Moms We Love: Joni Lay


Clearly you have a background in design. Where does your sense of aesthetic come from?
I studied industrial design in college, and was a product designer for five years post college before starting my own little graphic design company.  I just have a passion for making spaces beautiful. I believe your home should be a happy, calm, and peaceful place! This is what fuels Lay Baby Lay.

Your nursery mood boards are all so lovely, but do you have a favorite?

Oh, this is tough!  Part of what I love about getting to make style boards is I can always come up with a new favorite, and try out different looks and styles.  I’m sure this keeps my husband happy, as I can do some of my designing “virtually” rather than taking it all out on the house.  I do love the Rocket Girl board, though.  I’m really sort of a geek at heart, and I love that it feels feminine without being overly girly.  I love all the artwork, and the palette is soothing yet colorful.

What blogs do you frequent?

I was involved in the wedding industry, and I am still inspired by 100 Layer Cake, and I also frequent Design Love Fest, Oh, Joy, and I love Hank & Hunt.

What inspires you? Who are your style icons?

I find most of my inspiration from shopping or reading books, and sometimes movies.  I love going to antique markets or vintage shops.  I will say I try not to look too often at blogs that have similar content to mine, just because I want to keep it fresh and I know from experience it’s challenging to stay unique if you are always looking at those who are in the same arena as yourself.   I find it much easier to stay inspired and motivated if I focus on finding inspiration from other places (especially the real world – there is so much sameness on the internet!).  As for style icons, I adore Kelly Wearstler and Dorothy Draper when it comes to design.  I love their bold, graphic style, and confident use of color.

Name a few items on your wish list.

Hmm, well I would love a Madeline Weinrib rug (or two!), this pendant light which no longer seems to be available – I posted it on a board awhile back, and I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get one, a Nurseryworks Empire rocker (they are awesome!), this peanut pendant, and the perfect mid-century modern dresser/sideboard.

Could you give us a few budget design tips?

Shop vintage!  You will find something more affordable that you will love longer, and it will also have more of a story.  It may take more time, but it will be so worth it in the end.  Find out if there are regular antique shows/flea markets in your area and check craigslist or ebay regularly.  Sometimes the most hole-in-the-wall places can have the best gems.  Nearly all the furniture in our house (except for large upholstered pieces) are vintage/antiques or handmade.  If you have never tried it, you absolutely should.

Another tip that I have mentioned frequently on Lay Baby Lay is to reconsider baby bedding.  It can really get expensive to purchase a skirt (sometimes two skirts of different lengths to accommodate for changing the mattress height), a bumper, and crib sheets, especially if you go custom.  When I was first working on Vivi’s nursery, I thought it was just something you had to do, because it was what I saw everywhere, and what my friends were focusing on.  Really, though, you can save a lot of money to put elsewhere in the nursery if you just get a pretty crib sheet and let the lines of the crib shine.  It’s easy to think you have to start with a bedding collection – but I’d recommend finding inspiration elsewhere, and then find simple bedding that coordinates.

If you’re interested, here is a post with some of my nursery planning tips.

What are your favorite wardrobe staples for Vivi?

I’m not super into getting her all dressed up.  She’s a toddler, after all, and our activities range from playing around the house to going to the park, to dipping in the baby pool in the yard, so she is frequently getting dirty.  I will also say that she is currently trying really hard to learn to dress herself, so she’s often just in her diaper at home with various items of her clothing draped wherever she can get them to stay.  All that being said, though, it seems that shorts or skirts and tops work best for us.  Then I can just switch out one piece, rather than a whole outfit, if it gets dirty.  She has several pairs of these shorts from Old Navy.  They are kind of retro, and are adorable on her – I wish I had some for myself!  She also has a big collection of little tanks and graphic tees, and she would probably say her rainboots are her favorite shoe staple.  Of course, I also can’t forget a large grosgrain bow to place atop her curls!  She has a crazy amount of hair.

If you could dress Vivi head to toe in one line, it would be…

J.Crew Crewcuts.  It’s just too adorable for words, and also too expensive for my wallet, but I love it.  I have to stay away from the J.Crew shops that have it in store, or I’m in trouble!

What are some of your must-have baby products?

I have to say that I am all about getting good sleep, and our house is small-ish and very old (which I love!), so it creaks a lot, and you can hear noise plainly from one end of the house to the other.  We have a sound machine in Vivi’s room, and blackout curtains, both of which have been invaluable to help her get a good night’s sleep.  I can’t recommend both of those things enough!  We also have a space saver high chair (like this one) which I have loved.  A friend recommended it, and it has been great, because it fastens to one of our dining chairs, and takes up so much less space than a regular high chair.  I also removed the cover, and it looks nice and clean and not overly baby.  It’s a great alternative, and is quite affordable, too!

Also, this is a super practical item, but this steamer was very handy.  It saved us a lot of time and frustration when feedings were very frequent, and it’s extra awesome because you can sterilize breast pump parts, pacifiers, and also sippy cups!  There are so many things, though!  These are just a few of my unexpected favorites.

What is your favorite children’s book?

Hmm . . . this is tough!  I try to keep building Vivi’s library, and it’s so fun to discover new books together.  I don’t know that this one is my favorite, but it is currently her absolute most beloved book in her collection.  It’s called It’s Bedtime. My parents bought it for her after she really liked my old copy at their house, and she has read it and loved it so that I have had to tape four of the pages back together and re-attach the back cover.  I might have to hunt down another copy!  I think part of the reason she loves it is because it has real pages (like a Mama or Daddy book!) and it is the perfect size for her little hands.  Most of her books with real pages are a little too big for her to comfortably handle.  She has memorized the book, and we read it about three times (she’d love to read it more) each night before bed!

If you could send Vivi a message to read ten years from now, what would you say?

I would say, “things are about to get tough, but don’t let the opinions and words of others influence your happiness and joy.  Be confident in who you are, and take your time figuring that out if you need to.  Don’t rush into growing up – it will happen on its own time.”  Middle school was so hard – I was thinking the other day how grateful I am that I don’t have to go through it again, and then I realized that I’ll be re-living it through my daughter! I hope and pray she can navigate those challenging years well.  They can be really fun, but confusing and agonizing at the same time!

Thanks, Joni! 

Check out daughter Vivi’s nursery (feautring our Jenny Lind crib!)
right here : )