Joni Lay & Her Home
Thanks to the success of her joy-filled blog, Lay Baby Lay, which focuses on children's home design and family-focused topics of conversation, Joni Lay has earned herself the unofficial title as our go-to guru for all things "baby." As the mom of three girls and wife to husband, Chip, Joni's life is filled to the brim with play dates, personal obligations and a to-do list that seems to always be running over. Yet, this creative content creator has found a way to manage it all with grace, laughter and love.
We recently had the chance to peek in on life through Joni's pretty brown (always sparkling!) eyes, and we were blown away by the insight this young mom was willing and able to offer. From thoughts on play time and the must-have toys and products for a bustling family of five, to running a business from home, Joni is powering through each day with a smile on her face and has a mountain of memories to show for it.
We're thrilled to welcome you over the threshold of the Lay residence below, where you'll find plenty of inspiration for your own life—whether you're a single gal living in a city studio, or a mom reveling in the busyness of a life filled with pint-size play!
Why did you create your blog, Lay Baby Lay?
I started Lay Baby Lay in 2011, shortly after the birth of my first daughter, Vivi. I formerly worked in the wedding industry, and was fascinated at the time by all of the gorgeous wedding blogs that were popping up, which were filled with amazing inspiration. It seemed to me that blogs were really lacking in the baby world (at the time!), so I decided to start one that was centered around children's spaces. It also turned out to be an excellent creative outlet for me as I worked on figuring out the whole mothering thing!
What was the inspiration behind your kids' rooms? We love all of the whimsical touches!
All of them are different. When I was creating their nurseries, the inspiration was mostly from their names and what they meant, as well as things about our family that we want to pass down to them. I wanted their rooms to be bright, happy and imaginative, and places where we all enjoy being. For instance, Eleanor means "shining light," so her room is really bright and airy, with stars here and there.
How did you go about designing such fun, yet stylish, spaces?
I really love working on children's spaces, because it seems like you don't have to worry about the "rules" of design. Anything goes, and it's okay to think outside the box or be a little over the top, and I love that. It makes it so much more fun!
My goal is to make all the rooms in our house both child- and "grown-up"-friendly, rather than segregating out kid spaces and adult spaces. This works really well because our house isn't that large. We spend just as much time in our kids' rooms as we do our own, so it makes sense to make them fun but not overly juvenile.
I have found it's great to start with an emotion when creating a space. I want our house to feel bright and happy, so that is my criteria when working on a room, and it makes it easier to make design decisions when you can ask, "Does this make me happy?," and if the answer is "no," then I don't go with it!
As a side note, sometimes I question what I do. I start to think maybe all I'm doing is promoting "stuff" and encouraging people to purchase more, but giving birth to my youngest daughter, Ellie, has reminded me why my work is important. As a mom of two kids and a newborn, I'm unfortunately short on sleep, patience and sometimes showers. I don't always feel like my best self, and it's easy to feel sort of stuck.
I think the space you live in can greatly affect your emotions. I may be exhausted at times, but when my home makes me feel at peace and uplifted, it can make such a difference! I love inspiring other moms to make their homes beautiful. It's not about being perfect, having all the right things or a perfectly tidy home, but it is about small things you can do to make it a joy-filled place where you feel recharged.
What is your one-stop shop for baby gear?
Oh, goodness! I think that, over time, I have learned that it's good to get it from a variety of places. The The Land of Nod is my favorite for whimsical décor and accessories, and I have been surprised this time around to find a lot of great items at Target. I love that it carries Honest, Babyganics and all the other gear, and I love its baby clothes as well. Also, I'll be honest, Amazon has been my new best friend since baby number three makes it even more challenging to get out!
What's your mom-on-duty uniform?
I am all about a fantastic pair of jeans, some really fun shoes, like metallic booties or bright sneakers, and a comfy top. I'm really casual, but I always have my hair and makeup done (I like eyeshadow a lot—maybe too much!). It makes me feel ready for the day, like I can tackle anything, from toddler tantrums to nap time battles. I'm working on losing the baby weight right now, so I can't fit into my favorite jeans yet, but I'm looking forward to that day!
