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Gathered | An Outdoor Adventure Inspired Nursery

If you follow Hunt & Gather Home on Instagram, you know that I post a lot of historic preservation related photos. Preservation is one half of what Hunt & Gather Home is all about, and designing inspired and livable spaces within those restored walls is the other.  While I love working on and in historic structures, having an older home is certainly not a requirement for a design project.

Case in point: Watson’s nursery.  My dear friend, Christina, recently asked me to help her gather ideas for a nursery for her third child, and first little boy, Watson. Christina and her husband are currently renting with plans to buy soon. Not knowing what size room Watson will have when he arrives, Christina let me run free with the design. She gave me only one thing to go on:  she loves the crib sheets and changing pad covers from Woolf with Me.

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Knowing Christina and her husband well, one pattern jumped out among hundreds of designs.  I knew the deer crib sheets would be a hit with her husband, a hunter, while Christina would approve of the cute design and gray color. To complement the modern hunting theme of the crib sheet and bring in a pop of color, I chose the gold arrow changing pad cover.  You’ll find those basic pieces in each of the three design boards I created for Watson’s nursery.

Since Christina has two older (and precious) girls, an heirloom crib, a comfy glider, and a chest-of-drawers will need a few updates to get them ready for little brother.  The crib will remain white, a nice contrast against the gray crib sheet.  With the addition of a black and white buffalo check throw pillow the glider will be ready for late-night rocking.  A quick coat of paint will transform the currently pink chest-of-drawers into a boy-friendly focal point in the room.
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Because Christina already had the three main pieces of furniture for the nursery, I decided to have fun with the rugs and chest-of-drawers and make them the statement pieces in the room. Black, white, and gold can be used interchangeably in all three designs.  All Christina needs to do is decide if she prefers orange or green accents!

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As Christina, her husband and kids prepare to welcome Watson into their family, my hope is that these design boards will to guide them into creating a special space for a little boy who is sure to love all things outdoors.

event planning

A 3rd Birthday Party Animals Celebration

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Welcome back to the blog! We’ve had a lot to celebrate around here and it’s kept me busy. From birthdays to Mardi Gras to finally painting my living and dining rooms, I’ve been on the go, but I’m glad to have the chance to sit down and share with you the party animal celebration we recently held for my youngest son.

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We managed to keep it simple, sweet, and handmade. The party was held at my home and we included a handful of family and friends. The kids entertained themselves in the backyard and came inside briefly to eat cake and ice cream.  Planning on this, I kept the decorations simple, yet fun.

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After posting several fun ideas for a handmade banner, I chose to use what I had:  leftover striped party favor bags, washi tape, and baker’s twine (tutorial coming soon).  The bags are originally from Target and were stashed in my party box.  I realized they were the perfect size for a banner and would prevent me from spending the time cutting out scrapbook paper.

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I decided to go with a homemade cake and store-bought cupcakes with the intention of topping the cake with “party animals,” i.e. plastic animals with party hats.

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It was fun to accessorize the little woodland forest animals. Completely unnecessary, but fun.  Using wrapping paper and a mini pom-pom garland I already had, I cut out small bits of paper, folded them into party hat shapes, secured with a hot glue gun, and glued a colorful pom on top. They were easy and fun to make and really made the cake.

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Since the cake toppers had party hats, the kids needed them, too, right?  Instead of making these from scratch, I found pre-made party hats at Target and Hobby Lobby and embellished them with rick-rack, pom-pom garland, and poms on the top. I added a hot-glue glitter three on the birthday boy’s hat.  Again, the hats were quick and easy to make and turned out really cute. The kids all wanted to wear them when they ate their cake and ice cream!

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The birthday boy enjoyed his hat and kept in on for quite a while!

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I didn’t get around to making the gummy animals for the birthday party, so I decided to make them for the low-key class party.  Using gumdrops, mini M&Ms, and a mini tube of icing, I created these cute characters  you see above.  My favorite may be the turtle and the duck!

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Placed on top of store-bought mini cupcakes they look even more precious, but not too precious to eat! Most of the 2 year olds in my son’s class ate their gummy animal along with their cupcake.  They were a hit and I will definitely make them again!

The party animals theme proved to be a fun and simple one to pull off. I had a fun time planning and preparing for this party and the kids (and parents) all seemed to enjoy themselves, which is what it’s all about!

event planning

Party Animals!

It’s February! In our house, this means its time to celebrate my No. 2 – one of the sweetest little guys you ever will meet. I’ve written before about his nursery and transition to a big boy room (still getting around to that final room reveal post), but at the end of the week he’ll turn three, so right now I’m focused on planning a sweet, simple, and fun afternoon party for family and friends.

