Life with Little Ones: Nursery + Guest bedroom

I’ve been reflecting this past week on the fact that my youngest will turn 2 in six short days.  I can hardly believe it.  My heart is full of joy at the beautiful child he is becoming, yet at the same time it aches for him to remain a precious babe just a little while longer.  Such is the wonderfully complex love of a mother’s heart.


The realization that the past two years have flown by even faster than I remember with my oldest son has made me want to slow down these last few  days of of my Sweet P’s second year of life just to make sure I have every little precious detail of his babyhood ingrained in my heart and mind so that I may ponder over them when I am old and gray.

So, bear with me this week as I sentimentally celebrate the life of my almost-two-year-old.  What better place for me to begin than by sharing photos of his nursery.


I have fond memories of creating this space especially for him.  Even though he is my second child, this was my first nursery to design.  (We were renting a small, four-room shotgun house when my first son was born and had practically no flexibility in space or paint color.) My desire was for this nursery to be sweet yet boyish with hints of vintage and modern elements.


I chose the wall color before I knew if le bebe would be a boy or a girl, intending to accent it with navy for a boy or coral for a girl. It’s been fun to find the perfect navy accents, mostly stripes and polka dots.  They give the room a playful air.

The small wardrobe dates to the 1950s and was originally used by my mother when she was a child. She even scribbled her name on one of the drawers in crayon.  My Grandmother handed it down to my mother, who handed it down to me.  It has now been used by three generations.

The sweet outfit and baby shoes framed above the wardrobe were my husband’s when he was a baby.  My Mother-In-Law thoughtfully passed them down to me when my first son was born.  A collection of 12 vintage and modern silver frames are ready to capture the sweet smiles of our little one as he grows so quickly his first year.

vintage crib

This crib has also been used by three generations:  my mother, myself, and my two boys.  It has been restored and repaired for each child and continues to hold up well.  I love that it rolls easily.  Should we have guests, it is takes little time and effort to roll the baby’s bed into our room for a few days.   Above the bed hangs a darling  print by Sarah Jane Studios. It reminds me of one of my favorite childhood movies, a short French film called The Red Balloon.


The room is large and doubles as a guest bedroom, so it also has a double bed.  My husband helped me cut plywood to form the headboard frame. I found the blue and white stripe fabric on the remnant table at the fabric store and knew it would be perfect for the room.   The quilt at the end of the bed belonged to my husband’s great-grandmother. It is soft, perfectly warm, and introduces a bit of color into the room.  The navy polk dot crib sheets pick up the same hundred-year-old pattern on the quilt.


    We had recently relocated the original wood shutter closet doors to the exterior of our home.  Because I knew we’d be using the closet often, I chose to hang simple white curtains at the opening to make the closet easier to access.


My husband built the cornice and I covered it using leftover fabric from the headboard project.  He also added the removable countertop and lower hanging rack.  We use the countertop as a changing table and baby clothes are neatly hung below.  Two rows of shelving hung along the top of the closet, along with four shelves  tucked neatly on the left side, give us plenty of room to  store everything from diapers to socks to outgrown clothing in neatly labeled navy cloth bins.

As children grow and change, their rooms must change to suit their needs.  Soon, the closet will be converted from a changing station to a toy rack,  the baby bed will move to the attic, and framed hand-me-downs will be packed back in a box.  Of course, I have plans for tweaking and updating this space, but before I begin, I felt it only appropriate to document the space that nurtured my little one during the first precious years of his life.


