It’s been exactly a year since we converted our bedroom into a nursery for our little jelly belly. I was three weeks away from my due date and a maddening urge to nest hit me. I had made a plan for the space but hadn’t done much beyond having David put up the crib and pop some art on the wall. One year later his space has undergone a multitude of changes, which is when it occurred to me, I never shared the first edition!
We live in a vintage one bedroom in Chicago’s populous and energetic Lakeview neighborhood. Our flat is sizable for the area – we have a sun room, formal dining room, large kitchen and a living room with built-ins and a fireplace (just for show though!). When we found out we were pregnant in May of 2014 we decided we’d work with the space we have rather than moving into a larger apartment. We love the character and location of our current place and knew that to find a two bedroom even remotely as cute in such a good neighborhood would be a long shot. So we decided to stay!
With that decision came the next big query: where would the baby sleep? We could convert the sun room into a nursery but worried that it would be too bright for daytime naps. We thought about shifting our dining room turned art studio into a baby room, but it was in too high traffic an area. So in-rooming it would be!
Our sizable bedroom already had our queen size bed, a vintage dresser, side table, and plants. We chose to keep the dresser so we could convert the top into a changing station. The side table’s locale was to be determined as we moved things around. We squashed our bed up again the northern wall, directly in front of the window, and squeezed the crib so the head would line up with my side of the bed. My thought process was that having him within arm’s length would allow me to soothe and massage him in the middle of the night without having to have him in bed with us. While sharing a bed with a newborn is appealing to some, with David and I being wiggly sleepers, and often sharing our space with our rescue pets, we knew that the safest place for the babe would be his own crib.
Choosing the crib was a real struggle. Part of me was drawn to the ornate vintage inspired designs I was stumbling across on the inter webs. Cribs with intricate carvings, bold paint jobs, wheels, bells, whistles, you name it! But there were three big concerns: the price tag, the size, and most importantly, safety. Beyond the crib design itself I was finding that many run of the mill cribs were made with wood composite and then lacquered with unhealthy varnishes or paints. Why would we want our pure, fresh, healthy bambino sleeping in a toxic box?! Or so my hormone-infused drama-ridden pregnancy brain would exclaim.
After doing loads of research I decided that we’d go for a gently sanded minimalist wooden crib – one that could convert into a toddler bed was also a plus. And that’s when we found the one. After reading a great article on Apartment Therapy’s website on healthy, safe and stylish baby cribs, we went with the Ikea Sniglar bed. Made from a beautifully blonde solid beech wood, the Sniglar bed is sleek, simple, and the perfect size to squeeze into our bedroom turned nursery. Plus – buying an Ikea crib meant we could buy an Ikea mattress – which is made with more cotton, less toxins, and isn’t treated with fire retardants. Big bonus! After assembling the “cage,” as David lovingly referee to it, we popped a few stripes of non-toxic paint around a couple of the bars to cheer it up a bit. Wallah! Done and done!
In addition to the crib. we put together an eclectic art wall featuring work by friends, Etsy artisans, vintage prints and some homemade collage. With art being such a central part of our lives, we knew we wanted this to be the centerpiece of the room. Using thrifted wooden picture frames in varying sizes and shapes, I white-washed some, painted the glass on others, and then assembled each one with a complimentary print or original art piece. I knew I wanted lots of animals to be represented – mainly forest type critters – but kept my mind open so I could have a variety of colors and textures. The jumbo sized mushroom print was a must-have as foraging fungi is a family past-time that I wanted to pay homage to in the nursery. I’m, fairly obviously, obsessed with the work of River Luna, and you can see a variety of prints that I cut up (sacrilege – I know!) and montaged throughout the space. I also knew that having a Bible verse on the wall would be key, if not to August, to me. The one I chose was a print by Oh Be Joyful of Ephesians 2:10 – “You were made with love.” I wanted a daily reminder of God’s grace each and every time I’d lay the babe down to sleep. So an instant download off Etsy it was!
In addition to the art wall we did some simple DIY projects to add both style and functionality to his half of the room. We purchased several sets of wooden boxes, some initially meant for filing, others for toy storage, and transformed them into supply shelves to be used around his changing station. We added some splashes of color to each, being careful to leave peeks of the original wood so it would flow well with the crib. We then stuffed the shelves with baby rattles, diapering supplies, and other knick knacks. We also stacked a couple of wooden crates left over from Pierogi Picnic bazaars and used them to organize all the hand knit blankets, swaddles, and books that August had coming his way.
To add a bit more whimsy to the space (it couldn’t all be utilitarian!) I made a simple and sweet mobile to hang over his crib using a wooden circle I scored in the clearance section of Michael’s (what it was really meant for I’ll never know!) along with some adorable woodland animal stuffies I found in the holiday sale section at Target (a weasel, fox, elephant and lion, oh my!) post Christmas. I strung them all together to create a super cute little hanging for his newborn eyes to focus up towards. I also popped some high contrast art cards, that we purchased from the now closed Green Genes in Andersonville (we miss that store!) on some of the shelves and topped them all off with a mama-made grey and teal felt bunting.
Finishing touches to our bedroom-come-nursery included potted plants, an easy to wash cotton rug (key in muffling middle of the night doggie footsteps), ombre baskets from Ikea, handmade animal pillows (an Etsy purchase from many years ago), a moses basket (for those days I really did want him sleeping a bit closer), a monochromatic mountain print curtain from H&M (one of August’s favorite things his first few months), my favorite vintage knit rainbow blanket, a handful of swaddles and then all those layette basics. When choosing baby gear we were intentional when it came to the designs. Sharing a space with a baby would mean having to have lots of supplies on-hand and out for grabbing at a moment’s notice – hence making sure each swaddle, burp cloth, bib and more worked with the open, airy and woodsy theme we had created for the space.
August’s first edition nursery served us incredibly well – that is until we started to work on sleep training in the late summer. But a detailed post about that version of the space will be saved for another time! For now I’m enjoying looking back at my first attempt at making a piece of our home his own.