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I love planning events for children – it’s just fun to make things fun for them! Sometimes I have a party theme in mind and other times I’m inspired to create a theme based on a photo, activity, color scheme, or any other random element that catches my eye. This past December, I found this adorable photo of a gummy animal menorah in a magazine. My first thought was that the little gummy creatures would be adorable on a birthday cake, so I tore out the photo with this party in mind.

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Planning with these little cuties in mind, I decided to go with a party animal theme. I found these fun invitations on minted.com and personalized them for my own little cutie’s birthday.

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And what’s a party without a party hat? For children

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…and animals, of course!

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Any good party needs some fun and festive, DIY garland. There are so many options, it’s easy to go overboard!

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This beautiful mix of pastel and foil strands courtesy of the always fabulous Martha Stewart.

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An equally cute and perhaps less time-consuming option, thanks to Jones Design Company.

Let’s not forget the food. Along with veggies and fruit, frosted animal crackers and goldfish are kid-pleasing favorites and will tie in well with the theme.  I also love the idea of animal shaped PB&J sandwiches for picky eaters.

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These dipped oreos aren’t animal-themed, but the colorful sprinkles make a festive addition to any party.  They would also be super-cute to send for a school party treat instead of cupcakes.

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And finally, favors.  I’m not a huge promoter of party-favors, but these DIY animal-topped jars are pretty cute.  You can fill them with a variety of treats if the kids are too young for gum, and the jar can be reused to house a variety of trinkets and treasures. Perfect for have boys who love to collect rocks and bugs and equally as cute for little girls’ baubles and bracelets.

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It’s completely unrealistic for me to think I will accomplish all of these projects before the party on Sunday, but it’s fun to dream a little and have some inspiration as I’m preparing and decorating. I’ll let you know what I do accomplish and be back soon with photos of the day. I hope this post spurs your imagination as you plan future celebrations for any littles in your life. I always strive to find a balance between making my kids feel special and not going overboard when planning their parties, probably erring on overboard more often than not! Here’s to keeping parties simple, fun, and kid-focused!

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Hope and Heaviness: Living With Autism

My son has autism.

No matter how many times I say it, whether aloud or inside of my head, it never really settles or makes any sense.

I know this is a blog about old house living, but bear with me. I’ll get there.

I won’t get into our story much, because I’d be typing for days, but I will tell you that it is something that changes you in a way I think nothing else, good or bad, really could. Imagine a time something awful happened in your life, the saddest you’ve ever been, the heaviness in your heart that sat there for a while. Eventually, though you are changed, things get somewhat better, there is a healing in your heart, to some extent.

Now imagine that the heaviness stays, a kind of numbness that can’t be described. You learn to mask it, to put on a brave face, despite it, but always it remains. The one person you love more than anything has to struggle every day to make sense of the world around him and make a path for himself somehow. Some days aren’t so bad. Some days the heaviness is unbearable and impossible to mask. Lately, the latter kind of days have been much more frequent for us than the former.

When I write or speak about my sweet William, it is always mostly positive. Despite the heaviness, there is still much light. He has taught me love, the REAL kind. He shows me every day what strength and courage are. He is my hero. He is my salvation. He has forced me to find the strength within myself that I never knew was there. He makes me a better person. Most importantly, I think, he has taught me gratitude. Because of him, I take no blessing for granted and I am able to see each day for what it really is–a beautiful, wonderful gift. He has taught me that sometimes tough times make for a happier life, because once we have conquered one obstacle, the next one doesn’t seem so impossible, and then the next and the next. He has taught me about grace and he has taught me to ask questions and to keep trying and that it is okay to cry.

All of those lessons I am thankful for, but I have also learned, rather recently, that I don’t always have to be brave or pretend to be Little Miss Sunshine. These hard, heavy days we’ve struggled through lately make me feel more like Little Miss Defeated and Little Miss Storm Cloud. I know “this, too, shall pass,” but still I cry for a season, watching my love struggle to make sense of a new school routine and a newfound emotion–anger. I used to pray for him to feel emotions. Now that he does, they seem to be caricatured, overdone, unbearable at times. I know it will take time for him to sort through it all, to put the pieces together in his brilliant mind and eventually make sense of it all. And then, perhaps, a season of peace. However short-lived, peace is always so very wonderful, despite the impending, inevitable next storm I know is to follow. I understand his anger. I am angry, too.

It is not easy to live this way. It is a struggle to go out and be around people. I know better than to shelter him too much. I understand the necessity of his being in normal social situations. However, I have never really felt comfortable in public with him, even when autism is not evident whatsoever. I simply want to keep him away from any possible confusion or frustration or judgment.

And that is the most important reason why our home, where we prefer to spend our time, must be a haven.

