the ukulele. Right?

Image via

Have to Have a High Chair? Make It a Good One

As someone with a toddler and a teeny tiny kitchen, I’m just a little obsessed with high chairs. We were originally using a bulky secondhand Graco (for which we were extremely grateful) and then a slightly smaller, but still overwhelming Fisher Price high chair (for which we were also very grateful), and someone in my family was kind enough to buy us an amazing red Stokke Tripp Trapp. Of course, we’re eternally grateful for that!

Naturally, because my Tripp Trapp is red, I love seeing other moms’ red high chairs, whether it’s a fancy pants Bloom or something homier, like the above high chair, painted by red by the gorgeous voice behind The New Domestic. I’m waiting to hear back re: what paint she used, because I’ve come into possession of a Jolly Kids high chair and want to paint it red to match the Tripp Trapp.

What should you walk away with after reading this post? Consider that whether it’s a high chair or a tallboy that you’re looking for, make it a good one. And if you can’t find exactly what you can see so clearly in your mind’s eye, there’s a good chance that you can take something similar and turn it into what you were looking for.

Image seen on Melissa’s Wild Parma Adventures

Tips to Prevent Tipping

Let’s get serious for a minute, shall we? Thanks to the CPSC, I just found out that one child dies every two weeks due to furniture tipping over. One every two weeks! I love furniture, but ugh. And apparently that number is on the rise, which means something has got to give. Sometimes, when furniture keels over, the worst that happens is that you lose some books and objets d’art. But when you have kids, and they’re the ones doing the tipping, you can lose something so much more important.

Scary stuff, no? So if you have kids, take a few minutes to check your furniture and appliances to make sure that they’re secure and stable.

  • Furniture should be stable on its own. For added security, anchor chests, dressers, TV stands, bookcases and entertainment units to the floor or attach them to a wall with an anti-tipping straps.
  • Place TVs on a sturdy, low-rise base. Avoid flimsy shelves. Always check weight limits when buying a new TV stand, and don’t use dressers as TV stands.
  • Push the TV as far back on its stand as possible. To avoid temptation, push other interesting objects like DVD players and lamps as far back on furniture as possible, too.
  • Place electrical cords out of a child’s reach and teach kids not to play with them. Avoid cluttering up outlets or using power strips as much as possible since these can make it easier to pull multiple items off of shelves.
  • Keep remote controls and other attractive items off TV stands so kids won’t be tempted to grab for them and risk knocking the TV over.
  • Make sure free-standing ranges and stoves are installed with anti-tip brackets.
  • Install drawer stops so kids can’t pull them out more than two-thirds of the way, and choose furniture with wide, flat bases instead of legs.

Can the parents or caregivers out there suggest any I may have forgotten? Pretty please?

Poll: Does Finished Really Mean Finished?

I have a good friend who moved into her house (which is a lot like mine in terms of size and shape except for a few additions and swapped doorways) way before I did but has way more bare walls and surfaces not being used to display stuff. My impression was always that her decor choices were entirely intentional. While I can’t seem to see a bare wall or buffet top without immediately thinking of something that would just be perfect there, I also like the clean, uncluttered look that many people prefer. As it turns out, however, my friend’s decor style actually isn’t her style!

She admitted to me one day that there are all kinds of things she wants to do to her house to make it her own. But she doesn’t actually want to do any of them until she can do all of them because she doesn’t like that ‘in transition’ feeling. She’s much more interested in achieving what I call a finished-finished look, i.e., a decor scheme that is put in place and then remains unaltered until it’s time for a complete overhaul. I, on the other hand, am one of those people who is always shopping her own house for things that would fit better in other rooms. I don’t know quite how I want everything to look, but I know it when I see it, enabling me to take advantage of things like $1 signs at the thrift shop.

My friend has a concrete idea for her home. My dream house is always evolving, which is why I’m still making inspiration boards for my daughter’s room when her room is, in the eyes of everyone we know, done for now. Finished-finished, in other words.

But if my living room and bedroom (currently non-existant, but whatevs) and my kitchen will never be finished-finished, why should my daughter’s room be considered done? I like an evolving house – besides the fact that little touches keep things fresh, I will probably never have to do a complete room overhaul. Something, I hasten to add, I doubt I’ll ever be able to afford. But that’s just my way of keeping a home. As outlined above, it’s certainly not the only way, which is why I want to hear about YOUR way. Do you wait until you can whip up a whole perfect room or do you decorate and then redecorate in bits and pieces?

(Images via: Little Crown Interiors, Zachary Dickory Dock, Sproutstyle, Sugabee Lane, Modern Pea Pod, Cookie Dough Designs, and Sweet Retreat Kids)

Little Known Ways to Hack Your Furniture: Eames High Chair

For those of us who love old design and sweet design and timeless design, but also DIY ingenuity, how totally boss is this Eames Hack? Eames chair turned high chair? Yes, please!

From the artists:

Through physically invasive alterations, these once iconic, elite, forms are liberated from their old, restrained image. The project is not a critique of the Eames, but rather a fulfillment of their original ideals.

This project was produced as part of a three day charette in the Department of Industrial Design at The University of the Arts, Philadelphia. The theme of the charette centers around Remake and DIY culture. The purpose of this charette is to explore the role designers have in respect to this emerging culture. The team members for this project are as follows: Jared Delorenzo, Tim Peet, Alexandra Temple Powell, Tom Reynolds, Alie Thomer, and Andrew McCandlish.

From a parental perspective, however, my main criticism of the Eames chair as a high chair would be good luck getting a tricksy toddler’s legs through those holes when she was pitching a fit.

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