...because home doesn't happen overnight.
I had to rework the closet in Mabrey’s room when I replaced her crib/toddler bed with a twin trundle. Bringing in a larger bed necessitated moving most of the playthings to the closet to free up floor space. You can see how the closet used to look when the room served as a nursery right here. A freestanding shelving unit (it lived in our previous home’s craft closet) was a temporary fix that worked well for the first few years to corral diapering essentials and a quickly evolving wardrobe. (Little ones outgrow clothing so quickly!) However, it wasn’t the most functional solution for a preschooler.
I sold the shelving unit and put the money towards the room makeover. To accommodate larger toy items like the dollhouse, shopping cart and stroller, we added a second shelf under the existing shelf and hanging rod. I measured the height of the dollhouse and shopping cart to allow for clearance, then we added cleats to the back and sides of the closet. We cut and laid a shelf board across the cleats. All the wood was left over from the whole house renovation (a longer shelf used to hang in the boys’ closet), so the cost to add the shelf was nil. I painted the shelf and closet to match the rest of the room.
I kept the closet curtain panel. With the door to the room opening up on to the closet, it’s just a less cumbersome setup versus a legit door. Plus, I really like using curtains vs. doors on children’s closets for practical reasons: no smashed fingers, easy access for little ones, no slamming doors! The curtain matches the panels at the window and hangs from an inexpensive tension rod just behind the stop of the door frame. Years ago, I hemmed it to puddle slightly at the floor for a casual vibe. The wood dot hooks next to the closet double as curtain tie backs.
The floor of the closet serves as a mini “garage” housing wheeled items like a stroller, shopping cart and portable toy box. The shopping cart was a joint gift from family a few years back, and it’s the toy Mabrey plays with most often. The rolling toy box is new. (Yes, I spray painted the green rims white and replaced the green rope with a white one because #typeA.) I filled it with blocks and Lincoln Logs from the boys’ closet since they’ve pretty much outgrown them and Mabrey plays with them more. (BONUS: This freed up space in the boys’ closet!) It’s so great having these items out of the way but within easy reach. Mabrey can pull them out on her own to play with in her room or in the living room. A laundry basket sits to the right of the toy box.
Mabrey doesn’t play with the stroller all that much so it sits in the corner for now. She doesn’t seem to have a huge interest in baby dolls. In fact, she keeps asking me if she has to have a husband and kids when she grows up. I tell her, “Absolutely not! You can do whatever you want and have any kind of family you want.” She says she wants to work, have a house and a cat, and she wants me to visit. So sweet!
The newly added shelf holds a dollhouse which Mabrey actually enjoys playing with in the closet. (See how I tweaked it here.) It’s right at eye level, so I guess that’s why. Even so, it can be easily moved out to the coffee table in the living room for access to all sides. A small wire basket off to the right holds a set of mini wooden figurines that Mabrey plays with in the house.
I stash books on the left and rotate them in and out of the wall-mounted bookshelf next to Mabrey’s bed, so we don’t get stuck reading the same books over and over again. It kinda works? If Mabrey had it her way, we’d read Richard Scarry’s Best Word Book Ever every night until she moved out. #somuchpointing
Dresses, tutus, butterfly wings and a few sweaters hang from an existing rod. I finally upgraded to wooden children’s hangers. I always thought they were too expensive for fast-growing kids, but I found these at IKEA for cheap. Woven baskets along the top shelf hold hand-me-downs that don’t quite fit yet. They’re organized by size and I rotate them in as needed.
One of my renovation regrets is not adding a hardwired light to Mabrey’s closet. (We did in the other bedroom closets.) The closet is so teeny that I thought it wouldn’t matter, but I was wrong. Hindsight is 20/20. We finally added a battery-operated, motion-sensing LED light overhead, and it’s my favorite thing about the closet now. We can actually see the closet contents in the dark, and the light turns off on its own!
I love how functional this closet is now, and I can totally see it evolving with Mabrey’s needs. Once the toys are long gone, a second hanging rod could be installed below the lower shelf for more clothing storage. Small, tidy closets for the win!
P.S. – A DIY hidden litter box.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Our baby grew up and the nursery is now a legit big girl room.
The biggest difference I made was brightening up the space. I absolutely love dark, moody walls – especially in a nursery (I like sleeping babies) – but I also think rooms should evolve with their inhabitants. My
baby preschooler has developed a spunky, colorful personality so I ditched the dark walls in favor of a lighter, carefree boho vibe. Nothing is too perfect. Nothing really matches. It’s all very playful and a bit hippieish. In one word, it’s: Mabrey.
Since the room is tiny (not even 10′ x 10′!) and I only had so much square footage to work with, I decided to have fun with the walls. Two are painted white. One is covered in bamboo planks. One is wallpapered in a Native American-inspired print. If you asked me what the color scheme is, I couldn’t tell you. I guess it’s mostly white and green with hits of pink, blue and rust? Black, wood and woven accents make it feel like a continuation of the rest of the house, but this room is definitely doing its own thing. Often times, so is Mabrey.