There is nothing particularly bright in our home, nothing that would stimulate him too much. Every chair and couch is cushy and cozy, perfect for the hours he some times sits, playing his games or reading about his latest obsession. The furniture is all positioned in a way that he can walk from one piece to the next with ease. Yes, I said walk. This calms him, for whatever reason. So I allow it. Not any where else. Just here.

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This is Will’s room. The ship paintings above his iron bed (a steal at thirty dollars from a local flea market, only needed a quick coat of grey paint) are found pieces that took me three years to put together. They remind me of a puzzle, much like my William’s mind. They don’t fit together perfectly and they took a while to come by, but they still make sense to me. This is how I imagine he must see our world. They also remind me of the ships in Peter Pan, one of his favorite films. He often asks me to please find a way for us to go to Neverland. I figure our home is the closest he will ever get to that. That’s not something I take lightly. Neverland is an old house, I’m certain. They share the same charm and wonder.

See how nice and neat every thing is? That’s not staging. That’s just how it stays. Will has never played the way most children do. He simply has an obsession (never messy) and devotes all of his time to that. For a few years, he could sleep alone in his bed at night, but not these days. That’s why his bed stays made. He says sleeping alone gives him nightmares, and since reality is often a nightmare for him, I allow him to sleep with his sister or on a sleeping bag next to my bed, or even IN my bed from time to time. Sometimes when I pass by his room, it makes me sad. I think of his sister’s room, with stuff everywhere, full of life and personality and childhood normalcy. I imagine what his room would be like if he were not autistic. I imagine him getting home from school and sitting on the bed and maintaining a normal conversation with me about his day and maybe even soccer or karate and homework and having to fuss at him for leaving his things on his floor. I wonder if he will live in this room forever, if he will ever be able to leave this haven. I don’t know that I like either of the answers to that question.

In the meantime, I work to keep our home neutral and comfortable and safe for him. The claw foot tub gives him a spot to hide away when his sister is annoying him and the floors creaking beneath his feet let me know he is coming in my direction, making me smile, anticipating the hug I know comes with almost every encounter.

I apologize for rambling. I hate to ramble when I write. With these things, however, there is no way to really organize my thoughts or emotions, no way to make sense of any of it. My home is my therapy and writing is my therapy and this has, really, been a combination of those two, as I struggle through one of the toughest times autism has ever offered us. Sometimes I need to type out the words WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS before I can believe them.

See the shine in his eyes? It’s not always there. But, my God, when it is, it makes all the heaviness completely worth it. It makes me feel a much stronger and important emotion, the one that gets me through: HOPE.

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The Mimi Rose Chair

I have a confession.  I’ve been hiding one section of the nursery update from you.  This photo explains why:

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My glider doesn’t match. It doesn’t match because It. Is. Maroon.

Recovering this chair is the project that I never got around to before Sweet P was born…or after.  All Mamas have one (or more) of those projects.  It’s allowed. No, REQUIRED.

But, we like to look on the bright side on this blog, so here are some good things about NOT having a perfectly new, soft and cozy, white cotton covered glider:

1. Babies spit up. A LOT.

2. Colors really don’t make a chair more comfortable.

3. A $60 estate sale find that once belonged to someone who was practically a grandmother to you is much more comfortable and comforting to feed and rock your sweet baby in than the $1500 Pottery Barn model.                          

5. Knowing that this grandmother figure spent hours praying in that chair (often for you and your family) increases its value tenfold.

4. Amen.

This glider belonged to my Mimi Rose.

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A woman who loved me like a granddaughter – so much so that I didn’t realized she wasn’t my grandmother until I was about 5 or 6 years old.

A woman of great faith who prayed me six long hours home from college every Christmas break and countless times in between – and before and after for that matter.

A woman of great strength – coupled with a good dose of stubbornness – which really is the best kind of woman, don’t you think?

A woman who, though she’s gone from this earth, reminds me daily of the power of Love poured out freely and abundantly.

It is only fitting to name the chair after her:  The Mimi Rose Chair.

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My Mama recently helped me to craft a makeshift slipcover for the Mimi Rose Chair out of a white matelasse blanket.   With this white cover, the chair now matches the room, but retains its comfortable, well-worn shape that cradles me and my babies when we rock and read, bringing old memories of comfort and warmth and creating new memories of the same.

I’m not sure what it is about chairs and what makes me love them so much.  Perhaps it’s the fact that they cradle and keep us, supporting us when we feel too burdened to take another step. As a mother, I can think of no better chair for this purpose, for this journey is hard and long, and often I feel burdened beyond what I can bear.  But, the Mimi Rose Chair reminds me that I am loved, that I am supported, that there is rest and peace and calm.

I may never get around to recovering it, and I’m okay with that.

