An adorable (DIY) shared nursery for two adorable children

As penance for my really shoddy record with updating this thing lately, I figured I’d do a big post. Welcome to my hazy recollections of creating a shared nursery for my two kiddos.

My daughter & I moved in with John in August or September of 2012 and by December, I was gathering inspiration for how I was going to transform what was once Ellie’s “jungle safari” themed bedroom that I had grown sick of into a gender-neutral nursery that wouldn’t be stifling for either of them.

We have three bedrooms, so eventually they’ll have their own rooms, but for now, we want them to share a room. I, personally, think it’ll make them close and I also don’t like the idea of giving up a space for guests just yet if we don’t have to. The third bedroom is currently a totally junky catch-all room slash “mancave” where John has his electronic drum kit and dual-screen PC setup. Very little time is spent in there, but hopefully (once I start/finish making the playroom for the kids and get matching nightstands for my own bedroom) I can eventually get in there and make it a legitimate room where he’ll want to spend time.

When I began visualizing what I was going to do with the kids’ room, I pictured bright and airy walls with a colorful and playful color scheme that could also make a restful sleeping space. I wanted something appropriate for a little boy and little girl to share. I decided to skip a theme altogether because I think that’s what led me to get sick of my daughter’s decor so quickly.


By the time we’d spent two years looking at the tan zebra print and overabundance of zebras, giraffes, monkeys, and lions all over the place, there was nothing fresh about it, no matter how well tied-together the room may have been. One of the first things I did before we moved in was paint the walls in her bedroom yellow and tan and that was the first thing that needed to go. What was once my favorite shade of yellow paint, when mixed with that tan (admittedly, an oops color that I got from Home Depot for $5), had turned into a drab combination that reminded me of a hot dog bun or soft pretzel covered in mustard. I hate mustard of all kinds, but none quite so vehemently as yellow mustard. It made the room feel darker and smaller which was absolutely ridiculous because this is a MASSIVE bedroom.

So, the color du jour became tan. Not just any tan, though. I wanted a crisp, yet warm tan that wouldn’t clash with the gray carpet (that I am seriously ready to replace with hardwood laminate floors). I wanted something that could serve as the backdrop for decor changes throughout the years. I wanted something bright during the day and calming at night. I ask a lot of my paint colors, I know.

The next step in the process was where things got kind of iffy. I had the genius idea to mix my own shade of tan, rather than waste that dreadful more-like-light-brown-than-tan oops color that I got for 5 bucks. That’s not really the iffy part, though. The iffy part comes in where I thought it was logical to mix only enough paint to put one coat on the walls and wouldn’t exercise enough patience to not paint after a rainy day in the middle of February. Needless to say, that turned into a disaster.

I painted the day after it rained. I’m pretty sure it was in the 30s or 40s, temperature-wise, which is basically -19 fahrenheit in Houston terms. The paint was soooo streaky. I wish I had a picture but it didn’t photograph well. I had dark streaks and light streaks and streaks that didn’t even look like colors that would be anywhere along the spectrum of light tan to brown. And, of course, I didn’t have more of the same shade of tan mixed.

So, I mixed another bucket of tan paint. This time, I had the foresight to mix the rest of the can, but sadly, it was only enough to do a second coat (on a day with an appropriate climate). The second coat dried alright, but still needed another coat on top of that to fully cover the yellow and light brown that had been there before. That’s where the disaster part came in. I only had enough paint left to do a third coat on two of the walls.

Screen shot 2013-11-26 at 10.52.51 PM

This would be the moment where a normal person would admit defeat, but I painted the two walls that needed it worse and convinced myself that it wasn’t terribly noticeable that one of the walls is an ever-so-slightly-lighter shade of tan than the other two. Just in case you’ve been counting and were beginning to doubt my basic addition skills, it’s worth noting that I painted the fourth wall a great shade of tangerine that I got from Home Depot. I want to say I sprang for the Glidden.

I put up two of the Ikea curtain panels that I brought over from my apartment when we moved. The window in this room looks out into our backyard and lets in an incredible amount of natural light during the day, so the crisp white curtains keep it bright, but tone it down just a little. I love the whimsical black sketch-like outlines of trees and birds. It ties in with the tree decal that I put up on the wall above the changing table (which is no longer there). I think that’ll be a post for another time, though.

I spent a lot of time and energy making the accessories for this room. I wanted the kids to have unique things that I made myself, from the wall hangings to the decorative items around the room.