I relocated the wood dot hooks to a sliver of wall behind the door. Every inch counts! The hemp string bag keeps borrowed library books separate from our personal library. #sanitysaver I moved the dollhouse and most of the toys and books to the closet to make room for the bed. I guess that means I need to post a closet update soon!
I sold the crib/toddler bed and brought in a new twin trundle. I painted it olive green and added leather pulls to give it a less generic look. The bedding is comprised of new and vintage textiles featuring a mishmash of pattern and color. I opted for a simple, white linen duvet cover to tame things. (It’s actually from the boys’ room. When IKEA was here last winter for a photo shoot, the stylist brought in different duvet covers for the boys’ beds. The boys liked them so much we decided to keep them on the bunks. I held on to the linen covers for Mabrey’s bed.)
To accommodate the larger bed, I took down the chunky floating shelves circa 2012 and added a wall sconce and shallow bookshelf. I tacked the in-line light switch to the side of the bookshelf with a strip of double-sided tape. A small stool doubles as a nightstand. It can be easily moved away to roll out the trundle bed. (We’ve already hosted a sleepover and it worked great!)
The mirror that previously hung above the changing table leans against the wall at the foot of the bed. (No worries. It’s secured to the wall.) I can remember Mabrey slapping against her smiley reflection in the mirror as an infant. Now she likes to make funny faces in it and check herself out when she’s wearing her mermaid costume. It makes me a little teary thinking about all the different life stages this mirror has seen and will see.
A neon pothos hangs in front of the window.
I replaced the changing table with a multipurpose dresser. To personalize the setup, I sewed a custom cushion for the top and created a mini gallery display.
The resin deer head lived in the nursery in its original all-white version, but Mabrey asked me to paint the head “ballet pink” and the antlers “shiny gold” for her big girl room. I happily obliged. The succulent print was a gift from a long-time reader who just so happens to take beautiful photos and sell prints online. (Thanks Joni, it’s perfect!) I framed it in an IKEA STRÖMBY frame that I spray painted champagne gold. FYI – Rust-Oleum’s universal spray in metallic pure gold is a surprisingly excellent match to Minted’s matte brass framing option. The watercolor art on the adjacent wall sports a Minted frame, and I couldn’t believe how similar the finishes are!
I hung a small letter board to display favorite, of-the-moment Mabrey-isms. Below it is a photo of Mabrey, my two sisters and me on my sister’s wedding day. Mabrey was the flower girl. It makes me so happy knowing she has strong, funny, intelligent aunts as role models.
I found this embroidery art on etsy and thought it would pair well with the larger succulent print. It’s adorable!
Everett created this marker masterpiece for Mabrey on a family vacation last year. She cherishes it. I had to frame it.
I included pictures of Mabrey as a newborn and as a four-year-old. I took the bottom photo with my phone on a regular Tuesday afternoon a few weeks ago. She was sitting with Cheetah talking to her about “funderstorms” and not wearing any pants. Candid photos are my favorite. They remind me of everyday moments I’d otherwise forget.
I thought a coiled Mexican basket would be a nice contrast to the sleek frames. It ties in with the other basket hanging above the bed.
Like I mentioned, I moved the majority of the playthings to the closet, but a large jute basket corrals a menagerie of stuffed friends including “B”, the beloved red strawberry that follows Mabrey everywhere. The vintage bongo drums were a requested birthday gift. “I want drums like my ballet teacher.”
Mabrey loves her big girl room. Not that she didn’t like it before, but I can tell she really loves it now. When anyone comes over, she grabs their hand and says, “Come see my new room!” I’ll walk by the doorway and find her playing or reading books. Once, I found her napping on the bench with B. A few weeks after it was finished we were packing for a family vacation and she said out of nowhere, “But I’m going to miss my room! It’s so beautiful.” Melt. my. heart.
I love her room, too. I like that it feels youthful but not juvenile. I like that it looks feminine but not too sweet or girly. I like that it doesn’t feel overly designed. I like that there are elements that link it to the rest of the house: woven textures, a mix of wood tones, hits of black, vintage textiles, the bamboo planks (which are also in the boys’ room) and a healthy dose of white. I like that it can grow with her. I like that it’s unique. Just like my girl.
Resources of note:
wall & trim paint – Benjamin Moore white dove
wood wall – vertical caramelized bamboo, Stikwood
wallpaper – Cavern Home tapestry wallpaper in zuni
flooring – Jasper engineered hardwood handscraped birch in Texas brown, Build Direct
ceiling light – IKEA, discontinued
curtains – West Elm, discontinued
curtain rod – Target
woven shade – petite rustique bamboo shade, Overstock
room-darkening roller shade – Levolor, Lowe’s
watercolor art – Mist Rises Over the Water in matte brass frame, Minted
rug – jute chenille herringbone, West Elm
bed – Canwood Alpine II slat bed with trundle, Wayfair
bed paint – Benjamin Moore pine grove
leather pulls on trundle – etsy
linen duvet cover – etsy
indigo throw blanket – etsy
patterned sheets – Target (the neutral color option)
striped pillow cover – McGee & Co.
