The New Playroom

the art pantry new playroomIn honor of Earth Day, I’m sharing an article on sustainable design that was written for tada! shop (my second home). Megan’s work is pretty amazing, and I think you’ll love her passion and creativity. Read on, take notes and enjoy!

We’re living in the digital age. And as much as we are dazzled by painting and drawing on an iPad, there’s nothing quite like unplugging and getting our hands dirty. An appropriate topic for Earth Day, don’t you think? My talented friend and founder of the Art Pantry, Megan Schiller, has been a longtime leader in building creative confidence in kids before launching her new e-guide “The New Playroom”. This modern manual is filled with DIY insider tips, personal stories and easy-to-follow steps on how to design a dedicated art space in your own home. It’s a must-have guide for any tinkering child (and adult), but I’ll let her tell you. Thanks Megan for the inspiring interview.

Tell us about the evolution of The Art Pantry and the new guide:
Ever since I began teaching preschool 13 years ago, I have been on a mission to help kids gain creative confidence by exposing them to artistic materials and process-oriented art at a young age. I believe that being creative and understanding how to use tools and materials to make things is an essential part of learning. This is why I started The Art Pantry and what drives me every day.

The Art Pantry actually started off as The Littlest Birds Studio in 2010, where I taught toddler art classes in my back cottage. The classes were a hit, and eventually expanded beyond the neighborhood families to a commercial space. When I became pregnant with my second daughter, I decided to sell the art studio in order to work from home and spend more time with my kids.

This is when I re-imagined the business and changed the name to The Art Pantry. After years of teaching art in a class setting, my goal was to help bring more creativity into children’s homes. After two years of selling my favorite children’s art supplies in our online shop, I began designing art spaces in children’s homes. This service was so well received that I shut down the shop and have been focused on designing children’s creative spaces ever since.

the new playroom art pantry

I am a strong believer that our home environment influences our experiences and reflects our values. When we create spaces for our kids that are stocked with interesting tools and materials – that are organized and inviting – we are giving our kids the message that they are creative and capable little beings. We are inviting them to explore the world around them through these materials so that they will gain confidence in their natural creative abilities and take these skills with them as they grow older.

This is why I love designing kids’ art spaces. What I don’t love is how few hours in the day I am able work with clients! I want to reach more families than is possible with this type of one-on-one service, so I created an e-guide for families to tackle it on their own. I also created the guide so that I could offer an affordable version of my design services.

Your favorite part of the guide:
My favorite part of the guide is the section, “It’s Not Just For Art.” It emphasizes the main idea of this guide, which is the idea that an “art space” in your home can actually be more like a workshop or a playroom. Art materials are the tools that kids use to work through ideas, solve problems, and create anything they can imagine. This might mean that a child is playing with toy astronauts and suddenly decides to build a rocket ship out of cardboard. The art space is there to support this play. This is why the guide is called “The New Playroom”. It’s a new way of looking at children’s play and allowing art to be a big part of that.

Invitations to create art pantry

Your “Invitations to Create” guide looks incredibly fun. I have to ask, how did you come up with 30 cool art ideas?
About a year and a half ago I ran a 30-day “Invitations To Create” challenge. I set out art prompts for my kids every day for 30 days and posted photos on Instagram and Facebook. A lot of people joined me in the challenge and did their best to keep it up for 30 days. It was really fun and taught me a lot about the effect of these art prompts on the creative process.

The 30 art prompts in this guide are adapted from this challenge. I tweaked some and added new ones to come up with this list. Originally, I came up with the ideas mostly from what I had in my house at the time, from projects we did in my art classes, and from projects I’ve seen on my favorite blogs.

Your design aesthetic:
Some words I would use to describe my design aesthetic are modern, bohemian, vintage, minimal, and playful. I love modern minimalism mixed with a touch of historical charm and a good dose of colorful whimsy. I also love using natural elements to keep a space feeling grounded.

