AN ORGANIC CHILDHOOD
MAY 9TH, 2019
WE CHAT WITH COURTNEY ABOUT HER NEW CUBBY SPACE AND SUSTAINABLE CHILDHOODS
I am a mother of 2, albeit ‘normal’, loving, boisterous boys, who on good days fill my heart with love and wonder and on other days can trigger nervous tics. I struggle with patience, am always scrambling to not be late, I don’t cook a lot (Jon used to be a chef, would you?), on a good day my bed is made and I am THAT mother who never knows what concert, dress-up day or fun run is happening at school until the night before.
So when I happened across Courtney Adamo on social media a few years back, a seemingly patient mother of 5, savvy business women, homeschooler at times of travel, expat, serious renovator of a stunning historical home in Byron Bay and a connoisseur of organic living, I tuned in to find out what the secret to ‘having it all’ might be. Turns out since knowing Courtney, there is no real secret, they battle the same things we do, just on a larger scale obviously. But, what they have mastered is the art of teamwork and efficiency. So if we work on the premise that many hands make light work, then really, more kids probably make life easier, right Courtney?! Haha, I can hear her chuckling now.
A chance meeting with Courtney and her clan a few years later, at an event in Byron Bay, had us discussing family, new home renovations and the beauty of an outdoors lifestyle. Of course, chat turned to their outdoor space and a little area that gets no action. Little unloved corners are my absolute speciality!
A few proposals later, style points discussed, we set about bringing to life a culmination of Courtney and Michael’s cubby house ideals and our creative suggestions. What we have created together is a beautiful space that embodies the organic lifestyle the whole Adamo family embrace, a space that sits in harmony with their country, rustic home setting and that provides all 5 children enriching experiences at home with their siblings and friends, and possibly provides Courtney and Michael a little reprieve from the noise.
What was your main motivation for adding a cubby into your space?
We wanted to give our kids a designated place to play outside. We had a corner of the back yard that the kids never really played in, so this was a wonderful use of the space. We really feel like our kids play best when they are just out of earshot of their parents — they play so much more imaginatively and cohesively — so a cubby house is a perfect play space for this reason.
Tell us about your kids, did they have input or were there parts of their personalities that informed your design decisions?
Because we have kids of various ages, from toddler up to teenager, we wanted a space that would suit multiple ages and have different zones. The girls specifically asked for the play kitchen inside, and we knew Wilkie would love the slide, so we worked both elements into the cubby house area.
Aesthetically, what were your and Michael’s prerequisites when adding a big ol’ kids play space to your backyard?
We really wanted the cubby to look like it belonged next to our house, to feel like an extension of our home. Our house is old, one of the oldest homes in our town, so we wanted the cubby to feel the same. Also, because it’s in direct view of our kitchen and dining area, we wanted the cubby to be cute and not too obtrusive.
Do you have any memories from your own childhood of playing in cubbies and learning through mimicking the adult world?
Yes! My grandparents gave my siblings and me a cubby house one year for Christmas, and I LOVED playing in there. I remember having sleepovers in that little cubby house and pretending like it was our very own home.
What do you hope this play space will add to your daily life?
Peace and quiet would be nice! Haha. In all seriousness, it would just be wonderful if the kids spent lots of time out there playing imaginatively and creatively together.
We wanted to add some veggie garden boxes to your space to extend the play area and give the kids another area to own and be proud of. We didn’t realise at the time though how keen a gardener Michael was and organic gardening is quite important to your family. How important is growing your own and educating your children about the benefits of organic gardening?
Michael enjoys gardening as much as he enjoys cooking, and the two really go hand-in-hand. We love growing our own herbs and veggies in our back yard because it means we always have the herbs we need for our meals. Michael made a point of planting things we eat regularly, so they’re always on hand. It’s also a great way of introducing these foods and flavours to our children. We can ask any of our kids to pick us some sprigs of thyme, and they’ll all know exactly which herb to cut.
Will there be any healthy competition between the kids garden and Michael’s?
Haha! The kids are pretty enthusiastic about their little flower beds right now, but let’s see how long their enthusiasm lasts. It’s okay this time of year when we get enough rain, but come the dry season, I’m sure we’ll have to remind them to water their garden!
With 5 kids and a children’s business, you come into contact with a lot of brands and products that are targeted to children. How difficult is it nowadays to ensure your children’s environment is free of pollutants? How far do we have to go?
I actually don’t think it’s that hard, especially living here in Byron where there is such an emphasis on natural, organic products and sustainable business practices. I’ve always loved supporting the smaller independent brands, which, by default, are almost always organic, handmade or ethically minded.
What are your favourite brands that cater to an eco-friendly environment for your children?
We love Koala Eco cleaning products for the home. We also love the Seed & Sprout food savers and stainless steel straws and lunchboxes. Bamboo Brush makes great 100% biodegradable toothbrushes (which come in different colours, so kids can tell theirs apart!). We love the organic soaps and sauces from Church Farm General Store. We try to do most of our food shopping from the farmer’s markets or bulk food stores, to reduce the amount of plastic packaging on our food.
What other sustainable choices have you made in your life that you are most proud of?
When we were travelling a few years ago, one thing we really noticed was the amount of plastic bottles and rubbish everywhere. We made it a point to never buy bottled water again in our lives! This means you have to be organised and always have a re-fillable water bottle with you at all times, but once you get used to it, it just becomes a habit. Around four years ago, we also decided, for environmental reasons, that we would stop eating meat. We will occasionally eat fish, but we are always really conscious of buying sustainably caught fish and seafood when we do eat it.
How do you want your children to remember their childhood? ?
I want them to remember it as carefree and happy!
Lastly Courtney, what do you think about the space we have created for your family?
The play space you’ve created for us is the cutest play space I’ve ever seen. I would only trust Castle & Cubby to put an object directly out our kitchen window — it looks like the perfect extension of our home, and we love it so much! We love that it has a rustic, natural look.
Courtney’s space is full of our natural products to create a unique and old school cubby house feel. There are lots of ways you can achieve this look or similar and lots of ways you can control the cost also.
A LIST OF INCLUSIONS IN COURTNEY’S CUBBY SPACE
Large Rectangle Apple Crate Cubby House with recycled timber highlights
Extra height and 1 clear roof panel for extra light
Painted in the same colour as the house
Cafe Windows + Timber Awnings
Recycled TImber Bunting
Market Boxes under the window and 1 x planter
Decking to extend the space around 2 sides of the cubby
2 x Garden Boxes
2 x Storage Boxes as bench seating inside
1 x Internal Kitchen with oven
2 x Internal Shelves
Custom Platform and high-quality fibreglass slide
A big thank you to our amazing team of collaborators
Photographer Amelia Fullarton
Toys from The Small Folk & Vines of the Wild
Baskets and fun wares from Olli Ella
Planting expertise from our good friend Janene from Love to Grow
Planting expertise from our good friend Janene from Love to Grow