I’m feeling very parental already today. We were up and to the Farmer’s Market early this morning (6:30 a.m. !) and last night Dr. Jay installed the car seat. Not sure what has gotten into us, other than the fact that it’s T-minus 25 days until the due date. Parenthood looms. I’m wrapping up projects at work and trying to get our place in order (getting all my ducks rowed up, as a former boss used to say). And we’re putting the finishing touches on the baby’s room, which I know is why you are all here today. I’ll get to the photos, but first I am compelled to say a little more about the process. What kind of designer would I be if I didn’t bore you with the details? And of course, if you’re really curious you can just scroll down to the After photos anyway.
So I must tell you about some of the challenges of the nursery design, the first of which is that we are in a rental unit which brings about all sorts of constraints. We had been using the room as an office/guest room (there was a pull-out couch) and decided that we really still needed some sort of desk area in the apartment and there was no good reason to move it completely out of the room (the desk wouldn’t fit anywhere else, it has sentimental value, etc). So the room became 2/3 baby and 1/3 desk area. Eventually (pretty soon, actually) we’ll be removing the computer from the desk and setting up my sewing machine, but that’s another blog post.
One of the other constraining issues is the fact that we are not finding out whether our little Lima Bean is a he or a she. So it became my mission to figure out a stylish way to do neutral without reverting to one of the two gimmicky “themes” available at places like Babies R Us. Nothing wrong with that store or neutrality, but let’s face it, from what I’ve found there’s a pretty limited palette in the market place today for old-fashioned minded folks like ourselves. Take a look around at baby stuff these days and you’ll see what I’m talking about. And that last constraint? Oh yeah, budget. We’re not exactly rolling in it since we’re diligently saving for a house (you know, so Lima Bean doesn’t always have to share a room with a sewing machine) so we wanted to stretch every dollar.
Here’s a plan of the room, just so we’re all on the same page.
It’s not a very large space (less than 12’x12’), and of course there’s that “fire”place we had to deal with. There’s a long, not-to-be-blogged-about story on that one, but just know that it’s not a real or functioning fire place, it’s just something that has to stay in our apartment somewhere, and in this room it can at least be somewhat hidden by the crib and serve as a shelf. I tried to come up with a plan that allowed the two remaining useful elements (the desk and the tool chest) to remain without being in the way, functionality between the crib and changing table, and of course a rocking chair, which I wanted from the beginning. Here’s a very rough sketch I did on the plane back from our Miami trip in February. This was when I figured out how it should work, and set about finding furniture to fit in this configuration.
I know it’s crude, but I needed a quick way to get on paper all the elements I had in my head and to explain to Dr. Jay what I was envisioning. This was helpful, because I do believe he asked me what a changing table was for.
Here are BEFORE images of the room.
Yes, that room became a catch-all for extra boxes of books from grad school, as well as framed pieces we weren’t sure where or if to hang in the rest of the apartment. We eventually figured out what to do with all that stuff (for the most part). We sold the couch on Craigslist (bye-bye houseguests), took the books to Dr. Jay’s office, and either hung or stored the rest of those pictures. Did you notice the lovely brass wall-lights behind the couch? We removed those for storage (replacing them with new lights became much more of a project than I anticipated) and added more kid-friendly lights instead. We kept the room the same neutral tan, not because I’m in love with it, but because this is a rental we only plan to be in for another year. I decided the paint color would have to work with whatever color scheme we eventually went with, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?
We took on several DIY projects for this room. We bought a bentwood rocking chair off Craigslist and painted it (project no. 1, which I plan to write more about in another post), my mom and I sewed curtains and a re-positionable crib skirt (yay for storage underneath the crib!), and we customized frames from Michael’s for the artwork. Because I know you’re ready, here are the AFTER photos.
Here’s what you see to your right as you walk in the door. We added an organizer for all those little baby things to the back of the closet door. Note the new wall lights. We still need to figure out the best thing to do with those cords. The bookcase (from Target) is the newest addition to the room, and is holding all the books we received at a shower (love that!), parenting books, and all of Lima Bean’s clothes, blankets, and various baby items.
The crib was a gift from my mom, a J.C. Penney find if you are interested. I love the dark finish, simple lines, and of course the fact that there is storage underneath (it’s where we’re storing some clothes that might someday fit me again and things like a swing and baby tub for Lima Bean). My mom and I had fun creating the crib skirt, following directions from a tutorial over at Young House Love. Though we did actually sew it instead of using the iron-on hem tape, just cause I like using my sewing machine.
There are actually black-out window coverings pulled up behind the curtains. I think those will be great for nap time!
An heirloom, created by my grandmother when I was a baby! This was probably the first poem I ever memorized because I saw it so often.
And here’s the room from another angle.
I plan to cover up the fireplace with another removeable skirt. I’ll be working on it later today. It might be my last sewing project for the room, unless I tackle a bumper for the crib. I haven’t been able to find one I like enough to purchase, and it’s another excuse to use my sewing machine.
We get beautiful eastern morning light in this room, so this photo is a little washed out. The changing table is part of the set that matches the crib. I know, I broke my own rule about being matchy-matchy, but the size and finish worked perfectly, and it didn’t require any painting or sanding which made Dr. Jay very happy. He got me that cool bird mobile for my birthday this year. It was one of our first nursery items.
Here’s the other side of the room, the “work” side, a.k.a. blog and sewing area.
My sister-in-law painted that colorful fish painting especially for our Lima Bean. I think the colors work perfectly. In fact, many of the items in these photos were handmade by family and friends. It means so much to us that people took the time to make something special for our baby.
Please let me know if you’re interested in a sources list. I was planning to add one, but this post is already long and I’m sure no one is reading by now.
I think that about sums it up. We’re so grateful to all the help we’ve received from friends and family on this several-month process, from gifts to advice to storage (thanks, mom!). There have been some challenges, but Dr. Jay and I have loved every minute of putting together this room for Lima Bean and we can’t wait to get that little baby in here!