Play Away!

Hot on the heels of our first room to be finished in our renovation project (as written about in our blog: Fabulous Fifi) we have this week completed our second room!

Our first result was calm and relaxing and…ours! The second is the playroom. We decided some time ago to give up the stand alone dining room….handing it over to our two small children, Herbie (3) and Kitty (1). With the thought of no kids TV in our lounge and no toys underfoot, we have been spurred on to get them to play away in their own little lounge.

So…..we filled it with my turquoise Formica topped  1950s furniture. It is lovely with black and gold swirls all over it…and more importantly it is wipeable! The table has screw on black splayed legs and is now their art table.

Yes, the paint is now banned from my Ercol elm dining table and I am now a lot calmer!

The sideboard is so cute with its cream and white paintwork and blue top. Again perfect for little ones….any marks can be simply re-touched with a bit of paint.

The modern TV stands on this..alongside the vintage toy version.

The old room had an unsightly 70s fireplace in front of the back boiler. We found out it cannot be replaced without changing the boiler…so we built a cover. You now can’t imaging its hiding such a monster…and has now doubled up as a mantlepiece with some of the favourite toys on. Now this house LOVES vintage Fisher Price..and here is just some of it.

The camper van is a firm favourite especially as we have a 1967 VW split screen. The top comes off and forms a boat. Then there’s the record player. I actually played with this when I was younger and is still going strong. As mentioned in our magazine article “Play the Vintage Way” for Vintage Life magazine we think they are fantastic toys especially as they don’t need batteries.

Gosh then there’s the cash register..again my favourite toy when I was younger (maybe a clue that i would spend 20 years in retail)…I used to charge my family to buy tinned food that of course was theres. I would then keep the money! Herbie seems to be repeating history.

The chatter phone and the cottage join them. We also have…are you ready: the farm, the zoo, the school, the Happy Apple, the Jack in the box, the radio, the activity centre, 2 chime balls..the list goes on!

They have shelves in the alcove for all their stacking boxes of yet more toys. The Fisher Price airport and garage stand proud on the first shelf. You can just see their 1970s Tupperware shape sorter in the picture!

We have chosen joint toys for this room..Kitty’s collection of dolls with their rocking crib, high chair and pram all dating from the 1950s will be in her room. Herbie’s ridiculous collection of Tonka trucks will be in his room. So we have Pegasus, the 1970s rocking horse left for them to share, along side wooden bricks and the metal toys.

These were very popular in the 1950s.. factories were given up for war manufacturing during the 40s which resulted in a huge boom in the 50s with metal becoming available again. Often toys replicated the toys of the parents…such as this Mettype typewriter.

We have a great Chad Valley spinning top and kaleidoscope too!

All their cafe/cooking toys (modern) are kept in my 1950s basket….I seem to have lost that one!

So, back to the interior design…those lucky 2 have a great pair of 60s stripe curtains and one of the best lights in the house! It has squares of bright blue glass all around, giving off a lovely glow when switched on. It was a real bargain too…it was free! Adam found it at a house restoration he was working on..it was in the garage about to be skipped. All the builders on site  laughed at his glee…..! We just need things for the wall…a clock, bookcase and pin board for all their drawings.

So children…do you like it? I guess that’s a yes then!

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Play The Vintage Way!

To celebrate the launch of our new shop category: Your Vintage Playroom, we wanted to share with you our latest magazine article. Your Vintage Life writes for the fabulous publication with a similar name: Vintage Life Nostalgia magazine. “Play the Vintage way” is an inspiration piece to give ideas on how to create a vintage nursery or playroom.

Play the vintage way

Children today live in a battery operated world. In years gone by, they played with wood or metal toys passed down through the generations, lovingly worn from years of play. Families came together to play board games rather than games consoles. Toys begged you to use your imagination rather than rewarding you for simply pressing a button.

Why not create a vintage nursery or playroom with a sense of nostalgia and innocence. Follow these ideas to take you back in time and give hours of enjoyment watching your kids playing with your old favourites!

 Toys

Metal toys were popular in the ’50s, often mirroring the grown up toys that our parents used such as typewriters and sewing machines. Before now, children were working more than playing therefore had fewer toys, often playing with just a few favourites. These would be hand crafted wooden toys such as dolls, trains and boats.

 In the ’40s, toy factories were given up to the war effort so in the ’50s there was a boom in production. Classic metal toys to fill your playroom are the spinning top, kaleidoscope and musical instruments such as tambourines.

Chad Valley made a great selection of these in primary colours with cute kids on. These can brighten up a toy shelf, adding touches of nostalgia as well providing great play.

In the late ’60s robust plastic toys made by Fisher Price became popular.

A favourite is the record player with lullaby records: turn the winder, move the stylus and listen to nursery rhymes. These are simple, mechanical and importantly, still working today. They also produced a telephone, radio and TV …still replicating the grown up toys just as a decade earlier. Remember the airport, the garage, the school house? It’s not just for older children either: the Happy Apple, chime ball and cot activity centre stimulate early senses and are perfect for a nursery.

Books

We should all read a bedtime story to our little ones, but why not consider a vintage story book. In 1940 Ladybird published their first series for children, which included stories such as Bunnikins Picnic.

