homemade toys

May 25, 2012  in books, homemade

sania pell homemade toys

I snapped a few pictures of some wooden planes and boats that are sitting on shelves and chests of drawers in my son’s bedroom. They are little objects my father made about twenty years ago, simply put together from scraps of wood and old nails from his toolbox. I painted them in bright colours and personalised them with initials and words with meaning, like ‘Riba’ which means ‘Fish’ in Croatian and was the name of my grandfather’s little boat that we pootled along the coast in.

sania pell homemade wooden boat

I left one of the boats as it was to show the natural texture of the wood and the simplicity of how it was made. My father and son still make driftwood toys together every summer in Croatia, see a previous post here.

sania pell homemade wooden airplane

When my son was born we hunted out this little airplane and hung it in his bedroom, suspended by a splash of a neon ribbon. It was this plane that inspired the ‘Balsa Wood Planes’ project in my new book – The Homemade home for Children – which has full step-by-step instructions if you want to try making your own. The image below is by Emma Lee and is an out-take from the photo shoots for the book. It is my little boy as he is now, enjoying being part of the fun.

from the homemade home for children by Sania Pell

These homemade toys are so simple and cost nothing but a little time, and I treasure them because of that.

They are things that cannot be bought, but made – with love and family.


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  1. What gorgeous toys! They are so beautiful and nostalgic – priceless. I make my two lots of toys, usually from scrap fabric. Like your wooden toys, they cost nothing but a little time and imagination and my kids love them as they know they are one-offs. My son (although barely three) has my old childhood desk in his bedroom which my grandfather made for me when I was a little girl. I like to think that he will, one day, pass it on to his son or daughter :)Lovely post, thanks for sharing.

  2. Such inspitational post! After seeing this I am planning to build some airplanes and ships with out little boy lets say, a family project where dad will be involved with wood, nails and hammer, and me and the little one with paint and brushes 🙂

  3. what a clever Daddy San-they’re absolutely gorgeous and wonderful photos too xx

  4. Creative dad! lovely toys, something like that can”t be bought! xo

  5. tina says:

    And I met Daddy… what a charming and lovely man!
    These are gorgeous Sania and so is Luke x

  6. Tilly says:

    Love this post, it reminded me of my grandfather, who when i was little, made me a dolls house that was beautifully decorated and furnished. It even had working electric lights and a four poster bed, with bedding made by my nan. I remember fondly watching him work in the garage, and though unfortunately the house had to go when I was a teenager, I still treasure the pieces I have held onto, and think about all the hard work and love that went into making them.

    On a side note – loving the rough plaster walls!

  7. Love these Sania, they’re beautiful! Great project for the bank holiday coming up!

  8. Toni says:

    You are so right! Homemade toys are very special and certain to stay with the family for ever!

  9. Melissa says:

    These are interesting, unusual post! We used to make bats out of toilet rolls!

  10. Lottie says:

    I love these – really beautiful. Found you thanks to Remodelista. Hello from your newest follower 🙂
    Lottie :: Oyster and Pearl

  11. Kinga says:

    What a trip down memory lane….my big brother and I used to make boats ou of wood scraps growing up…Amazing!

  12. Oh the one in natural wood is pretty!

    I know that kids love everything with strong colours so my au naturel style will probably not work on toys for any future kids 😉

    Do you always go to Croatia during the summer? I really want to visit the place, I have heard so many good things about the food and the nature there.

  13. elisa says:

    the best, ever. my little one crowed over these! we must have a go now we are with my father and his woodshop x

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Sania Pell freelance interior stylist London.

Sania Pell is a freelance interior stylist, art/creative director and consultant based in London. She is a Contributing Stylist at Elle Decoration magazine, with whom she has worked for over 20 years, and is well known for bringing a unique aspect to photographic shoots for national publications, leading international brands and retailers as well as style consultancy for architects and property developers. She is the author of best-selling book The Homemade Home and The Homemade Home for Children. A trained, former textile designer, Sania is also involved in many multi-disciplinary creative projects.

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