You know how, some days, you don an outfit and, even before you’ve applied makeup or styled your hair, you know the clothing combination you’ve selected will just work? In this outfit, you feel sure, you’ll look poised, polished, joyful and attractive!
Some design schemes are like that, too. With even just a sliver of a sneak peek, you know that this room just works! The color palette, the selection of furniture, its arrangement — all the requisite elements combine to create a space that is, quite simply, beautiful. In this room, you feel sure, you’ll feel at once calm, peaceful, light-hearted and happy!
That’s how my sweet friend’s newest baby boy’s nursery is. One look at the photos she texted and all I wanted was to curl up in the cozy glider, collect my children in my lap and read a story book to them! That’s not how Mint Julep’s nursery was for me.
On other days, you don an outfit and you think, “Hmm. This might work.” So, you keep going. You experiment with necklaces and scarves. You switch your shoes. You apply makeup, blow dry your hair and spray it. You peek in the mirror again. “I’m still not sure,” you think. You tuck in your shirt and add a belt. All of a sudden, you love it! You love it so much that you want to wear it three days in a row!
The funny thing is, it’s nothing particularly special. It’s a tank top and jeans with heels or a dress with a scarf and ankle boots. It’s not necessarily how it looks as much as how it makes you feel. When you wear it, nobody compliments your clothes. They never say, “I like your tank top!” or “I like your jeans.” They might compliment you occasionally, though. “You look so cute today!”
That’s how Mint Julep’s nursery came to be for me:
Like many a first-time mom, I labored lovingly, delightedly and preemptively to design and decorate Sweet Potato’s nursery. I daydreamed; collected pictures on Houzz; shopped exhaustively for the sweetest, most romantic crib I could find; and commissioned my dad and the Oilman to paint the walls a faint Crystal Pink and to foil the ceiling with bronze and gold. It wasn’t and isn’t perfect, but it was at least complete before she was born.
(Now, two years later, I already need to spruce up the rug, repaint a couple of pieces of chipped furniture and generally refresh its sparkle and shine — but, when I do, I’ll post about it, too! You can catch a glimpse of it in this post, though.)
Poor Mint Julep. We brought him home without the faintest idea of which room in our home would eventually be his. Would we boot Sweet Potato from her nursery and redo it for a boy? Would we tuck a crib into our office so we could work next to him while he napped and so his room would be near his sister’s? Would we convert our closet, the laundry room or another nook into a makeshift nursery? Would we design one of the more distant bedrooms to be his?
In the end, we adopted several of those ideas. He slept in a pack-n-play in our bedroom at first. Next, we moved the pack-n-play to the adjacent laundry room. (It’s not what it sounds like; he wasn’t crammed amid piles of dirty laundry or squeezed between the washer and dryer or anything! We have a really large laundry room; I was even able to tuck a rocker and a little lamp in it!)
Finally, we accepted that, because Sweet Potato was herself still a baby when Mint Julep was born, she wasn’t giving up her crib anytime soon. At that point, we sucked it up, bought a second crib and I got cracking on a proper nursery for the kid.
By “got cracking,” I mean I started to daydream about boy nurseries for the very first time. At this point, he was probably about four or five months old. Initially, I dreamed of a very pale, very elegant, very prince-like nursery: Cream walls, a pale blue ceiling and pale blue rug, cream glider, cream crib, etc., etc., etc.
Unfortunately for those daydreams, we had selected our least-used bedroom to be his nursery and that least-used bedroom already had fern green walls (Or were they moss? Pistachio? I don’t know. The color changes drastically with the light!). Too lazy to repaint, I began to envision what I fondly thought of as a “Southern transitional tree house” — warm wood, light wicker, campy furniture, leafy accents, etc., etc., etc. Here’s a “before” pic:
As always, all of the furniture and decor I imagined was more glorious than anything I could actually source or afford — but, as I sought to bring my vision to fruition, I found myself craving time in his room more and more.
First, I shopped our house. I moved the twin bed that was already in the room against a wall, covered it with the fisherman’s quilt that was formerly folded at the end of our master bed (originally from Pottery Barn and a wedding gift), and bought a few pillows to create an improvised daybed. (That sounds easy, but I actually bought and returned four different combinations of Euro shams before I finally settled for these “greige” pillows. The duck and deer pillows, I found at a local clothing boutique, and I love them!)
Also already in our home: The two lamps that flank the crib (originally from Pier One, formerly in our media room), the antique rocker (from an auction at the historical society where I worked as a teenager, I think), the wicker shelves (a hand-me-down from my parents, formerly in our attic), the lamp on the dresser (also originally from Pier One, also formerly in our media room), the lamp on the wicker shelves (also a hand-me-down from my parents, formerly on the case of my sewing machine) and almost all of the decorative accents, many of which were gifts from family and friends to Mint Julep.
Second, I scavenged at my mom’s. She graciously gave me the faux tree. (Nurseries often lack height, so I consciously scoured both my house and Lolo’s for four rough compass points of height — the two lamps, the wicker shelves and the tree.) A little cheesy, but I wrapped both it and the wicker shelves in string lights, which I also already had in our attic. (Remember, inspiration: tree house!)
Third, I invested. In any given room, I like to select an “investment piece” or two. Somewhere, I read that “a bachelor dresser” is a good item to splurge on for a baby boy because he can take it with him long after he leaves the house. I wanted to find the perfect flame mahogany dresser and Ebay offered a myriad of options — but almost entirely from local sellers far, far away from Oklahoma. I gave up the idea of flame mahogany.
Ultimately, I found this beautiful dresser via Wayfair and ordered it directly from the seller, Capretti Design. It’s hand-crafted to order with the smoothest-rolling drawers I’ve ever had the luxury to use. In my outfit analogy, it’s the belt that brings the entire outfit together and makes me want to wear it days on end!
Finally, I decorated. As I mentioned above, most of the decorative accents came from elsewhere in our home, but I did buy the watercolors above the “daybed” from the Etsy shop eastwitching and fell in love with the seller, who has an inspiring story to tell! The rug is Dash and Albert. The curtains I bought at Target, pre-boycott. My mom still plans to quilt a monogrammed banner for above his crib.
If money and time were no object, I’d do still more: (1) I’d add crown molding to the ceiling, (2) I’d exchange the ceiling fan for a more sculptural light fixture and buy an old-fashioned table fan to oppose the lamp on the dresser, (3) I’d buy this daybed and (4) I’d add a lush ottoman. Alas, money and time are objects, so, by the time I could make these happen, I’ll probably be redesigning the room for a new phase of his life or to accommodate a sibling, God willing!
I also do still have a couple additional to-dos that I will tackle (like adding actual pictures of Mint Julep to all the frames and framing art I already own for the wall above the rocker!).
Still, the nursery makes me want to sit and rock my baby for as long as he’ll let me, so I’d say it suits its purpose.
Crib — Universal Furniture
Dresser — Capretti Design
Rug — Dash and Albert
Watercolors — eastwitching