Whenever I’m having brunch in Bumble café in Los Altos, California, I always feel like I have left home for, well, a different house. Bumble is part restaurant, part playroom and an all-around fantastic place to unwind, eat and put your feet while your kids frolic in the indoor playroom, which also comes with an outdoor terrace area. The cottage that houses Bumble has quite a lineage: a hundred years ago, it was the house of town librarian; it was subsequently turned into a children’s bookstore and most recently an antique shop. “It had just one small bathroom without a proper kitchen of any type, therefore turning it into a restaurant which met ADA requirements was quite a challenge,” states Mary Heffernan, owner and founder of Bumble.
I believe the Identical hospitable embrace at Seesaw in San Francisco. The light, airy and distinctly Nordic-inspired place holds courses, storytimes and family-oriented support groups. “Our distance makes it apparent that Seesaw is for kids and grownups alike,” says Sabrina Gabel, child psychologist and co-owner of Seesaw. “What makes it warm and social is its small size, the light wood floors and natural light. You’re forced to rub elbows with different households. Children start playing with other kids they have just met parents start setting up playdates.”
Gabel and Heffernan share their tips on how to make your home’s shared spaces feel just as cozy as theirs without sacrificing functionality and aesthetic appeal.
1. Grownup taste can appeal to kids. “I wanted Bumble’s insides to reflect what we are: a refuge where adults could relax and a place where kids feel welcome,” says Heffernan. Interior designer Christian Brennan helped Heffernan refine her gray, yellow, white, and black colour palette, which reflects — you guessed it — a bumblebee theme.
Scared of incorporating gray to your property? Interior designer Martha O’Hara says gray does not have to imply austere. “When used correctly, cool tones such as gray and silver can be inviting and comfortable,” she explains. Add a modern splash of yellow for a living room that is a fun take on traditional and friendly to young and old alike.
Bumble, situated in a rustic cottage, welcomes families of all ages to relax over dinner or afternoon tea while the kids play in the playroom, much like how families collect and play in your home. “I really like the authentic texture and homey environment of the place,” says Heffernan. “We’ve managed to run a commercial area without sacrificing the coziness of being inside someone’s house.”
2. Go for designs. “Obviously, our décor needs to be easy and playful, but past that we actually stuck with classic, lasting design — especially Danish design,” states Seesaw’s Gabel.
3. Showcase just things that you love. “We have just one shelf for items for sale, and all these items are items which we love or we utilize at home or in Seesaw. We display things which are usually handmade and easy but are very pleasing to the eye for both adults and children,” says Gabel.
4. Pay attention to sources. Pictured here on Seesaw’s community table are PH 5 lamps, which are ubiquitous in Denmark and chosen by Gabel to improve the sense of closeness and community. Gabel states, “Seesaw has very substantial ceilings, and recessed and track lighting from such a height could throw a lot of hard shadows below, making things feel a bit gloomy. The PH 5 lamps move nicely with the community table”
5. Embrace the outdoors. Bumble’s exterior evokes the feeling of being in a lodge. “We’ve got amazing redwoods on the property. We’ve got one growing right out of the patio, so we needed to embrace the natural components in our design,” says Heffernan. Large umbrellas most tables on the patio protect little shoulders and noses out of sunlight.
6. Keep the kids entertained within sight. Among Bumble’s appealing features is the playroom, which is separated from the dining area by a large aquarium. “Our bright and sunny children’s room is open for kids to play and also to participate with our creative staff, all while parents relax and eat in the main dining area,” says Heffernan.
7. Maintain the flow. “Our architect indicated the barn doorway, and I’m so pleased with it since there’s a wonderful exchange between the main area and the classroom. Whenever there’s a course, instructors or therapists may just slide the door closed. We never want the room to feel like an enclosed clinic or office — it is modeled after a cozy apartment, where household members move in and out of various rooms,” says Gabel.
8. Display the area’s character. The original floors of Bumble were patched together and made of soft wood. “We sanded down the floor to the last sand — we will not be able to do it — we stained it a shade of gray to coincide with our gray and yellow motif. I really like that we kept the original floors because though they show their wear and tear, they add a lot of character,” says Heffernan.
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