I am “that mom.” I am the mom who announced before I even started a baby registry that I did not want to be “drowning in hot pink plastic, thankyouverymuch.” This simple request was met with such laughter and ridicule, that I began to wonder if it was truly impossible to avoid that feeling of living in a rainbow-colored Walmart toy aisle.
However, over the past year, I’ve learned that I am not alone in this desire to have aesthetically pleasing toys and nursery items. Each time I find a beautiful toy, other moms pounce on me via social media and at playdates to find out where they can nab one, too.
The reason? We LIVE with these toys. We spend time making sure our furniture matches, that our eye is drawn to our dining table’s elegant centerpiece, and carefully curate the collectibles displayed on shelves and mantelpieces… but then all of the sudden there is an explosion of circus colors! Ack!
You don’t have to throw out your interior decorating goals just because you have a kid. We will find ourselves drowning in toys — so they might as well be pretty! For some moms, they could care less… and that’s okay! But for others, it’s practically painful and suffocating to live in a home that visually makes you want to twitch.
Does my child have zero plastic colorful toys? No. She still has an ample amount of colorful noisy things with flashy lights. However, I’ve learned that wicker baskets with lids are my best friend. If I see one in an antique store or for sale at Michael’s, I snatch it up!
My other favorite tip? White paint! I should buy stock in Ace Hardware’s all-surface white spray paint. I’ve transformed old wooden antiques, plastic, and metal toys into something beautiful by simply spray painting it white and sometimes painting a few little pretty details on it in acrylics. My child’s rocking horse stays in the center of our living room and she rides it daily. It doesn’t bother me because it’s white and just blends in with the rest of my decorating. It once belonged to my husband when he was a child and it was a worn-out dark brown wooden toy. A little DIY with faux fur and white spray paint, and it now looks like a charming horse!
Similarly, looking for antique toys is a great way to finding lovely toys. For example, hot pink plastic baby-doll strollers are all the rage in toy departments. Instead, I found a lovely wicker piece from the 1950s on eBay for a steal. It had red plastic wheels, so I used my above tip and painted them white. Now, if my child leaves her stroller in the middle of our bedroom, it’ll make me sigh with the quaintness of it — rather than shudder at the sight and launch into a cleaning frenzy. If you can’t find antiques, look for vintage-inspired toys instead.
If you don’t think I’m crazy, then here are some great ideas for toys and gifts that will make you smile when they are left out.
Pretty Play Mat
This startup company, Little Nomad, took off quickly after airing on “Shark Tank” a little over a year ago. I was one of their first buyers! Most play mats are circus-colored, but these play mats will look more like an elegant rug. For about $30 more than the regular ones, you can live in an aesthetically pleasing house. Worth it!
I got this basic wooden guitar from Little Cottonwood for my girl, and it blends in beautifully with our real guitars. I love their golden tambourine and wooden marimba, too!
Boys and girls alike love to pretend to cook and wash dishes for years! Kitchenettes are large toys that take up some room — so make sure you like living with the one you pick out. Keep an eye out at the Target Dollar Spot for felt play food.
I scored a vintage piece on eBay, but here are some others that give me heart-eyes.
Balance bikes are intended to be a child’s “first bike” without ever using training wheels. They are recommended for ages 2.5 to 5 years old. I still love a classic Radio Flyer tricycle, too!
I’m newly obsessed with this French toy company started almost 40 years ago by a group of young families composed of craftsmen, farmers, philosophers, and visionaries.
Because macrame is back in style again.
I want these in an adult size!