So, most bloggers probably share their baby’s nursery when they’re still pregnant, or maybe in the months after the newborn has arrived. Most probably don’t share it when their little person is two and a half years old… and they’re uh, pregnant again. Clearly I am not most bloggers! But better late than never, right? So today, here is Little Nerd’s nursery reveal.
When we brought Little Nerd back from the hospital one cold winter’s afternoon, we didn’t have a nursery set up. Not in the slightest. We had a bare room and a cot, but back then we hadn’t even started to look at furniture for kids rooms yet and styling a nursery was the last thing on my mind (more on that later). We had Little Nerd next to our bed in our little bedroom for almost the first five months, and I was quite happy with that arrangement.
See, I have been almost deaf since I was four years old and rely heavily on my hearing aids. I don’t hear a lot of things most people hear, like mosquitoes, people breathing, babies snoring or Mr Nerd telling me it’s my turn to empty the dishwasher. And without my hearing aids (which I don’t wear to sleep) I could sleep like an angel through a tornado.
Mr Nerd, however, is blessed with impeccable hearing, and so with the bassinet right next to our bed he was privy to the cacophony of noises that babies make when they’re sleeping. According to him, Little Nerd was grunting, snuffling, coughing and making smacking noises like a piglet all night long. Mr Nerd could not sleep.
Then we went through a painful stage when Little Nerd was put to bed in our bedroom at seven and we would creep into our room to go to sleep ourselves later, around 10 or so. But at that point, even the smallest noise would wake up Little Nerd and he would need to be resettled. It was a logistical nightmare fumbling around our bedroom in the dark, getting into our bed and quietly pulling the covers up in relief only to feel your heart plummet seconds later as a small, indignant wail emanated from the bassinet. We had to be quiet as mice tiptoeing around our bedroom in the dark, using the light from our phone screens as torches (I did not allow the actual torch function) and I would get angry and hiss at Mr Nerd in the darkness. “You’re making too much noise pulling the doona up,” I would hiss. Or, “You took your pants off too loudly.”
When Little Nerd was four months old I threw a tantrum when Mr Nerd suggested we move him to his own bedroom.
“He’s too little to be apart from me,” I sobbed, playing the clingy mother card to the hilt. “You can’t be so cruel.”
I didn’t actually think it was cruel to have a baby in a separate room, and never have. The real truth was, I was sobbing for myself. I just did NOT want to have to make the eight metre trek to Little Nerd’s room in the middle of the night across our cold, cold floor tiles. I knew that the cold tiles would wake me up, and I wouldn’t be able to fall asleep again for ages. I am not like Mr Nerd. He can sleep anytime, anywhere. I have a whole folder on my phone of unflattering photos of him asleep with his mouth open while in a car, plane or on a couch to prove it. But when something wakes me up too much it takes me two hours to fall back asleep, even when I was sleep-deprived with a newborn. I’ve always been envious of those people (like Mr Nerd) who blissfully fall asleep as soon as their head touches the pillow. (And when I say envious, I mean I secretly loathe them and want to nudge them awake for no reason). Sleep is sacred, people. Why should he get blissful sleep and I have to freeze my butt off on cold tiles?
Eventually I relented and Little Nerd went into his own room at five months. And what a room it was! Who would not want to sleep in this cell.
Yes, I had not decorated. Sometimes in those early days I felt like I was the only mother in the world who didn’t have a perfectly styled baby room all decked out for the baby the day he got home from the hospital. Just a bare room but with no shortage of non-baby-safe thumbtacks.
Now I feel like, So what if I didn’t have a lovely nursery already done? I was sick through my whole pregnancy, struggling to keep up with my full-time workload and my blog work too, and we were doing other big, messy, time-consuming renovations (the kitchen, the arches, the brickwork). I was spent halfway through the pregnancy, let alone at the end of it. I couldn’t wrap my head around or put my energy towards styling a nursery, and to be honest, I just couldn’t get excited about it, because it was a very little and dark room.
