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With just a week or two to go before our baby boy arrives, I finally finished the nursery! (I intended to publish this post the day he decided to make his early appearance!) Most of the major pieces came together over the summer, but the finishing details took longer than I would’ve liked. But I’m giving myself a break because A) it’s done, and B) my physical stamina took a nosedive in third trimester.
A few months ago, I shared some insight into my design inspiration for our nursery. As a refresher (if you don’t want to read that whole post), I aimed for a design that would be cohesive with the rest of our 1930 English Tudor house, and I hoped to include furniture pieces that could be versatile down the road.
There are three spaces that we’ve prepared: our master bedroom bassinet nook, the nursery, and the sleeping room.
Master bedroom bassinet nook
We plan to keep the baby in a bassinet in our bedroom at night during the first few months when feeding is most frequent. I made space in the oversized dormer that previously served as a reading nook. I kept the bookshelf and antique wingback chair, and I added an antique-style Pottery Barn Kids bassinet (with these bassinet sheets) and a quad sheepskin rug from Costco. A one-of-a-kind folk art angel that my late mother-in-law made and gave me about 10 years ago sits above the window. I like to think of it as a guardian angel to watch over us. I got an heirloom-quality, organic cotton baby blanket from Boll & Branch that I hope our son keep and enjoy for years to come. And of course, we’ve got a white noise machine for all of our sakes (definitely a baby registry must!).
The nursery is in a space we called “the annex,” which is through a set of French doors from our master. Fortunately we already had a couple large pieces for this room: the dresser we’re using as a changing table and my childhood toy box. I decided to splurge on two things: an area rug and a chair.
The rug is a vintage wool rug that I found at Scott’s Antique Market. I wanted something that is fairly neutral so it could work in a variety of settings in the future. I also prioritized finding something made from natural fibers to avoid fumes (“off-gassing”) from synthetic fibers that give me headaches and aren’t great for babies. The smaller wool rug I found at a Pottery Barn Outlet, but it’s also available online (I have the 3×5 in porcelain blue / ivory).
I searched and searched and researched to find the perfect chair. I wanted a glider because rockers don’t do well on carpet, and I wanted something with clean lines but not too mid-century modern. I decided on the Pottery Barn Kids Merced glider and ottoman in platinum performance velvet. It nearly didn’t fit through the door (!) but we made it work somehow. I think it was a worthy investment piece because I expect to spend a lot of time in it. (Side note: definitely wait for a sale if you plan to get any Pottery Barn furniture! And plan ahead for upholstered furniture because the production time can take months.) Behind the glider is a watercolor print I made of Micah 6:8, a Bible verse that was read at both Nick’s mom’s and my dad’s funerals. I added an antique half moon table I found at Scott’s and a Target reading lamp that I repurposed from a different room.
The vintage dresser and mirror was Nick’s when he was a baby, which I love! I topped it with a foam Keekaroo “peanut” changing pad that’s easy to wipe down and doesn’t require covers that need washing. I hung a felt Pehr bunny hop mobile over the changing table to keep the little guy distracted during diaper changes. To complete the changing area, I added the IKEA “RASKOG” cart for supplies, a stainless steel Ubbi diaper pail (which uses regular trash bags), and a rolling laundry hamper from Crate & Barrel with a removable (and most importantly, washable!) liner.
The large bookshelf I found at a local shop called Nadeau. I wanted something big enough for lots of books and I loved the carved spindles that mirror the style of our dresser/changing table. I filled the shelves with books, including classics that we already had and lots of new baby books (thanks, friends!). I also included a number of meaningful things: my dad’s sock monkey, Coke bottles from my parents’ time at UNC (and the ‘82 National Championship), Nick’s great-grandfather’s globe, a “lucky penny” tin we got in London for Mother’s Day (Nick’s late mom’s name is Penny), and a macaron box from our favorite bakery in Paris. The endlessly versatile Pehr storage bins make a few appearances throughout the nursery, including on the shelves.