As for the contents of this side of the room, the play kitchen was a gift from my dad to Ellie for her birthday, I think. The poster is for the Columbiana (Alabama) State Fair and came from my childhood bedroom in New Orleans. It survived Hurricane Katrina. The star lamp and hanging toy holder in the corner came from Ikea. The toy bin was one of those $29 deals from WalMart and it Toy Story themed, but I turn the canvas bins backward so that only the blue is visible. (They have the aliens from the claw machine on the front.) The little shelf thing is one of those modular cube things you can get anywhere that sells Closet Maid items (WalMart, Target, Home Depot), and the yellow bins were $1 each at the Dollar Tree.

You can’t see Ellie’s bed well in this photo, but it’s the Sniglar toddler bed from Ikea. It came in an unfinished pine and I stained it the same color that I stained the Sniglar crib (from the same line at Ikea) for Grayson. I believe it was a walnut color from Minwax. I’m so pleased with how they turned out and will definitely devote a post to them. I love the Sniglar and Gulliver cribs from Ikea because they’re good-looking, affordable, and endlessly customizable. I got the toddler bed and its mattress, and the crib for around $200 altogether and they’re a custom-stained set. Can’t beat it.

I’ll follow this post up very soon with a detailed description of the accessories that I made for this room. There are custom wrapped canvasses, all sorts of framed goodies, a DIY lamp, an origami mobile, and some other cute things in store. The other half of the room is so much better than what I’ve shown you but I’m WAY overdue for my bedtime.


Whoa Wednesday: DIY Faux concrete wall treatment

I don’t know if someone slipped something into my house’s water supply, but I’ve been getting super inspired by things left and right the last few days. Maybe it’s because I actually see an end in sight for the much-needed furniture moving situation I have going on, but I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and get to rearranging, cleaning, and decorating. I’m actually excited to clean. I bought some yummy scented all natural all-purpose cleaner at Target to give myself a little motivational push. Isn’t that one of those “You know you’re a mom when..” type things? You know you’re a mom when.. “treating yourself” means buying Method all-purpose cleaner on clearance at Target. Welp, so be it.

So, inspiration. I found something I have decided I definitely want to do in what is currently the catch-all computer/piano/random-sofa-that-we-aren’t-keeping/graveyard-for-boxes-of-legal-paperwork-that-need-to-be-destroyed front room that will become the comfy, organized, well appointed living room of my dreams. [Okay, maybe not of my dreams because I have a very strong imagination and could do some serious damage with an unlimited budget for furniture, textiles, and decor.. but it’ll definitely be freaking awesome.]

Feast your eyes on the faux concrete wall treatment that I am going to hulk smash:

faux concrete wall treatment

image courtesy of Apartment Therapy

Click the picture for the step-by-step for how to achieve this look and be on the lookout for pictures of my completed version soon. Well, *hopefully* soon. As an ardent follower of Apartment Therapy (I seriously check it daily.. sometimes more than once), I have gleaned a very good understanding of my own personal design aesthetic. I am a mixture of what they call “organic modern” and “warm industrial” which essentially means I like midcentury modern-influenced furniture, warm neutrals, reclaimed materials, and a healthy mixture of wood and metal. I knew I wanted to do a black accent wall in my living room on the wall that is dominated by a high, horizontal window and has a really great 60s vibe. I also knew that I was more than likely going to paint the other walls grey, but I wanted to do something visually interesting and this faux concrete treatment is IT. I don’t know if I want to do it on the short wall opposite what will eventually be the black accent wall (which will be the home of our wall-mounted flat screen and maybe a low profile console table) or if I want to go balls to the wall and do the long wall that runs from the front door all the way to the dining room. I think that’ll depend on how I decide to display all of the amazing artwork and mirrors that are currently hanging out in the guest bedroom/music room. We’ll see how it turns out.

I can’t wait.

Mark my words: An impassioned DIY idea

I WILL MAKE THIS HAPPEN IN MY HOUSE and I mean sooner rather than later.

Imagine an iMac with a midcentury-inspired, desk-friendly chair instead of a TV because ours will be mounted on the wall under the living room window to minimize glare and no records because I’m just not that cool (a.k.a. my ex took the record player when we broke up and divided up our stuff) and you have a mental image of what a portion of wall is going to look like in my house. Maybe minus a few of the whimsical knick knacks, not that I have a shortage of knick knacks, by any means. Mine just look more like skulls and homemade paintings and less like whimsical matryoshka dolls and sailboats that should be in glass bottles.


image courtesy of molly’s amazing blog almost makes perfect.