There are a lot of good things about the 70s and 80s houses that dominate a lot of Perth suburbs – like solid double brick construction, big living areas, nice open-plan living spaces. But many of them also some not-so-desirable traits – and unfortunately small bedrooms often come with the territory. Housing designs in WA started to see a shift in the 1970s when people began designing homes that were suited for less formal home entertaining and more for casual living and entertaining. A lot of new home designs dropped the traditional formal dining room and formal front lounge.
Think of the number of 70s homes you might have visited that have bars (you can see our old 70s bar here and how we turned it into a walk-in pantry here) and swimming pools, with lovely big open-plan living areas. Entertainer’s delights! But to accommodate these spacious living areas in the 70s, something had to be compromised, and bedrooms took a hit. They became much smaller, particularly the children’s bedrooms.
Our house is a prime example. Harry Potter might consider them roomy compared to his cupboard under the stairs, but our minor bedrooms are very small by today’s standards. Little Nerd’s room is the smallest bedroom at 2.8m x 2.7m. Often I go to do interviews at old character houses or brand new builds and jealously note that the bedrooms would be three if not four times bigger than Little Nerd’s bedroom. Sometimes the bathrooms of houses would be on par or the same size as Little Nerd’s bedroom. It’s not a big room, that’s for sure – and in the beginning I just could not get excited about decorating it. How could I get excited about decorating a shoebox? Everything I thought of – a wood plank wall, wallpaper, half-painted wallpaper, moulding – seemed like in a room this small it could easily be overkill. So I decided to keep it fairly simple but hopefully without being boring for a little kid.
Eventually I changed. Rather than creating a moodboard, the nursery kind of took shape on its own. It started with a fox. Well a fox head, a present for Little Nerd from my friend Carly. Some people think these are macabre, I think they are fun, and Little Nerd always loved his and liked to pat its nose. Then I saw this Tin Tin print. Tin Tin has always been a thing in Mr Nerd’s family (his dad is Belgian and read all the stories to him growing up) and I am sure we will read them to Little Nerd when he is a bit older too.
The print looked nice next to the fox head, and then I thought, “I could base the colour theme for the room around the poster.”
And then – finally! – I was into this room. And it started to evolve. It is nothing insanely trendy or ahead-of-the-curve or unusual when it comes to design but he loves it and it suits our house on the whole – it’s got odd and old things, and quite a few sentimental pieces – a bunch of things were gifts I’d been given when he was born. I love that rather than buying his whole bedroom from IKEA or Kmart that instead it’s full of things that come from people who love him. I spent a bit of money on a few special things but overall it wasn’t an expensive room to do. And the fact that it is small never seemed to matter to Little Nerd… he LOVES his little room. When Simone and I did his ‘gallery wall’ when he was six months old, we took a little video of us carrying him into the room afterward (in the manner of room reveals on Changing Rooms) and he literally squealed with baby delight. See, now that is one reason why it is totally ok to wait to do your baby’s room until after he or she is here. You bring an ungrateful newborn into its perfectly styled nursery that you Pinterested for months and the baby doesn’t clap its hands with happiness when he sees the gallery wall you slaved over. Older babies and toddlers make your efforts feel way more appreciated.
Now – let’s talk about the room and its styling. (I always feel a bit silly using the word ‘styling’ when I am clearly not a professional stylist, but oh well).
Firstly – nursery chairs. If you are having a baby and you are going to invest in spending on one thing for his room, I would totally recommend it be a really good nursing chair. I have a crappy back and in my early days of having a newborn I spent a small fortune on visits to my chiro. Get the best nursing chair you can afford. Yes, even if you can’t or don’t end up breastfeeding because you will still need to sit for hours bottle-feeding, or chained to the milk pump expressing (God I hated pumping) and having a really nice, comfortable chair will make a horrid task (the pumping, not the bottle-feeding) that bit more bearable.
You guys all know how stingy I am, and also how stubborn, and initially I was like, “Pah, I don’t need to waste my money on a nursing chair.” The first chair I used was a flimsy cane rocker my mum found on the side of the road. It wasn’t a good nursing chair and it quickly went. Then I upgraded to a $20 Gumtree find, a huge, old, leather recliner. Sitting in it felt like a big, hairless bear was giving me a hug, but it was about three-quarters of the size of the tiny room and it didn’t give any lumbar support for breastfeeding. Also it was really hard to climb out of with a milk-drunk baby once you’d sat down.