What advice would you give to someone planning an art space on a small budget?
Great question! Depending on the design aesthetic, there are a few ways to create a nice space on a small budget. For someone who appreciates a “collected look” as I call it in the guide, I would suggest to first re-purpose any storage or containers you already have around your house. This includes shelving, baskets, jars, etc. Then get anything else you might need at a thrift shop or garage sale. There are a surprising amount of great baskets and organizers at thrift shops. Look in the kitchen section for divided trays and fun tools to re-purpose as paint or play dough tools.

If you like the look of new, matching containers and storage items, check out Ikea, Target, and other big box retailers. Even dollar stores have some great items. Remember to look in the kitchen section wherever you are!

As far as art supplies go, start with a few of the basics (markers, crayons, paper, scissors, tape, tempera and watercolor paints, glue, and play dough or clay). And add to your collection when you see items on sale. Discount School Supply has great prices for these basic supplies.

art pantry megan and kids

How will you and your family celebrate Earth Day?
We are currently fixing up our family garden and plan on planting veggies and native plants in the space. Our big project we are planning is to create a bean teepee in the garden so that my girls will have a special place to hide away and snack on green beans all summer! I’d also love to take them to the Earth Day art celebration at Stinson Beach. It starts with a beach cleanup and ends with making artistic sculptures out of things like rocks and seaweed. Sounds like a lot of fun!

Ready to start a new playroom? Get the complete guide here. What’s in your ideal art space?

Photos Courtesy of The Art Pantry

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Kids at New York Fashion Week 2015

Opening Ceremony, Alexander Wang FW15Photos by Vogue and Style.com

New York Fashion Week ends tomorrow and while I’m is swooning over the shows, including Opening Ceremony and Alexander Wang,  I can’t help but follow cute snapshots of all the young and almost-famous attendees. Dressed mostly in classic black, these petite hipsters add a fun freshness to the front row. Here are some popular photos…

Alia Wang New York Fashion Week 2015Photos from Sophisticated and GMA News

My new fashion obsession is the luxe bomber jacket worn by Alia Wang, the darling niece of Alexander Wang. Reserved and confident, her outfits are never cloyingly cute or awkwardly outrageous. Think edgy, functional and stylish looks that work well for play as well as watching uncle’s show.

Beckham kids New York Fashion Week 2015Photo by POPSUGAR

With an established fashion designer mum (and famous footballer dad), Fashion Week is naturally a family affair for Brooklyn, Romeo, Cruz, and Harper. Romeo’s tuxedo and Harper’s little black dress stole the show, but it’s not the first time.

North West and LorenzoPhotos by Cindy Ord/Getty Images and Craig Barritt/Getty Images

All eyes were on Baby Lorenzo at the Nike Levi’s Kids Rock show, the son of Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi. Nike track suits are probably selling out as you read this article. And sitting patiently at the Alexander Wang show was little North West, laced up in her mini Dr Martens. I love the rocker-chic princess look but can do without the royal tantrums.

What were your favorite Fashion Week looks?

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Happy Valentine’s Day

Spread the love every day with these unique and modern wall stickers from Chispum. Made in Barcelona, each creative decal is full of bright images and happy thoughts… and not just for Valentine’s Day! See why I love their designs…

Chispum Wall Sticker / Wall ArtWater Love

Basic heart wall stickersBasic Hearts I

Tsunami of love chispumTsunami of Love

In love wall stickers chispumThose Who are in Love are Happy

* Also available in different languages

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Last-Minute DIY Valentine’s Day Cards

DIY Valentine's Day I was shopping, very late in the game, only to find that our local Paper Source was sold out of the Valentine’s Day card kit that my daughter requested. Time was ticking so I decided to create our own cards… but what? I love finding treasure in small packages, and used that as my inspiration. After pacing up and down the store, I found some cute kraft hearts that fit perfectly into these glassine envelopes. I grabbed some festive Valentine tape and voilà we had Valentine cards!

DIY Valentine's Day CardsI carved a heart in an old Champagne cork, and Audrey used white ink to stamp each card as well as write on the back. We added a few candy hearts, sealed each with foil tape, and they were ready for delivery. “You have the juiciest creative juices!” she was so giddy. This is why I stay crafty.

