Thursday, December 6, 2018

A Little Update for a Big Boy

Well, try as I turns out I couldn't keep my sweet baby from growing up into a (still sweet) little boy. And as much as I didn't love it, it recently became time for me to face the fact that he wasn't going to be a tiny nugget sleeping in a crib forever. Truth be told, he was still happy as a clam in is "fib" (as he calls it), so I wasn't in a hurry to move him, but once he was potty trained it felt like a toddler bed was the right next step. And so off came the bars...and in came the design dilemmas.

You see, nothing is simple with me (I know this...I admit this...I cannot change this...) so updating Miller's bed quickly evolved into a "need" for a complete room overhaul. Home decor tends to have a bit of a domino effect (or maybe a "Give a Mouse a Cookie" effect- a.k.a. how a leaky bathroom in our old house turned into a full kitchen renovation) with me, so one minute I'm changing out his crib wall for a side rail, and then next, Dustin is trying to talk me out of swapping out all the furniture on the second floor.

After a bit of discussion (and some over-dramatic tears over "MY BAYBEEE") we agreed that it didn't actually make much sense to change everything in Miller's nursery to fit his updated needs. The smarter plan would be to move Miller into the other bedroom; it's bigger, has a dresser (vs. a makeshift changing table) and can accommodate a twin bed easier (when the time comes). But I was hesitant over the shift because I was trying to keep the foster room intact...partly because I just love it but also because it had been designed and put together for such a specific purpose. When we transitioned it from the guest room, I did it with intentions and visions of the kiddos who would use felt strange to change that up and plop Miller in there.

I know that might not make sense to most people...a room is a room, and a nursery is a nursery, right? But that's just not how I see it. Rooms for me are so specific to those who will inhabit them. Even when the occupant is still a bit of an unknown. I don't always have the luxury of planning a full custom bedroom for each of my babies (Piper- absolutely! Fin...ummm...sorry sweetie...) but regardless of scale, in some form or fashion I put my heart into the details of their spaces, and those touches make those rooms so meaningful to me. So Miller's nursery may not have been a perfect vision come to life- but it was his. It was hard for me to wrap my heart around the swaps even though my head knew they made sense.

But sooner than later, my practical side (+Dustin) won out over my sentimental side, and I got on board with the "Trading Spaces" plan. But you know I couldn't just toss him in there and call it done. No no no no no. Sure, by design, the foster room was neutral enough to work for a boy or a girl in a pretty wide age range, but now that it would specifically function for this particular boy, I wanted to make some tweaks to make it more personalized to him.

But before I get 2,000 (more) words deep on the specifics, let me unveil the update.

It’s a pretty small space and a little awkwardly shaped, so it's tough to really capture the full vibe in photos...but hopefully you're getting it? The room has already had about four different iterations in as many years, and working with mostly existing pieces made it challenging for it not to feel like a hodge-podge of things that were just cobbled together based on necessity or availability. But after some real uncertain moments (and massive amounts of overthinking things, as always) I really love how it turned out. To me it feels like a kid's room that could have existed in the 1960's. Minimal, but rich...simple and just enough "boy" while still having a bit of sophistication. I love that it can grow with him too...nothing is too juvenile, and it has a lot of potential to add and change things over the years based on his interests or needs.

I’m an overthinker for sure, but I’m also a girl of quick action, so once we moved Miller’s bed in there, the rest of the transformation happened in the matter of a week or two. I didn’t want to rush into decisions, but I also didn’t want things to linger on and remain half-done forever (I’ve got enough of those spaces in my house already!) I know that it doesn’t have to be 100% perfect, and no room is ever truly “done” but I wanted to make a few quick changes to get it close enough, so it didn’t feel like he was in hand-me-down limbo. Plus, if we are going to welcome any more foster kids (yes, we’re back “on the list” open to placements…more on that later!) I knew I wouldn’t ever have more time than I do now, so it seemed wise to just go after it while I can!

The vast majority of the space was untouched. We didn't change the paint color, and kept most of the furniture/accessories (including the built-in desk + shelves, obviously). My main goal in the revamp was to make it a little more masculine, which mostly meant we needed to swap out the rug and the artwork for something a little less fluffy and a little less...purple-y. But then as I started to tweak things, the room began to feel less "neutral" and more "stark", so I knew I had to find a way to inject a bit more color and texture.

