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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

New Jersey house tour

Designer Abby Low lives with her husband and two sons in this bright and charming house in Summit, New Jersey. "We put an offer in the day we saw it," she told us. "Everything was in the original 1938 condition—it still had the wood floors and the original little details." Here are more photos, if you'd like to see...
On that amazing photo of the boys: The photo was taken on my only camera: the iPhone. It was early one morning and the boys asked me to take their picture, a request that never happens. I took the photo, cropped it and sized it up in Photoshop to fit a large frame, and saved it as a grayscale PDF file. I took the file to Kinkos and had it printed out on a plotter (basically a giant photocopier). The whole thing cost about $10!
On kid-friendly decorating: We have a lot of grown-up stuff, but the kids kind of play around it. I remember going to my grandparents' house and they had breakables everywhere. You learned what was okay to play with and what was not.

On trusting yourself: Just buy what you love and then it will work. I’ve bought things that I don't love, and you think it will just blend in, but it doesn't and it drives you nuts.
On how parenthood changes you: It's kind of like getting hit by a hurricane. You just figure it out. I remember asking my mom when she was visiting once, “How did you guys do this??” There were seven girls and one boy in my house growing up! She said they didn't know what they were doing; they just figured it out as they went. That was both refreshing and scary. I think it's true: No one knows what they're doing.

I remember, before I was a parent, when friends with kids would come over to our Brooklyn apartment and we didn't have any toys. I once gave my friends’ kids a big round candle that looked like a ball. It was so heavy and they were trying to throw it around.

I kind of thought that one day I'd wake up and suddenly become an adult. But I still feel like I’m 26. Sometimes I'll be doing stuff with my kids and I'll be like, “Whoa, I'm their mom.”

Couch: Two Jakes. Rug: Serena and Lily. Pillows: Jonathan Adler (these designs no longer available, but similar here). Bench: Antique. Console table: Ikea. Yellow stool: Vintage. Upholstered chair: Elemente. Wooden arm chair: Antique. Metal bookshelf: Target (no longer available, similar here).
On family dinners: Back in the city, my husband would work until 10pm every night, so I would work late, too. I remember when we moved here, he came home from work the first day at 7pm and we just stared at each other. We had so much time! We didn't know what to do. Now we eat dinner as a family every single night. We talk to the kids, tell them a story if they're too wiggly. That's what I did growing up, and it's a nice way to check in at the end of the day.

On getting kids to eat veggies: My husband gives the boys their vegetables first, and then we bring out the rest of the food. And it seems to work! They actually like vegetables. So we have to eat our vegetables first, too.

Table: Ad Hoc, NYC (store now closed). White chairs: Ikea. Wooden chairs: City Foundry. Console table: Ikea. Pendant lamp: Vintage. Mirror: Vintage from Chelsea flea market. Corner lamp: Ikea.

On developing a personal aesthetic: I love primary colors, and my husband and I love books. Between all the books and objects, it’s nice to have a neutral white backdrop. I want my home to feel playful, not too serious. My mom was also into strong colors. Every room in our house growing up was an intense color, like royal blue. As children, we would paint our own rooms, and she’d let us choose the colors. My dad's style was very Scandinavian—white walls and Swedish furniture. I think I'm a mix of my parents’ aesthetics.

Cabinets: Ikea. Countertops: Ikea. Orange tray: West Elm.
On the transition from Brooklyn to the suburbs: It was so hard! We'd lived in the city for 10 years, and we were planning to stay there for...forever. But my husband wound up getting a job out here. I was almost nine months pregnant when we moved. So all of the sudden I was out here, in a house, in the suburbs, driving a car (we hadn't owned a car before), not working (I had my own design business back in the city). So it took a while to adjust. If I had gone through just one change it would have been easier, but everything changed.

There's vibrant creative energy in the city, which I miss. You get the feeling that anything can happen. But it's nice to be in a neighborhood where you can get to know your neighbors. They let us use their tools, they bring us food, they're super friendly. It's not that people weren't friendly in New York, but you get into your schedule where you don't ever meet your neighbors. And it's nice to finally put down roots.

An unexpected slice of suburbia: Last summer, the cicadas hit this neighborhood! They were swarming everywhere! It was surreal. They're the most harmless bugs, but they're big and scary. My older son was enamored with them. He'd put them on his chest and ride his scooter around with them on his shirt.

Desk: DIY. Chair: Vintage Eames Management Chair. White stool: Ikea.
On choosing meaningful art: I like art that has a story behind it or some kind of family legacy. For example, I framed chocolate bar wrappers from my friends’ business, Chocolate Editions. I’ve been framing them as I’ve gotten them.

Bed: Case Study by Modernica. Bedding: Ikea and Hudson's Bay. Night table: Vintage from Chelsea flea market. Dresser: Horseman Antiques in Brooklyn. Console table: Ikea (similar here). White table lamp: Ikea. Red bins: Land of Nod.
On streamlining toys: As far as toys, they really would play with anything. Their grandparents give them talking toys with batteries. We let them play with them for a week or so...and then they disappear.

I went to this parenting class someone suggested and the teacher talked about how the more chaos there is around kids, the more chaos they create. It's harder for them to focus on things if there’s too much going on around them. They still have a ton of toys, but if you can edit them down, kids will play with anything. They'll play with a paper towel tube. A cardboard box is the best toy. If we get a delivery, the box is the favorite toy for like a week. They don't need that much.


On the joy of bunk beds: We went to Mexico last fall. My parents rented a condo and the kids had their own little room with a bunk bed. They thought it was the coolest thing in the world—they played on it for hours—and they slept well and were able to navigate the ladder. When we got back, we were like, okay, let's get them a bunk bed. It's their favorite thing to play with next to their toys. It becomes an ambulance, a garbage truck, a fire truck, and sometimes we put blankets over it to make a big fort.

On favorite children’s books: I love old books. They're simpler, maybe. The boys love Gail Gibbons—she did a bunch of beautifully illustrated books about trucks and cars; one’s about a fill-up station. Another favorite is Dick Bruna—all the Miffy bunny books. I like the illustrations; plus they rhyme and the kids learn a lot of vocabulary.
On the boys' treasures: They’re both really into garbage trucks. At Christmas, they both got toy garbage trucks, along with a book called I Stink. They have the whole thing memorized! There are often little pieces of torn-up paper “garbage” all over our house—the boys collect it, and move it, and store it, and transport it. Once a week on garbage day, they glue themselves to the window and watch the truck go by.

Bunk beds: Ikea. Rug: Ikea. Train Table: Ikea. Bins: TubTrugs. Trains: Brio (new and vintage, from eBay). Large trucks (garbage trucks, yellow crane, excavator, dump truck, logging truck): Bruder. Plush globe: Amazon. Wooden robot: Areaware. Balloon animal bookend: Land of Nod.

Artwork: Red bear print, marine animals poster, brown bird print: Banquet Workshop. Alphabet poster: Reference Library. Kids & Book illustration: Jason Polan for Book/Shop.


Thank you so much, Abby!

P.S. More house tours, including a Brooklyn brownstone and a New York City apartment.

(Photos courtesy of Abby Low; family portraits by Alpha Smoot for Cup of Jo. Interview by Caroline Donofrio)

76 comments:

Mallory Schulte said...

My fiance and I are also lovers, collectors, hoarders of beautiful books. I love your book cases! Where did you get them? We currently have stacks on the floor I would love to shelve!

J said...

Beautiful home! Question - where is the lovely glider in the kids' bedroom from? I am seeking a similar piece and having trouble finding one.

Christina said...

Ditto what Mallory said, i'd love to know where all the white shelving came from!

Eugy said...

Wow I love that they use a simple, affordable lack coffee table as their boys train table! I totally want to do this!

Renae said...

Sorry - have to add - the adult's bedroom bedding is not just ikea - the cream blanket with the primary coloured stripes is pretty distinctively a Hudson's Bay blanket - they are super heavy and warm.
http://www.thebay.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/en/thebay/hbc-/blankets/multistripe-point-blanket-0012-1019553--24

Renae said...

I bet I will not be the only Canadian to point that out ;-)

Joanna Goddard said...

Mallory and Christina, the white bookcases are Algot shelves from Ikea.

The glider in the kids' bedroom is a vintage Hans Wegner style rope rocking chair. You can find similar versions on eBay and Etsy.

Mommy, Papa and the 'Nuts said...

I'd love to know what the glider is too, along with the funny couple art work. So cute.

Librarian Lavender said...

What a beautiful home! And it's so light and cheerful! I also loved the photo!

Julia Fain said...

I love this! Thanks for sharing! The dining area is so bright and white but still has personality. And love the blue rug!

Ashley and Katie said...

I just viewed this post with my 3-year-old son, he was very impressed by the trucks :-)

ABBY LOW said...

Renae: My husband is Canadian! The Hudson Bay blanket was a gift from my in-laws (Calgarians!). I've been really loving the HBC collaboration with Baggu -- only available in Canada, of course!

Renae said...

Hi Abby! We got our two blankets as wedding gifts also. It is one of those things that will last forever...You have a gorgeous family and home!

Lily L-M said...

Love this look! -- she and her aesthetic both remind me you, Joanna!

x Lily
http://whilemyboyfriendsaway.blogspot.com/

Laura Rawlings said...

I think this is the best house tour I've ever seen - I literally love everything in this house! Great use of colour, lovely bold prints, and I just love how it's packed full of personality! I'll be bookmarking this for sure :)

Shoko said...

what an amazing home! i love all of the little details! so thoughtfully and stylishly done.

Brittany said...

This is just lovely! Her description of feeling 26 made me laugh.

mer said...

magic Abby!

Erin Castner said...

Regarding the giant Kinko's print, this is true, but you would be better off locating a local reprographics firm (someone that makes "blueprints") in your hometown to help you with an enlargement like that. Likely they will do a better job at a better price, you will be stimulating the local economy and helping out a small business. Cheers!

Mara Kofoed said...

Oh, Abby, how I LOVE this home (and every home you've lived in.) You have such a talent at curating the most beautiful furniture and colors. Your items just take me back to some of the best Brooklyn days of my life. XO

amy said...

I was so excited to see this. I loved Abbey's blog and I adored her last house tour (Brooklyn Apt). Where are the two pictures by the boys dresser from ( they look like two sheep). Thanks so much for this tour!

Megan said...

Hi! This house is amazing! Where are the floor lamps from? I LOVE THEM and have been looking everywhere for a good one. Do tell!

ABBY LOW said...

Amy: The prints next to the boys' dresser are from Umamimart in Oakland, Ca. They have a website!

Megan: The lamps are all from Ikea! Can you tell we're big Ikea, fans?!

Thanks for all the nice words on our home!

emmlewis said...

I love this house tour. I am always curious as to how people lay out/decorate their house with children.

LindseyWatts said...

What a great home tour! I love the bunny print, any chance I can get the info on that?

Margaret said...

what a lovely beautiful home! would love to know where the perfectly simple silver frames are from...the ones on the vintage dresser below a small white lamp. thanks!!

Nina said...

Beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I lve primary colors on white too! As a child I always wanted to grow up and have a house where every room was a different color/feel as my mother's german minimalism was sometimes too stark for me! Love all the books too.

Hannah said...

I'm so inspired that so much is from Ikea and affordable, yet everything is pulled together to give a personal and unique look.

ABBY LOW said...

Lindsey: The bunny print is a silkscreen and was designed by Paulina Reyes for Kate Spade (Paulina and I both used to work there!). It was for the Kate Spade Baby line from around 2005-2006.

Margaret: The large silver frame is secondhand, the medium frame is kate spade, and the small hinged-frame is from Tiffany & Co.

Thanks, ladies!

Sally said...

You have STUNNING style!

Where did you find the rug in your bedroom? Love it! Thanks for sharing!

Elizabeth Stapleton said...

Your DIY desk is beautiful! I've been trying to find a good "recipe" for a desk like this; any tips?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Those colored Andy Warhol-esque soup cans are amazing. Did you make them or buy them? I'd love to know more.

Brooke Reynolds said...

I feel like Will Ferrell in Elf when Santa is coming.. "I know her! I know her!" So happy to see Abby on here. Love everything about this place, and the people in it.. it's even better in real life!

spark said...

This is absolutely gorgeous home. It looks so happy and vibrant and PERSONAL!! Love the tiles and cool tap in the kitchen. Bravo Abby!

Roberts Tracy said...

The apartment sounds o be so well designed and organized similar to what one can find at a luxurious city hotels of NY, well I've been recently staying around in one of the Manhattan extended stay hotel and I found the interiors of these apartments quite similar to those in these hotel.

Lynn DontBlameTheKids said...

I love a house where books are everywhere!

http://dontblamethekids.com

ABBY LOW said...

Sally: The rug in our master bedroom is the Morum rug from Ikea. It's great since it can be used indoors and outdoors which is code for: it's kid friendly!

Elizabeth: The desk is a copy of one I had at a my first job working at Design MW. It's made from Speed-rail aluminum systems piping and fittings. I bought them at Metropolitan Lumber & Hardware in Soho (NYC)! There they can cut the aluminum piping and plywood to size. The top is a piece of birch plywood that I sanded and coated with a few passes of polyurethane.

ABBY LOW said...

Unknown 12:13am:

The Campbell's Soup cans were part of the 50th Anniversary series that Barneys and Target sold. You can find them now on eBay by searching:
"andy warhol 50th anniversary campbell soup can"

Intarya said...

This home is beautiful because it's clearly very loved, and very well lived in. The use of books to add colour is wonderful, and the blown up iPhone picture is a great touch!

Intarya | Home:Life:Luxe

bisbee said...

I see someone else asked about the Campbell's Soup Cans, but I didn't see a response. Please - where are they from?

Julie Taylor said...

Amazing amazing amazing!!! Love all the color on the white background. Feels like even if the rooms were in absolute disarray, they'd still be lovely since they are full of such lovely objects!

bisbee said...

Never mind about the soup cans - I looked them up - they were issued by Campbell's for the 50th anniversary of Andy Warhol's can and were sold at Target. I found a set on ebay.

collette said...

Loved the parenting quotes in between the decor, so true! We have that bookshelf, only we have cloth baskets in it and I would recommend that for anyone looking to hide toys in a classy way. About $50 at Target and more for baskets.

lessthanperfectmama.com said...

Oh, i loved this tour. The home is so bright and cheery and spare. No junk lying around! And what an easy, breezy philosophy to live by . I'll try to adopt that mindset, but I can't promise anything!

sumslay said...

Love love love this tour! Everything's beautiful, and Abby just seems like a cool person (and how I'd like to be if I were a parent). Thanks for sharing!

Kadija Tyler said...

One of my favorite home tours thus far! So up my alley :)

Alexa said...

Her style is amazing - crisp but still warm and colorful.

Love these house tours!

Francesca D said...

Love the hang loose hand sculpture...where did you find it?

Sylvia said...

I love these house tours but would like to see one that is actually different from the rest. They all look the same to me with the white walls and wood floors and pops of color and vintage mixed with modern. swiss miss meets anthropologie ... the ubiquitous fiddle fig and the peonies, the blown-up photographs ... PLEASE JOANNA, I never comment and love love love your blog ...

Jennifer S. said...

I love how light and clean this home is, and I'm absolutely in love with how much shelving and how many books there are throughout the home! What a beautiful, comfortable, and inspiring home.

-Jen
yourstrulyjen.com

Izzy said...

Agree with what Sylvia said. I love this home (and your blog!), but the style does feel very similar to your new apartment and a lot of others floating around the blogosphere. Would love to see other house tours in different styles.

megan said...

So in love with this house! I'll be right over. :)

WORDS OF WISMOM said...

Love this house tour!
Could you share with us where the scrabble personalized print is from? Thanks :)

Glessie Sue said...

What a beautiful home! And I love how intentional Abby and her husband are about their children, home, everything! Definitely storing these ideas for the future. I'm not a mom yet, but some days these ideas will come in handy. Thanks for sharing!

Umami Bear said...

Thanks so much for sharing! There's a whole bunch of stuff in this house that is giving me ideas for when we move into a new house in a few months. Thank you, thank you.

Annie Ganem said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Annie Ganem said...

Such a beautiful home! Where are the stools from that are under the white console table in the living room?

Katherine London Notebook said...

Oh my goodness, what a beautiful home. I love that stripy blanket.

ABBY LOW said...

Francesca: The hand is an artist's model that you can find at any art supply store. You can bend the hand/fingers how ever you like!

WORDS OF WISMOM: The Scrabble-style print I made using those craft-paper stencils you can buy at Home Depot. They are glued to a piece of white poster board. Have fun!

Annie: The stools under the white console table are from Ikea. However, I'm not sure if they are still available. It is a stackable set of 3.

Sally said...

Abby, you've been so kind about answering so many questions!

another one :)

How does the rope rug in your living room hold up to small kids, dirt, etc.?

Thanks!

A and J said...

Where are the kids' chairs from? Love them.

Lomagirl said...

Thanks for answering all the questions. Mine is- where are the colorful storage baskets from?

ABBY LOW said...

Sally: The rope rug is so soft. I wasn't expecting it to be so nice underfoot. We take our shoes off when inside our home so that helps with keeping it clean. However, we've had a few spills on it and I've been able to just spot clean and it has cleaned up well.

ABBY LOW said...

A and J: The kids chairs are from the Reference Library pop-up shop that was part of Kiosk (in NYC). They are vintage!

ABBY LOW said...

Lomagirl: I think the link is in the post, but the large buckets are from Tubtrugs.

Tee said...

I LOVE this place! PLEASE tell me what color paint you used for the walls!!! I cannot figure out the right color of white, and i'd be so grateful if you told me what you used. Thank you so much!

ABBY LOW said...

Tee: The walls are BM Vanilla Milkshake and the trim and ceilings are Chantilly Lace. My friends, The Riches, have used this combination in all of their homes and swear by it!

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Summer said...

I looked through the comments and didn't see an answer to this, but where is the bookshelf from? the one with all the books and red lamp and yellow balloon dog on top?

Mommy, Papa and the 'Nuts said...

Wondering about the print next to the shelving unit in the boy's room, near the door. The man and woman?

ABBY LOW said...

Summer: The white cube style bookshelf you can buy at Lowe's. It is called the"ClosetMaid 9 White Laminate Storage Cubes"

Mommy, Papa and the 'Nuts: The artwork is an original by Jason Polan for one of the in-store exhibits at Book/Shop (in Oakland, CA).

Andrew Jocelyn said...

Can you please give me the sources for the cabinets knobs and for the tiles in the kitchen. thank you

Kate Sheleg said...

What a treat to see a Summit home featured! I also had a challenge transitioning from Manhattan to the 'burbs, but Summit is a lovely, leafy town with plenty of distinct architecture. We call a charming carriage house home.

http://bread-n-chocolate.blogspot.com/2014/04/home-sweet-home.html

Meaghan Morrish said...

I love your style! Where is the bed frame from? The one with the metal legs and the hbc blanket on the bed? I love it!

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