Sunday, February 1, 2015

Gingham & Murals & Monkeys, Oh My!

I'm afraid of paint colors. Not run out of the room and hide under my bed afraid. But afraid, nonetheless.
Actually, I take that back. I love it when others embrace putting color on their walls. I just don't know how to be those people. Most of the walls in my home are some shade of beige. In our last home, the dining room was a somewhat strange burnt orange color when we moved in. It was the same color when we moved out. We didn't change it. I was too afraid.
But that all changed when I got pregnant. At least in the baby's room. Now, mind you, I didn't go crazy wild with color. I'm not trying to allege that here. But I let loose my creativity, embraced color in general, and created a one-of-a-kind nursery for our son.
The nursery that everyone said we wouldn't get much use out of. But we do. Every day. I often feed him in there. We "play" in there. (He's 2 months old. So, play is relative.) He takes at least one nap a day in there when we're home. Heck, I go in there when he's still asleep in the co-sleeper in our bedroom and do my devotions by myself before anyone else is up. And I fully intend to move him into his nursery for overnights once he's six months old. It gets used and will continue to do so.
The nursery that we were told would just become a dumping ground. And truthfully, the closet sort of is because old habits die hard. (I'm horrible at folding clean clothes. Or when I actually do fold them, they often remain in the basket instead of getting put away. And since the nursery [formerly the guest bedroom] is the closest to our master, we developed a horrible habit of dumping there. But, I digress.) Mostly, the room itself stays pretty tidy.
The nursery that I was told didn't HAVE to get done before the baby came. And while these were intended to be kind words, considering I was still waiting on his quilt (which we revolved the whole room around in terms of these fearless paint colors) to arrive from Pottery Barn in late August (after I ultimately had to cancel my order of the sheets, quilt and bed skirt package and reorder the quilt and bed skirt separately to actually get it shipped -- dang back-ordered bed skirt [which we finally received too!]) when the baby was due in November, they were inaccurate.
I needed the nursery done. Yes, me! And I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Yes, it's true. Our baby doesn't NEED gingham checks and trees and monkeys on his wall. But why not provide those things if we can?
As his parents, we are tasked with crafting him into the person we want him to be. I want him to be fun, creative and a lover of monkeys (they've always been my favorite animal at the zoo!). So, monkeys and checks, it is!
But no, I know he doesn't need it all. And neither did I NEED it. I know that "need" is also a relative term. But I'm just so glad that we are fortunate enough that I was able to unleash my creativity (can you sense how wild this room is? ha!) in his space before he came. It made me feel like I was doing something to prepare for something that you can never be fully prepared for. It gave me a sense of accomplishment that my vision was coming to life, not unlike our vision and hope for a child that was literally coming to life inside of me. And it represents love. That we were thinking about him that much, spending that much time prepping a space for him and pondering what we wanted him to be surrounded by once he was here.
And our hard work is already paying off -- when, at two months, he stares at the monkeys on his wall and I just KNOW he'll love his room when he gets older! THAT'S what I was going for! Not something to impress others with my decorating prowess or how well we can follow directions on Pinterest or how much we spent on our baby. This room was meant to impress our son!
So, on to the final product of this much talked about room (talked about in this blog, I mean) ...
Oh, but before that, one more note: Before we started the project, my husband wasn't so sure about this vision that I had. Especially the gingham. Mostly, because he knew it would HAVE to involve him (I did everything related to painting by myself, except the gingham walls, because: 1) the measuring and marking and taping for that part is definitely a two-person job and 2) the paint thinning product to create the checks is no good for the pregnant people to inhale; he also helped with the trim), and it looked like a lot of work. And it was, in terms of precision, but not really in terms of time. But once he finished it, he was glad. Instantly, you could tell how proud of a papa he was of his work. He, too, had sacrificed his time and energy for love (something we've now become accustomed to) for the little one in my womb, and it had paid off in spades.
Ok, so now, onto pics of the process and final product of this much talked about room ;-) ...

So, these are my, oh-crap!-I-forgot-to-take-before-photos photos:

Imagine that the above photos are of a guest bedroom, or an empty room for that matter. But alas, at least you can see my boring light beige walls of old. Note: Everything in the nursery was new to us (the crib, dresser and chest of drawers were found and acquired via Craig's List - my first ever Craig's List purchase, actually, and maybe my last after some recent headlines!), except the recliner that Colman brought into the marriage and the TV from my college dorm days, oh and that little bedside table next to the futon (it was my parents' at one time!). Also, you can tell I took these photos, not Colman. Boo for poor quality pics.

The pics below are of the cans of the "wild" paint colors we chose (that perfectly match his bedding). I took these originally to send to our church friend whom we "commissioned" to create a paper art piece for the room. We also sent her pics of the lamp shade and a link to the quilt for inspiration. We weren't annoying at all.

We bought the paint the weekend before Labor Day weekend, but then didn't use it that weekend or the next. Instead, we went to Alabama for my first baby shower over Labor Day weekend. But then, two weekends later, it was on!

With my hosts: Christy, me, Angie, Mama

And so, the work began. On a crazy busy weekend, in fact, in mid-September. It was Colman's first time to show his work at Oranje. His dad was in town for the show. I had done most of the mural (sans clouds) before his dad arrived. But after showing my work to his dad, I realized the room needed clouds (in the middle of the night, from approx 3 am to 5 am, while his dad was sleeping [not too soundly, mind you] in the room below). But so it goes ...

Don't the clouds look heavenly?   
And then, after I had the big wall painted all green, and I had waited {patiently} until my husband had time to work on the gingham, this happened ...

 This also happened along the way that day ...

 And THIS was the result! BAM!!!
Once this was done, it just felt right. 

But, unfortunately for my husband, my dream also included a second gingham wall. (I don't ask for a lot.) But this time he did it in the nude. NO! He did not do it in the nude! Just shirtless after a while. But doesn't it look like he did it in the raw? (Cue: Embarrassed husband as he reads this.)

And then came the decals, which take longer than you would think. We thought we'd get them up in a morning (before heading to an afternoon wedding an hour away). Um, well maybe if we'd ordered fewer decals. But I, asking for very little, wanted trees and birds on four walls.

But thankfully, we knew when to stop to get ready. (We were wiped by this point anyway.)

Yes, I was huge (more than 6 weeks from my due date).
But don't we clean up nicely?
Later that night (in the middle of the night), I added the leaves to all the branches. Did I mention I had trouble sleeping while this project was in progress? But, I mustered the energy for church and a baby shower the next day.

With my hosts: LaNita, me, Erin, Tanya
The next weekend, my mom was in town for another baby shower and watched as Colman and I finished the decals with the birds. Colman also came up with the precious idea of putting the leaves in the monkey's hand and having them spill to the ground. Now THAT's creative!

With my hosts: Tara, me, Mama (fellow guest), Maryellen

This was also captured that weekend. Wow. That's real.
Are you starting to see it?

And then all the pieces started coming together. And then somehow, by some strange miracle, the nursery project was completed about a month before our son arrived, although we'd just started the work a little more than a month before that. Whew! Now, on to the professional finished product pics taken by my talented husband.

The burlap banner in the window was made by my sister Angie for my first baby shower.

I find it funny now that the quilt is such a small part of the room. But it was the source from which I drew all inspiration. The grass on the quilt is actually comprised of green gingham checks.


The empty spot to the left of the drawers is now filled with a round wicker basket. (See poor quality pic below.)

The letters for his name were cut out of old Reader's Digest books. The framed piece is a cut paper design.


And now, I just get to sit back and enjoy days like this ...
There's a precious little baby in there!
Thanks for letting me share!

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