Take It from Me: You’re Never too Old to Have a(nother) Happy Childhood

I’m not usually much for Scandinavian home design. While I love its clean lines, its lack of color leaves my boho heart cold. But a few weeks back I found this Scandinavian-style interior I can’t get off my mind, not only for its use of color, but also for its playful decor.

See if you agree, but first a word of warning…

These rooms stick in your head like a catchy tune






I’m used to seeing playful décor in nurseries and children’s rooms, though it doesn’t register much with me because that part of my life is past. But here’s the thing about THESE rooms: They’re not just for kids. I purposely left out the children’s bedrooms (see the full tour over at Planete Deco/A Homes World) because I wanted to show how this whole family lives together playfully.

My thought? Home décor and design would be a great place to start taking ourselves less seriously. Color, style, function: Those can all be done in a way that makes us smile every time we walk into a room. I want elements like that in ALL parts of my house, how about you?

PLAY: Not just for kids anymore

One reason I’ve always liked boho is its playfulness. Not only is the palette playful in this family room, but so is the stacked-cushion sofa, the throw pillows, and all of the items lining the shelves. It’s a collected look, as well, and the display here reminds me a child’s display of favorite toys. But these are this adult’s “favorite toys.”

I have some, too, and so do you. Many of mine are in my study: Painted wooden cats, cat pottery, Murano paperweights, stones and shells from faraway places. Many have been gifts; some I’ve bought for myself. One of my favorites is a ceramic planter of The Pokey Little Puppy. Remember that book? My mother always had a philodendron planted in it; it sat on a windowsill. Now it sits on a tray on the corner of my desk and corrals office odds and ends. I rediscovered it after my mother passed away, and only recently made a place for it in plain sight.

That’s the thing about growing up: We keep acquiring favorite “stuff” along the way. A few things stay with us from childhood, but we edit as we go along, curating a home that is multilayered, welcoming and (hopefully) fun.

Here’s a fun studio apartment. The Audrey Hepburn poster of the actress blowing a bubble-gum bubble cracks me up. Hepburn was so naturally sophisticated and yet at the same time completely irreverent. PLAYFUL. Just think of the characters she played in her movies: Sabrina, Funny Face, Charade, Breakfast at Tiffany’s. The palette is fun, too. The aqua picks up on Audrey’s bubble, the charcoal grays and blacks give the space a baseline, and the pops of yellow turn up the fun factor.

Did you notice the yellow midcentury modern “bubble” light over the dining table? It repeats Audrey’s bubble! That’s why I chose this photo out of those available at Achados de Decoração from this apartment tour.

The palette here is Caribbean, the sofa is boho, the teacups are girly, and the pillows make a tropical splash. But it’s the grass-skirt shade on the pendant light that has us doing the happy hula a la Gilligan’s Island. Décor fun, this proves, is as easy as an oddball lampshade. A full tour of this space is also available on Achados de Decoração. (I’m starting to think Brazilians have a corner on fun decor!)

How to get speedin’ on the fun track

Little details add up, like these colored pencils glued onto a drum shade. 

Achados de Decoração
Pencils, sharpener, glue gun, and you’re on your way to a brighter, kitschier home. Put a piece of masking tape at the same spot on each pencil where you want to stop sharpening so you get all pencils the same length, then be careful not to break any points!

Or why not try this book wall sculpture? 

Better Homes and Gardens
Especially if you’re a booklover. Buy books at a library cast-off sale and start folding. Find the complete instructions for this one-of-a-kind artwork here.

This shelf filled with small toys would work in any room.

Where do you need a reminder to do just that, PLAY? You’ll find a supply list to make this (in Dutch) here. But if you’re hesitant to tackle the project, just buy some over-size letters at a craft store, finish, hang, and dress with your chosen toys.

Or simply BUY your ‘play’ reminder ready-to-go, like this rug.

Styled by Jess

This space is a baby nursery, but babies can’t read and children don’t need to be reminded to play. Besides, why should kids have all the fun? I think it could be put to better use in a kitchen work area or home office—anywhere it will remind us adults to ease up on ourselves. (Shop for this rug here.)

Ways I play at home…

Recently, I traded plain wood cabinet knobs on our media cabinet and china cupboard for these colorful ceramic ones.

I see them every time I watch TV or eat, and I smile each and every time.


Rosanna Inc.
I also added these quirky trinket trays to a wall display in my kitchen. They’re shaped like wrappers from a fancy box of chocolates, and that, as well as the imprinted sentiment, make the corners of my mouth turn up.


This colorful painting by Maud Lewis hangs in my laundry room. It reminds me of my sweet Molly, who we nursed through a long illness. She had the devotion of at least three black cats, hung onto life until she knew her mom was ready to let her go, and never lost her sass. Any thoughts of her make me smile.

 I keep this photo of my child self on my desk.

Dig through those decrepit boxes of photos from your childhood and find one in which you’re gloriously happy, PLAYING. Put it in a frame or simply tack it onto a bulletin board or fridge. I bought one of those acrylic frames held together by magnets and slipped mine in. It makes a great paperweight and reminds me, all the time I’m WORKING, how important play is.

A magnetic bulletin board like this one hangs by my desk. It’s full of playful stuff my current cat, Maisie, enjoys knocking off, which reminds me how full my life is and how there’s always more fun to be had.

Because it really is NEVER too late to have a(nother) happy childhood!

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