Room #31 – Kids Activity Space
“Sunny day, sweeping the, clouds away…” – who in the U.S of America doesn’t know the opening line of this iconic children’s show! From way down south in Dixie, to the farthest reaches of the Alaskan wilderness…this jewel in the crown of public broadcasting has been teaching wee ones everything from the wonders of colors and numbers, to the nuances of the English language and even more poignantly, the importance being a good citizen, friend and neighbor. To simply call this show a national treasure would be downplaying its value.
Since November 10, 1969, the diverse denizens of Sesame Street have blessed millions of parents (it is shown in over 140 countries!) with 30 minutes a day of guilt-free respite from their rambunctious curtain climbers. I’m hoping to do the same with a kids space where little minds and hands can be engaged and toddler maelstroms contained. Big Bird, Cookie Monster, Ernie, Bert, Grover, Prairie Dawn (one of the oft forgotten S.S. OG’s!), Elmo and Oscar the Grouch have given me a muppet’s thumbs up (do they have thumbs?) for what I’ve whipped up…what do you think?
First things first…COLOR is numero UNO here (thanks Plaza Sesamo!). I do this often in children’s spaces because they love it…simple as that. Because I can be bright and bold, I use rooms like this as an excuse to let loose like a sugared-up 7 year old minus the crash. But even as I strive for fun and interesting, I always aim for visual balance. Too much of bold, bright and fun (without balance) can quickly turn into random, busy and seizure inducing. I sidestepped the seizures by integrating neutrals in various forms (furniture, flooring, wall and window treatments), to help give the eyes an opportunity to rest. If I made everything vibrant, you would be guaranteed a throbbing eyeball after just a few minutes of encapsulation. Note: No one wants to watch an episode of Alam SimSim with a throbbing eyeball…NO ONE!
During a brief and volatile brush with community theater (don’t ask), I learned that every successful show contains a cast of characters that interact well, complement one another and the storyline but also stand out as individuals themselves. The same holds true for interior design. In this space, our “cast” is a kooky one consisting of a couple main players: a groovilicious (not in the Sesamgade dictionary…but appropriate in this case) and amorphous (ok that’s college level Galli Galli Sim Sim vocabulary) yellow couch/jungle gym and the bubbletasticly (this was definitely used on Sesame Tree…for REALZ!) upholstered, candy-apple-red fantasy sofa, stylish enough for Parisian tots tuning into 5 Rue, Sesame. Though these two pieces provide ample seating…I couldn’t stop there…so I added a few more background players. For more flexible seating options, I’ve thrown in a gloriously plush, beanbag inspired cushion chair (several would be AMAZEBALLS) and some extremely versatile, rainbow colored ottomans just begging to be stacked and tackled!
Of course a Takalani Sesame worthy play space needs a drawing/coloring, clay sculpting, game playing, puzzle assembling, snack eating, Lego building surface (damn, kids do a lot)…so in comes a modern beauty, sturdy enough to handle anything a rugrat can throw at it…literally. Placing a highly patterned and multi-hued area rug looks great and hides a bevy of sins but also provides a bit of cushioning when ottoman tackling is the designated game of the day. The too-cool-for-school pillows pay homage to the original (though fictional) location in NYC and adds some cartoon artistry into the space. Did you notice the “brick” walls? That’s WALLPAPER…and another subtle reference to the urban street of Sesame! Ok…I just scared myself with my talent. To top it all off, I’ve iced the cake with a wall full of storage (complete with felt baskets) to wrangle all the ankle snapping bits kids love to otherwise leave out, some quirky verdant lighting to help locate said danger bits (because they ALWAYS miss a few), and a sweet little magazine rack to house the mandatory subscription of Highlights magazine (another icon of an American childhood). Organized, colorful, practically indestructible AND fun…only an episode of Sesame Street could be better!
P.s. Please support local, public broadcasting and institutions like the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Organizations like this truly add to the culture and fabric of our lives.