House of L&G: The Simple DIY Gift

Note: Introducing a new reader turned writer. LMD will be filing posts from the children+apartment front a la East Village, and promises to finish her apartment as soon as possible. Welcome, LMD!

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I knew a man who, as a wedding gift, built his friends a beautiful bookcase and filled it with wonderful books that he knew the couple would love.

Can you imagine a more thoughtful and practical gift? It has ruined any chance of me ever being satisfied with any gift I have ever chosen for a special person.

But that changed last night.

A good friend came over to help me make some sense of our new apartment, which, after two months, we have barely moved into. My eleven–month–old twin boys have been doing most of the decorating, and my husband and I have been feeling, to say the least, overwhelmed.

Since we moved in, we have used two Ikea file cabinets to block the kitchen doorway and keep the boys out. It wasn’t that chic. And it was really awkward trying to get in an out of the kitchen. When my friend suggested we buy a gate, I said, “Oh, I already did,” as I climbed over the cabinets to him a glass of water. He was mystified why we hadn’t put it in yet. He just hasn’t had kids.

When I told him where it was, he went and got it. I didn’t ask him. I swear I didn’t even give that harassed mother-of-two look.

As the evening was settling in, the boys watched him spend a good hour putting the gate in before going to bed. They were fascinated.

And that was it: putting in that gate was the nicest thing that anyone could have done for us.

Building a bookshelf filled with favorite books is a unique present, but the simple act of helping a tired family of two twins do something that they just don’t have the energy to do around their home is an incredible gift.

Now that it is up, I keep admiring the gate – and it ain’t even that pretty – but it’s done and, somehow, it’s just much calmer around here. It’s karma therapy. LMD

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Maxwell left teaching in 2001 to start Apartment Therapy as a design business helping people to make their homes more beautiful, organized AND healthy. The website started up in 2004 with the help of his brother, Oliver.

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