Third time round, I finally invested in a white leather proper nursing chair recliner from a baby store (that has now closed down) and I am SO glad I did. As far as baby-related things go, it was the best money I ever spent and it is the comfiest chair (which tired new parents will appreciate) and makes feeding so much easier. When I bought it a friend said to me, “Why would you buy a chair that rocks? Your baby will use the rocking as a sleep aid and he’ll never ever ever in his life go to sleep without being rocked even when he is a 40 year old man.” (Ok she didn’t quite say that last bit) But I like rocking chairs personally (the soothing motion was probably more for me than Little Nerd, ha) you don’t have to rock it, and even if you do, so what? You don’t have to do it every night and some nights you might be grateful for it when it may definitely help an unsettled baby. Buy what you like.
I was worried Little Nerd wouldn’t transition well from his bassinet to his own big cot and that he would start waking through the night, but as soon as we moved him into his own room he actually slept better. His bassinet was getting too small and he loved the space of the cot from day dot. The cot was from my friend Heather Robbins (who took these photos) and Little Nerd is still in it now at two and a half. The colour of the timber definitely influenced the rest of the room – it added a lot of warmth to it. We will transition him out of the cot when he’s ready (we took one of the sides down a little while ago) and later get a ‘big boy bed’.
With the room being small it is so important that whatever we get actually fits properly and doesn’t take up a ton of space, and have decided when we eventually need to change the furniture, whatever we get will be something minimal and clean-lined (to avoid adding any unnecessary fussy elements to the room) and either offer storage space beneath or maybe be some kind of bunk bed that gives a little more playing/floor space. We are lucky that all of our bedrooms have robes – I couldn’t imagine trying to cram a robe in here as well.
To keep things in the nursery tidy and to prevent an overload of toys, clothes and books from driving me mad, I cull ruthlessly and often, much to my mother’s disappointment! She would love it if I kept all Little Nerd’s baby things, but honestly our house just doesn’t have the space, and I am the kind of person who is happier and more focused in a clutter-free, organised space.
And I’ve always sworn I see the same thing in Little Nerd too – we could tell from an early age that he loves order, he loves having things in the ‘right place’ and I feel like he is more content playing when he has a little more ‘breathing space’.
Lastly, two of my favourite things in the room – that bookcase! It makes his nursery, in my opinion. I had been hunting for something for his books for a while. Because floor space was at a premium (I never wanted a change table in here because the room was so tiny – instead we set up our laundry makeover to act as a baby change area – you can read my laundry renovation post here) I wanted a bookcase that wasn’t too bulky, that didn’t take up a lot of room.
I liked the Booksee ones made from clear acrylic but for $250 for just two they are not cheap and I wanted more storage. Then I came across the Pottery Barn Madison Bookrack and knew instantly it would be perfect. It looks really lovely, it’s a good price, it doesn’t take up a lot of room so it doesn’t impinge on the valuable floor space and it holds a surprising number of kids’ books. Little Nerd LOVES it. He “helped” Mr Nerd build it and he was so proud of it and still reminds me even now that he “helped make it” and it’s part of his bedtime routine, choosing his books from his room. We have the Madison 3-Shelf Bookrack, the four shelf, which is a bit more narrow but taller, is here. (Also, Pottery Barn Kids are currently having a ‘Back to School’ sale with bookcases up to 40% off!)
One of my other favourite things in Little Nerd’s room is his custom height chart from Granddad Pat’s Treasure Trove. They’re a local small business, lovely people and they hand-make the most beautiful custom-made things – not only height charts but things like baby keepsake boxes – things you’d keep forever! I love that even if we move house we could take this with us. We have this one – I love that it looks like the old 30c wooden rulers we used to get in primary school.
So that’s about it! Would love to hear how any of you guys have decorated a little kids room! Maya x