Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?
I cannot tell you how many times I have said that line, whether it was in reading a bedtime story to my children, teaching a “Baby and Me” or an after school theatre program in my former life as a teacher, or in creating a curriculum aimed at building confidence in young people. Eric Carle is an iconic author, and his whimsical stories are matched with a signature artistry on every page of his books. I can remember my mom reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar to me; and that it made me very hungry.
All of this is to say that when I got an email asking me to review a new rug collaboration, the Eric Carle Elementary Kids Collection, for Home Dynamix, a company with which I have collaborated several times before, I was ecstatic.
Eric Carle plus interior design? #winning
And, the timing could not have been more perfect. Since moving into my “new” house, we have slowly and methodically been working on each and every room (in ways big and small) to make them our own. One day I will have to do a full Before/After post, because it’s pretty cool, but most of the work we have done has been cosmetic. You know, paint and light fixtures and decor. Except for the basement. This Fall we did a full, huge, unplanned basement renovation, and it has been life changing.
Long story short (ha!) some unexpected issues arose in the basement – issues that involved water in places it should not have been – and we had to take the previously partially finished space down to studs. Our old basement used to be like this:
What do you see?
It was actually a large amount of space, but it was configured in a way that never really worked. We used it as our kids’ playroom, but, basically, you’d walk down the stairs to this long, narrow-ish room (that you see above; someone once referred to it as a bowling alley) and then there were two separate rooms on the right, the first one being an old darkroom with a full sink set up and the second being more of a workshop/wine storage area. It was big, but not usable.
Oh, and in the bottom two photos you might be able to see the fully operational SAUNA that had been installed in the room? It might sound lovely to have a 2-person cedar sauna in your home, but to us, sauna = deathtrap for small humans.
When the “water issue” occurred it was extremely disruptive and even a little sad, as we had to throw away ALL of our children’s toys, many of which were very sentimental. Like, the fairy tent you can see, above, which was Beau’s gift to Belle when he was born. But, it gave us the chance to have a fresh start.
Because every single bit of wall/ceiling/floor needed to be removed, it gave us the chance to open up the room, and I was able to design the family mecca of our dreams. A place for us to watch tv as grown ups, a large, open area for the kids, and a good amount of space in which they could just run wild.
Now, when you walk down the stairs, you see specially designated areas for different uses, but we’ve maintained a feeling of openness throughout. It is hard to capture just how much space my kids now have in which to run (/I have in which to do cartwheels) but, for us, it is perfect. I feel incredibly lucky.
And it is ours. I poured my heart into this project. When we found that enormous support column behind the walls, I hand picked each piece of wood in order to create that modern, white molding.
I must say that our contractors are fantastic, and did everything soup to nuts. For instance, they built me a giant storage closet so that I can keep this space tidy and these kids occupied.
And, for the grand finale, the kiddo area:
But, I might be saving the best for last.
Do you remember how I started this post?
Our basement’s finishing touches are from the Eric Carle Elementary Collection. I was given the option between many rugs, and I let my kids choose (they chose the one I wanted!) because this is their spot.
In fact, when the rug first arrived, my son CARRIED IT AROUND for the entire evening. He decided that it should go in our kitchen. My daughter agreed entirely. I had other ideas.
Along with the rug, we got these amazing, coordinating, softest pillows for these kid-sized orange egg chairs. They’re whimsical and nostalgic, just like the books I love so dearly. And, if you know me, you’ll know that I am somewhat of a throw pillow expert. The Eric Carle Collection is perfect for our space, as it is fun (for obvious reasons) but also functional, as it helps with the space planning, designating that as the “kiddo area.”
For our family, the world map rug made sense, but just to give you a little peek at some of their other rugs:
Because I would never endorse a product in which I did not fully believe, I am going to share with you that the Eric Carle Elementary Collection is a wonderful addition for a home, a classroom or would serve as the perfect gift. I say that with confidence because it is also incredibly well-priced.
And the awesome folks at Home Dynamix/SOHOME Market are giving you 10% off of their entire site, with no product limitations! As much as I adore the Eric Carle collection, if you’re looking to do a non-kid-related-makeover, they have everything, and are featuring other incredible collaborations from the highest end designers (think Christian Siriano and Nicole Miller).
Just use the code: EverAfter10off
when you check out. To be clear, I do not get any type of referral fee for this, they are just being generous and I am just being honest. I just like to spread the love when I can.
What do you see?
A life-changing space, giving our family a cozy den in which to hibernate, an open playroom in which to create
and fantastic design elements to educate, enjoy and cherish.
I see nostalgia, whimsy, comfort and love.
And, as it was said by Eric Carle himself, “We have eyes, and we’re looking at stuff all the time, all day long. And I just think that whatever our eyes touch should be beautiful, tasteful, appealing, and important.”
I could not agree more, Mr. Carle. I could not agree more.
This post was written in collaboration with Home Dynamix. As always, all opinions are 100% honest and my own.