Saturday, May 14, 2011

How we designed our awesome, gender neutral nursery

Even before becoming pregnant with my first baby, I thought a lot about what my ideal nursery would look like.  Of course it would need the obvious things- a crib, changing table, dresser, and rocking chair, but there are so many other things that go into creating the perfect nursery for your baby!  It’s the small details that boost a good room to a great room.

When we purchased our house, we knew right away which room would eventually be turned into the nursery.  After I became pregnant, we began thinking about how we wanted it to be decorated.  I knew right away that I wanted the room to be filled with bright colors, making it fun and visually stimulating, rather than the traditional pastels.  We weren’t going to go with a pink or blue scheme, either, since we were keeping the sex of our baby a surprise.

One evening, I noticed this wall decoration we had hanging in our bedroom.  It was right then that I realized this was the item we should design our room around!  The funny thing is that I had purchased it a couple years earlier from the Target dollar section!  The decoration had green, blue, and purple colored circles in various sizes arranged around a little mirror.  The colors were perfect for a boy or a girl and would make for a super fun room!  Now that I had a color scheme figured out I needed to come up with a paint design scheme.  I searched for ideas online and after hours of looking finally found a few design ideas that I kind of liked. 

I wanted a design that would grab my future baby’s attention.  We thought that a geometric pattern would be cool.  We finally decided on a wave of hollow, offset circles in blue, green, and purple on a solid yellow wall. We even painted the fan with matching colors!

The woodwork in our house is all painted white, so we chose to use a white crib.  We looked all over to find one that we liked that was also affordable.  I just couldn't get myself to buy one brand new.  It just seemed so expensive compared to getting one used.  So we started watching Craigslist for a crib.  Ryan actually found a crib for sale on his work’s classified advertisement web page.  The crib looked practically brand new and came with a mattress for a grand total of $100. 

Next, we started looking for a dresser.  We knew that it would need to double as a changing table since our nursery was so small!  Just like with the crib, the prices of new dressers was so much compared to the prices of used ones.  Back to Craigslist!  This time we found an old style dresser that was just perfect!  It was in kind of rough shape and needed a little TLC.  My parents were kind enough to take care of that for us.  Now we had the perfect little dresser, transformed and working like new, that was purchased for only $25!

We borrowed a glider rocker from my Mom and Dad to put in the nursery.  It is really the only think that doesn’t completely “match”, but it works.  I do know that I’m going to get a more comfortable chair before I have another baby!  I spent/am spending WAY too many hours in that chair with Brennan and know that I need something much more comfortable the next time around.

Since Craigslist obviously makes my day, we started searching for a little side table to go next to the rocker.  We hit the jackpot again!  Not only did we find the perfect little table (we just needed to paint the top), but the same person also had a little white bookshelf for sale that matched the room perfectly.  We headed home with two awesome nursery pieces that only cost a total of $25!  These were the last pieces of nursery furniture we needed, so the grand total of it all was only $150!!!  Yay for used items!

So, that covers all of the big stuff.  But like I mentioned before, many times it is the small details that really put a cool room over the top!  The first smaller detail I thought about was crib bedding.  I really wanted something to blend with the style of the room, but I couldn’t find anything in stores or online that was really what I was looking for.  Lucky for me, I have a mother-in-law who is a master seamstress!  (Definitely check out her website,, if you live in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area!) Problem solved!  We came up with a bumper design we liked and she custom matched the thread in the embroidery to the paint colors.  Voila!  Beautiful custom made bumper pads. I took on the challenge of making the crib skirt myself.  I do a lot of needle crafts, but not too much sewing, so sewing projects definitely tend to challenge me more.  I managed to produce a nice looking pleated crib skirt in some awesome, room matching fabric.

With the crib bedding out of the way, I started thinking about the changing table accessories.  I used one of the contoured changing pads that can be purchased just about anywhere and made a contoured cover for it using some Soft N Comfy fabric and the directions I found here:  It was really easy and turned out beautifully.  I also made a basket liner for our “changing table goodies” basket the matches the crib skirt.

I knew that I wanted a floor lamp for reading bedtime stories with.  Luckily, since it was “back to school” time we found a purple one that was intended for a dorm room, but was just perfect for the nursery.  We also found a blue storage ottoman that was also intended for a dorm room.  It’s great for extra seating when we want to read stories as a family and for storage of extra blankets, etc.