The Dreams Within Those Pages

“I would be most content if my children would grow up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.” –Anna Quindlen

As a teacher with an upcoming week-long break for Thanksgiving, the thing I am most looking forward to is reading. This may seem ironic, seeing that I am an English teacher and the majority of what I do at work is teach literature and poetry, most days reviewing the same piece five times a day with my five classes of junior English. Though I do utterly adore those days when I can discuss Atticus Finch to no end or repeatedly debate the mental state and motivation of J. Alfred Prufrock, there is something about picking up a book into which I have not yet dove; it is like getting on a plane to fly to a place never visited–the anticipation and excitement of the unknown leaves me in a state of complete bliss. Will this be one that I will read again and again and maybe even incorporate into my curriculum? Or will it be a doozie? Either way, following its end, I will have something to say, questions to ask and debate, and some poor soul that crosses my path soonest to my finishing will find themselves privy to the discussion of my most recent adventure. Besides my mother (and long before my infatuation with music), books were my first love. I am enamored by the way words can be put together to cause an emotion that goes beyond this world, whether it be the gut-wrenching pain of an unrequited love poem or the indescribable hope that comes from a novel which delves into the human existence in a way that reminds the heart of its original intention. I have been smitten with libraries from the time I first set foot into one and there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing my own children reading. 

My love for all things old began as a direct result of my love for the written word. I remember reading the Little House on the Prairie series as a young child and being utterly smitten with the old way of doing things and the way that simple things brought the family some of their happiest moments and memories. Blankets were warmer because of the love that went into stitching them. The big pot that lay over the fire symbolized survival. I lived there on that prairie with the Ingalls family–I would completely leave my own world and enter theirs each time I opened a volume. So it should come as no surprise that books are a major part of my decorating style. There are several books in every room, though I only own one bookcase, which I purchased a few years back in Canton, Texas. 


The books I use to decorate with are, of course, old and most of them are from the library at my school. One day our librarian approached me, saying she new I liked old books and asking if I would be interested in looking through several boxes filled with old books she was throwing out, which were no longer needed there. I told her I absolutely did not want to look through them because I would take them ALL. Two strong boys and several trips to my truck later, the grin on my face was a dead giveaway that I had struck gold. I couldn’t wait to get home that afternoon and sort through them, inhaling, in spades, that sweet scent which book pages emit. They found homes on the aforementioned bookcase, on a shelf above the shelf which hold our most-used dishes on my kitchen wall, on small shelves and desks in my childrens’ rooms, and a few here and there as place holders and pretties in the dining and living rooms: 




I especially covet old children’s books. Making me absolutely giddy, grandmother recently gave me her set of Childcraft children’s books, which I would enjoy each time I went to her house as a child. These remind me of my first love and I have always found the simple, vivid illustrations to be the embodiment of happiness. I buy these treasures almost every time I come across them. At the most recent estate sale Megan and I attended, I found these beauties. I especially love the pale blue one about language:


I am not sure if I will simply display these in my son’s room or use them as artwork, as I did in my bathroom a couple of years ago:


Finding some of your favorite pages and adding them to simple frames (most of these are from Goodwill and given a quick coat of spray paint) is a cheap, wondrous, and sometimes eclectic way to fill the walls of your home. I have also done this with a favorite poem or two, which adds a dramatic and romantic element to any wall space.

Making the most of the way your home FEELS is a simple matter of filling it with those things which take you back to a place of joy. My home is stuffed with artifacts that, for whatever reason, take me back to my childhood, which was a carefree time of wonderment and magic. These things, therefore, bring me a little piece of that time and make my present, which is often stressful and busy, encompass a little bit of that freedom I found all those years ago. They also remind me of my main purpose, which is to ensure that my children will some day look back on this time in their lives as magical, as well. We read and we wonder and we dream and we ask questions. We turn the dining room into a far away kingdom, filled with castles and dragons, using a few old sheets and our imaginations, which are extra BIG because of the stories we enjoy each night. I hope they will find hope and promise in times of trials when they think about characters like Laura Ingalls. I hope they will find warmth in a Frost poem and the memory of snuggling up in one of their great-grandmother’s old quilts some winter long ago. And, like Anna Quindlen, whose quote graced the start of this blog, I hope bookshelves are their main concern when they someday find a new home and that they will remember their first home and all of the books there and their crazy momma and her crazy love for reading. And I hope they smile a little when they think about the possibilities in those books–decorating possibilities, sure, but mostly the possibilities in the dreams held within those pages and, hopefully, their hearts.