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Raising Kids in the Big Apple
photographed by Hallie Burton
text by jenny lacey
New York is the place Hanne Larsen and her family now call home. They moved from their native Australia three years ago, in search of a new life and the perfect family-sized apartment. A one-storey, loft-style space in downtown Manhattan soon presented itself and a nine-month renovation followed.
Hanne worked together with interior designer, Ghislaine Viñas, who helped plan a range of child-friendly, fun, but functional features for the space, including a mezzanine playhouse accessed by ladders, grass-motif floor tiles for the children’s bathroom and pod-like bunk beds for the boy’s bedroom.
The result was well worth the wait and the apartment now functions as their ideal family home. The clean and colourful interiors boast a combination of open spaces, along with some closed-off areas which come in handy for sleeping children. The perfect haven for India (eight), Atticus (six) Arlo (four) and Banjo (18 months).
This busy family is rarely indoors and loves life in New York. According to Hanne, New York living offers the best of both worlds. “We love the fact that there’s always something fantastic going on for adults and kids. Our local neighbourhood (Tribeca) is like a little village where we know everyone we pass on the street, all the shopkeepers … but you can walk 10 minutes uptown and be anonymous.”
At home, you’re likely to find the children in the main open-plan living area, enjoying simple stay-at-home activities. “The kids love cooking, drawing, dress ups, dancing on the table and cuddling up on the couchfor movies with popcorn and smores!”
Take this family’s guided tour of NYC
Favourite playground in the city.
“Local park, Washington Market Park is great because you can go along any time and the kids will always find some friends there. That’s a benefit of everyone living in apartments and needing to get out and run!”
Do you have a favourite toy store in NYC?
“When friends are in town we always take them to Toys ‘R’ Us in Times Square and FAO Schwartz near Central Park (amazing near life size stuffed toys of all kinds of animals … thousands of dollars, but amazing to see, and also the “dance on” piano from the movie“Big”).
FAO Schwarz, 767 Fifth Avenue, (Fifth Ave at 58th St), 212 644 9400, FAO Schwarz
A child-friendly restaurant in NY that you frequent.
“City Bakery on 18th Street is a big bakery with a great buffet of wonderful, healthy food. It’s big, noisy and great for lunch. The kids do an African drumming and African dance class up the road, so it’s often been a stop on a Saturday.”
The City Bakery, 3 West 18th St, 212 366 1414, The City Bakery
Where do you buy your kid’s clothing from mostly?
“We often go to a local store called Babesta which has cool clothes and toys.”
Babesta, 66 West Broadway, 212 608 4522, Babesta
Describe your ideal NYC weekend outing with the kids.
“There are various groups that organise kids’ rock concerts and kids’ dance parties in clubs and bars. Such a cool concept. The kids love it and it’s a great event for adults as well.”