...because home doesn't happen overnight.
The nursery we weren’t expecting…
The before: not a lot to say here. Questionable green carpet, peeling paint, disintegrating baseboards but, LOOK!, a new window! This is the smallest of the three bedrooms (it’s not even 10′ x 10′) but it faces south and receives a good amount of natural light. When we bought the house, we had planned on this being Everett’s room. But a week before we sold our previous house, we discovered we were unexpectedly expecting. Surprise! In an instant, this room became the nursery. Well, not really in an instant. Mabrey was five months old by the time the room resembled anything remotely close to a nursery.
I don’t know about you but my number one goal for a nursery is to make it conducive to sleeping – the more, the better. I chose a deep blue-gray for the walls and Steve thought I was insane. (I was extremely sleep-deprived at the time so it wasn’t much of a stretch.) Once the paint was up on the walls, though, he came around. Somehow, the moody walls made the teeny space feel larger. There’s so much depth to the color, it’s as if the walls recede. It continues to be one of my favorite paint colors in the house.
Along with a good amount of natural light, I used lots of white to brighten the space. I love the contrast. I chose pinks and corals as accents. In keeping with the vibe of the rest of the house, I added hits of texture with layered rugs, a woven shade and seagrass baskets. Since the room is so small, I chose a simple (and inexpensive!) crib that can be converted into a toddler bed. Two years later, I have nothing but good things to say about it. The quilt is a family heirloom. My great-grandmother made it. It was my dad’s when he was a baby then mine. I’ve used it with all three of my kids. It’s starting to show some wear but I think that only adds to its beauty.
I created the art above the crib using an old mirror frame, leftover tongue and groove planks (from our mudroom renovation) and paint. It’s reminiscent of a sunset. It’s secured to the wall with drywall anchors and 3M adhesive strips. Mabrey has never shown an interest in playing with the art but it’s nice to know it’s not going anywhere if she decides to make it her toy. (I know it looks substantial but it weighs less than three pounds.)
The room wouldn’t accommodate an oversized rocker so I chose one with a small footprint. A lumbar pillow and floor pouf (which now lives in the living room) made late night feedings comfortable enough. Luckily, Mabrey was a fast eater so I never spent more than 15-20 minutes in the rocker at a time. Today, it’s where we sit to read nap time and bedtime stories. We’ve made a lot of good memories in that rocker.
A trio of floating shelves holds books, baskets and decorative items without taking up precious floor space. Two fabric bins on the floor corral toys for easy access and cleanup.
A makeshift changing table sits opposite the crib. We’ve had the horizontal bookcase for several years and it has served as a living room console, playroom storage and media stand in our previous residences. It’s so versatile! I added a contoured changing pad, toiletry basket and lamp to give it a completely different function in the nursery. The bins and baskets hold the majority of Mabrey’s clothes and diapers.
Just like in the other bedrooms, I removed the closet door. The door to the room opens up right in front of the closet and it was cumbersome having so many doors (if you can consider two doors “so many”) in such a small space. I hung a curtain panel from a tension rod in the door frame and called it a day.
The closet is super tiny. I put a standing utility shelf in it for extra storage. The closet primarily holds a few hanging items (like dresses, coats and jackets) that are currently in rotation along with hand-me-downs that don’t fit just yet. I keep a laundry basket in the closet and throw in things that are too small as Mabrey outgrows them. When the basket is full, I donate them. It’s a good system. The basket on the floor next to the changing table acts as a hamper.
The curtains framing the window match the one hanging in the closet. The woven shade is mounted outside the window frame while a room-darkening roller shade is mounted out of sight, inside the window frame. The trunk under the window was a wedding gift from my mom. I tweaked an off-the-shelf dollhouse (it originally featured blue and orange accents) because I’m crazy like that. Sometimes we bring it out to the living room to play.
