Wednesday, March 14, 2012

nursery notes

Since I wasn't fully engaged in blogging while we were preparing for Little E's arrival, I didn't give detailed accounts of what we were doing. Since entering the blogosphere more actively I've noticed a lot of great projects and ideas that are posted. They can be great sources of inspiration and are often just fun pieces to read - like being a nosy neighbor into someone's home.

So, here we have our nursery story. When we bought our house it was clear that the middle bedroom had previously been occupied by two little boys. There was a thick blue on the wall - somewhere between Carolina Blue and Duke Blue. I love blue so I didn't have any inclination to paint the room, and it functioned as a beautiful guest bedroom for several years. When we learned Little E was on the way, I still didn't want to paint the room. This time it was less out of fondness for the color and more out of laziness.

So, I set out in search of  "theme" for our new nursery. I had several "requirements" that didn't make the job any easier. One, I didn't want something that was common - in other words, if I could find all I needed for the nursery at Pottery Barn Kids or Babies R Us, I wasn't interested. Two, I didn't want something overtly girl - and certainly not overtly boy. I loved that we were having a girl, but I didn't want to inundate her life with pink from the get-go. I knew the pink oufits and accessories and toys and room furniture would come. I just wanted to create a space for it to complement. Three, I didn't want to have to re-paint the room so our main color was blue. Please see number 2 for why this was potentially problematic. Four, I wanted something that would be acceptable for a child for a couple years at least. And Five, I wanted something that would be a bit stimulating for you as she grew and your eyesight developed.

To be honest, one year later, I don't remember what my ideas were before I settled on our design. So, here's a look at the inspiration and then the rest of the details.
The picture that started it all.
I purchased this picture years ago on a lark. I didn't really have a place for it, but I loved the whimsy. I loved the different components mushed into one fantastical picture - bandana-wearing giraffes soaring in a hot air balloon, accompanied by a palm tree from France presumbly. The possible stories as to how that picture came about were endless. So, I bought it. I stored it for a bit and occassionaly hung it in various rooms of my living spaces throughout the years.

When the idea for the nursery came to me I was staring at this picture in it's then-resting-spot across from the guest bathroom toilet. (Who says its not a good thinking spot?)

Hot air balloons!

Perfect - no red so they didn't look boyish, blue sky in the background, plenty of colors and patterns for developing eyes, a theme that could grow for a few years, and definitely something that would be hard to find anywhere else (as I would later discover). And, my beloved picture would finally have an appropriate resting spot (not to mention visitors to our guest bathroom would not feel like they were being watched by two criminal giraffes illegally transporting a tropical bush intercontinentally).

I did what I do whenever anyone in my family has a creative project in mind - I called my sister.
"Can you paint hot air balloons?"
"For the nursery. I thought about doing hot air balloons, but I would need you to paint them. I can sketch some ideas, but you're the artist in the family so I'd rely on your genius to get it on the wall."
" air balloons sound fun."

The rest is history. We selected three colors, in addition to white, to brighten the room and make it a girls room - purple, green, and yellow. I sketched some ideas, but coming up with patterns was a lot harder than I imagined. Still, when it was finished we had circles, rectangles, and diamonds.
Here are some pictures - the clouds were fun to do with a transluscent white paint and a sponge and it turns out you can't really mess them up!
Aunt Sarah starting the clouds. 
Dad filling in the details.

The master artist creating the small baskets on the balloons.

Aunt Rachel's balloon - with Aunt Sarah's help :)
My balloons (and favorites) - also with Aunt Sarah's follow-up assistance :)
The painting was only part of it - albeit a big part. There were many other contributions to the mix.
I found some purple accessories from Target.

Hubby's sister, Aunt Ryan, found a stack of nesting hot air balloons that we painted to add a few 3-D balloons.

I purchased a couple baskets and some ribbon to make resting places for a few stuffed animals attached to painted balloons.

We added a special wall hanging to round it out - a quilt from my office. Several people made a patch and a wonderfully talented friend pulled it all together. I look forward to telling Little E all about the people who took time to make such a special piece for her.

Thanks OIP for the beautiful addition!
And, the giraffes found their home above the glider (the best seat in the house - thanks Grandparents V!).

In the past year we have re-arranged furniture multiple times, but as Little E has grown older and more aware it's been wonderful to greet her in the morning or after a nap and have her point to the different balloons for explanation or reach up to touch one of the baskets.

What's your nursery story? Or, if you're not in that stage of life, have any memories of your own nursery or childhood playroom?

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