Decorating the Nursery

In contrast to the modern insistence on a separate room for each child, nurseries hold a delightfully practical charm. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines a nursery as “The place… in a house appropriated to the care of children…where [childhood] is fostered and growth promoted.”

Although planning your wedding is a common girlhood activity, at ten I realized that the average girl changes her mind about the bridesmaid’s dresses too many times in the intervening years to make it a worth while activity. I would plan a nursery instead.

I envisioned a room with light streaming onto gleaming wooden floors from the massive windows lined with white flowing drapes. A bay window overlooked the fruit orchard. Plush blankets covered the beds. Sheepskin rugs were strategically arranged in front of the wooden train set and dollhouse, and cherry bookcases held all the great children’s classics. A rocking chair sat in the corner, but most of the room was open for the children to play.

Maybe I should have planned my wedding?

Of course, a separate room for little children is not a necessity. Many people share with their children for years, but it’s a luxury we find completely worth it. At home “date nights” are more feasible, I sleep much better (and so do the children!), Joshua can stay up late studying and I love having a place dedicated to “the care of children.”

Like the room, many of the standard baby items are not necessary:

  • We inherited the crib Joshua’s dad made when he was little, but while a safe place to sleep is essential, a crib is not.
  • Baskets in the closet or on a shelf easily hold a child’s wardrobe. Canvas bags are simple place for diaper storage (this is what we did for the first couple years though I was ecstatic when my in-laws gave us a matching hand-crafted dresser!)
  • A blanket on the floor is the safest place to change a baby

Although my imaginary nursery is bigger than our entire home, there is one thing I wanted to ensure in my real nursery: floor space. With little floor space in the rest of the house, even a small nursery should have room to build a block tower or make a doll hospital. Eliminate the bulky toys, store smaller ones on bookshelves,  pare down the wardrobe and keep the decorations simple.

Besides the beautiful crib and dresser, the rest of the room is furnished with gifts, garage sale finds and handmade bumber pads (with batting and piping rescued from a garishly wild set I found at a garage sale), dust ruffle and wall hangings.

Before William came along, I couldn’t quite resist the urge to add pink to the nursery, so this week worked on making the transition to more neutral greens and browns.

Decorating with a neutral theme requires a little more thought, but there are so many cute ideas out there that don’t have to break the bank. Since Rose loves trains, they were a logical choice. Teddy bears multiply without any help from mom and made a simple addition.

Before:

After:

The only really sad part was taking down the lovely quilt Rose”s grandmother made her and relegating it to Rose”s bed. In it’s place, I made a train wall-hanging. Not a fair trade, but it will have to do! Brown ties took the place of the pink.

A simple swap of ribbon tied the teddy bears into the color scheme. Canvas bags, decorative boxes and baskets make great containers for toys.

Teddy bears and books fill the basket and a couple church outfits in coordinating colors complete their simple decor.

Do you have a nursery? Why or why not? If so, how do you decorate it?


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