...because home doesn't happen overnight.
08.20.14 / The Nursery

The nursery we weren’t expecting…

nursery before

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.

nursery after 1

nursery after 4

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.

nursery after 2

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.

nursery after 3

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.

nursery after 5

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.

nursery after 6

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.

nursery after 8

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.

nursery after 7

nursery after 10

nursery after 9

nursery after 11

nursery after 12

nursery after 13

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:















*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

girl nursery 1

So many times I get asked, “What if Mabrey had been a boy? What would the nursery look like then?” I thought it would be fun to turn my answer into a mood board and share it with you. Here we go. The nursery. Boy edition.

boy nursery

First off, the room’s layout would remain the same. It just works so I wouldn’t mess with it. There are so many items in Mabrey’s nursery that I love and would work well in a baby boy’s room, too. I would definitely keep most of the larger, basic items. The crib, the changing table with baskets & bins, the mirror, the wall shelves, the rocking chair, the trunk under the window, the ceiling light, the rug, the woven shade, the deer head…all that would stay. (For the sake of keeping the mood board simple, I show only a few of these items above but all of them would remain in the room.) The majority of this stuff hails from Ikea. The rocker and woven shade are from Overstock. The trunk was a wedding gift. The rug is from West Elm. The deer head is from White Faux Taxidermy.

I am still head over heels for the wall color. It’s Benjamin Moore dark pewter and I would use it all over again. (That’s saying a lot as I have been known to paint a room three times before I land on the perfect hue.) It’s a deep, moody gray blue with green undertones. It makes the small room feel oh-so-cozy and is conducive to sleeping. And I like sleeping babies – boy or girl. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with boys and pink but I think it would be fun to add red-orange, mustard and green accents against the dark walls along with a lot of white for contrast.

On to the items I would change. The pattern on Mabrey’s curtains is pretty feminine. I would hang these at the window and closet instead. As for the DIY art above the crib, I would probably DIY a gradient wood stain for the same effect but a more masculine look. So it would go from a natural to rich wood tone. But since you guys don’t have this exact empty frame hanging around at your house, I also love the idea of DIYing a big wooden Ohio and painting a small heart or star in the location where my baby boy was born. (The Ohio in the mood board is an ornament but you get the idea.) I would pair all white bedding with a colorful quilt. I really like this vintage kantha. And I would bring in more color and pattern with pillows (here, here, here and here) and scatter them throughout the room in the crib, on the trunk and on the rocker. Two or three green rope baskets (eek! They sold out in between creating the mood board and writing this post but they’re from Target.) would corral toys and sit on the floor below the wall shelves. To bring a little more life to the open shelves, I’d add green boxes and framed nature photography.

All that’s left to add is a bouncing baby boy! Don’t get me wrong, I love my babygirl and her room. But sometimes it’s fun to re-imagine a room for someone else. Or is that just me?

P.S. – A few more shots of M’s room these days…

girl nursery 2

girl nursery 3

girl nursery 4

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

I’m on a roll! This is the fourth post in a series I’m devoting to all things closet at my house. {Find the previous posts here, here and here.} Today I’m taking you on a tour of Mabrey’s closet. Of all the bedroom closets, it is by far the smallest.

nursery closet 1

The closet is located behind the bedroom’s door when open which makes things cumbersome. I removed the closet door and replaced it with a curtain for easier access. I hung a curtain panel from an inexpensive tension rod. The closet curtain matches the panels hanging at the window. They’re from West Elm a few years back.

nursery closet 2

For consistency, I painted the closet the same color as the rest of the room. The walls in all of our home’s closets are textured or else I would have been tempted to trying something fun like wallpaper. When the curtain is open, the closet feels like a continuation of the nursery and I like the way everything pops against the dark background.

nursery closet 3

I utilized a freestanding shelving unit to keep items off the floor. The shelving once lived in the craft closet of our previous home. I was happy to be able to reuse it here. Since this is a nursery, I couldn’t justify the installation or cost of a legit closet organization system. This a closet that will evolve over time as needs change so the fact that the shelving unit is easily removable is a plus.

nursery closet 5

I line up Mabrey’s shoes on the top shelf. This is the only closet in the house that has shoes in it! All other shoes live in a shoe cabinet in the master bedroom, a basket in the mudroom or on a shoe rack in the garage. But Mabrey’s shoes are so little and rarely dirty that it doesn’t hurt to have them taking up residence in her closet. Plus, they’re cute! A side note: all the shoes you see here are hand-me-downs. Love.

I hide items with not-so-pretty packaging in baskets on the next shelf down. I use cloth diapers on Mabrey most of the time but always have disposables on hand for nighttime and outings. The baskets contain a small stock of disposable diapers, swim diapers and wet wipes. There are even disposable training pants in there that were handed down to us from a neighbor.

nursery closet 6

Below the diaper paraphernalia is the diaper bag and portable changing pad. I don’t tote them around regularly now that Mabrey is a toddler and requires less stuff. The bag works great as her overnight bag and I’ll grab the changing pad if I know we’re headed somewhere with less than stellar bathroom facilities. I keep a laundry basket on the bottom shelf for outgrown items waiting to be donated.

nursery closet 8

I hang dresses that fit Mabrey on matching hangers next to the shelving unit. The rest of her clothing currently in rotation is stored in bins and baskets within her changing table – an IKEA EXPEDIT. I find it easier to dress her and keep her room tidy by only having the things that fit her readily accessible. Little ones grow so quickly, I can’t see spending money on pricey, child-sized wood hangers. Instead, I have white plastic hangers from Target. $1 for a pack of ten. For the few dresses that have matching leggings or tights, I hang them on the Target hangers but keep the bottoms on the off-the-shelf piggyback hangers.

nursery closet 4

I store hand-me-downs that are too big in baskets along the top shelf of the closet. They are separated by size. Once they fit, I bring them down to the changing table to go into Mabrey’s regular rotation…and the “too littles” go into the donation basket. It’s a system that works well. No digging through piles of clothing to find something that fits. It also allows me to make a clear and concise shopping list for items Mabrey may be lacking. Thanks to our nieces {we have no nephews!} and generous friends, the list is usually short.

nursery closet 7

An item I keep in the closet that isn’t much to look at but might come in handy is the conversion kit to remove one side of the crib when / if Mabrey starts climbing in / out of bed. I taped the instructions to the bed rail because I know it will be a race to convert the crib should Mabrey decide to take up bed climbing.

nursery closet 9

And that’s it! A tiny but tidy closet. A few things before I go:

*This closet series is so effective! Even if you guys are getting nothing from it {I hope that isn’t the case}, I am. I am on a mission to whip all the closets in our house into shape. In fact, I painted the nursery closet and hemmed the curtain just this week. It only took me a year and a half!

*Now I’m itching to paint the other two bedroom closets to match their room’s walls. Since, you know, I repainted the rooms after we moved in.

*The open space under the hanging dresses is reserved for Mabrey’s toy vacuum coming this Christmas. Not a word!

*Little red cowgirl boots are UH-DOORRRRRABLE.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking


Congratulations to Christine whom survived a toddler + dog + food coloring incident. I can’t even imagine.

*Thank you everyone for sending love and well wishes to our family yesterday. It was so comforting to read your similar experiences and know I’m not alone in my feelings of guilt and gratitude. Everett begged to return to school today so I think the worst is behind us.*

wft win1

The fabric circles chandy I made for the nursery didn’t stand a chance against Toddler Mabrey. The minute she was big enough to grab it from a sitting position on the changing pad, it came down. I tried rehanging it but the very next diaper change it fell to its demise again at the hands of one very curious toddler.

wft win2

So when the kind animal lovers at White Faux Taxidermy offered to send a mini Templeton my way, I had no shame in accepting. I knew just where Templeton should live. {Do you remember me mentioning WFT here? Well, they have their own site, too!}

wft collage

I hung the resin deer head with a drywall anchor and screw. The back of the deer has a built-in hanger and protective pads to make hanging a cinch. In memoriam of the fallen chandy, I stitched a few of the fabric circle strands together to make a larger, single garland and draped it across the deer’s antlers. The faux deer head only extends ~5″ from the wall so it’s out of Mabrey’s reach when I’m changing or dressing her. Which is a good thing. Mabrey wants to manhandle the deer every time she sees it.

The other good thing about the mini Templeton is…

wft win

…you have the chance to win one for yourself! See entry details below.

PRIZE: one mini Templeton {$45 value}

RULES: You must be at least 18 years old and have a shipping address {no P.O. boxes please} within the U.S. One entry per email address.

TO ENTER: “Like” White Faux Taxidermy on facebook then leave a comment on this post proclaiming “OH DEER!”

DEADLINE: Enter before 9:00 p.m. EST on Sunday, September 15th. One random winner will be announced Monday, September 16th.

WHILE YOU’RE AT IT: Since we’re talking curious kiddos today…is there anything decor-related in your home that has been assaulted by the lil’ people in your house? Crayon drawings on the walls? Paint on the rug? Markers on the sofa? I shared Mabrey’s assault of the mobile I made for her but I’ll share another. About a year ago, Everett found a thin metal rod and used it to scratch up our stainless fridge. Kids. Gotta love ‘em.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking