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This Charming Life
US designer Lauren Bradshaw is fast making a name for herself as the creator of Walnut Animal Society – classic, handcrafted stuffed toys with personalities as vivid as their appearances. Whether it’s fossicking for vintage treasures or finding feathers with son Henry, Bradshaw reveals an eye for laidback elegance that’s hard to beat. We bet even her tunnels have a certain je ne sais quoi. Here’s a snapshot of her charmed life.
Our favourite family pastime is going on evening walks together. We are lucky to live in a beautiful area, with a big lake – home to lots of swans, geese, and ducks.
We look forward to a someday vacation to Muir Beach, north of San Francisco. There’s one particular inn where we want to stay, that we visited once just for dinner. It was the cosiest most beautiful area and we dream of going back.
My son likes it when I make tunnels. Any kind of tunnel. Out of pillows, blankets, blocks, Legos.
Family down time happens when we’re all done with dinner and Henry has a bath, then runs to our room yelling “tickle on the bed.” We end up there for about thirty minutes at least, laughing and winding down from the day.
My quick dinner fix is Pasta alla Vodka. It’s technically my husband’s quick dinner fix, since he’s the cook. We love it, and it’s perfect for when we have friends over.
On the weekends you’ll most likely find us going out to breakfast, and hunting for treasures at estate sales or antiques fairs.
Ideas flow when I have moments to myself away from the sewing machine or computer. If I can find time to have a coffee alone, something good usually comes from it.
My style is classic, while incorporating interesting trends. In my home I like to mix antiques with mid-century pieces.
My all-time favourite book is Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.
Everyday I try to spend quality time with Henry – talking, asking him questions, making eye contact. It’s so easy to be distracted since I work from home, so I make it a priority to concentrate on playing with him very intentionally.
I love what I do because I get to make stuffed animals! They make adults smile just as much as they make kids smile. And our characters wear clothes – so I get to be a tiny bit of a clothing designer as well.
Walnut Animal Society’s very first character was Henry the Fox. We think of him as the inventor and creator, the patriarch of the Society.
People know us for our nostalgic handmade stuffed animals. Fashionably dressed, of course.
I find inspiration at the library reading children’s books, especially vintage ones. The illustrations can be mesmerizing, the way figures are simplified, or the way their clothes are styled.
My son likes to hang out at home, in his room playing with trains. We’ll give him lots of ideas, but in the end he often says “stay home and play trains.” I always loved staying home too when I was little.
I collect feathers on walks with Henry. We keep them in a mason jar in our dining room. It’s fun to bring new ones home and add it to the pile.
My prized knick-knack is a tiny glass dog figurine with an upturned leg, accompanied by a fire hydrant. My dad gave it as a gift to my grandmother when he was a boy. Super sweet of my dad, and also hilarious – and those are his two best qualities.
I’d love to redecorate with a set of Philippe Starck’s Ghost Chairs. The shape fits in nicely with our antiques but the Lucite would modernize everything. One day I will find a way!