ANATOMY OF A NURSERY
A baby nursery is probably one of the easiest rooms in the house to put together. You can buy matching bedding, rugs, curtains and accessories at any number of baby stores and call it a day (or, better yet, register for all that stuff and let someone else buy it!). Paint your baby’s room pink or blue and voila, you have a complete room.
Finding out the sex of your baby is key if you want to buy a matched set of bedding and room accessories. They do make some neutral sets, but there aren’t nearly as many choices and you’ll just get frustrated as you force yourself to look past the adorable pink daisies or miniature fire trucks to evaluate yet another farm animal motif in green and yellow.
I know this from experience. My husband and I decided—much to the frustration of all our friends and family—to be surprised on the sex of our baby. And when she (Isla Grace) made her debut, it was indeed a big surprise and totally worth the wait.
The only time I ever regretted not knowing the sex was when we were putting together her nursery. For a girl, I envisioned palettes of pale pink and buttery yellow with toile bedding and lacy curtains. For a boy, I saw navy and cream with red accents and prints of trucks and airplanes hanging on the walls.
But instead, I was stuck with neutral. NEUTRAL. Even the word is boring. Fortunately for me, the second bedroom in our condo was painted a lovely, neutral shade of pale green. I, of course, would have preferred yellow or ivory or a bold pumpkin shade, but my husband was not going to repaint a perfectly good bedroom to suit my decorating whims. I could have convinced him otherwise had I felt very strongly about one of the other colors, but to be honest, I felt pretty neutral about all the neutral colors.
So green it was. We had a pretty good idea of what we wanted as far as crib furniture went: dark wood, clean lines, minimal items. A crib, dresser (which doubles as changing table) and a glider were all we had room for—no bookcases for this baby. As you can see from the photo below, we went for a dresser that had it all—room for diapers, books, clothes and a changing pad. It was the best investment in the room, hands down.
A little more about this dresser: I sometimes get annoyed with looking at the clutter that diapers, creams, etc. create, but convenience wins over aesthetics. When you need a diaper, you need a diaper—stat! No time for fiddling around with drawers and doors.
Also note to the left of the dresser there is a laundry basket and Diaper Genie. This little corner is basically where all the dirty stuff goes. We clean it often or things don’t smell so great. The laundry basket is sitting on top of a matching storage cube (I have two of these in the nursery) where we store toys and other paraphernalia since the closet is filled with my clothes (sorry Isla, mommy’s clothes are bigger!).
But I digress, let’s get back to the décor. You can also see the adorable alphabet and numbers prints hanging above the corner of poo. You can buy something almost just like it at Land of Nod or some other trendy store for around a hundred bucks. Or, you can get grandpa to make you a custom design for free! Needless to say, we went with option two.
So we had a room with green walls, white trim and doors, espresso-colored furniture and an oatmeal-colored shag rug. Did I forget to mention that? It came with the green walls in the spare bedroom. And since we weren’t buying one of those oh-so-convenient matched sets, the rug, in all its neutralness, stayed (see below).
You also get a view of our crib here. As you can see, I opted for colorful dots instead of the omnipresent farm animals on the crib bedding. I also chose the ugliest mobile ever. That’s right, it’s ugly and I know it. But, just so you know, I spent hours pouring over websites trying to find the most beautiful mobile ever made for this crib.
But before I dropped $100 on a gorgeous toy, Marcie (a fellow Simply Real Mom) set me straight with this advice: “Buy the most colorful, obnoxious mobile you can find. And make sure it lights up and plays music.” Listening to her was one of the smartest things I’ve ever done. This mobile has served as a nighttime soother, a morning-time amusement and everything in between. A mobile without lights, bright colors and movement would have been for me, not for Isla.
As for the Sleep Sheep hanging woefully from the side of the crib—he has served his purpose as a nice white noise maker for little Isla.
At this point you’re probably wondering about the piece de résistance of Isla’s nursery—the giant monkey tree (below).
No, I did not paint this. We plan to sell our condo this year and I didn’t want prospective buyers to walk into the room and cringe at the thought of painting over my baby’s masterpiece. Instead, I went on etsy.com and bought a wall decal. These things are the best! There are about a million to choose from AND they are very inexpensive (around $80 for the whole thing). It took my husband and I a couple hours to put it up and voila, instant room décor! Plus, as an added bonus: Isla stares at those crazy monkeys all the time.
Speaking of crazy monkeys … as you can see, there are a few hanging out on the floating shelves. Why does every nursery have floating shelves? I’ve pondered this a lot as I sit and nurse my baby. My conclusion is this: You get lots of gifts when you have a baby, some are useful, some are not. Those that are not useful are decorative. You need some place to put the decorative stuff. And what’s better than a floating shelf? Well, a built-in book case would be nice, but I’ll save my rants on crappy storage in Chicago condos for another blog.
Now I’m going to take you to the most important corner of the nursery. Take a close look below.
As a mom, you will sit in and nurse (or bottle feed) your baby a LOT. It’s suuuuuper important to be comfortable. So get yourself in the market for a good glider—and don’t forget the footstool (it glides, too!).
Notice the small trash can to the side of the glider. This is KEY. I know you throw the really gross stuff in the Diaper Genie, but you’ll be surprised how often you need some place to just toss a wet wipe or whatever. Also note how close the dresser is to the chair. When you’re nursing (especially in the beginning), you get mega thirsty. You will want a place to sit your water bottle so it’s in easy reach. Oh, and that’s a humidifier hiding behind the trash can. You can buy way cuter humidifiers (froggies and other animals), this one is just a Walgreens basic.
This corner also contains my favorite nursery accessory—the lamp. Since Pottery Barn Kids only carries very gender specific items (or at least it feels that way), I bought this at PB Teen. I highly recommend checking out their site. It’s full of cool stuff that can easily be used in a baby’s room.
And if you are wondering why there’s a gigantic bottle of hand sanitizer next to the “teen” lamp, then you’ve never changed a diaper.
The prints above the chair were a gift from grandma and grandpa and add a more feminine touch to my nursery, which is no longer neutral—it’s a girl’s room!
And in case there is any doubt as to which girl’s room it is, I found this “I” at Anthropologie for her door (see below). I couldn’t resist it, and for $14, it was the perfect piece to complete Isla’s room!