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INSIDE & OUT : Furniture That Grows


Making the transition from toddler to teen is seldom easy, but having furniture that grows with your child might help smooth the way.

Gabriel's Units is a modular system of quality bedroom furniture designed by Laguna Niguel architect Chinyelu Kunz.

"I wanted something versatile, that could change as the child gets older," said Kunz, who designed her first piece, a tall storage unit, in 1991, after the birth of her son Gabriel, for whom the collection is named. "I wanted a unit on which I could add or change the doors and drawers."

Kunz, a graduate of Cal Poly Pomona who was born and raised in Nigeria, designed the storage unit to accommodate books, toys, clothes--nearly anything. The doors and drawers are available in several child-safe colors and stains. "The combination of doors and drawers can be changed to suit the customer," Kunz said.

Kunz's collection also includes a toy chest ($840) that later can be used as a base for a desk, a dresser/changer ($998), a night table ($330), lampshades ($98) and her signature toddler-to-teen bed ($1,040 for twin).

The toddler-to-teen bed incorporates railings and a canopy into the design. For young children, a mattress rests inside the frame; later a box spring can be added to elevate the bed above the rails. A canvas curtain and canopy around the bed give a child a sense of security. Inside the canopy, a hand-painted star and hot-air-balloon design is visible in dim light. As the child matures, the curtains and canopy can be removed for a new look.

The dresser/changer is deep enough to accommodate a diaper changing pad and includes areas to hold diapers, a change of clothes and other baby needs. "Then as the child gets older, those same spots can hold socks, underwear, at the child's level," Kunz said. The dresser/changer also has a bar on which the child can hang clothes.

All the pieces are maple and are manufactured by a Costa Mesa woodworking shop.

Gabriel's Units can be ordered through the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach, or by calling Kunz at (714) 347-1266. The lampshades are available at Bellini in Costa Mesa.

Puppy Love

Wall coverings and borders take on a decidedly animal feel in the First Home collection by Motif.

Among the patterns is Puppy Love, a celebration of dogs in black and white or navy, taupe and hunter green with a cream background.

"The coverings are sophisticated with some whimsy," said Jackie Burton, a spokesperson for the company in New Rochelle, N.Y. "They're easy to use and the price is affordable."

Other designs are Catch of the Day, which features fish, and Fowl Play, which highlights chickens, ideal for a country kitchen.

The borders, packaged in five-yard rolls, are about $18. The wall coverings--vinyl-coated, washable, pre-pasted and trimmed--are about $20 per roll.

For the nearest Orange County store, call (800) 431-2424.

Screen Play

Grand entrances aren't just for people or foyers.

Screen doors by Knock on Wood of Willows, Calif., can welcome family and friends with charm and personality and provide an appealing way to keep the bugs out and let the breeze in.

Co-owners Karen Duncan and her husband, Barry, a cabinetmaker who grew up in Placentia, happened into the screen door business when Barry surprised his wife with one after the birth of their first child in 1982.

Each door (from $260 to $600) is made of Douglas fir, milled to a thickness of 1 1/4 inches, and mortise and tendon door joints are used for maximum strength and durability. Heavy-duty aluminum screen wire cuts glare, making it easy to see out but not easy to see in.

Fifteen styles are available, from a basic, no-frills model to an ornate version reminiscent of the Victorian era.

"The screens fit any decor, and if we don't have the style you want, one can be custom-made," Karen Duncan said.

Knock on Wood will paint or stain the doors for an additional fee.

For more information or to order, call (916) 934-3340.

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