I caught quite a bit of flack in the online world for creating a dark nursery but I don’t regret it one iota. It’s actually a very happy place to play and sleep. I’m pretty sentimental about this room. I never thought we’d have a little girl in our family (and I was content with that) so I’m really grateful for this space and the amazing little person in it. She’s quite the firecracker and I can’t imagine life without her. Also, I’m already brainstorming ideas for a “big girl” room. It probably won’t happen for a year or so but, be warned, it’s coming. And then, technically, I won’t be able to call it a nursery anymore and I will sob. The end.
Resources of note:
wall paint – Benjamin Moore dark pewter
trim paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas brown via Build Direct
ceiling light – Ikea, discontinued
curtains – West Elm, discontinued
curtain rod – Target
woven shade – petite rustique from Overstock
room-darkening roller shade – Levolor from Lowe’s
dollhouse – Plan Toys terrace dollhouse
trunk – gift
area rug – jute chenille herringbone from West Elm
sheepskin rug – Ikea
floor lamp – gift
crib – GULLIVER from Ikea
organic mattress pad – Amazon
crib sheet – Amazon
crib bumper – Amazon (white version unavailable)
artwork above crib – DIY
quilt – vintage
striped crib pillow – West Elm, discontinued
rocker - Amazon
lumbar pillow – etsy
floating shelves – Ikea
wire book bins – Kroger
various seagrass baskets – Ikea, Kroger
fabric toy bins – Target
resin deer head – White Faux Taxidermy
fabric garland – DIY
wall mirror – Ikea
table lamp – Morten table lamp from West Elm
extra long, contoured changing pad – Amazon
changing table – EXPEDIT from Ikea, discontinued
striped bins – Ikea, discontinued
doll stroller – Land of Nod
In case you haven’t seen enough of this itty bitty room, here are a bunch of links documenting its evolution:
FURNITURE, DECOR & ORGANIZATION
*BONUS* – Mabrey’s birth story.
You can access this nursery tour (along with a general house tour and individual room tours) under the “See My House” tab in the side bar. I’ll be adding more rooms in the weeks to come. Thanks for reading!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
My boys start school next week so we’re squeezing in a few more fun things before summer break is officially over. As a result, things might be quieter on the blog over the next week. I hope you understand. The good news is that once school starts, my afternoons are freed up for more projects. My goal is to finish tweaking the boys’ room by the end of the month. The last time I shared my sluggish progress in the room, I got a ton of questions regarding the hanging plant(er). I thought I would give it a quick mention today since there was so much interest.
The boys requested a “cool plant” for their room. I decided a hanging plant would work best to keep floor space open for play. I stumbled across a sprawling burro’s tail at a local nursery. (Berns nursery in Beavercreek for any locals.) It came in a plastic hanging planter from the nursery but I wanted to dress it up a little.
I found the modern macrame planter on etsy. (I’ll take one of everything in that shop, btw.) Then I returned to my local nursery and found the cracked, glazed pot. To allow for proper drainage, I kept the burro’s tail in its original plastic pot and dropped it into the glazed one. (The glazed pot doesn’t have drainage holes.)
To hang the planter, I installed a toggle ceiling hook. After eyeballing where I wanted the planter to hang, I drilled a pilot hole in the ceiling then inserted and screwed in the hook. I don’t remember the weight capacity but it’s well above that of the planter. My one suggestion for ceiling hooks is to match them to your ceiling so they aren’t an eyesore. The one I used is white and it blends into the ceiling.
I carefully slipped the pot into the macrame planter and arranged the stems then suspended the entire thing from the ceiling hook. The length of the macrame hanger is perfect for standard 8′ ceilings. One thing to be aware of: the plant is delicate and if you manhandle it, it will drop its fleshy leaves. It drops a few leaves each week but they’re super small and non-toxic. I just pick them up when I see them or vacuum them during weekly cleanings.
Burro’s tail (a.k.a. donkey’s tail or lamb’s tail) is a succulent and it likes sun, rocky soil and infrequent watering. I hung it in front of an east-facing window and water it every 2-3 weeks. It’s been going strong for over two months. I think I can keep it alive! I love all the different textures going on in this planter and I adore the simple macrame hanger with its natural wood beads. It’s got me scheming for more hanging planters in the house. In the living room? My bedroom?
