Posted on May 20, 2014
Beany’s nursery in our North Carolina apartment was a labor of love in a major way. I had a very clear vision of what I wanted the room to look like, and I spent months choosing fabric, sewing pillows and curtains, picking out furniture and putting it all together. Even with the mile-long to-do list, we had the room up and running at least a month before our baby girl arrived. Boy, how things are different the second time around.
When we moved to Boston last summer, we knew we’d have an extra kiddo in our roost come spring, but it wasn’t until fall that we found out he was a boy. As much as I loved all the décor we already had for Beany’s room, I was really excited for the chance to switch things up. Beany’s first nursery was decidedly girlie, and though I spent plenty of brain power trying to decide what colors or fabrics I could add to the existing palette to make it a little more masculine, I finally decided that our best option was to wipe the slate clean. We did already have neutral furniture for the room, so we weren’t starting from nothing, but we needed new colors, new art and a bunch of new fabric.
In incredibly atypical fashion for me, we let this space evolve over time. I tend to go headfirst into decorating and get as much done as quickly as I can, but Jared insisted we think about things a little more with this room. In the end, I think he was right. We built the space piece by piece until we felt like it was done, from the navy blue rug that was our anchor and jumping-off point (purchased nearly seven months ago) all the way to the poster-sized photo we put over the crib just a few weekends back. Because we took so long and thought so much about every detail, the end result is a room that makes us happy every time we walk into it (except during those bedtime battles, but that’s toddlerhood, right?).
Maybe going from purples to pinks doesn’t seem like the easiest way to boy-ify a room, but when paired with all the navy and blue, the palette balances out pretty well. Pink definitely reads stronger than the blue though, so it was important that we keep the pinks to accent pieces and let the navy show up in larger doses. That’s where the rug came in. We saw it in the store the day we found out Bear was a boy and brought it home that day. Instantly, the room felt less like an all-girl oasis and more like a little guy was getting ready to claim a bit of space for himself.
Beany is still very much a girlie girl though, and we didn’t want to squelch that just because a brother was on the way. By keeping large pieces like the rug and play chairs dark and boyish, there was plenty of space for all her favorite things.
This art wall is probably our favorite part of the room and another detail that’s grown piece by piece. And putting it together has taught me that there are few things I won’t stick in a frame. The Rudolph record was an antique store find a few years back. The brunette girl in the blue dress was the front of a box that Beany’s beloved doll Tessa came in. The princess on the purple background was a gift bag from my brother and sister-in-law for Beany’s first birthday. The little girl in the hood came on a shopping bag. The frog is a Crane’s stationery card. The Massachusetts map was quick DIY. The illustration at the top left is a poster from our new favorite Boston bakery. And the vase of flowers was painted by my mom when she was barely 11. Sprinkled in there, too, are a few bits of Beany’s artwork and a set of Peter Rabbit plates that were on my wall when I was little.
Fortunately we had the forethought to buy neutral furniture before Beany was born in case we had a boy later down the road. It means we’re always kind of working from a blank canvas, which leaves extra room for creativity when it comes to accent colors and accessories.
The tree in the pink pot started as Beany’s Christmas tree, but the girl loves it so much, we just couldn’t take it down. Beany’s bed is a calculated hodgepodge of patterns and pillows, all tied together with a love of pink. The flag banner was a fun evening project, just a bunch of fabric triangles sewn together and attached to quilt binding.
I swapped the colors on the poster I made for my best friend’s camping-themed baby shower to add another big splash of navy in the room. And the wreath was another quick DIY.
I loved this boat fabric and bought a heap of it hoping to make it into something fun. Between the crib skirt and the flag banner, I think there’s enough of it in the room to make a mark without going sailboat crazy.
Toy storage is an issue in any kid’s room, and it’s no different here. How do such small people acquire so much stuff? We try to keep things as minimal as possible, but we picked up a few storage bins (the pink/white chevrons and the blue/white waves) at TJ Maxx to corral the knick-knacks that needed a place to call home.