DIY Valentine's Day Cards

DIY Valentine's Day Soccer CardsFor my son, he simply wanted to hand out soccer cards. We ordered ten packs, and he put them envelopes. Signed, sealed, and delivered. Easy peasy.

What did your child do for Valentine’s Day cards?

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Spring’s Playful Plume

Erdem Spring 2015 Ready to Wear

I have to admit, the thought of wearing feathers makes me want to sneeze and scratch. I haven’t understood the appeal… at least until now. As feathers make a glorious show this season from designers Erdem and Simone Rocha, we are now seeing some delightful and creative styles from children’s clothing brand Wolf and Rita. Think “colorful animals, exotic tribes from the Amazon rainforest and the beautiful Bossa Nova song ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ by António Jobim and Vinicius de Morais” and you have The Kids from Ipanema, their Spring/Summer 2015 Collection inspired by travels to Rio de Janeiro. The collection is full of deeply rich colors and textures, but the pièce de résistance is this bold feather print. From afar, the print looks like an abstract painting. A closer examination and you find a vivid display of jewel-tone colors and skillful plumage arrangement. We’re obsessed.

Wolf and Rita SS15

Wolf and Rita SS15Alice Feather Dress | Vitor

Wolf and Rita SS15Irene Bib | Angela Feather Blouse

Wolf and Rita SS15

Wolf and Rita SS15Nelson | Alexandra Feather Culottes

Shop Wolf and Rita

Top Image: Style.com

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Valentine’s Day Gifts for Children

Valentine’s Day gifts for children don’t strictly have to be flowers and chocolates, especially not when there’s a special little one to whom you’d like to give a gift.

Je T’aime Letter Cushion, Atsuyo et Akiko $78

Tell your little one you love them in a new way—in French—with the Je T’aime Letter Cushion from Atsuyo et Akiko ($78).

These Footless Capri Tights from Hanna Andersson ($17.60) will pair well with a cute Valentine’s Day-theme skirt or dress, and they’ll carry her right into spring.

Got a little baker in the house who wants to make cookies for friends? The Valentine’s Bakers Kit ($29) will allow your child to make up to 24 cookies.

Valentine's Day Lovey Donna Wilson

What could be cuter than a stuffed, heart-shaped toy to love? The Donna Wilson Lovey ($48) is just the thing for Valentine’s Day, regardless of your child’s age.

Yellow Owl Workshop Heart Stamp Set
The Love You Stamp Set from Yellow Owl Workshop ($19) pairs sweet heart shapes with natural maple wood (please note that the ink pads are sold separately).

Jewelry is a popular Valentine’s Day gift, and for kids, it’s fun when they can make their own! Try this DIY Necklace Bead set ($15.40).

If you’re looking for a summary of Valentine’s Day all in one gift for a child, it’s the Pop Cutie Chocolate Heart Cake Ring ($6.70)—chocolate, flowers, and jewelry all in one place, without the sugar high or the letdown of real flowers that fade away with time.

Love You Love You Tee Munster Kids

The Love You Love You Baby Tee from Munster Kids ($36) says it all, and it can be worn all spring and summer.

Chocolate Pen Case Pop Cutie
The Limited Japanese Pen Case Gift Set ($38.90) is a fun spin on the usual chocolate gifts for Valentine’s Day.

Heart Tattoo Chispum

If you’re looking for a fun and silly add-on to another gift, the Tattoo Heart Drawing ($4) may elicit a little giggle from the recipient. They won’t be able to believe you got them a tattoo.

A cute, cuddly stuffed animal like the Senger Bear ($62) is always holiday-appropriate. It’ll be easy to fall in love with this handmade organic cotton companion.

What was your favorite Valentine’s Day gift you received as a child?

by Crystal Schwanke for tada! shop

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Happy New Year

park in coquitlamWishing you a year filled with adventure and discovery!

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