Next, I started thinking about the little touches, like pictures, wall hangings, and knick knacks.  I found an adorable “baby” picture frame at our hardware store on the day we bought the paint for the nursery.  I wasn’t looking for it… it found me, and I’m glad it did!  It is white, which matches our theme perfectly.  I put an ultrasound picture in it right away, but now it holds three newborn pictures of Brennan.  I plan to leave it that way.  I also bought some wooden letters on eBay to paint white and hang over the crib.  This also was done after Brennan was born, since we didn’t know his gender and definitely hadn’t landed on a name.  We were given a beautiful Noah’s Ark personalized cross stitch from Brennan’s Auntie Rachel that also adorns the wall of his nursery.

I decided to make a shadow box of some of Brennan’s keepsakes to hang in his nursery.  I chose one with a white frame and filled it with the following items: Our hospital bracelets, Brennan’s umbilical cord clip, the bottle cap from the sparkling cider we celebrated with, his birth announcement, one of his burp rags, and a set of 3D casts of the bottom of his feet that we made the day he was born.  On top of the frame I've set the baptism booties that Brennan's Grandma Mary made just for him.  This shadowbox is probably my most cherished thing in his entire room!  I’d be heartbroken if those little feet casts broke!  You just can’t replace exact replicas of 16 hour old feet!

Every kid needs a piggy bank, even if they are only a year old.  That's why we got Brennan a personalized piggy bank last year for Christmas.  It has bright colored dots on it, along with his name, so it really fits nicely into his room.  Since this is a real, fragile piggy bank, it sits up in the built in curio cabinet in the nursery.  This curio cabinet also holds Brennan's birthday candle, which we will burn every year until he's 16.  I'm proud of the candle- I made it!  We have a lot of the stuff from our wedding on display, not because it needs to be in the nursery, but because it is an easy spot to set it.

I have Brennan's little bookcase filled with his blankets on the bottom shelf.  These blankets are all hand made by members of my family.  The white one on top was hand embroidered by my Grandma and Great Grandma, the one striped one in the middle was crocheted by my Mom, and the quilt on the bottom was made by my Aunt/Godmother, Cheryl.  I set a few keepsakes on the middle shelf.  It holds a baby spoon that was given to us from the hospital, some vintage baby blocks that spell, “baby” that my mom found for us at an antique store, a baptismal plaque and crocheted cross from his Christening when he was 18 days old, and the statue of his less-than-one-day-old hand.  The hand doesn’t normally sit on this shelf… I definitely don’t trust my 14 month old with breakables!  It used to sit here and I thought it would look nice in these pictures! On the top shelf I keep some books.  This bookshelf, although cute, isn’t very practical for kids' books, except for small board books.  Most regular sized books don’t fit.  I think that I may need to alter the shelf placement and patch and repaint the old holes to make it more useful!    I have another framed picture on top of his bookshelf.  This is one from Brennan’s baptism in a frame from my parents.
That really covers the majority of the room, I think.  The only other things worth mentioning are the mobile I found online that blends so well with the theme of the room and the adorable door sign, with perfectly matched colors, that Brennan's Grandma Mary made for him... Oh yeah, and one more thing, the SPY CAM!  That's right.  We've got a spy cam in our baby's room!  This really was just a cheaper and cooler way of creating a video monitor.  We installed the camera over the bedroom door and aimed it at the crib.  Then we purchased an AV modulator and set it so that we can turn any tv in our house to channel 78 and see/hear what's going on in the nursery.  It works pretty well, except for the fact that it operates on the same frequency as our cell phones and can cause dropped calls.  I recommend doing this if you are interested in it, but make sure you look into the frequency of your camera and cell phones to find ones that operate on different frequencies.

So, in summation, you can definitely design an awesome nursery very reasonably!  You just need to give yourself enough time and look at every detail one step at a time!  It's fun to see the room transforming along the way and you'll feel so accomplished when it is finally done!  Here are the last pictures of each side of the room.


  1. such an adorable room for a baby! your rocking chair looks exactly like the one my parents have! i can see why you feel you'll need a comfy one but it's still a classic! :)

  2. Darling space for a darling boy! Great job!

  3. Thank you both very much! We really do love it!

  4. Hi mama! I would love to feature your baby's nursery in my blog! I looove all the white furniture it's just so clean and shiny! it's perfect for your gender neutral...Send me the pictures to flaviaandrews at aol dot com and I'll write a post about it! then you can put a backlink on your blog! XOXO flavs


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