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Hip (and kid-friendly!) housewares

Yes, you have kids now, but you still want your home to be beautiful and reflect your unique sense of style. Even though your dinner-party guests may trip over a ball or truck on their way to the table, they can still admire your plates when they get there.

We enlisted the help of a design guru, Stephanie Mehl, founder of MixDesign in Seattle, to give us some tips on how to get started in our hunt for family-friendly home décor. We took her advice and then went in search of some fabulous things for your home that can withstand the everyday wear and tear of little ones.  

Stylishly simple

Mehl suggests families with little ones keep the following in mind when considering new purchases: “Don’t splurge right now on great upholstered pieces. If you do, texture is the way to go,” Mehl says. “Flat surfaces collect more dirt and show everything. If you are a real modernist, the minimal look continues and helps with the budget. And keep in mind, many of the modern knockoffs are quite successful, as opposed to knockoffs of more traditional or ornate pieces,” Mehl says. “Generally, traditional knockoffs of period piece furniture look bad.”

Mehl also suggests using a professional designer; it can save you money and headaches in the long run. “Designers can guide you through important decisions and help you avoid costly mistakes,” Mehl says. “Not all designers are expensive. Like everything, there is a range of people and costs out there.” Some designers make their money in furniture mark-up, Mehl says, while others are only concerned with their time. You can also ask a designer to help you buy things that aren’t available to the general public. “If you have done your homework and know what you want, you can find a designer who would be willing to act as your purchasing agent. And you can get pieces at a great designer rate,” Mehl says.

Here are some of our favorite finds to bring hip to your home.

Save the world with style

Environmentally friendly, beautiful bamboo is the new “hot wood” for floors, furniture and accessories. Locally owned, Bamboo Hardwoods has stores in the Roosevelt neighborhood and Redmond. Both stores offer items that are sturdy and beautiful, including gorgeous coffee tables from $165 to $550 and lamps from $85 to $120. You can also get bamboo cutting boards, votive holders and coasters.  

Light up with GlassyBaby

After days in darkness following last winter’s windstorm and subsequent power outages, many Northwest families were hunting for candleholders. Locally made GlassyBaby votive holders ($40) are one of Oprah’s favorite things, no doubt for their incredible range of colors and sturdy design. You can throw them in the dishwasher to clean. Visit owner Lee Rhodes’ new store in Madrona on East Union Street or shop online at glassybaby.com. There, you can choose from one of the five votive holders sold to benefit charities, including Goldenrod, which supports victims of Hurricane Katrina receiving cancer treatment.

Visit Paris at Crossroads

When you think of the beloved and funky Crossroads Shopping Center in Bellevue, you may think “free live music” and “extensive family-friendly restaurants,” but “French-inspired, hip housewares and gifts” probably didn’t leap to mind — until now. Recently, Common Folks Co. moved from Centralia to Crossroads. In addition to great gifts, owner Kathryn Straub offers unique and fabulous housewares. Her giant clocks will ensure your child is never late for the bus again. And you would be proud to serve dinner on Rosanna’s “Parisian Wallpaper” dinnerware, made from long-lasting melamine. The black-and-white plates and mugs range from $8 to $11 and each are strong enough to be tossed by a toddler yet are dishwasher safe. Also check out the metal letter hooks at the store, perfect for hanging up your child’s school backpack in style.

High style, low price

IKEA: Yes, the Swedish meatballs alone make the drive to IKEA in Renton off Hwy. 167 worthwhile, but it is the low-cost, high-style furniture and housewares that fill IKEA’s giant garage with minivans. One note of caution: Most of those great steals require an ability to use tools and follow directions, so if you opted out of shop class you might want to steer clear of any “furniture in a box.”

Target offers exclusive lines of designer housewares, including home furnishings by fashion designer Todd Oldham and architect Michael Graves, including his celebrated sexy Spinner Whistle teakettle.

Value Village and Goodwill stores around the Puget Sound area are often a great place to snag a beautiful vase or cool vintage china cups to dress up any table for next to nothing.


Stephanie Mehl
MixDesign in Seattle specializes in residential design including space planning, color work, makeovers and remodels. 206-605-5257
Bamboo Hardwoods
In Seattle:
6402 Roosevelt Way N.E.
In Redmond:
17875 Redmond Way,
Suite 134
206-264-2414 x154

Common Folks Co.
Crossroads Shopping Center
15600 Eighth St.
Bellevue, WA  98008

3406 East Union St., Seattle


601 S.W. 41st St. (just off Hwy. 167 in Renton)


Various locations around Puget Sound

Value Village

Various locations around Puget Sound including Redmond, Seattle and Tacoma. For a complete list of locations:

In addition to often having fabulous vintage furniture, china dishware and other swell stuff at bargain prices, Goodwill is one of the world’s largest nonprofit providers of education and job training. Various locations around Puget Sound including Bremerton, Renton and Everett. 


Originally published in the June, 2007 print edition of ParentMap.

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