These were simple stories told in verse with colourful pictures. Children loved them for their simplicity, parents loved them for their educational value and low price. The Key Word Reading Scheme introduced in the ’60s helped children to recognise simple words quickly and still works today…how many of us remember Peter and Jane? Be careful though as some are not considered politically correct (A is for Armoured vehicle for example)and women may take offence at the role of “mother” which isn’t what it is today! Vintage fans will love the pictures from the ’50s editions with swing dresses, Kelly handbags and pretty tea cups.

These classic books, along with Beatrix Potter and A.A Milne, will remind you of being read to as a child and are still loved today. Collect them with the dust covers on for added nostalgia!

Dolls

Every little girl loves a doll and the vintage ones are best.

 In the ’50s, hard plastic dolls made in England by Roddy, Pedigree and Rosebud were most desired. With their mohair wigs, jointed limbs and blinking eyes, they will really add that vintage look to a nursery. Dress them up in vintage rompers, sit them in a wooden high chair, wheel them around in an old pram, rock them in a wooden crib….all will add theatre to a little girl’s room. For boys, choose a stuffed horse on wheels to help with those first precious steps.

 The finishing touches

Vintage home furnishings soften any nursery with their pastel colours and home made feel, such as chunky knitted cot blankets and character curtains. Why not store toys in a blanket box? Perfect for a little girl with cute flowers, soft styling and roomy enough for all her things. Or make bunting our of their patterned, outgrown clothes?

Keep the room tidy by storing pens and chalks in vintage tins. Early sweet tins often came with children’s pictures on. Huntley and Palmer’s produced iced biscuit tins with Noddy and Muffin the Mule on, Sharp produced toffee tins with an animated Noah’s Ark on, even the early Quality Street tins would look great.

Adorn out of reach shelves with vintage ceramics. Characters such as Holly Hobby and Peter Rabbit on vases, bells and bowls will give a nursery a personal feel. These were traditional Christening presents which would always be out on display.

We have done all of this with our children’s rooms. The result? They value their toys, we save a fortune in batteries and it’s great to hear a lullaby rather than a robotic voice! Most of all, we get hours of pleasure reminiscing our own childhood while they ride their old rocking horse!

Your Vintage Playroom

Your Vintage Life will be launching a new shop category this week to coincide with our latest article in Vintage Life Nostalgia magazine. It is called “Play the Vintage way” and gives you some inspiring ideas on how to create a vintage nursery or playroom.

Your Vintage Playroom has 6 sub categories: Nursery, Toys, Books, Storage, Learning and Games.

Nursery is full of pretty vintage treasures to help create a real sense of innocence.

Ceramics to line your shelves with Peter Rabbit, Holly Hobby and Love Is on….in years gone by christening presents were displayed for many years which is a great idea to bring back.  There are bowls, bells, vases and christening mugs all in pretty pastel colours.

We also have a great range of vintage styled hand knitted baby blankets: in bright colours as well as pastels. We have one of these for our little girl which always gets admired when she has it in her pram. I love the fact that no two are the same and are hand-made.

There are some great 1950s nursery curtains too. These are called ABC and were designed by Frieda Clowes in the 1950s. They are covered in letters with kitsch characters all over: pirates, kittens and toy soldiers. They are great for either a boy or girl which is perfect if you don’t know what you’re having! We also have fab 1970s Paddington curtains which really remind me of my childhood!

The Toy section is full of toys from the 1950s through to the 1980s. Chad Valley humming tops, Mettype metal typewriters, Fisher Price drums and a horse ride on are our personal favourites! The ride on toys look great sitting in the corner of a nursery, or as my 2 year old is currently proving, are great for riding up and down the hall!

We even have hand crafted vintage skittles dating from the early part of the 20th century.

Vintage children’s Books are great for your little one but also look great on a shelf in their original dust covers. We have 1950s early edition Ladybird books, Beatrix Potters and 1970s original Mr Men.

I personally love the ladybird book’s illustrations with 1950’s ladies in swing dresses and a kelly bag slung over their arms. However, you must all remember that some of them aren’t very modern in their thinking: Mummy seems to be always doing the washing up with Daddy reading the paper in the background!

The Storage section has vintage tins with bright pictures on to store pens or chalk in and blanket boxes for your clothes or toys.

These are great for nurseries as well as playrooms.

Learning has games which will teach your little ones something. We have a rare 1940s Essex sewing machine complete with instructions, a 1950s weaving loom and a 1970s Fisher Price activity centre. Our little girl has one of these attached to her cot. She loves playing with it in the morning, enjoying the squeakers, dials, twisty buttons, mirror and ringers. They are made so well and have already lasted for generations.

There are lots more in this section which will give your playroom that nostalgic feel as well as stimulate.

Finally, Games has board games that you can all play together as a family. Housey Housey, Lotto, Snakes and Ladders all come in their original 1960s boxes. Our favourite is a magnetic 1950s Pin the tail on the donkey!

So, exciting times ahead for us here as well as for your little ones! We will publish the article next week on the blog and then we can all start to play the vintage way!