I’ve been using a humongous plastic storage bin as my bedroom nightstand for six months — it’s standing in for the old ratty one which I sold on Craigs List because I thought this act might force me to actually make the effort to, you know, find something nicer to replace it with. There’s a table in the TV room that Andy and I have been meaning to upgrade since 1996, when we moved into our first apartment together. There’s the Tintin mural I keep promising I’ll finish for Phoebe, and the corkboard wall I promise I’ll look into for Abby so she has a place in her room to pin photos of Drogba, and her pals, and the US Women’s Olympic soccer team. But the kitchen…oh the kitchen! That’s another story entirely! It’s my office. It’s command central. It’s homework station. It’s where school backpacks explode their bulletins and artwork and worksheets and where fights explode over who packed lunch last night. It’s where all the chaos — I mean – magic happens! And as such, there is no decorative detail to small to obsess over to make sure it’s exactly the way I want it. I thought I’d give you a recap of my favorites.
The Red Chairs. My feeling has always been: If you have a chance to add color, why wouldn’t you? The dining chairs above are from the DWR Warehouse (and hard to find online), but Ikea has an affordable knockoff called the Bojnes that can be painted any old color you’d like. Some other options: My sister bought one of these Jake Chairs from Room & Board for a pop of color at her kitchen desk, and I love them. (I keep meaning to buy one for Abby’s bedroom desk.) One of these from hivemodern is bound to work. (Warning: Do not click that link if you plan on being productive in the next few hours.)
The Fairy Lights. A lot of you asked about those lights hanging over the patio doors after watching the Dinner: A Love Story video. They’re just your standard issue fairy lights purchased at holiday time for about $3.99 at our local hardware store. I meant to take them down after the holidays were over…but that was three years ago. Now they get illuminated for special occasions — like half birthdays, student government triumphs, soccer game victories, the first juicy apricot of the season. You know, the real family holidays.
The Cabinet Dollhouse. As you may or may not know by now, my 8-year-old is obsessed with dollhouses. There is literally nothing she can’t turn into characters to create an imaginary world – binder clips, restaurant sugar packets, sprinkle jars. When she was younger, I started making these makeshift dollhouses for her inside the kitchen cabinets so she could be underfoot while I cooked dinner. She picked photographs of rooms she found in shelter and design magazines, then we created a composite house out of these pictures, using blue tape around each room to give it some structure. My favorite thing about it? No clean up required: You shut the door and it’s gone. One warning: Putting them together, though, is always a little bit crushing: All I can ever think about is the day when she grows out of it and I’m going to have to take it down. OK, woo boy….onward.
The Family Chalkboard. I started this calendar so the girls could have a handle on their schedules — it took them a long time to remember things like pottery’s on Wednesday and ballet’s on Thursday — but now, when we write up the week’s lineup it’s more like a reminder of how freaking fun it is to be a kid. Andy and I are constantly looking at the schedule saying How lucky are you? Class trip to the Bronx Zoo? Pottery camp? Playdate with Jenna? You can imagine how sick of this routine they get. My chalkboard decal is no longer available but I like the look of this if you are in the market for one.
The Recipe Door. I think the best feedback from the book so far has been from new mothers, along these lines: ”It just helps to know that I’m going through this with someone who understands.” It does, doesn’t it? I’m not just appreciative that Andy is my partner in this whole family dinner enterprise, (more…)