I want custom built shelving that looks just like this so badly that I can practically taste the Minwax.

The DIY that started it all

John asked me to move in with him at IKEA. It probably doesn’t sound very romantic to anyone but me, but we were there picking up a few items that any functioning human being should have in their home which, of course, Bachelor John did not have. I don’t remember if he said he’d ever been there or not.  Possibly not. We were walking around the showroom when he casually mentioned that since my lease was about to expire and I didn’t want to renew at my current apartment, Ellie and I could move in with him– y’know, if we wanted to. To me, this nonchalant suggestion in the midst of all of those reasonably priced, stylish yet functional housewares was aptly romantic. My daughter and I spent a considerable amount of time at his house anyway. He and I were spending pretty much all of our free time together. It was practical and yet romantic because it meant he wanted me around all the time and he was okay with the fact that my daughter was part of the package deal. I was totally okay with waking up to his face every morning.

Glidden “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” from Home Depot something like $25 per gallon

We moved into his three bedroom, two bathroom house. In true bachelor pad fashion, he had the two areas where he did his living burrowed out and the rest of the house was essentially a big storage unit. After clearing out one of the two spare bedrooms, I started setting up a nursery for Ellie, my then-18 month old daughter. I used a color called “Extra Virgin Olive Oil” for the walls that I had used in the living room of my old apartment, which had a bamboo tree in front of the windows that kept the room shaded and made the wall color look like a gorgeous jewel-toned chartreuse. I loved that color so much in my old apartment, but thanks to the big window that let lots of natural light into her new nursery, it looked like a bright banana yellow and drove me insane. It didn’t help that the accent wall I painted that looked like a nice shade of tan while wet in the can dried into the ugliest, weird shade of light brown that I’ve ever seen. Her nursery reminded me of a soft pretzel with mustard on it. The jungle safari-themed decor she had from her last nursery went with it, though, so I just went along with it. (Mainly because I didn’t want to buy paint and start over right after moving in and doing all that.) So, yellow and brown the nursery remained. (Because apparently I’m Yoda now.)

Ellie lived in the yellow and brown nursery for about six months before I decided to redo it. By that time, I was pregnant with her little brother and getting into nesting mode. John and I had decided to combine both kids into one nursery, turn the den into a nice, spacious dining room, and turn the small dining room into a playroom so we could keep the third bedroom for guests and his drum set. That meant that I got to design and decorate these new rooms completely from scratch, which is more than fine with me. I set about making the nursery first. As an avid lover follower of Apartment Therapy, I went there first for inspiration. I love looking at the nurseries and playrooms that readers have shared and found what ended up influencing the direction of our nursery’s decor. I wanted this chest of drawers. I loved contrast of the dark wood and the white, the clean lines, and the way it all looked against the light tan wallpaper. It would be the perfect opportunity to makeover a “Rast” from IKEA. Those things are $35, real pine, and begging to be someone’s next DIY project. They’re so easily customizable that I’m surprised I haven’t hacked one for every room of the house. As it is, I’m already planning to do another in the exact same style so each of the kids can have their own.

So, I bought my “Rast,” a gallon of white paint, and a quart of walnut stain, cleared out space in my garage, and got to work. I painted the outer frame crisp, ultra white. It was a flat paint, which wasn’t the best idea. Whenever I make the second one, I plan on doing them both with a semi-gloss to make it easier to wipe down for the inevitable tiny fingerprints that will end up all over them. I painted the insides of the drawers with orange paint as a little surprise when you open them. I stained the drawers with walnut Minwax, front and back. It was a pretty simple project. I think the most difficult part was waiting for it to dry so I could get it in the room. I was so excited to have a project to work on that brought the room one step closer to being the fun space I had envisioned.

I added bigger wood knobs than the ones that came with it, which I spray painted silver. I’m still not completely in love with the knobs, but I haven’t found anything that I like better. Once the chest had a place in the room, I got so inspired. I really started to figure out exactly how I was going to piece together the nursery and it jumpstarted a ton of projects that I am really proud of. I’ve always liked DIY projects. My mom spent the first five years of her marriage to my pop renovating and decorating the house we moved into, so I grew up watching her roll up her sleeves and create an amazing, well decorated, well loved home on her own. She really instilled that same spirit in me. Having an amazing living space is as simple as figuring out how to make what you want and doing it. The toughest part for me is reigning myself in when I start working on twenty projects at once. I’d love to hear about some reader DIY projects in the comments!