Rooms to Play in
08/31/2009 at 01:00 AM EDT
SPECIAL SECTION BABIES OF THE YEAR
REAL HOUSEWIVES OF NEW JERSEY'S
Daughters Gia, Gabriella and Milania
With their "big eyes and big hair," the three Giudice girls (ages 8, 4 and 3) "look like cartoon characters," says their mom, Housewives star Teresa Giudice, 36. "So when I saw the Bratz theme, I wanted to do it." That meant outfitting a 500-sq.-ft. space in their six-bedroom home with jewel tones—the better to set off the girls' collection of nearly 100 Barbie dolls, a karaoke machine (all three sisters love to sing Beyoncé's "Single Ladies") and a kitchen complete with pink oven and tea set. Says Giudice, who is expecting her fourth child (she doesn't know the sex) next month with her husband, Joe, 39, a construction-company owner: "This baby is going to have to go with the flow because of its older sisters."
1. Woody chalkboard table, $399; Look-me chair, $299 (set of 2); elephant mini-poof, $89.75; minijake.com
2. Mammut chair, $14.99 each; ikea.com
When it came to creating a playroom for her 2-year-old daughter Estela (with husband Alejandro Gomez Monteverde, 32, a film director), Ali Landry reached back to her small-town roots in Breaux Bridge, La. "Traditional—that's my thing," says the former Miss USA, who hosts a weekly parenting show on Yahoo.com. That means old-fashioned toys such as wooden blocks and framed original Mattel Barbie sketches on the walls. The actress took additional inspiration from Estela's preschool. "We have an art center with an easel and paper and stickers," says Landry, 36, who plans to also put in an ant farm. So does that mean Estela is a tomboy? "She goes to the playground and gets dirty," says Landry, "but yeah: She's in a dress!"
TO THE LETTER
1. Wooden hanging letters, $18 each; newarrivalsinc.com
2. Mudpie's vintage-inspired alphabet blocks, $45; 415-771-9262
As a child, former ER star Kellie Martin loved acting out in the "big gowns and high heels" that filled her dress-up box. Her daughter Maggie, 2, however, prefers cooking—and cleaning!—to costumes. "She has a little mop and a little broom. But her favorite thing is the wooden kitchen; I'll start dinner, and she'll 'cook' too," says Martin. Just outside the playroom (a onetime sunroom "surrounded by trees and sky"), Martin and her husband, lawyer Keith Christian, 35, planted a garden filled with strawberries, carrots—and pumpkins "that are so big already, I'm scared they'll take over the yard!" But Martin, 33, loves the room's connection to nature. "It's very joyful," she says. "I want this to be a place where Maggie is inspired."
COOKING & COLORING
1. Camden Rose's the simple hearth kitchen, $360
2. Eco Tots art easel, $180; both at thelittleseed.com