Name: Makena, 3 1/2
Location: Austin, Texas
Adorable children's rooms are what we're all about, natch. But take an adorable room that's the end result of a major decluttering project AND is furnished and decorated almost entirely in heirloom, handcrafted, vintage, and thrift store finds... be still our hearts! Parents Jade and Miles were kind enough to give us not just a tour, but also some tips on how to convince a three-year-old that it's time to give up some toys. (It's not as painful as you'd think.)
Makena's mom, Jade, has a keen eye for vintage finds and a fabulous, laid-back yet eclectic sense of style. She sells some of her finds at her Etsy store, Chikaustin, and she also blogs regularly about her creative home life. We asked her about the decluttering process and how she mixes young people with older things.
What was Makena's room like before, and what made you realize you needed to purge?
Before, the room had a very cramped and heavy feeling. It was unmanageable with all of the toys and furniture; this really prevented Makena from spending any time in the room being creative or just relaxing. It was important to me to provide that space for her as well as create areas that were easy to manage for toys and crafts.
From a design standpoint, I focused on centering the room around her great-grandmother's bed that was handed down to her. That really became the focus of the room, and trying to fit a larger bed meant making sure the room inspired her creativity and imagination without being too constricted. I was also hoping to create stations that would be used for play and make sure the space in the room encouraged that.
Most of the children I know are total packrats. How did Makena handle the process?
I decided to include Makena in the process of decluttering her room, and in turn this also attracted the attention of her 1 1/2 year old brother. They didn't quite understand what was happening, but I tried to explain things on a level that made it fun and of course expected the appropriate amount of chaos. I explained that it's nice to share her toys with other kids so we will have to get rid of some things. We used a system of bags to sort toys depending on if they were broken, she had more than one or something very similar or just never played with it.
Once I got her involved in the process, she did great and her brother was very keen on moving items from bag to bag. Giving children a sense of ownership in a project that includes their stuff really helps them to understand what is happening and provides a great teaching opportunity for recycling, donating and other values that are important to you. Amazingly, there wasn't anything that I had to toss into the bag without her knowing or that caused too big of a fit. I would give her options like choosing between two things or letting her figure out why a toy is broken.
Almost everything in this room has a vintage feel, without feeling like a vintage showroom. What are your thoughts about young kids and old things?
I think you have to choose wisely what you decide to let them play with and teach them the value of taking care of what they have. Certain things have to remain high on the shelves and you have to determine what is age appropriate. I love the idea of my children owning all old things, but there has to be a balance of what is old and what is functional.
Books and toys that have been used for generations just seem to have a certain magic to them, but making sure they are in good condition and can withstand the wear and tear of a preschooler is equally important. I look for items with a sturdy design, which usually includes a lot of wooden toys from a vintage standpoint, but you again have to balance that with the more modern gifts they receive on holidays and their birthdays.
Tell us about some of your favorite items and where and how you found them.
I tried to decorate her room with vintage items that I found at garage sales, thrift stores and estate sales. I started out just buying things that appealed to me. Vintage books, dolls, and even some of my childhood toys were incorporated into the room. All of my favorite things in her room are vintage. Two of the matryoshka dolls were given to me from my grandmother and the others were found at thrift stores.
Books are also really important to our family. I've picked up most of the vintage books at garage sales. She seems to really love the vintage Golden Books; the illustrations are just amazing in some of them. I've been searching for a Raggedy Anne for almost a year now and finally found one at a garage sale. I was able to find art for her walls on Etsy and also hung a picture of her and her girlfriends above her bed.
In designing her space, I was hoping to maintain a balance between old and new. My ultimate goal was to create a room with objects she would treasure and not toss aside, a room that would evolve as she grows up.