kilim pillow cover – etsy
Hmong pillow cover – etsy
wall sconce – midcentury task sconce, West Elm
coiled Mexican wall baskets – eBay
bookshelf – IKEA
stool – IKEA
small circular basket with lid – vintage
brass elephant – Target, discontinued
wall dot hooks – CB2
wood dollhouse – Plan Toys, Amazon
hemp string bag – The Dharma Door
‘Wild & Free’ wall hanging – Urban Outfitters, discontinued
mirror – IKEA
cotton string lights – Bright Lab
plant hanger & pot – IKEA
striped jute basket – The Dharma Door
vintage bongos – eBay
abacus – IKEA
dresser – IKEA
bench cushion – DIY
cushion fabric – Jo-Ann Fabrics
succulent print – Red Curls, Joni Tyrrell Photo / IKEA frame spray painted gold
resin deer head – White Faux Taxidermy, spray painted
letter board – poet in oak, Letterfolk
square shadow box frame – IKEA
succulent embroidery art – etsy
thin black frame – Target
vertical frame with mat – Target
In case you haven’t seen enough of this itty bitty room, here are a bunch of links documenting its evolution:
FURNITURE, DECOR, TOYS & ORGANIZATION
The nursery version of Mabrey’s room featured an IKEA EXPEDIT (now discontinued) which served as a dresser/changing table. A mix of woven baskets and fabric bins held everything from clothing to diapering essentials to random toys. I added an extra long contoured changing pad to the top to give it yet another purpose. It served the nursery well, but as Mabrey grew so did her clothes. Eventually, the baskets couldn’t contain her wardrobe. They were overflowing and, more often than not, I would find them pulled out from the shelving unit. It was not a tidy look, and it wasn’t working for our current situation. (Not to mention, Mabrey hasn’t needed a diaper change for more than two years.) It was clear that we had outgrown the EXPEDIT, but it lived with us for nearly a decade as a living room console, playroom storage and media stand in previous residences. It had a good, long, multipurpose life. We got our money’s worth and then some. It was time to pass it on to someone else.
When I started searching for an upgrade, I knew I wanted another versatile piece that would stand the test of time and maybe even a few moves. Actual drawers were absolutely necessary! On a trip to IKEA earlier this year, I spotted a NORDLI dresser on display and was impressed with the customization options, soft-closing drawers and affordable price. After taking some measurements, I settled on the four-drawer NORDLI dresser.
It was easy enough to assemble and anchor to the wall. I took me maybe an hour and a half? The scale is spot-on! The length fits the wall opposite Mabrey’s bed perfectly. The drawers are wide and roomy, yet the 17″ depth is shallow enough to keep the middle of the room open for play.
Real drawers that open and close! Such a novel idea. The drawer hardware runs smoothly and the soft-closing dampers are every parent’s dream. Three of the drawers hold clothing. The fourth holds puzzles and a magnetic doll dress-up set.
I love the HÖFTA drawer dividers! They’re super handy for divvying up drawer space and organizing smaller items like socks, underwear, pajamas and costume accessories. Mabrey knows where to find everything, and everything has a designated spot to return to after washing.
The low-slung design reminds me of a bench, so I made a custom cushion for the top. I loosely followed this tutorial to sew the cushion which features french mattress seams for added interest and a casual vibe. I decided not to add tufts to the top because the cushion is so narrow and I thought tufts + patterned fabric might be too busy/formal. (Also, I’m lazy.) It’s worth noting that this is NOT a removable cover. We don’t allow food, drinks or art supplies in the kids’ bedrooms, so it shouldn’t be an issue. Even so, I’m no stranger to a little spot cleaning.
Sewing a french mattress cover is definitely more time consuming than making a basic boxed cushion cover. This took me the good part of a day, and my fingertips were numb for another two days. But I’m so happy with the result! It felt good to bust out the ol’ sewing machine. We have somewhat of an on-again-off-again relationship.
Adding the cushion added another function to the dresser. It makes for the coziest, pint-sized reading spot. (Cheetah loves curling up on it, too.) I love multipurpose pieces like this! Especially in tight spaces where square footage is at a premium. With a removable slipcover made from outdoor fabric, I could see this dresser-bench combo working just as well in an entry or mudroom – even a breakfast nook. With so many customization options available, the possibilities are endless.
I love finding affordable, quality pieces like this at IKEA. Too often, I think consumers wrongly equate quality with a big price tag only. When I think about quality, I consider design, materials, function, versatility, longevity and price. A piece that looks great, works well, serves multiple purposes for different rooms and/or different life stages doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Bonus points for possible customization and personalization! For instance, the BEKVÄM kitchen cart is solid, unfinished wood and begging for a DIY stain or paint job. I’d use it in a small kitchen as a bar cart or extra prep space, in a bathroom as added linen storage or in a craft room to corral art supplies. And it’s $60!
Do you have a favorite multipurpose IKEA piece?
P.S. – Stay tuned for a full tour of Mabrey’s big girl room along with a complete source list!
*I am a brand ambassadör for IKEA. This post sponsored in part by IKEA. I received product and payment for this collaboration. IKEA is a registered trademark of Inter IKEA Systems B.V. and is used with permission. The views, ideas and opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog!
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking