a family oasis
Enter most homes where a fourteen month-old baby resides, and the theme that pervades the household is ”˜pandemonium.’
However, this is not the case when one enters the living space of certified Kundalini and Prenatal Yoga teacher, Anna Getty, her husband, writer Gregory Pruss, and their daughter, India.
Instead, a pervasive sense of serenity and peace fills the living space. This is largely due to an emphasis on maintaining an open floor plan that allows for freedom of movement for the adults, and freedom of exploration for the baby. All of this is accomplished while still maintaining the historical integrity of this 1920s Spanish mission style space, and a strong expression of the family’s personal style.
During her pregnancy, Anna devised a strong vision of the kind of kid-friendly environment she wanted to create for her new daughter. Her primary intention was to create a space where her child would be free to explore. “It has been so much fun going through the house with my baby and discovering through her eyes things that I have seen day after day. I get to learn and observe things from her angle and see the world in a new way.”
This sense of openness and expression is the philosophy that motivated the child-friendly design of the house. Although it is not a big home by California standards, Anna wanted to ensure that its openness was maintained while creating an environment that was safe and available for her daughter. The living room is elegantly spare, containing only essential items of furniture – all of which are covered in soft durable fabrics, with few if any hard edges in the room. There was a conscious decision to cover the sofa in what Anna describes as a “puke friendly” color and fabric.
Zones are established that contain India’s toy storage, play area, and her own chair, leaving room for the entire family to share the rest of the space. Maintaining a system of organization in the public spaces of her home is one of the keys to preserving the sense of serenity and openness that is so important to Anna and her family.
The home’s color palette comprises soft simple shades of gold and fawn that lower the level of stimulation in the rooms, while still allowing light to reflect throughout the space. Anna and Gregory have also incorporated a sound system throughout each room in the house, allowing them to change the ambience and mood or of individual parts of their home according to their mood or the occasion. Spending time in this home is a sensory experience of soothing music, serene colors and soft, inviting textures that immediately slows down the pace of life – like a cocoon from the outside world.
Many of the design decisions in the house were made with a conscious intention of creating a space in which, as a parent, there is not a continuous need to impose the word ”˜no.’ Rather than having to constantly monitor the baby, Anna and Gregory have removed unsafe, and potentially damageable valuable items, creating a friendliness that meets the family’s needs and keeps everyone and everything safe. Boundaries are clear and safety is in place so that the constant pressure to correct is removed from the parent child relationship. “I know that whatever room the baby is in, I have a few minutes before I have to worry.”
Even the process of installing the baby gate at the head of the stairs was a choice made with the purpose of integrating the gate into the life of a small child. At about three weeks, the family introduced the baby gate, rather than waiting until India was more mobile. By placing the gate up early, there is an acceptance of the gate as part of baby’s environment without it suddenly appearing as an enigmatic thing that is a new barrier to her ability to explore.
The master bedroom was freed of clutter with the arrival of the baby, and for the first year contained India’s crib, so that she could be in the presence of her parents during the night. Integrated into the master bedroom is a small meditation room, which both Gregory and Anna use on a daily basis, often accompanied by their daughter. Even this room had to be made baby friendly, with the removal of small items and candles, as well as the creative solution of placing sacred pieces onto trivets to keep them from sliding.
The nursery is a wonderful retreat for a baby girl with a palette of muted pinks and pale greens. As parents, Anna and Gregory chose to limit the number of toys in the room, but those that they have chosen are handcrafted, unique items. “All of our friends and family know that these are the type of toys that we want our baby to have.” Anna also points out what she says is the “most essential thing for any new mother to have” – a rocking chair. Mother and daughter enjoy many an afternoon rocking themselves to sleep after a feeding, providing comfort and nurturing for both of them.
A unique piece of furniture in the nursery is the changing table, which is actually an antique Chinese red lacquer chest that was covered with a padded mat to provide comfort and protection.
The interior holds all of the baby’s essentials, and once India has outgrown the need for the table it will return to its former use as a storage cabinet. The kitchen is the heart of the house, and is the room where the family congregates and interacts the most. This kitchen is imbued with a European sensibility influencing the design and layout. White is the predominant color in the kitchen, but it does not feel sterile or cold. Instead it is filled with colorful cookbooks and myriad items collected from Anna and Gregory’s international travels that provide a sense of family heritage.
The family is committed to eating a robust fresh organic diet. “I love to have people over and cook together with babies around us. It’s really sweet to share the vibe.” Adding a child to any household can be a challenge, but one that has countless rewards for the family. For Anna Getty, it has been “cool to integrate India into our lives while still meeting our needs.
It is about all of us and our lives and participating in the world, rather than letting the baby feel that the entire world revolves around her. You have to be a conscious, aware parent to be prepared and to be present with your child.”