Decorate Your Grownup Home with Your Favorites from Childhood

Design Lists Childhood

When you’re an adult, decorating your home/apartment/other domicile can be depressing. Big-box retailers package “fun” and “individualistic” items, as though you haven’t a creative bone in your body. Otherwise, we all have to become unskilled carpenters on the fly with “DIY” furniture sets. Frustrating!

Instead of dealing with assembling an unpronounceable Swedish whoseywhatsit, tap into the imagination you had in your youth. Remember when LEGOs could be skyscrapers, and construction paper could become flowers? They can again, without leaving your maturity at the door. Here are some interior decorating ideas inspired by our childhood:

1. Meccano© Home


Holy colorful steel, Batman! The European company known as Erector in the United States has evolved beyond mechanized models for kids into a home furnishings brand. The industrialized style of the pieces would fit into any modern dwelling, and the build-it-yourself component makes the end results all the more rewarding. (Thanks to Treehugger and designboom for the info!)

2. KidKraft


Sure, the name says “Kid,” but items like the 2-in-1 Activity Table ($140) make for great conversation pieces. This item works for storage and quelling boredom— it’s LEGO compatible. It would be a hit at hipster parties or for entertaining guests with youngsters.

3. Slinky® Streamers


Versatile, hypnotic and multicolored, these classic toys can turn a drab interior into a futuristic wonderland. We agree with Party Favorites: We love what Jersey Street Furniture did with the springy décor! Another idea: Put the two ends of a Slinky in chic planters of different heights for an out-of-this-world look.

4. Mount Your Chinese Jump Ropes


Head to your local hardware or crafting store, get a pegboard and posts, and then wrap one or more of those stretchy neon ropes around them to create unique patterns. You can also dig up another childhood favorite, Lite-Brite, to make luminous patterns.

5. Tinker with TINKERTOY


Woodsy and tactile, these old-school building widgets can be turned into anything. Modern art appreciators will get a kick out of making geometric items— and then explaining to feebler-minded friends the cosmic influence on the piece. It’s like Neil deGrasse Tyson and HGTV getting together to furnish your place!

6. Get Inspired by Spirograph

Image by Brian Jeffery Beggerly via Flickr

It’s the art kit that had endless twists and turns— and it was nearly foolproof, with even accidental designs turning out fantastic. Adorn your walls, stairwells, bathroom mirrors, etc., with your circular phenomena. (Thanks to Martha Stewart Living for the idea!)

7. Make Your Home Pop with Kids Books and Kirigami


If you’ve got old, good-condition pop-up books lying around, you can carefully remove your favorite shapes and mount them on your walls. Or just leave the books open on top of a shelf and relieve your favorite fairytales. Go ahead— pretend that majestic castle is your future home. You can also craft your own pieces using the Japanese technique of kirigami, as demonstrated here by designer Jeffrey Rutzky.

8. Put Your Pogs to Good Use


Still packing pogs, those cardboard or plastic discs meant for collecting and “slamming”? Like LEGO, they’re easily repurposed. Cover a table like Steve Gilligan at IKEA Hackers did, make some mighty coasters or fill in some blank wall space with these pop-culture classics. Extra points if your collection includes Alf or other wacky characters.

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