Favorite place to shop for unique home accessories and artwork?
I love shopping for vintage gems! It is my favorite way to get inspired. I love going to a local monthly antique show, and there are a couple of local thrift and vintage shops that I love checking out when I can. Right now, it's a bit of a challenge, so I often browse Etsy where you can find a surprising amount of awesome vintage artwork and accessories. It's where I usually go in a pinch. I love finding vintage items, because they are often one-of-a-kind, and it feels like they have a story to tell.
It's not about being perfect, having all the right things or a perfectly tidy home, but it is about small things you can do to make it a joy-filled place where you feel recharged.
What mood were you trying to create in your own bedroom?
Our bedroom is pretty simple. I wanted it to feel calm and peaceful, like a retreat from all the toys, kid stuff and color elsewhere in our home. Also, I wanted it to be neutral for my husband's sake! He is greatly outnumbered and is surrounded by pink!
What are three words you would use to describe your home?
Eclectic, bright and happy
What are some of your favorite babywearing trends right now?
The Ergobaby is, by far, my favorite. It is so comfortable and easy to use. I didn't often wear Vivi, and then with Brigette, I realized just how helpful babywearing can be! I had a black Ergo that I wore all the time, and I loved having her snuggled on my chest where I could just kiss the top of her head, and she slept in it frequently. Because it was my favorite, I splurged on a fun pattern to use with Ellie. I do also like The Solly Baby Wrap and the Lalabu for around the house, but the Ergo works best for me when taking walks with the girls or going to the park. Babywearing took on a whole new significance with baby numbers two and three!
What's the meaning behind your blog's name, Lay Baby Lay?
I was daydreaming with my husband, Chip, about starting a blog when I was pregnant with Vivi, and we were tossing out names. Our last name is Lay, and we thought it was sort of a fun play on our name and the song "Lay Lady Lay," except with "baby" instead, because I was going to create nursery inspiration for rooms where, hopefully, babies would lay down and sleep!
What are your kids obsessed with at the moment?
They are really excited about board games. We have been playing with them a lot as a family, and it's such a fun way to spend time together, now that they are old enough! They also love MagiClip princesses. Those little things are great because you can put them in the bathtub, there aren't a ton of tiny pieces and I can throw a few in my bag for on-the-go entertainment when needed.
What are you obsessed with right now?
I just got the Oh Joy! Tote Diaper Bag this week, and I'm pretty crazy about it. I was just using a tote bag beforehand—Ellie came a week and a half early, which isn't that much, but I had a few things on my list I wasn't able to get! I love the bright pattern and all the pockets, so everything has a place, and it's also a really great price.
I'm also crazy about Anthropologie's new active wear line. I still have some baby weight to lose, but I don't want to buy new jeans in the meantime, so I have found a lot of these pieces to be really fun and comfy to wear right now. I can walk or work out in them when I can now, and I will still be able to wear them when I'm back in shape.
I kept thinking that I had to do it all now and I'll miss my window if I don't, but I don't plan to be less creative in one year or five years or even 10 years from now. I hope to keep growing as a creative and that I keep getting better at what I do. People respond to originality and passion, no matter how old you are.
What's your favorite motherhood-related app?
I've been using the Sprout baby app since Ellie was born. I did the same with Vivi and Brigette, and it's so helpful to me, especially in those first few weeks when I'm working hard to make sure baby is eating enough, wetting enough diapers, etc. All of my babies seem to have trouble gaining weight in the beginning (although they quickly grow out of it!), so I love being able to track when and how much they eat, because it's hard to keep up with otherwise when I'm exhausted. Honestly, I don't use many apps other than that, though—maybe I need to look into it more!
How do you juggle motherhood and blogging? What are some of your time-saving strategies?