And while I’m thinking of it, I added a mat to the framed engineer print. You might remember my conundrum with the $3 engineer print being a few inches too short to fill the entire poster frame. Since this piece will be a mainstay in the room for years to come (I’m going switch out the engineer print each year for a current candid of the boys), I felt like it was worthy investment. It definitely gives the inexpensive, black and white print a polished look. I’m really happy with it!
I have a few more fun ideas to bring to life in this room. In fact, today the boys and I picked up samples for the next big project. Can’t wait to share!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
It’s been over two months since I shared my childhood clubhouse and my plans for perking it up for my kids and their cousins. It took several sporadic weekends, a lot of elbow grease and numerous car loads but the clubhouse is finished! For now.
You can see the “before” here but this post is all “after”, baby. My apologies in advance for the massive photo onslaught you are about to endure. It was a sentimental project and I had a hard time choosing my favorites. Enjoy!
I didn’t do much of anything to the exterior. Some people probably think I went about this bass ackwards but I’d rather wait and see how much the kids use the clubhouse before I invest in luxuries like windows, a legit door, exterior stain, etc. I could easily sink a grand into this structure but I’m trying to be somewhat practical here. (It isn’t easy.) So a pair of hammock chair swings it is!
My dad suggested hanging them from old springs he had so I did that. You can bounce or swing or…swounce? And once you get in, you don’t want to get out. They cradle you like a baby. Btw, that’s my niece, Lillian. She lives in Texas but was visiting for the month of July so she got to help me work on the clubhouse. She was so excited!
Steve geeked out and put his engineering skills to work by rigging up a dumbwaiter. It was a hit with the kids. It also came in handy when I was loading the clubhouse. The cots wouldn’t fit through the trap door so I hooked them to the dumbwaiter and lifted them over the porch railing.
I didn’t even bother to paint the scrap boards supporting the pulley. It’s just a clubhouse, right?
The clubhouse is all about nature. You’re surrounded by nothing but trees and sky. So inside, I kept things really simple to keep the focus on the outdoors. My initial instinct was to paint the interior white. But once I started cleaning up to prep for paint, it became evident pretty quickly that something closer to the color of dirt would work better. I chose a gray-green hue and never looked back. I really liked the weathered patina of the ceiling so I left it untouched.
Everett and my sister, Alina, helped me paint the first coat. I got a little emotional thinking about the three of us working together to revive a place my sister and I had once played in. I may have said something sappy about things coming full circle. I think too much when I paint.
I repurposed a closet shelf from our own home’s renovation. Steve cut it down and installed three brackets to support it under the window. I didn’t bother to paint it. Again, it’s just a clubhouse, right? I kinda like the scuffed up paint anyway.
The shelf is a makeshift nightstand of sorts. It’s perfect for books, nature journals and a pair of solar-powered cone lamps. I created a tic tac toe board out of washi tape and wood craft letters.
Two folding cots flank the shelf. They’re comfortable for cots, I guess. The kids LOVE them. They fold up so I can stash them in a corner away from the elements when we aren’t using them. In the winter, I’ll store them elsewhere.
Net canopies are my attempt at preventing mosquitos from eating my children and nieces. They were super easy to assemble and hang. The ring at the top is flexible plastic – not wood – which allowed it to be packaged efficiently. Genius.
Rocks and wildflowers from our nature walks are on display. I found the Ball jar in my dad’s barn. It reminds me of my mom canning beans from our garden in the summer when I was a kid. Once you hear the whistle of a pressure cooker, you never forget it!
I had fun with with paint on the other side of the room.
I upcycled a large canvas that once lived in Everett’s nursery in our previous house. I had originally painted a leaf motif on it for the nursery but I wanted something bold and simple that would pop against the gray-green walls of the clubhouse. I had a flashback of sitting on the living room floor and watching M*A*S*H reruns with my dad on our boxy console TV. The red cross spoke to me so I painted one on the canvas using leftover paint.
I stole some linens and pillows from the boys’ bedroom (don’t worry, I replaced them with something else) for the cots. The army drab blankets are another nod to the clubhouse-meets-M*A*S*H theme. They’re surprisingly soft – not itchy at all. When we aren’t visiting, I stash the bedding in a plastic tote.
