Monthly Archives: March 2015

Nursery: House 1.0

Office Nursery original

Here are the before pics of the room. The previous owners used it as an office.


And here is the after.

We moved into our house when our first son was 3-months-old. Gender, obviously, was already established, but I wanted to decorate a nursery that would also work for our subsequent kids, be they boys or girls. Equal parts D.I.Y. and store-bought, here is the full result.


This room is small but perfectly sized for a nursery, which really doesn’t need much more than a crib, rocker, dresser and bookcase.  I started with fabrics from Joann Fabrics—one striped, one polka dot—in coordinating colors. My sewing wizard mom created the bed skirt, crib bumpers, valance and two changing pad covers. (If you are lucky enough to have seamstress skills or can impose on someone who does, this is a very budget-friendly solution.) Incidentally, the art pictured here to the left of the crib is the embroidered alphabet that my mom made to hang in my nursery as a baby. Vintage. I used the fabric as inspiration for the paint colors for both the wall and the stripe. Most paint stores have the ability to color match from fabric, but I was able to find very close matches from paint swatches. The unifying theme is elephants, which are loved equally by both genders.


The cozy corner. This rocker, literally called the Best chair, lives up to its name. It is the most comfortable piece of furniture that we own, and we bought it in colors that match our living room furniture so we can move it downstairs when our kids age out of rocking. The valance and lamp shade are also mom-made and the teddy bear was created by my mother-in-law, in the same style as the one she made for my husband when he was a baby. (We’re surrounded by some seriously crafty ladies.) The bouncy wheel hanging from the ceiling was a present from Korea, so I can’t say where it can be found, but the bookcase is easy enough to find at Ikea. (Bolted to the wall, of course. Our boys are climbers.)


I was obsessed with the furniture from now-defunct Chicago shop The White Attic, but we  couldn’t afford the splurge. So my mom re-created the look by painting an old dresser she owned to mimic their style, then added Anthropologie knobs. The framed artwork is courtesy of Etsy.

That covers the D.I.Y., but below is a buying guide for the store-bought items, with the exception of the crib, which is no longer made. I recommend splurging on a crib that is hardwood rather than particle board to reduce off-gassing, as well as purchasing one from an American or Canadian company that uses baby-safe paints.(Kids gnaw. It’s always better if they don’t gnaw on lead.) And yes, I know there are crib bumpers in the photos. These pics were taken before they were roundly demonized, and anyway, I had an on/off solution with them. Off when the kids were infants, on when they were smacking their heads against the side of the crib, back off when they could stand and used them as leverage to escape.


Best glider, other varieties available here, starting around $550.


Elephant mobile, $49, in a similar style to mine.


Animal parade print, $24 unframed.


Be Kind to Books Club vintage poster, $21.99


Elephant hamper, $19.99


Elephant rocker, $120


Name puzzle stool (click here for similar styles)


Cloud B Soothing Sounds Gentle Giraffe, $35


“Bunch of Clowns” art at by artist Chuck Wimmer—I purchased it from the One of a Kind Show in Chicago.


Monogrammed nursery blanket, $29.50


Zinnia handle in aqua, $18 a piece

Office Revamp – House 1.0

Office original

This is a photo of our office when we bought the house. It had brown shag carpeting, dingy tan walls and a pheasant wallpaper border. But those eaves were pretty cool, and we wanted to bring them out.

First step was to replace the carpet. We had pulled up carpeting from the first floor that happened to match the other bedrooms, so we hired a retired carpet installer to fit it to this room. (Carpet stores won’t do this for you – you have to buy their goods to get their people.) He did a great job, but also was the first and only contractor to bleed in our house. He cut himself with his carpet knife and left a Blair Witch-style bloody handprint on our stairs. Carpet: Not for sissies.


And here’s the after view of the office. We painted the walls yellow and green to make it look happier, and my mom made the curtains from festive sheets I found at Urban Outfitters.


This is a charming little corner area that was too small for furniture. I set down a baby quilt that my mother-in-law made, and let the kids romp around there while I worked. This worked much better in theory than in practice (the children staying put, not the design), but still. Makes for a good photograph.

IMG_5353 IMG_5354

And this is how we staged the room for house showings. That is not a real bed — it’s a Bed, Bath and Beyond-style fake bed made from boxes. And yet no matter how many times we tell our toddler not to jump on it, he keeps doing it, and it caves in. Then he says “It doesn’t work.” It’s fun to be two.

Starting With Projects from the Old House

I have time to kill until we finish rooms in the new house, so I’m going to start by posting projects from the old house. I have to work with the photos I already have so there will be some gaps in step-by-step D.I.Y., but I will be able to plan better once I start with the new house. So if you have any questions, feel free to use the contact form, and I can fill in the blanks for you.

And We’re Off

We’ve owned the house for three months now.  A lot of projects are underway, though few are completed. (It’s a little hard to make any progress with 4- and 2-year-old boys who think that it’s super fun to flush paint brushes down toilets. Maybe I’ll try it sometime. Seems to be hilarious to the under 5 set.)

I won’t post anything from the new house until I have completed rooms to show (with plenty of progress pics along the way) because that’s the way Sarah Richardson would do it. (I want to roll the Sarah’s House way as much as possible, albeit without a Sarah’s House budget.)

In the meantime, I’ll post some photos of the projects that we’ve completed in our current house so you can get a sense of our style. I’ll make a big announcement when posts move into new house territory. Maybe there will be balloons. Perhaps a cake. I don’t know – I’ll get into some hard cider and see where the day takes me.