Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Parents choose furniture over children.


Ok, only half kidding....

Skim this article and then get right to the fiesty comments (which I know all of you decornophiles love, after all...)

Read comments here.

Highlights from the article:

"I’m pretty sensitive aesthetically, and it does something for me when I look at a pretty room,” Ms. Cherney said. “Looking at what the room used to be was the visual equivalent of listening to Bach or Mozart. Now it’s the visual equivalent of listening to Barney.”

“We spent years collecting meaningful, quality pieces,” he said. “Getting those kinds of pieces — the handmade silk pendant lamp, the teak Danish sideboard — it’s a huge project. Basically each room was finally done, and then it all got blown apart.”

"They put down cork tiles throughout, as protection for glassware and other breakables, including the children themselves, and they set up a 500-square-foot play area in the basement, with a trade-off that some parents would consider draconian: 'They can play with a toy in the main living area, but it has to go away when they’re done,' Ms. McLean said. 'I’m very concerned with what’s in my visual space. When people come into the house, I very much do not want them being bombarded with toys.'"

She also refused to babyproof furniture when the children were younger. She was “never one of those mothers” who put safety corners on coffee tables, she said. “That stuff is just gross, and I don’t feel you have to sacrifice living space to that degree.” And she decided not to install wire railings on the open side of the floating walnut staircase Mr. Stratton designed to connect the first- and second-floor living spaces. “We couldn’t bear it,” she said. “It was too ugly. So basically what we did was we trained the kids to hold onto the handrail, and it’s worked. No one’s ever fallen off."


Have fun with this one, kids.

42 comments:

MAds said...

And again I repeat...

Got kids? Good for you. I don't. Good for me.

paola said...

Of course children are trained just like dogs. That's why it's called 'potty training' for example. You wouldn't believe the things my three year old daughter will do for stickers.

I actually don't disagree with much of the article. I started writing a long comment detailing all the stuff we have and have not compromised on, but decided it would be better off as a blog post before I bored your readers to death.

Decorina said...

Hahahahaha. Great post. I'm not a breeder either. Never felt compelled to have any and haven't missed them.

When I was a kid myself my parents had friends that had a great looking home - and a bunch of kids, 5 I think. They didn't "childproof" the house either and all their kids grew up intact and learned to respect their parent's belongings.

In this era of snowflake kids many people seem to be OK with turning their homes into baby proofed wastelands. Their choice I guess, but don't lament your own choice to me.

Anonymous said...

That plastic bumper on the Noguchi table would make me wince every day. But I guess being an adult would mean always utting my (mental) suffering before the kids' potential (physical) suffering.

Family life: Keeping everyone at the lowest, most stable level of misery possible.

Joslyn said...

i read this article yesterday with a mixture of awe and disgust (i.e. the stair rail thing…please…)

That said, I have a one year old and a four year old, and I’ve never attached foam to anything. I do put baby gates in the doorways of certain rooms from time to time, put away anything that might break my heart if broken (surprisingly few things) and teach my kids to respect stuff as best as possible…easier than you might think.

Here’s the good news. Contrary to the article, this phase of “babyproofing” things a bit to avoid massive accidnets is very short…not the 18 years that one person featured referred to.

Also...there are lots of incredible looking kids things out there now. That picture of the dining room with all the plastic toys was awful…kids stuff can be really chic and fit in with even the most modern décor.

just my two cents.

the House of Beauty and Culture said...

The largest con for us when we considered having a child was not the possible mess, but the fact we, I, might have to deal with other parents. Parents like
the woman with the antique dining table - it survived for 200 years - pretty sure it could survive a couple of kids. "I’m pretty sensitive aesthetically" she claims - take a good look at her house. This type of woman wants the world to believe she has good taste. It's important to her what other people think of her. Something, I think, all those in the article have in common.
What exactly is so precious about their run of the mill (and easily replaced I might add) choices?

maison21 said...

the bumper on the noguchi table boggles my mind. what are these people thinking? i would understand if the glass had a jagged, razor sharp edge- but no one of ANY age could live with that.

these parents need to look at the situation logically- none of them- not a one- grew up with foam bumpers on anything, and yet somehow they all survived their childhoods without an eye poked out by a sharp corner or mental retardation caused by a blow to the head with the edge of a noguchi table.

on second thought, maybe they better keep that bumper...

maison21 said...

uh oh- now here's where maison21 gets bitchy- i guess the fact that they would even OWN a bad bachleor pad cliché like a noguchi table, proves the mental retardation theory. bumper away, folks!

i like visiting your blog, decorno! i have to be nice on my own effort. but here- the mean maison21 can go to town! thanks for the outlet!

