One-on-One with Cristina Alvarez


Getting Your Home Ready for the New Arrival


By Gina Dostler


I could hardly keep my eyes closed, I was so giddy and excited about Santa’s arrival.

When my eyes flew back open I realized my tired 7-year-old self had fallen asleep and, oh!, I could hardly control myself, it was Christmas!  I quickly slipped out of my bed and snuck down the hallway to the room where all the surprises waited.

Yep, Santa had come. So, of course, the cookies were eaten and the glass of milk half-gone. And presents! My eyes sparkled and my smiled beamed. But my mom, dad and younger brother were still asleep in their rooms, and it wouldn’t be fun without them.

Back in my room I stood and I wondered, as I so often did as a kid, what about the Star of Bethlehem. Is there such a star?  At that time, life was so much more magical and I stared at my curtained window where I knew the sun would soon stretch its morning rays into the sky. There just had to be a star because it was all over the Christmas cards and sung about in Christmas songs and for goodness sakes, sat on top of the Christmas tree!

But this was also a wondering of something else. And I knew way deep inside my head as it tried to rattle itself up into a rational adult, that maybe if there wasn’t a star, that maybe, just maybe other things might not be true. Might not be – magical.

I pushed those thoughts aside, and made my way to the window. I knew in my own little way this was momentous for me because it posed the loss of something. I know now it was that precious innocence, but back then it was just like walking out of one room into a new room you’ve never been. I held my breath as I slowly pulled the curtain aside. And I tell you, what shone in that sky couldn’t compare to the light that shot through my body and ended in the biggest feeling in my chest. I gasped. There in front of me the star was blazing huge in the predawn sky, so big, so bright, so glorious and just like on top of the Christmas tree. I’ve believed in miracles ever since.

And when I walked into Newport Cottages, I found myself in that same world I had left behind, full of children furniture, stuffed animals, beautiful artwork and my childhood memories. Preparing your room for your child is life enhancing and fun for the whole family. It’s a place where many memories will take place, and wouldn’t you want the best ones for your child? Cristina Alvarez thinks so and gave me a tour of her place where quality and safety for kids are first and the wonderful world of enchantment right behind it.


Q:  You and your husband Pockets are the owners of the cute little boutique Newport Cottages. Tell me how it got started.

A:  We were all excited to get my baby’s room decorated and ready for my first born to arrive. When we went searching for baby furniture we came up short. Quality was difficult to find. Pockets, being in the furniture business already, designed a few pieces and we’ve been designing and manufacturing locally in Southern California, quality artisan baby and kid’s furniture ever since.


Q:  What do I need to look for in a quality piece of children’s furniture?

A:  Avoid anything made with particle board, MDF or other synthetics that can have high levels of formaldehyde. Select benchmade products from select hardwoods that utilize traditional wood working techniques such as mortise and tenon joinery to connect pieces of wood, rail and stile constructions for drawer fronts as well as inlaid raised panels for decorative features. Benchmade means that an item is individually built from start to finish on the bench of a highly skilled carpenter. These artisans hand turn all posts and legs for each piece of furniture. The result is a beautiful piece of furniture that won’t end up in a land-fill after a few years and can be passed on as a cherished heirloom for many generations. How wonderful to place your newborn in a crib that you had once slept in as a baby yourself!


Q: What standards of safety for babies can I rely on?

A:  The ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials, and CPSC (Consumer Product Safety Commission, are your main sources. These standards ensure the safest possible product for your nursery. Use non-toxic paints that do not carry harmful substances such as lead, mercury, arsenic and other toxins. Look for phthalate free plastics. Be sure to use a firm, tight-fitting mattress. Never use extra padding, blankets or pillows under baby. Do not use positioning devices – they are not necessary. Regularly check cribs for loose, missing or broken parts or slats. And be sure the crib is equipped with fixed sides.


Q:  I know baby furniture has traditionally been soft, muted colors of pinks and blues and browns and whites. I see on your website vibrant colors of orange, turquoise and yellows!

A: You know, I love lots of color. Why not? We pair reds with crèmes, dark browns with green, bright blue with grey. It brings more life to the room. I suggest to parents to take something they loved as a child and use that as a theme for the room , or pull a color or texture from it and then build your room around it. It takes your found memories and passes it on to your children.


Q:  What trends do you see happening regarding décor?

A:  Grey is the new beige. I see pink or blue with trims of grey for the furniture. But the rooms themselves are trending toward a multi-cultural look. With the globalization of society, different cultural themes are very popular. Global travel is very common these days so Africa, Asia, and Europe are all trending now in rooms via colorful artwork depicting villages, animals of that region as stuffed toys, books with travel themes, all exposing the world to the child in colorful fun ways.


Q:  One thing unique about your furniture is it can be customized. So, in other words, I can virtually design my own piece?

A:  Yes, we have several collections to choose from but you might like the legs from one collection on the dresser of another. We can do that. We also have many colors of paint, stains, doorknobs, and appliqués to create the piece of furniture you imagine for your child’s room. Adding extra storage, mirror doors, hutches, changing trays and guardrails are also an option. Some of our distinctive finishes are hand rubbed to achieve a slightly aged and weathered vintage look. And another really great idea we have is a bed that goes not just from crib to toddler, but from crib to toddler to a full-size bed. We just finished the proto-type and will start production come January next year.




Cristina Alvarez

Newport Cottages

Fashion Island

401 Newport Center Drive #A220

Newport Beach,  CA  92660