A Little List with James Whitaker

30th July 2019

James Whitaker, Father, Architect & Founder of Whitaker Studio

Not only did James design the most viral home of the last few years but he did it alongside the sleep deprivation and general juggle that comes with a toddler and a newborn. We caught up with him to delve into his own home life, and find out the essentials for life with his two boys Jack (now 4) and Wilf (now 2).

1. Stokke Tripp Trapp – A boy has to eat. And preferably at the table. Stokke Tripp Trapp; £174 Stokke

2. Brio train track – Our family approach train track building from quite different directions. For me, the track has to be geometrically correct – I really can’t tolerate too few corner pieces being used and brute force being applied to make the ends meet up. Jack is very much about size, a train track just isn’t a train track unless it’s the biggest train track we’ve ever built. Wilf is quite happy if 2 pieces are attached and he’s got Gordon and Thomas rolling back and forward on them. To create a layout that satisfies all parties can take several hours. Brio Little Forest Starter Set; £16.99 Wooden Toy Store

3. Cardboard tube – The wider the better. At the moment we are using a tube about 10cm in diameter and 1m in length that I had some photos delivered in. With one end propped up on the sofa we have car races seeing who can get their car to roll the furthest. The tube is normally free and lasts 1-2years heavy use before it has to be recycled.

4. Lego – Jack and Wilf play with little chunks of plastic that I played with 30 years ago. In terms of embodied energy and environmental impact that’s a pretty good return. Jack loves rebuilding his models and Wilf loves smashing them up so Lego provides plenty of potential for the whole family. Classic Creative Builder Box; £19.99; Lego

5. Cushions off the sofa and blankets – I feel very uneasy when every cushion in the house has been piled into a heap on the floor but I’ve been overruled. The boys and my wife love building dens, castles, imaginary lava pits and climbing frames out of our upholstery.

6. National Trust membership – Awesome playgrounds, cake, some of the finest den building facilities and occasionally some good architecture. What more do you want from a Sunday afternoon? National Trust Membership; from £69; National Trust

7. Chalk – A portion of wall in our house is painted with blackboard paint for the boys to draw on but the fun doesn’t stop there. All through the summer, the chalk was deployed outside in our back garden to draw roads, car parks and various other pieces of toy car based infrastructure. OkoNorm 7 Coloured Chalks; £3.95; Babipur

8. ZSL Membership – My wife is a vet so we have zoo membership. I’m an architect so we also have Tate membership. I think the majority of the family prefer our trips to the zoo. ZSL Annual Membership ; from £66; zsl.org

9. Alpkit dry bag – Perfect for keeping nappies and spare clothes safe and dry, and ready to be dropped into whichever bag or buggy we’re leaving the house with. Airlok Xtra 5l drybag; £12; Alpkit

10. Gardening gloves – If you thought getting all their fingers into the correct place in a pair of woollen gloves was too easy try a pair of leather gardening gloves. When they’re finally on, our Jack loves helping in the garden to tidy up leaves, inspect insects and generally grub around. Traidcraft Gardening Gloves; £4.80; Ethical Shop

11. Shape Apron + Masterby Steps – For helping in the kitchen. The boys are particularly keen to help make blueberry pancakes on a Saturday morning. Colour Wheel Apron; £10; Tate Shop Masterby Steps; £25; IKEA

12. A book collection that rivals the local library – I’m not sure how we’ve ended up with so many kids books but a vast collection means that the boys get plenty of variety and we are saved from reading the same thing every night.

13. iPad – After all that wholesome fun everyone needs a little downtime! iPad 9.7; from £319; Apple

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