Jackie Von Tobel said...

I just can't believe how shallow and superficial the people in this article are. They are absolutely choosing their furnishings over their children. What till one of them slices their face open on a coffee table. They'll probably rush the coffee table to the furniture repairman before they deal with their injured kid.

If you're gonna make the decision to have a kid - put that fancy crap into storage and act like an adult. You're furniture is replaceable, you're kids aren't.

Forever Chic said...

This article's such an easy target. I already squawked about it with a co-worker for about 30 minutes.

Since NYT reporters make so much less money than the rich yuppies they cover for the Styles section, I honestly think they seek out the most obnoxious, ridiculous people to write about - subtle class warfare, if you will.

I understand the distaste for a house overrun by snotty kidlets, but if you're willing to put the safety of your kids aside for the sake of aesthetics, don't fucking have children. Get a cat instead.

My favorite sentence is this:

"Ms. Brown and Mr. Friedman — who of course were thrilled to have a child, like all the later-in-life parents interviewed for this article — were also determined..."

I loooove the little caveat sandwiched between the dashes. They were thrilled to have children! How noble of them!

Petunia Face said...

Ooh! You just threw some chum to the sharks with this one--I love it! And yes, I do have the ugly foam on the corners of my coffee table. Then again, my coffee table was ugly to begin with.

paola said...

I would find it really interesting if commenters could preface their remarks with whether they've got children or not. I know my attitudes about such things changed enormously after I had my daughter and I've become much more laissez-faire and less uptight about parenting.

Yes, of course it's highly irresponsible not to put basic safety measures into place, but in general I don't see why parents have to compromise everything in their lives just because they've got kids. Children are surprisingly difficult to break.

Just some observations

- it's impossible to protect kids completely. My daughter came home from pre-school yesterday with an egg on her head despite the fact that everything there is childproofed to the nines.

- Why on earth is there a bumper on the Noguchi table? As long as the glass is held securely in place it looks like a great bit of child friendly design to me - all nice curved edges and wipe-cleanable.

- Children can absolutely be trained. We have a dangerous steep staircase and there's nothing we can do to make it safer except entirely reconfigure the heart of our old craftsman house.

So instead my just turned three year old daughter has been taught never to play on the stairs, always to walk down carefully, to hold on to the handrail and always have her hands free. We do have to be extra vigilant but it she pretty much follows the rules and is more sensible and therefore safer on most staircases than other children I know.

My daughter also knows that it's naughty to write on anything except paper, she should take off her shoes when she enters the house, that she should wash her hands and face after she's eaten something and indeed can only eat in certain areas of the house. And by and large she adheres to those things (and when she doesn't there's always the washing machine).

Anonymous said...

Whether the furniture is "run of the mill" or genuinely gorgeous and rare is irrelevant. You either value human life over objects, or you don't.

Forever Chic said...

"As for the coffee table, they avoided doing anything until Beckett gave them no choice: while learning to walk last summer, he used it as his main training prop. 'He’d cruise and trip and hit his face on the table’s edge,' Mr. Cheng recalled.

Mr. Jarecke initially refused to discuss parting with or altering the table in any way, but they eventually compromised and decided to wrap the edge of the top in foam."

Read the article, people. Padding the Noguchi table was a reasonable reaction to a pretty dangerous situation.

Anonymous said...

House of Beauty: If you'd be that easily upset by other parents, it's probably best that you didn't have children. The anger-management skills needed are considerable.

paola said...

When children cruise they trip and bang their heads on EVERYTHING. It's not that dangerous. They get an owwee and you put on arnica cream and pretend it's magic.

If it makes you feel better then put some foam on your table but it's really not worth the NYTimes writing an article about it as that phase only lasts about three months. Then they're walking and banging their heads on other things.

Funnily enough the things that cause my daughter most grief are hardwood floors - the source of most of her owwees and bruises.

Is that what the parent police will be attacking next?

Jennifer said...

I have discovered the secret to peaceful coexistence with fabulous design a pint sized version of myself. I keep my four year old in a mid-century modern lucite box. This prevents the proliferation of all things Fisher Price in my pristine living areas, retaining their mausoleum like qualities.
What? I drilled some air holes in the stupid thing, even though it modified the aesthetic of the piece. Some may call that blasphemous, but I call it ingenuity.

In all seriousness, my kid has not even come close to hurting herself on furnishings or otherwise destroying decor. Why? Because I watch her and I establish boundaries. I have never had -- and have never needed -- any kind of gate in my house.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Forever Chic. The standard shouldn't be: "Well, the furniture hasn't KILLED anyone." If it's hurting kids, repeatedly, that's a bad situation.

Anonymous said...

Paola,

For someone who is trying to dismiss this as a minor, inconsequential issue not worthy of newspaper coverage, you sure have posted a LOT about it: three posts in one thread (including one promising even more commentary on your own blog).

paola said...

I'm at home with a stinking cold right now and trying to avoid doing all the things I ought to be doing.

But I get the impression I'm supposed to be reacting to this article with shock and horror, but in fact, as a parent, I've actually done most of these things, and that most of the people who are reacting with shock and horror don't have kids themselves.

Foam on a Noguchi table is not worthy of a NYTimes article, but parents receiving sanctimonious advice from non-parents can keep me going for hours.

But you're right, I really ought to be doing stuff.

Forever Chic said...

Paolo, did you read the article? It's not about parents coddling kids - it's about the exact opposite.

Forever Chic said...

Sorry - I meant Paola not Paolo :)

Decorina said...

Paola said: "I would find it really interesting if commenters could preface their remarks with whether they've got children or not." and "...parents receiving sanctimonious advice from non-parents can keep me going for hours."

I knew that was coming. Children or not, and my choice is not, I often find that when parents hear opinions about children, their own or other's, with which they disagree then suddenly non-parents are stripped of their right to have an opinion. They are "sactimonious", even.

Of course we are. Seriously.

Paola said...

@decorina. Since when did I ever say anything of the kind?

You are entirely welcome to have opinions about my kids, indeed I would welcome them. And I find this sort of debate useful and interesting, which is why I'm here instead of working.

But specific advice on parenting is another thing altogether, and something which I'm not sure non-parents are particularly qualified to give. In the same way as I wouldn't take cooking advice from non-cooks or decorating advice from people who've never decorated a room.

Unfortunately non-parents often feel qualified to offer advice, often sanctimonious, and I say this as someone who was probably guilty of doing the same thing before my daughter was born.

As I read it, the article is sniping at parents who wish to have a nice house as well as kids; Decorno herself made a comment (which subsequently seems to have disappeared)along the lines of 'training kids like dogs ha!; and various commenters here have said some pretty challenging things along the lines of 'shallow and superficial people', and 'don't fucking have kids', 'obnoxious ridiculous' people etc.

I'm sorry, but unless you have kids or have spent a lot of time around kids, I really don't believe you're qualified to have an opinion about whether an unprotected Noguchi coffee table is a 'pretty dangerous situation' or whether children can be trained or not to walk sensibly on a staircase. And in truth even I'm not qualified to make blanket generalisations since every child is different.

And anyone who implies that any parent(beyond possibly ones with severed mental problems) would put ANYTHING above the health and safety of their children is just being ignorant.

And now I really will go ;)

Forever Chic said...

"I'm sorry, but unless you have kids or have spent a lot of time around kids, I really don't believe you're qualified to have an opinion..."

Ok. By this criteria I can have an opinion. Yay! I would guess that the other people talking about the article have also spent a great deal of time with children. It's not like childless people live in a child-free universe.

pve design said...

I really never gave all of this a lot of thought to having kids until I had my own and then realized what was important to me, was to raise them to be good decent people. Learning to live together, be polite, say "Hello" - have a firm hand-shake, eat well and to respect their surroundings and to not enter into a world that is all padded and happy meals. We as parents and creators really need to teach our children as well as others about beauty and living well. Expose them to antiques, museums, and good quality.
A little culture never hurt anyone. Taste develops!
You do not just go from chicken fingers to chicken
coq au vin! "
Bumpers and baby guards are well intended but not the real world.

Smitty said...

I think commenter 20 from the NYT article has the answer: the Envirosuit!

The Nerdy Fashionista said...

I find that parenting is just one of those topics that brings out the judgmental in everyone. Parents, non-parents, working mothers, non-working mothers, whatever; so many people seem to think they know better than everybody else. I wish we could all agree to accept that, to use an absolutely unholy cliche, there's different strokes for different folks. There's more than one way, and more than one environment, in which to raise a healthy, well-behaved, and mentally stable child.

Linda said...

I have raised my kids surrounded by the best I could afford at any given time in our lives. Some of my favorite things today are those that were defaced in some way by one of my mischevious kids. My son played with hot wheels on my Noguchi and the scratches show. Today I look at those scratches and I have precious memories.

katiedid said...

Jeez. Go away for a coupla days and I miss too much!