The kids had fun scouring the woods for the perfect walking sticks. I painted a few bands of color around them then propped them in the corner. They feel more like art than hiking gear. The boys think they’re way cool.
Near the entrance I painted a sliver of wall in chalkboard paint to encourage graffiti. You might remember seeing my sisters’ and their friends’ original graffiti in the “befores”. Most of it was inappropriate (Everett asked me several times what a jackass was while we were painting) but I didn’t have the heart to wipe it out completely so I left one harmless message uncovered. A small tin bucket holds chalk.
A soft cooler hangs from a hook on the other side of the doorway. It’s great for snacks and bottles of water.
A few more candid shots…
I moved them for some of the shots but there are plastic storage totes under each cot.
They hold games, books, journals, etc. Many of the books were Steve’s or his dad’s when they were little. I’m kicking myself for not getting a shot of the kids playing Monopoly on the floor. There’s plenty of room between the two beds for playing or laying out a sleeping bag.
I told Everett to “act completely normal.” You guys, THIS IS HIS NORMAL. He is hilarious.
My bookworm. Layne zones out when he’s reading. I bet he didn’t even know I took this picture.
Funny story. I started taking pictures for the reveal and didn’t realize until about halfway through that Everett had written “butt cheeks” on the chalkboard wall. I had to erase it and start all over. I told you he was hilarious.
Some reactions to the finished clubhouse:
Lillian: I like that there aren’t a bunch of decorations and that it’s not just for little kids or boys.
Layne: I think it needs a generator and a mini fridge.
Everett: Butt cheeks.
Mabrey: (Nada. Too busy eating chalk.)
my dad: Looks nice. Reminds me of M*A*S*H. (No joke. That was totally unprompted.)
Personally, I kinda want to move in. And if the kids use it enough, I might be tempted to give the exterior more attention.
I’d love to know what you think of the clubhouse. Any playhouse projects going on at your place? Any M*A*S*H fans out there?
Resources of note:
hammock chairs – Wayfair*
pulley, bucket, rope, tie-off – Ace Hardware
wall paint – Martha Stewart flagstone mixed in Glidden exterior paint, semigloss
shelf brackets – Home Depot
washi tape, wood letters – JoAnn’s
solar-powered lamps – Ikea
steel folding cots – Wayfair*
mosquito net canopies – Overstock
army blankets – ebay
wall hook – Home Depot
soft cooler – Wayfair*
*This project was completed in collaboration with Wayfair. Items denoted with an asterisk were kindly donated to the project. You can see side-by-side before-and-afters right here. All images, content and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Framed engineer prints are everywhere. Have you seen them? I especially love the ones featured here, here and here. I had been looking for a large piece of artwork to hang in the boys’ room when it dawned on me that an engineer print might be the ticket.
I had taken a photo with my phone of Layne and Everett on our recent trip to Florida. They’re mid-air jumping into a pool and it just exudes BOY. I had the photo blown up into a 2′ x 3′ black and white engineer print at Staples. (I quickly ordered the print online.) One day and $3 later, I had the print in hand. Since the print was so inexpensive, I “splurged” on a wood poster frame.
The print isn’t the highest quality and the paper is thin but for $3 I wasn’t expecting perfection. Also, the image doesn’t fill out the entire 3′ length – it’s more like 32″. This probably has something to do with the fact that I took the photo using the VSCO app. I might DIY a mat but next time I want the image to fill the entire frame. The frame itself is nice for a poster frame. The wood gives it a more expensive look and the facing is acrylic (not glass) which is ideal for a kids’ room.
Layne and Everett LOVE it and that’s all that matters anyway. The plan is to switch out the print for a current photo of the boys each year. I really like the idea of this being a feature that evolves as the boys grow. And at $3 per print, we can afford to change the imagery whenever boredom strikes.
Have you tried enlarging a candid photo into an engineer print yet? It’s so easy and inexpensive and instantly adds personality to any space.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking