Friday, July 3, 2009

Experience Anita Kaushal

from the publisher:

'Kaushal, herself one of seven children, embraces the modern concept that children are a natural part of our lives, neither inconvenient beings nor precious centers of the universe, and so The Family at Home, focuses on the needs of both parent and child. For example, a library trolley adds whimsy to a volume-lined living room and displays books within a child’s grasp; oversized pillows that look tidy both on the floor and on a couch make for inviting family time and easy cleanup; cubbyholes that double as a secret reading space and room divider create a shared bedroom; and axe-hewn teak benches contrast warmly with the surfaces of a sleek kitchen. The unique spaces in this book have the hallmark of a home anyone would want to return to: they are livable, flexible, and, above all, brimming with individual style.

The book’s four chapters echo the rhythms of family life and consider how each space lends itself to dual use, depending on whether children are present:

• Live shows how to adapt living areas to the needs of children and adults.

• Share offers ideas for making the kitchen and dining areas flow impeccably for cooking, eating, and celebrating with family and friends.

• Nest is devoted to making bedrooms and bathrooms calm retreats.

• Bare focuses on light and air, gardening, nature, and caring for the planet.'

The cool, clever world of kid-inspired decor
by Claire Whitcomb/Universal Press Syndicate

If you don't have kids, get some. Fast. Because the patter of little feet is the coolest decorating accessory in town.
It isn't just that kids, jumping on snappily designed sofas, signal you care more about life than style. Dogs can convey that same message and often do.
It's that kids inspire clever design: a mod table, a graphic rug, a fairy-tale bed.
From map-of-the-world wallpaper to school-locker storage, from modern-art mobiles to small-scale Bertoia wire chairs, contemporary kids seem to come equipped with possessions that grown-ups adore.
Not only that -- kids motivate architects to design great things: a fireman-style pole that provides a quick transition from upstairs to down, a slide that runs alongside a stairway, room dividers with elliptical cutouts so little ones can nest and play.
These are just some of the kid-friendly inspirations showcased in "The Family at Home: Love, Life, Style," a new book by Anita Kaushal (Clarkson Potter, $45).
Kaushal has her ducks -- or, should we say, teddy bears -- in a row. She understands that "the true enjoyment of a home" is as dependent on "the things that we do there -- sleeping, eating together, conversing, sharing books and, yes, even watching television -- as it is about what we put into it."
Thankfully, she offers strategies for dealing with exactly what we put into our homes. She shows that toys can be artfully contained in bowls, baskets and oversized glass jars. And kids' clutter can be tucked into drawers beneath window seats or whisked out of sight behind a beautiful folding screen.

In "The Family at Home," there are no velvet ropes. Kids are welcome to wander, frolic and participate in all that a house offers, even cooking.

The latter task doesn't have to be real. Children will happily stir pots on a play stove set next to Mommy and Daddy's gourmet version. And they'll let you get dinner on the table if they have a play cupboard filled with grown-up things: a pot to bang with a wooden spoon, plastic containers to make towers, and a bowl to fill with soapy water.

"These timeless playthings will not only improve your child's development," Kaushal says, "but fewer toys also make for better concentration."

Timelessness is a theme in "The Family at Home." In the living room, the "toys" are piles of pillows that give kids a place to nest and make forts. In the kitchen, old country tables provide a childproof place to make a mess.

And in the nursery an Eames-era rocking chair substitutes for the nursing glider that tends to be discarded after toddlerhood.

As for the art on the walls, family pictures add drama, especially in long hallways. To give them a unified look, Kaushal suggests reprinting them in sepia or black and white and hanging them two inches apart in standard black frames with white mats.

What if there's one picture you absolutely love? Blow it up to poster size and let it make a statement either in a child's room or in a living room.

If you're thinking of commissioning a portrait that captures the magic of childhood, Kaushal suggests having an artist paint a child's favorite toy or stuffed animal. Kids will love having this keepsake long after their prized possession has been battered or forgotten.

As for some of the best art in the house -- that created by your kids -- hang up as much as you can. "Children who are encouraged when they think creatively will build confidence in their own ideas and sense of self," Kaushal says.

If space necessitates selectivity, pick a theme for the art you hang -- kids' portraits of themselves, paintings of your house or images of the family dog. Or mount a rotating exhibit. When kids come home with a new favorite painting, take the old art out of the frame and substitute the new.

Reading "The Family at Home" will help you lead a fun, tasteful life, but it will not protect you from pink plastic ponies, battery-operated action figures and the invasion of the tacky. Kaushal advises tolerance.

"You may find it hard to live with, but children do like tacky things," she says, "and once upon a time, so did you. Ask your mum."

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