How Cozy Queer Icons Frog & Toad Inspire Me and My Home

published Oct 21, 2022
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Credit: Photos: Rosie Knight; Design: Apartment Therapy

“Once upon a time,” said Frog, “there were two good friends, a frog and a toad.”

Making a comfortable home is something that can often seem out of reach, whether for financial reasons, circumstance, or just struggling to make your dream den a reality. In my case, I spent much of my life making do with whatever space I found myself in, often because it was a transient time or I was too busy working to spend much energy making it what it could likely have been. Since moving to the U.S. and finding stable work as a writer, that’s begun to change. But that didn’t mean that inspiration always came easy.

How do you make a house nice? What can you do to a rental space that feels permanent but can be undone when it needs to be? Luckily, I found inspiration in an unexpected place when I rediscovered a gorgeously cozy kids book series that had been a favorite of mine when I was growing up in London in the ’90s. 

While I had found them through the I Can Read! book series as a young voracious reader in Hackney, “Frog and Toad” — created by beloved author and illustrator Arnold Lobel  — have in 2022 found a new life on the internet as an aspirational escape from the grind of everyday capitalism. They’ve become even more impactful with the wider conversation about Lobel’s sexuality, and the fact that he wrote the books while he was in the process of coming out. That subtext felt delightfully obvious to queer folks like me who often make family out of friendships. 

Credit: Rosie Knight

Thanks to someone sharing a meme featuring the two anthropomorphic amphibians, I remembered how much I’d loved the stories as a child and ordered myself the four-book collection. Lobel’s beautiful illustrations envision a world that is calm, cozy, and centered around classless friendship, defined only by being honest and kind to one another. As a child, I’d been enchanted, but as an adult, I was inspired. I take much joy in spending time with my friends doing little to nothing but enjoying each other’s company, taking in nature, and trying to exercise healthy boundaries, all of which are things that are key to Lobel’s lovely stories. 

I soon began to use the pair and their overstuffed cozy homes as a model for my house. I found an old library poster featuring the best friends, and a pair of their plush versions soon joined. Quickly, their dimly lit forest homes became a recurring visual touchstone for my home, from woven blankets featuring cartoonish fauna to embracing other nature-tinged decorations.

Embracing my overstuffed bookshelves and ever growing collection of mugs, it was easy to begin to shape my own cozy space. Rediscovering “Frog and Toad” has not only allowed me to start to craft the living space I’ve always wanted, but it’s allowed me to share these charming tales with my queer friends and family, getting to pass on the joy and power of Lobel’s work.