Well here's from someone who has lived through the toddler stage: Do what you want to do and quit worrying what others are doing or thinking about you. Chances are good your kid will survive. Worry more about them when they are teenagers and starting to drive and getting calls from "friends" at 1:00 in the morning.
I remember having to remove all of my dining chairs from the house so my daughter would not climb onto the table and take a nose dive. Before I could get to the nook chairs, she had climbed up and fell head first. Well after the 911 call, ambulance, fire crew and neighbors running to the rescue, she was A-OK. Oh... and she did not climb on the table again.
Smart kid.

Anonymous said...

The stairs thing seems a little extreme, but it does depend how old the kids are. As to the rest of it, I grew up an antique dealers daughter in a house built of stone with uneven stairs stone stairs that I did flying dives from for the fun of it. We were not worried over every minute, and we didn't jump on the chairs. We did play outside as much as we possibly could and we played in our rooms, or the kitchen. No problem. But people don't give their kids room to fall down these days and so they don't learn it hurts. Isn't it supposed to be nouveau to worry so much about your furniture. Ducking now.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of a great line from the show "Roseanne."

D.J.: Mom, can I go ride my bike?

Roseanne: Well, okay. But only if you promise to ride it in the middle of the street!

JP said...

I wouldn't buy that brightly colored plastic non-biodegradable crap for my kids even if I had kids, which I don't.

You get blocks. Wooden blocks. Make yourself useful and build something, wouldya please?

Jules said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
restyled home said...

Yeah...and I'm pretty sure sitting in the back of my Dad's cigarette smoke-induced blue haze didn't affect me in any way, either!

Those homeowners are almost as cuddly as a pair of homeowners in House and Home magazine (Cdn) who put concrete floors everywhere in their homes...oh yeah, and they didn't give their toddlers helmets to wear either.

To each his own, but from where I sit, there is a certain degree of sacrifice involved with parenting...and they do leave the baby stage very quickly!!

Jules said...

JP--

That's a ridiculous comment. "Make your[selves] useful"--because right now we are not? I think you overestimate the time a parent has on their hands. Kids aren't cats. You can't toss them near a litter box and then go out to the garage to play with power tools and make homemade toys.

Decorno said...

You guys are feisty! I knew that mixing parenting and decor would e like oil and water. Let's be honest, to all of us, both are serious topics worth fighting over.

I have a step-son (13, so no kid-proofing required) and a pug who likes to mistake the Christmas tree for the great outdoors, if you know what I mean. I struggle with trying to make a magazine-worthy home while dealing with daily accumulations of dog hair that roll through the house like tumbleweed. I've just had to get zen about it. I would imagine that if I had a baby there would be compromise. I don't know how you can't have it that way. Although, I can't imagine the whole open-stair thing. Jesus Christ. I barely like kids and I couldn't handle the thought of choosing that design element over my piece of mind (see that? it isn't even about the kid... it's more about me not wanting guilt on the brain if Buffy takes a spill...)

Let's close the loop on this one before one of you throws a glass of wine in someone's face. :)

JP said...

Jules,

Yes, you caught me being snippity. What I meant in my perceived curt remark was that I'm a big fan of useful toys that encourage creativity. I've been to friend's homes where the kids were so overloaded with plastic and rubber toys that it just seemed kind of gluttonous and nauseating. It's like seeing a spread of Mariah Carey's closet, brimming over with shoes she;ll only wear once... blech. Just because a child's parents can afford the latest and greatest toys, doesn't mean they should get them. There is something to be learned from simplicity and I think the best way to curb a consumerist mindset is with young kids. That's all I meant, did not mean to offend.

claudia & keith said...

Someone PLEASE tell me where the rug in this photo is from! I am completely obsessed and cannot find it anywhere. Please, I'm begging.

Jules said...

JP-

Gotcha. :) I hear you on the toys. I have a friend who has two rooms in her house devoted to her 4 year old daughter's toys. Two rooms. Two entire rooms for one child. And, yes, she is an insufferable brat, like Violet from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

Anonymous said...

But ya know--no matter how "good design" and "green" and "organic" you think you are, your kids will still get ugly plastic garish toys that they will love and play with over and over, while ignoring the handmade by Vermont vegan blocks. If you don't have kids, you have no idea.

Anonymous said...

My 2 cents, late as usual... pve design hit it right on: "raise them to be good decent people.... to respect their surroundings and to not enter into a world that is all padded and happy meals."

If you want to be able to bring your kids out and about with you, you need to teach them to respect their own home. I want my friends to feel comfortable bringing their kids to my house, but with the knowledge that our place isn't child-proof. It generally works out fine, and I understand that I have to pipe up with an occasional request like: drink your grape juice in the kitchen, not on the rugs. - Jean