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From Blue to Beautiful: A Bathroom Remodel

Today we are so very excited to bring you the story of our first design consult job! Heather contacted us a couple months back, asking if we would be interested in helping her with the design of her upcoming bathroom remodel. It was rather surreal, as our dream of consulting was finally being realized. We headed on over to see what we were working with and…holy wallpaper!!!

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The floral wallpaper and blue fixtures were visually overwhelming and we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us, but were excited to take on the challenge. The first big decision to be made was color scheme. Monochromatic (all whites and grey tones) or contrast (add in some dark wood and color)? Heather readily agreed with our initial suggestions of subway tiles for the shower surround, hexagonal white tiles for the floor, and grey for the wall. The vanity cabinet, however, was not such an easy decision. After nights of pinning ideas, shopping online and in local stores, and wrestling and grappling over choices, we all decided finally on a dark wood, stream-lined, carrera marble-topped piece. Beadboard, a shelving system above the toilet, and lots of primary colors for decorative accents rounded out the decision making to transform this dated bathroom into a classic, yet playful bathroom suited for kids. Here are the fabulous results:

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The styling was an absolute blast. An impromptu photo shoot of the family’s four beautiful kiddos provided sustenance for cute frames, purchased from Target and Tuesday Morning. The artwork is a mixture of framed pages from the family’s favorite bedtime story, “Goodnight Moon,” a fun graphic print, and an framed anchor. The anchor is fabric from Hobby Lobby and the mat surrounding it was cut from scrapbook paper from the same store. An estate-sale frame provides the contrast needed to complete the look. Another personal touch comes from the fun, polka fabric-covered initial for the family’s surname. The fun vase on the vanity countertop is a recycled bottle, covered in yellow burlap, mirroring the whimsical knobs on the cabinet doors, another Hobby Lobby find.

We could not have asked for a more wonderful job for our first. Heather and her amazing family were such a pleasure to work with. She never got overwhelmed with the decision-making process and listened to each suggestion with great attentiveness and consideration. Thank you, Heather, for reaching out and giving us this opportunity to express our creativity in your home.  We hope your family enjoys their new room for many years to come!

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Farewell Crib, Hello Closet!

 A few weeks ago I was able to finish converting my youngest child’s nursery into a big boy room/guest room, suitable for a wildly independent two year old and the occasional houseguest.  The conversion has taken a bit longer than I planned, but that’s due more to my reluctance to admit that we’re ready to move the baby bed to the attic than the actual amount of work that was done in the room.

You all asked for additional photos of the vintage crib, so I’ll indulge both your curiosity and my sentimental heart with these final photos of a family heirloom that has nurtured three generations of sweet, sleeping infants.

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This side latches and folds down making it easy for adults to get baby in and out of the bed, but nearly impossible for a toddler to unlatch both ends at the same time. Yes, that is screen between the wood frame.

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This is the “lid” (for lack of a better word) that folds over the top and latches.  We never used it, but the idea of screening your child in their crib actually makes pretty good sense to this Southern Mama who enjoys the outdoors but detests mosquitos. Judging by the vintage advertisement below, that’s exactly what the Trimble Company was banking on.

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[source]

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As you can see, my child thought his crib was a pretty novel idea, too!

I will not lie, even after rearranging the room, I left the crib sitting awkwardly in the middle between the bed and the chair, obviously out of use and out of place, but not quite ready to store it away for good.  However, this past week, my husband finally hauled it up to the attic, and we decided to fully embrace the “little boy” years. He’s ready and so are we!

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I wanted to keep a hint of the “sweetness”of P’s nursery in his updated space.  He is a sweet child and a calm and pleasant room suits him well.  Like any good mother on a mission to clean up and clean out, I chose to tackle the closet first.

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Cleaning out the baby things was the difficult part.  The actual conversion was simple. I simply lifted off the front half of the changing table that my husband installed, moved the hanging rod from the bottom bracket to the top, moved the baskets to the top shelves, and adjusted the side shelving to accomodate toys. Toys are kid-accessible and clothes are not.  You like how I planned that, no?

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I lowered the adjustable shelves are repurposed baskets (oops! forgot to re-label) to make room for toys.

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The center and right sides of the closet store larger toys that I’d rather not have displayed in the room.  He can actually play with his tools inside the closet!

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Looking up to the top of the closet.  Plenty of room for several seasons of hanging clothes as well as two shelves of bins and baskets.

Having an organized and functional closet for my kids makes mornings easier and cleanup time bearable.  The little one is loving his new closet.  He feels like the big boy that he is by being able to choose his toys and put them back by himself.  I consider it a winning design when a closet can aid in teaching kids to have fun and be responsible for their things.

In the next few days, I’ll post more about changes to the rest of the room, but here are few glimpses of the fun!

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Can’t wait to show you more!