I’m sure things will continue to evolve as Beany and Bear grow, but for now we’re so happy with where it is. It’s the room we love most for the people we love most. And it doesn’t get better than that.
So without further adeiu, here’s the product list. I’ve done my best to make it as comprehensive as possible, but feel free to contact me with any other questions regarding items you see in the photos.
• Gulliver toddler bed, IKEA
• Throw pillows, DIY covers using this tutorial (fabric and trim from Jo-Ann Fabrics)
• Carter rug, Pottery Barn Kids
• Flag banner, DIY (fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics)
• Finley play table, Pottery Barn Kids
• Carolina kids chairs, Pottery Barn Kids
• Tree and pink pot, IKEA
• Xhilaration white floor lamp, Target
• Threshold drum linen lamp shade (on tall white lamp), Target
• Shine quilt, handmade gift from sweet friends in Columbia, Missouri
• Ribba frames, IKEA
• Simply White Retro Kitchen Oven, Pottery Barn Kids
• Shabby Chic dresser, Target (no longer available)
• Shabby Chic bookshelf, Target (no longer available)
• DaVinci 4-in-1 convertible crib, Babies R Us (Ours is no longer available, but this one is pretty close.)
• Crib skirt, DIY using this tutorial
• Lamb mobile, Pottery Barn Kids (no longer available)
• Wreath, DIY using this tutorial
• Sleep under the Stars poster, DIY (get the free printable here)
• Toy storage bins (navy/white and pink/white), TJ Maxx
• Aqua Harper My First Anywhere Chair, Pottery Barn Kids
• Stacking tree, Plan Toys
• Blue Go Car, Kid O
I’d love to hear your stories of decorating trials and triumphs! Kids’ rooms, playrooms, living rooms, you name it! How did you start? How did you finish? And how did it all come together?
Posted on February 18, 2013
While we were back visiting family in Missouri for Christmas, Jared and I started watching the first season of Once Upon a Time on Netflix. Only a few episodes in, I began to develop a mega-size obsession with all things Mary Margaret (Snow White’s “real world” self in the town of Storybrooke, Maine). I loved all of it: her clothes, apartment, hair (I’ve never been so tempted in my life to try rocking a pixie cut). As the season continued and my obsession grew, so began my quest to Mary Margaretize my life. Yep, I verbed it. That’s how serious this was.
Mary Margaret’s clothes and apartment fall in a pretty similar vein: sweet, eclectic, shabby chic finds paired with tried and true staples. On the clothes front, I did find an adorable cream-colored eyelet top on final sale at J.Crew right before we came back to North Carolina that I happily purchased and dubbed my Mary Margaret shirt. It’s my favorite shirt on the planet, and every time I wear it, I feel awesome — and terrified I might spill something.
As for the apartment, our indoor décor is already built around neutrals, so switching out accessories or changing colors works fairly easily. We picked out a few textured throw pillows in varying shades of off-white (MM digs a pretty mix of layered neutrals) and went to Anthropologie for some fun teal-flecked knobs and coasters. My favorite finds, though, came from an antique shop stop with my mom. Hobnail and jade plates. Swoon!
So far, our little piece of Storybrooke is feeling pretty quaint and cozy, but one can’t ignore the call to Mary Margaretize when inspiration strikes! This easy DIY wreath fits right into the look du jour. And even better? It cost a whopping $7 in supplies (less if you already have yarn on hand). Just grab a foam wreath form, yarn and an old T-shirt, and get ready to get crafty.
Yarn Wreath with Fabric Flowers
What you’ll need:
• foam wreath form (or you can cut a pool noodle, loop it into a circle and tape it in place)
• yarn (my wreath took about half a skein)
• an old T-shirt
• double-sided tape
• hot glue gun and glue
What you do:
1. Stick a piece of double-sided tape (about 2 or 3 inches long) lengthwise on the outside of the wreath form. Then, start looping around your yarn. The tape will help secure it a bit, but once you get enough loops going around the form, the yarn should hold itself in place. Keep wrapping the yarn tightly around the form, and add extra pieces of tape every so often for extra hold. Make sure you’re wrapping tightly and pushing the yarn together as you go so the foam form doesn’t peek through the yarn. Once the form is wrapped completely, tie off the yarn in a small discreet knot on the back of the wreath.
2. To make the fabric flowers, cut a strip of fabric off the bottom of an old T-shirt (make your cut about 2 inches from the bottom, and go through the front and back of the shirt). You should have one continuous loop of fabric at this point; cut one end of the loop at the shirt’s side seam so you have one long strip of fabric instead.
3. Fold the fabric strip in half width-wise. Working out from the center of the flower, twist the folded fabric as you wrap it around in a circle. Add a dot of hot glue every so often to help hold the fabric in place. Continue wrapping until you reach the end of the fabric strip, and glue the end to the back of the flower. For extra hold, cut out a circle of fabric (slightly smaller than the size of the finished flower) to glue on the backside of the flower. Repeat with more strips of fabric, depending on how many flowers you need for your wreath.
4. Use hot glue to attach the finished fabric flowers to the yarn-wrapped wreath. Apply a bit of pressure as they dry to make sure they stick in place.
5. Call your gal pal Mary Margaret, and tell her you’ve got a wreath with her name on it (er, wait, maybe that’s just me).
I’m super happy with how the finished wreath turned out, and I’m pretty sure my door is happy about it, too. Sometimes it’s the little things, you know?
Posted on September 13, 2011
What’s white, ceramic and cost less than a couple of tall nonfat lattes at Starbucks? This guy! A quick swing by TJ Maxx a few weekends ago in search of sweet deals on baby garb proved to be a lucky duck kind of trip for more than just the Bean. Tucked among a slew of Halloween décor (hooray for soon-to-be-here fall holidays!) sat this tiny owl baby, all wide-eyed and quiet, just waiting for his new family to pick him up and take him home. We certainly didn’t hop in the store with plans to add another flyer to our family, but this guy was just too cute to pass up. He’s a bird for one thing (love), white and ceramic (love love) and one of those rare holiday items that’s totally acceptable to leave out and about all year long. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. The fact that we snagged him for such a great deal was just icing on the cake (these super cute owls at West Elm sell for double and triple what we paid for our guy). Oh yes, and we’ve named him Hoot, in case you were wondering.
So here’s to another member of our fine-feathered aviary (my combination obsession with inanimate birds and white ceramic household items is pretty uncontrollable at this point). Right now he’s looking pretty dapper atop our armoire in the living room, though I’m sure he’ll make the rounds before settling on a favorite perch. Wherever he ends up, Hoot is sure to keep us smiling. Just look at that face.
Have you scored any great deals on home décor lately? Any fun, quirky pieces that you fell in love with at first sight? And what’s your stance on holiday-related accessories? Are there any favorite holiday pieces that you love so much they stay out all year? Let’s hear it!
Posted on September 8, 2011
Has anyone else jumped on the Pinterest train lately? I know I’ve raved about its awesomeness before (not to mention its Facebook-like power to suck up hours and hours of time before you even realize what’s happening), but up until now my obsession with the site has been all talk and no action. I do a whole bunch of browsing, a bunch of swooning and a bunch of pinning, yet our relationship has pretty much remained that of voyeur to eye candy. Pinterest = gobs of visual, clickable loveliness. Me = happy camper to just sit back and do the clicking.
After so much pinning and not enough doing, I figured it was time to put some of that inspiration to work. I pinned this bit of typographic beauty to my decorating board a while back and had been toying with the idea of taking a spin with it for the Bean’s room (the original inspiration piece is super cute and available to buy on Etsy). I had also been thinking making a companion design with the phrase “Happy Girl” incorporated. A jolly sentiment, don’t you think?
There are definitely some bold colors going on in our nursery, so to avoid going too bonkers, I eye-dropped all the colors for the makeshift artwork from our already-established palette. Here’s the dandy bold fabric with all the major colors in play:
And here’s how I used them:
Pretty fun, huh? I still need to pick up a few frames for them (I’m thinking basic, sleek white to match the others I’m already using in the room), and I’m still not quite sure if I prefer the lavender or fuchsia “La La Love You,” but otherwise they’re ready to roll. I love how sometimes the simplest ideas can make the perfect-sized impact. Now I just have to figure out where to hang them.
What inspiration have you been pinning lately? Have you taken on any DIY or design projects based on great ideas you’ve found online? In magazines? At a friend’s house? I’d love to hear about it!
Posted on September 1, 2011
It’s amazing the amount of preparation that comes into play during the last few months of this having-a-baby business. The last few weeks in particular have involved a flurry of thoughts and discussions about bottles and diapers, the merits of various binkies, the importance of breathable swaddling blankets and whether we really need to spring for that Cadillac of a jogging stroller (I’m thinking yes — it just looks so sleek and zippy!). OK, so I’m sure my increasingly forgetful and distractible mind is much more occupied with baby gibber gabber than Jared’s, which is currently in the throws of starting grad school and gobbling hundreds of pages of looks-and-sounds-more-intellectual-than-baby-talk reading, but still, our house is on hyper baby drive (not to be confused with hyper-baby drive, which comes later I suppose).
To keep sane amidst this planning and preparation time, I’ve resorted to my old pal — list-making. I’ve got lists for everything these days: things we still need to buy for baby, things we still need to make for baby, non-baby-related things to get done before baby, groceries Jared will need to pick up right after baby. I even planned out my Thanksgiving menu last week. I know, I’m out of control. Ironically, the things I’ve been most apt to check off my lists are probably the things that aren’t as immediate of necessities. Hence my continued obsession with this sewing machine. Sure, the Bean probably won’t be using her room much until she’s at least a few months old (we’re planning to have her in a basinet in our room for a while. Jared’s college experience wouldn’t be complete without a noisy roommate, right?). But somehow it gives me an undeniable sense of calm to see her nursery come together bit by bit, piece by piece. And so I keep on sewing. That room will definitely be ready for her by the time she’s ready for it.
My latest sewing project was a skirt for the lovely crib that Jared’s parents were nice enough to gift us for their grandbaby to be. My mom gave me the genius idea to save on fabric by using a white sheet as the base of the skirt that goes under the mattress, then just using the cute patterned stuff for the part of the skirt that shows. It worked out really well, and I definitely recommend that method to anyone who decides to tackle one of these in the future (whether baby-sized or otherwise). In reality, this crib skirt is not only the easiest thing I’ve whipped up so far (can’t argue with straight lines and easy seams), but it’s also probably been the biggest money saver. Quality crib skirts can run you anywhere from $30 to $80. After our on-sale fabric and basic thread (plus an old white sheet I already had on hand), ours costs a whopping $10. Woo hoo!
What you’ll need:
• fabric (2 to 3 yards should be more than enough)
• matching thread
• flat white sheet you’re willing to part with (a.k.a. cut into pieces)
• measuring tape (to get your measurin’ on)
The first step for making the crib skirt is figuring out all your measurements. I was working with limited fabric, so I actually planned to make my skirt three-sided instead of four (I figured the back side will always be up against a wall, so there was no reason to waste extra fabric on an angle that could never be seen). So I had four panel sizes I needed to measure: the white-sheet base that goes under the mattress, one long end (the front of the crib) and two shorter ends (the sides of the crib). Here’s what I came up with:
Long side: 21”-by-52”
Short sides: 21”-by-28”
To make room for ½-inch seams all around, I added 1 inch to each measurement for the fabric panels themselves, which meant I needed to cut my fabric to these dimensions:
Base panel: 29”-by-53”
Long panel: 22”-by-53”
Short panels (2): 22”-by-29”
I’m pretty convinced at this point that cutting out the fabric pieces is about the trickiest part of the sewing process, so I like to get all of my cutting done before doing anything on the machine. Just like when cutting out fabric for the throw pillows, I used the fold-it-over-and-measure-half-the-width-you-need technique. Take your piece of fabric, fold it in half, then measure half your width all the way down and secure it with pins. Make your cut using the pins as guides. Then once that’s done, do the same thing in the other direction. Fold your fabric in half, then measure half the length, mark it with pins and make your cut. Then repeat the process until all of your panels are cut and ready. Easy peasy!
The next step is to make sure the patterned panels all have nice, crisp seams around the edges because those will show on the finished product. One long side on each of those panels ends up getting sewn to the white sheet base, so that means that you only have to worry about adding three seams (the two shorter ends and one longer end). To do this, use your pins to fold over the edge of the fabric ½ inch on each of the three sides.
Now it’s just a matter of sewing them in place. Using a reinforcement stitch at each end, slowly sew a straight line along your pinned edges, carefully removing the pins as you go. When you get to a corner, lift up the sewing machine pedal, turn the fabric 90 degrees, put the pedal back down and keep on sewing. Once you reach the end of the third side, add another reinforcement stitch to seal the deal.
Pretty easy, right? You do this same process with your three (or four if you’re being less lazy than me) patterned panels. By the end of this step, you should have three crisp seamed edges on all of your patterned fabric panels and one rough edge on each (remember, your one rough edge on each should also be one of the long ends on each). Now all that’s left to do is sew it to your white sheet base.
[Note: As an added step because I was only sewing on three patterned panels to my skirt, I did a quick seam on the back side of my white panel base, just like the seams I added to my patterned panels. It helps give a finished look if you’re only using three patterned panels. If you’re using four patterned panels, though, there’s no need to worry about it.]
To piece the puzzle together, I stitched one panel at a time to my white sheet base. To do this, I lined up the edges (meaning if I was stitching on one of my shorter panels, I lined it up next to a shorter end of the base) and pinned them together, allowing for another ½-inch seam. When you’re lining up the fabric, make sure that you have both “pretty” sides of the fabric facing in because you’ll want the seam to be hidden on the bottom when the fabric panel is flipped back over and hanging down the side of the crib.
Use the machine to sew the width of the panel, using a reinforcement stitch at each end. Voila! Now just repeat this step with your remaining panels, give the whole skirt a good iron, and you’re home free!
I’m super duper happy with how this thing turned out. The straight lines are way easier to work with than adding a bunch of ruffles, which definitely worked in my favor, not to mention I think the streamlined look of it all really complements all the modern twists and patterns we have going on in the rest of the nursery. My only foreseeable dilemma is going to come when the Bean gets big enough that we have to lower the mattress (the crib has three different mattress height options, and we have it on the highest spot right now). I’m contemplating the use of Velcro dots when that day comes (I know, Velcro. But so far it seems like the most convenient and removable option). But it will be a while until she’s able to sit up and monkey her way out of the crib anyway, so we still have time to think about it.
Happy September to you! Fall is right around the corner! Weeee!
Posted on July 29, 2011
I can vividly remember a trip my mom and I took to a local antique shop some time during my sophomore or junior year of college. As we browsed through the narrow aisles and dusty shelves, stacked bottom to top with dishes, books and decades-old knick-knacks that always seem to find their way to this type of residence, I came across a display case filled with objects whose identical cousins used to stare back at me from my own toy box. My Little Ponies, Polly Pockets and even a handful of Happy Meal toys (the old transformer ones that changed from tiny hamburgers and fries into dinosaurs) were all sitting there, just waiting for some nice person who decided they were worth something to come along and take them home. Seeing such familiar objects mixed among cups and saucers from my grandparents’ days hit me in two very distinct ways: First, it made me feel old (the same kind of old I felt when I first saw reruns of Home Improvement and Full House on Nick at Nite); and second, it made me feel incredibly nostalgic for the things of my youth. Every stuffed animal, Barbie doll, puzzle and plaything that I used to love came flooding back to my mind. If I hadn’t been a 20-year-old college girl at the time who was trying to convince herself that she was, in fact, a bona fide grownup, I might have dug through my parents’ basement and hauled a half dozen boxes of toys back to my apartment by the end of the weekend. Growing up is hard business.
But here’s where it gets fun again. With the beanette now very much on her way, I’ve started thinking back to special things I loved as a kid that might be just as fitting for our 2011 baby as they were a quarter-century ago. This Peter Rabbit tea set from my wee years definitely fits the bill. I lo-o-oved this thing when I was little. Plenty of water-in-lieu-of-tea parties were had, and despite all the clinking of cups, every piece of the set has magically remained unscathed. Seriously, not a chip in sight!
I’m definitely planning to incorporate this bit of bunny love into the Bean’s room, but I’m still not sure where/what to do with it. I saw Sarah Richardson frame some snazzy plates on an episode of her show a while back, so I’m thinking about that for the bigger dishes. But the set itself definitely needs a safe, sound and out-of-reach-of-a-rambunctious-baby’s-curious-hands spot until she’s old enough to know the difference between a tea cup and ball (and how they’re meant to be utilized). Perhaps floating shelves are in order? Or a baby-approved bookshelf that can hold her breakables up top and her safe-to-throw-and-chew-on things below?
Before I settle on something, I’ve been doing lots of browsing on Pinterest for baby shelf ideas (have I mentioned before how I love, love, love this site?!?!). Here are a few of my faves:
A bookshelf and a tree. Have you ever seen anything cuter? Unfortunately the hefty price tag makes this gem of a piece a no-can-do by a long shot, but I haven’t given up on finding something similar for a fraction of the cost. Photo found here.
These cube guys might be a handy choice. I do so love a shelf with space for basket storage, and it would be a long while before the Bean could go-go-Gadget her arms up to the top shelves. Photo found here.
And this one I love because … Ha! Just kidding. I’m sure our little lady will have no need for this caliber of shelvery until she’s well past the throwing-her-mom’s-favorite-tea-set age (unless she takes after her dad, in which case the book-buying gene might send her there much sooner). Photo found here.
So that’s where I am now: stuck between a shelf and a hard place. Thankfully I still have a few months left to ponder this design/function dilemma. In the meantime, I’ll be happily pinning away.
What are your favorite storage solutions for the pretty things you want the world to see but not to touch? Any baby room shelving ideas to share? And in the spirit of nostalgia, what childhood keepsakes have you/will you pass on to your kiddos? Do tell!
Posted on July 22, 2011
That’s right, pals. Amidst all the other cookery, baking and moving hullabaloo that’s going on in our neck of the woods these days, we’ve got another little project just cooking away. And so far the little bean is coming along just fine and dandy I’d say, as evidenced by her crazy rapid growth (hello, tummy) and karate chop kicks to the ol’ abdomen. Yep, she’s a strong and sassy little lady from the get go. Love, love, love.
So with the Bean coming this fall and an entire nursery to get in gear, my mind has been drifting to fabrics and artwork and baby furniture galore. Yowza. Who knew there was so much glorious baby-ness to be had? And who knew it would be so hard to find exactly what you’re looking for? After gobs of browsing online and in stores for baby bedding, I’ve decided to tackle the job myself, DIY style. Yes, that means that, despite my history of intense sewing dislike, I’m going to pull out the sewing machine and fashion up the Bean’s room with the slew of fabric I brought home from Jo-Ann’s a few weeks ago. Oh, the things we do for our kids.
Actually, I’m super pumped about getting started on this baby room project (perhaps that nesting thing is kicking in?), and my list of to-dos keeps growing as I come across new ideas. For now, I have my sights set on using my treasure trove of fabric for:
• A crib skirt (with the purple and white polka dot fabric)
• Throw pillows (we have a gray chair we’re planning to put in the room that’s in need of some pillow-infused loveliness)
• Basket liners (clutter keepers for all those adorable baby things that need a spot to call home)
• Framed art (I picked up an assortment of IKEA frames last time we swung through Atlanta, and I’m planning to use at least a few of them to frame fabric, à la baby Levi’s room)
So that’s the game plan. I’m hoping to squeeze in at least a few of the projects before we leave Missouri for our move south (by the way, after a last-minute switcheroo, we’re now planning a move to North Carolina instead of Georgia. Jared’s going to Duke! Luckily our new plans in no way infringe on the Bean’s chance of developing a slight Southern twang. Yeehaw!). Here’s hoping for a productive next two weeks!