On the other side of the large bookshelf is a baby reading nook. The tiny rocking chair was mine when I was little, and I stained it to match the rest of the nursery furniture (I used a fume-free wood stain in dark walnut from ECOS Paints). I hung a photo of London facades that I commissioned from Atlanta photographer Morgan Blake Beatton several years ago; we found out we were pregnant in London, so I incorporated nods to the city in the nursery design. I paired that photo with a reproduction of a vintage world map that I found at Kudzu Antiques and a print of a building from my dad’s seminary in Richmond, Virginia.
Because of the sloped ceilings and several doors, I didn’t have much flat wall space to work with for art, so I wanted to be especially mindful to choose meaningful pieces. By the changing table there’s a cluster of three: a Noah’s Ark print we bought from an artist in St. Tropez as a gift for Nick’s mom (we took it back after she died); a copy of my baby shower invitation from Minted; and a print that says “the best is yet to come,” which encapsulates our hopeful vision for both our baby and our family. On the other side is a letterpress calendar from Brown Parcel Press, a mother-daughter duo here in Georgia (I’m hoping to use the beautiful pages in monthly update photos of the little guy).
Lastly, I designed a bookshelf / cubbies that my father-in-law (and grandpa-to-be!) built for us. I wanted something that allowed the baby to grab and put away things himself when he gets a little older.
Through the nursery is a closet that’s about 6 feet by 6 feet, which we’ve dubbed “the sleeping room.” We put a full-size crib and a small rug in there, and that’s about all there’s room for. I may add a dimmable floor lamp because the overhead light is a bit harsh. And I’ll eventually decide on a monitor (I’m leaning toward a Nest indoor camera).
I painted the walls and ceiling a muted navy color called “Quiet Peace” (a wishful choice!) from ECOS Paints. I decided it was worth spending a little extra on a zero-VOC paint both for my sake and the baby’s. I painted in a very small, poorly ventilated space, and it truly had little to no odor. You have to order the paint online, but the company makes the process pretty easy. They will send free paint chips or you can match other brand’s colors, and if you order samples, they will credit the price ($9.99 for three samples) towards a full-size purchase. My friend AJ helped me paint metallic stars on the ceiling, which was inspired by the ceiling at our church.
As with almost every baby product, the crib selection process is a rabbithole of information! Obviously there are basic considerations like size, style, and durability. Beyond that, it was important to me to choose a crib that wasn’t made with potentially harmful materials. It seems that the biggest concerns are 1) a crib that is made from as much solid wood as possible (as opposed to manufactured wood products that can have chemical adhesives), and 2) a crib with zero-VOC finishes (stains or paints that don’t put off fumes). One decent way to narrow things down is to look for Greenguard Gold Certified furniture.
Truth be told, the cribs I found most beautiful were way out of my budget. Given that we planned to put the crib in a closet, the style didn’t have a huge impact on the overall nursery design, so I decided to let that go. We had plenty of space for a full-size crib, so that wasn’t a limiting factor either. In the end, I decided on IKEA’s SNIGLAR crib. I saw it on a number of “green” crib lists because it is made from solid beech wood and is unfinished (so no chemical paints/stains). The biggest reason I chose it was because of the $80 price tag. That freed up budget to get a great crib mattress, like the one I chose from My Green Mattress that’s made from organic wool, cotton, and coconut fibers. I registered for organic cotton crib sheets from Burt’s Bees Baby.
I finished out the sleeping room with a faux sheepskin rug from IKEA that we already had (they’re $15), and a little embroidery hoop I made for the door. The cloud mobile was a hand-me-down, but it’s still available online from Crate & Kids. As I mentioned earlier, I’ll probably add a dimmable floor lamp in the corner for an alternative to the overhead light.
Phew, that was a lot. After writing it all down, I can see why it took so long! What a privilege it was to lovingly prepare a place for my baby. Now I’m going to try to rest for my final few days of childless life… (lol jk, there were no more days after I wrote that!)