So that’s where I started, but before I could really plunge into purchasing stuff, I had to determine the theme for the room. I didn’t want an obvious- You Must Really Love P.J. Masks kind of theme (no shade if that's your thing!) but for kids' rooms especially I think it's fun to have at least a loose "tie that binds"...a few common elements that repeat and play off of each other. I debated a few different directions based on Miller's current interests, but also didn't want to hinge everything on his fav de jour (and end up with a You Must Have Really Loved P.J. Masks At One Point type of room). We considered superheroes, animals, Star Wars, travel... before eventually landing on sports. Specifically classic sports, with a mid-century aesthetic, and a retro twist incorporating classic books and toys. You get it? Kinda? I didn’t pull together inspiration in advance, but if I had, it would have included lots of navy blue, washed jersey knits, touches of sleek gold, rich wood tones, and bright- but well worn- graphics. In my head, I wanted a classic “snips and snails and puppy dog tails” kind of feel- with alphabet blocks, trucks, illustrations, balls, and any other “thing that makes boys happy” element piling in to create an easy-to-live-in spot for our little guy.

I knew I wanted to keep the collection of square frames (which previously housed my grandmother's antique scarves) so I thought t-shirts would be an easy (and cheap) swap out. And as much as I loved the hanging “pocket watch” of my grandpa’s, that focal wall needed a little bit more color and punch, so I landed on three big frames to house some more graphics. I took a couple trips to Once Upon a Child and bought every t-shirt I thought might have potential (wading through more cocky slogan T’s than I thought could possibly exist. What in the world are we teaching our boys with the “prepare to be humbled” messages we’re emblazing on their neon jerseys? Another topic for another day...). So after a lengthy sorting/sifting/evaluating process, I landed on my top picks.

Again- it was important to me to keep the theme somewhat subtle, so while the art is all sports related, I avoided adding other overtly sporty pieces to the rest of the room. Previously I had beige curtains, which felt nice and soft in a nursery, but weren’t quite right for a little boy’s room, so I brought in some blue options, eventually landing on a printed version.

I tried and tried to get a large rug to work in the space (I fell in love with one from Ikea), but for a variety of (very boring) reasons, it wasn't going to happen. Rooms based around a crib have a lot of floor space, so it feels necessary to fill that up with color and texture, but eventually we'll have a twin bed in here, so that need won’t be as great. I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a solve that likely won’t be needed later, so I made a compromise on a small ($5!) rug just to ground the space a bit for the time being. When we do upgrade to a twin sized bed, that will cut down on the visible real estate of this way-past-its-prime carpet, and the bedding will have more impact as well. (I've already got plans in the works for a big quilt when we make that transition and I’m so excited about how that will add another layer of pattern and personality to the space.) The twin bed frame we select could make a difference too- I'm thinking something like this has a trundle for sleepovers!...but I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

After the art and curtains were in place, I just did a few quick rotations of some décor items, and called it “done”. It’s been a few weeks now, and it’s a little less photogenic, and a little more lived-in, as we’ve added some of his toys (so that he’ll actually like being in the space his mom cares so much about) and necessities like a hamper, etc. (And now, we’ve also decorated his room for Christmas- tour of that coming soon- which is making me fall even more in love with it! Maybe an “evergreen tree” could be a part of the permanent décor?)

Oh- and of course all the switch-ups meant there were a few little tweaks to Miller’s old nursery, to get it ready for a potential new placement. We officially opened our home back up about a month ago, but have only received one call so far. We’re on the list for only one kid at a time now (as much as I have a heart for sibling sets, it’s just not logistically realistic for our family right now) ages 0-2 (to preserve birth order with our other kids). That’s quite a shift from being open to up to 2 kids, ages 0-5, so I’m not shocked that we haven’t been flooded with calls this time...but it is still hard and a little confusing to wait, especially when we know the need is so great. But whenever the time is right, we’ve got a sweet little room prepared..

The changes we made in here are super's really just swapping some decorations around (removing anything specifically "Miller" oriented, in favor of neutral messages and items). All of the furniture and art stayed as is, but we added the rug.

So there you have the saga and the triumph of my latest decorating adventure. I cared more than I should have (which will likely be my auto-biography subtitle someday) but I'm not sorry in the least (potential sub-subtitle). I now have a boy far less squishy than I'd prefer, but he's got a super duper cute room to keep growing in, and that's a small win in the fight against his ever-increasing lankiness and general grown-up-itude.

Many of these are listed in the original post about the foster room, but here's the updated list:
Curtains: Hobby Lobby
Rug: Five Below (seriously!)
Crib: Amazon (can't rave about these enough...we have three!)
Toddler bed rail: Amazon (Purchased after a near disastrous crib to bed transition with Piper)
Faux wood frames: Michael's
Storage bench: old Ikea
Baseball art: Homegoods
Ok to wake clock: Amazon
Stuffed friends: Sadly, his favs are discontinued (fear not...I purchased a backup "Blue Jelly" on ebay and it's hiding in his closet in case of emergency), but similar here: Pillow Pet, Jellycat dog, (his Jellycat bunny "Peanut" is still available)
White album frames: Urban Outfitters
Handmade: Globe pillow, quilt 
Vintage/second hand: Suitcases, blocks, dresser, chair, chalkboard, t-shirts turned art
Old target stuff: Lamp, drawer pulls, whale, Grey felt bins, white dog bank, yellow pillow

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