Viewing: nursery

Before and after: Nursery

It’s been a while since I blogged about the baby room, so I figured: why not do a nursery update? Quite a few things have changed since my last post about Tala’s room, and I’d love to show them to you.

The biggest change in the nursery has been the crib. From its previous incarnation as a bassinet…

Nursery before with Stokke bassinet

… our Stokke Sleepi had to be reconfigured into its crib form when Tala started sleeping in her room at three months. Have I said how much I love this bed and that it can grow with our baby?

Stokke Sleepi crib with mosquito net

Tala also outgrew her duyan, which now serves as a storage basket under the crib. And yes, that is a kulambo! The mosquito net became absolutely essential in the summer. Who knew that mosquitoes were part of the Amsterdam canal house dream? Though the weather has turned, we’ve kept the mosquito net up—because as Invader Stu has so perceptively pointed out, mosquitoes here don’t leave, they just put on an extra scarf.

More details and pictures after the jump!

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Four months!

Tala is four months old today, and it’s been a big month.

Tala 4 Months

She outgrew her bassinet, so after returning from Berlin we had to assemble the next stage of the Stokke Sleepi crib. Since there isn’t any space in our bedroom for the crib, we had to move her into the nursery.

Confession: every time we discussed moving her out of our bedroom, I cried. I don’t know why! Tears would just well up and I couldn’t stop them. “She’ll just be in the next room,” Marlon said, trying to reassure me. “I know, but… but…” I blubbered irrationally. It was the kind of moment that makes you wonder “What has happened to me? Why am I like this?” Oh yeah, I became a mother.

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Chalkboard drawings in the nursery

Marlon and I finally got to do the one thing we’d been itching to do since painting the chalkboard wall in Tala’s nursery: draw on it! It only took one rainy afternoon (lots of those in Amsterdam) to turn our blank “canvas” from this…

Nursery chalkboard wall-before

into this.

Nursery chalkboard wall-after

Want a closer look at the details?

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Free art prints for the nursery

The nursery project continues!

We received quite a few cards from friends when my baby was born (ah, what graciousness can be enabled by a postal system that actually works). I used to have them taped up to the wall next to her changing mat, and noticed that Tala really liked looking at them during diaper changers.

After reading that babies like faces, I decided to replace the cards with something a little more useful to her at this stage of development. The thought of real people’s faces pasted on my wall creeped me out, so I figured art and illustration was the way to go.

An online art project called Feed Your Soul helped me curate this mini art gallery of faces for Tala. This site features a free downloadable art print every month, from artists and illustrators invited to contribute by Jen Wallace of the blog Indie Fixx.

Free art prints for nursery

I first found this online art project after Googling Rinske Dekker, an illustrator and Etsy seller I discovered at Dutch Design Week. Rinske’s free art print from is on the right, next to the flower-crowned girl by Croatian illustrator Irena Sophia.

Irena Sophia and Rinske Dekker art print free download

I loved the fairytale quality of this illustration by Laura Minco

Laura Minco free art print

and the dreamy colors of this girl with her head in the clouds, by Laura Amiss. I don’t know why I gravitate more towards female figures… all our figurative paintings at home are of women, too.

Downloadable art print Laura Amiss

With some of my favorite cards from friends, plus our friendly felt unicorn, Tala’s little art gallery is complete. She loves looking at it, and she’s even started trying to touch some of the prints. It will be fun to update it every now and then with fresh finds.

Though the project ended in 2011, the Feed Your Soul page has lots more free downloadable art prints to choose from (not all of them are this girly). So you can download and print your own mini art gallery, too!

DIY mobile with paper ornaments

Tala’s nursery is a work in progress, and it’s finally starting to come together. When I have a bit of spare time and energy I work on little touches here and there. And I’m having fun!

I’ve been looking for ways to help Tala develop her visual acuity, so one of my recent projects was a DIY mobile to hang over her changing mat, for her to look at during nappy changes. After window shopping for baby mobiles online, I realized that many of them are made for adults to look at—that is, pretty from the side but not from below, which is the baby’s perspective.

Luckily, one of my baby shower gifts was a pack of pop-out paper ornaments by Dutch designer Jurianne Matter. Putting together a DIY mobile with these was super easy. I simply popped out the ornaments, folded them as per instructions on the package, and strung them with varying lengths of embroidery thread from a wooden embroidery hoop, which I then wrapped with washi tape.

Paper mobile for nursery

Not only are the ornaments cute, colorful (love the touches of neon!) and graphic, but they also fold out into 3D shapes, making them interesting to look at from the underside—not just for mommy, but for baby too.

Paper ornaments Jurianne Matter

The ornaments are still pretty thin and low-contrast for Tala at this stage, but she’s started looking at them more and more. I blow gently at the top of the mobile to get the circles moving and draw her interest. I love seeing her try to focus on the shapes, knowing that they are getting clearer as her vision develops.

Tala and mobile

I have a few other projects in the works, so more nursery details to come!

Battle of the bunnies

Now that the more complicated choices are out of the way, I love thinking about the cute, fluffy, totally non-critical parts of having a baby. Like bunnies.

Let me explain. Until a few weeks ago I was obsessed with buying a Nijntje lamp for the nursery. Nijntje, known to the English-speaking world as Miffy, is Dutch author and illustrator Dick Bruna’s most famous creation. Adorable, simply drawn and omnipresent, she’s like the Dutch Hello Kitty—you can’t be a child in the Netherlands and grow up without Nintje.

I had my eye on the 50cm (20 inch) Nijntje lamp, put it on my baby shower wishlist, even got Marlon onboard. But everything changed when a friend told me that her baby twins were terrified of their Nijntje lamp. They would start to cry every time she brought them near it, making diaper changes impossible.