This isn't an easy one. I stay at home full-time with my girls (my older two are in preschool, so I do have three mornings a week with just Ellie). Also, Vivi doesn't nap anymore, and Brigette is on the brink of dropping her nap, so I don't have the afternoon time I formerly did.
It is tricky, but I have learned to make the most of whatever time I can find. I used to get frustrated about all the things I wanted to do, and I would look at other bloggers and creatives and see what they were accomplishing and felt like I wasn't doing enough. Finally, though, I embraced that I just need to be at peace with doing what I can. The reality is that I can't do a post every day, manage a social media account on every single platform, turn Lay Baby Lay into a crazy big brand. But that is okay. In this season of life, I have chosen to be home with my girls and it will be over before I know it.
I have found a lot of inspiration in Jen Gotch. I kept thinking that I had to do it all now and I'll miss my window if I don't, but I don't plan to be less creative in one year or five years or even 10 years from now. I hope to keep growing as a creative and that I keep getting better at what I do. People respond to originality and passion, no matter how old you are. Jen is ahead of me in life, but is running a really successful business that is relevant to a range of women in different stages of life—and her followers adore her.
So, I suppose my answer is less of a secret to getting it all done, and more of just the suggestion to be at peace with doing what you can. You can't truly be at home with your kids 100 percent, and also be the most successful blogger at the same time. You have to choose the percentage that will work for you and be content with your decision, taking one day/month/year at a time, knowing it will look different as your kids grow.
At the end of the day, though, I have found that I am way more productive after having kids than I was before. Every minute counts, and after having done this for five years now, I know how to seize any little opportunity to accomplish a task! I get the most done those three mornings my girls are in school, and I attempt to get Vivi to have some quiet time to herself in the afternoon (she really needs it!) when I can also get a little work of my own done. I'm also pumping right now, so I usually do a little work in the middle of the night, too!
What advice would you give to first-time moms?
Give yourself a lot of grace, and don't give in to mommy guilt. I was so clueless before having Vivi. I thought I knew what I was getting into and I read books, talked to friends and had the nursery ready. I didn't grasp, though, that every baby is different and every mother is different. Babies have unique personalities—you can't compare yours to another and you just have to roll with it. Sweet Vivi was really spirited. She (and my hormones!) threw me for a tailspin that I didn't expect. I have since learned that you just can't compare yourself to other moms, or your baby to other babies.
And you also can't give in to guilt. That is a hard one to learn, I think. There is so much to worry yourself about (ex. "Is she eating enough?" "Why isn't breastfeeding easier?" "Am I not trying hard enough?" "Is it wrong that I want some time to myself?" "Do I entertain her enough?" "Do I read to her enough?" "Am I working too much?" "Is it okay to put her in daycare so I can do more work?"), but just do the best you can, follow your own intuition and be confident about it! There is no point wasting energy on guilt, but I think that's a hard thing to do as a first-time mom.
- Tufted sofa
- Cowhide rug
- Arch floor lamp
- Dutch pendant
- Harvey table lamp
- James side chair
- Conrad TV stand
- Tristan pedestal table
- Shelf brackets (painted gold & paired with barnwood)
- Camellia print
- Pink champagne flutes
- Brass pendant light
- Origami mini crib
- 'Little Light of Mine' print
- Falling star garland
- Pom-pom curtains
- Crystal mosaic rug
- Graham glider
- Pink martini table
- Cream faceted lamp
- Schoolhouse table
- Mini dipped chairs
- Cloud rug
- Spice racks for bookshelves
- Elephant lamp
- Loa sconce
- The egg print
- Cloud duvet
- Kalon Studios divan/toddler bed
- Dance party print
- Clothes rack DIY
- Well nested bedding
- Mid-century bed
- South Seas side cart
- Copper task lamp
- Everett sconces
- Ballerina pig print
- Roller rink rug
- Activity table
- XO rug
- Lego table DIY
- Dress up rack DIY
- DIY ballet barre