Looking at Nijntje again, she did seem kind of… forbidding. (Must be the X that she has for a mouth.) Then I remembered a lamp I had pinned to my Baby Room board on Pinterest: the Trousselier Rabbit Angel lamp. This one is about half the size (and half the price!) that Nijntje is.


Bunny battle

So now I have a bit of a dilemma. It’s a cute one, exactly the kind I like to have. You could say I’m torn between two rabbits: quintessentially Dutch but possibly terrifying, or more generic but kind, smiley and welcoming?

What do you think?

Baby room basics

In a blogger’s ideal world, by this time I would be posting pictures of my beautifully styled, meticulously arranged nursery. It would have everything my baby could possibly need, plus a few (dozen) things that she actually doesn’t. It would be perfectly color-coordinated with a carefully curated selection of quirky little touches and charming little toys.

Well, this is reality. And in reality, there is no nursery… yet. That’s because Little Mango isn’t the first occupant of this space… Grandma is! My mom arrived this week and will stay until Easter, so our second bedroom first needs to be a guest room before it can become a nursery.

That hasn’t stopped us from laying the basic foundations for our future nursery. The first step: tearing down the huge built-in closets that took up nearly half the room.

Baby room-before

Marlon and I agonized for weeks over whether or not to keep these closets. It just seems funny to me now! And when I remember how these closets became the subject of a hormonal meltdown (“That room is practically a closet! I don’t want our baby to grow up in a closet! Sob sob sob”), it’s even funnier.

Baby room-before2

In the end, we chose space for our daughter over storage for our things. Because our daughter is our daughter, and things are just, well, things. So out went half these closets, as well as the recycled train tracks that the previous owners used as shelves.

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Planning the nursery: Color inspiration

Choosing colors for the nursery is something I’ve been itching to do for months. And it wasn’t just me—one of the first things Marlon asked me when we got home from the 20-week ultrasound was “So what color will we paint her room?” Excited much?

I’ve been drawn to baby rooms with a serene, restful, cocooning feel. Most of these spaces used lots of white and soft pastels. But I’m also attracted to nurseries that are modern, have room for a little fun and quirk, and are not too cutesy—spaces that can grow with the baby. Many of these use high-contrast colors like black and white.

I wondered if there was a way to combine the softness of pastels with the strong contrast of black. As she often does, Nature provided the inspiration I was looking for.

I love the beach at sunset, and this photo by Matt Hilvers on Flickr perfectly captures a deep black silhouette against a soft pastel sunset. I especially like that these pastels feel natural, almost dusty, and are not sugary-sweet.

I’ve also been thinking about stars and the night sky. The Hubble Site’s image gallery is filled with amazing photographs of space from the Hubble telescope… all available to the public online. (They even have images big enough to print as wall murals!) The photo of the Orion nebula on the right shows gorgeous shades of pink set against the universe’s midnight blues and deep blacks.

It was easy to get husband approval—Marlon loves the idea of being inspired by space (geeks rule!) and using black to offset the girliness of pink and pastel. Plus, it gives us the flexibility to create a black chalkboard wall when Little Mango gets older, which is an idea we both love.

Once we agreed on this general direction, I started seeing pastel and black everywhere—in places and objects that look both feminine and modern.

 1 – Color palette by Bright Bazaar
2 – Icosahedron pendant light from ABC Home
3 – Lolita, a bar in Slovenia
4 – Night Peonies art print by Cozamia
5 - Jar No. 3 via Present & Correct 
6 – Neon stars garland via April and May Studio

So, Little Mango’s nursery is slowly taking shape in my mind, and already I’m having so much fun planning it. It sure beats thinking about labor!

Related reading: The Junior is a gorgeous kids’ style blog that uses these colors in its blog design. Looks so fresh and yummy!

Planning the nursery: Do you duyan?

Now that I’m past the halfway point in my pregnancy, I’m starting to think about the practical matters of Little Mango’s arrival. I’ve started reading about labor and breastfeeding, and researching major purchases such as a stroller and crib. It’s a lot to take in, but taking it one day at a time helps me from getting overwhelmed—and looking at pretty pictures online makes it fun!

One of the things I’ve been thinking about is where Little Mango will sleep. Since my mom will be here in March, the spare room in our new apartment will be a guest room first, before we can turn it into a nursery. So Little Mango will spend the first few months of her life in our bedroom—a sleeping arrangement that seems to be common among the new parents I’ve talked to.

This has made me decide that what I really want is a duyan—a hanging bassinet. I want it Filipino and I want it traditional—woven from natural materials and designed to hang, rock and sway. I love the idea of our tiny newborn in a small cozy basket by our bed, and I love the idea of it being something from home.

The problem is, I have no idea where to find a duyan. A Google Image search for duyan turned up a handful of mostly atrocious pictures. Maybe young Filipino parents don’t use duyans anymore, or maybe the ones who do don’t post pictures of them on the Internet. I don’t know.

I did find a few images of woven hanging bassinets from… Scandinavia. Surprise, surprise.

I love these images because they not only show the kind of duyan I want, but more importantly, the kind of feeling that I want to create.

Finnish stylist Susanna Vento used the bassinet on the left for her styling work for Deko (photos by Kristiina Kurronen), while Nordic Bliss sells the one on the right in their online shop. Unfortunately, it’s sold out… but if it wasn’t, it would still be €79 plus shipping. In the grand scheme of things, that’s not a lot, but since it will only be used for a few months, I’m thinking I could find one for a tenth of the price back home.

Now, if I only knew where to look! Any suggestions, Manila peeps? Do you know anyone who has ever used a duyan?