Unveiling the 'Secret' Plans for the Kid Pen

The Antagonists Jac, Jen, Deb and a few others have requested a blog entry / lowdown on what my plans are for the baby room.

"We know you've been thinking about it," they say. "We know you know what you're going to do already, and that it doesn't involve a drain and cat litter."

When I hem and haw, they put their hands on their hips. "It's going to be something abnormal and design-y, isn't it?"

While I'm not sure that last bit's much of a compliment, they do know me well. And now that the floors are done and resealed (TA-DUUUUUN!), getting the room finished is an actual possibility.

The Plan

My friends are right. I have pieced together a sloppy little design plan of sorts, based on my penchant for inexpensive solutions.

They're even right about me skipping the kitty litter and shredded newspapers. But that doesn't mean I'm going to spend five zillion dollars on a baby room, either.

The Motivation

To be clear: I have a deep hatred for stick-it-to-the-buyer sales efforts geared at major life events (such as baby arrivals, weddings and funerals). Neither am I a fan of soothing pastels - which seem to be the only option manufacturers offer to new parents.

I suppose the seeking of alternatives is a rebellious streak of sorts: I can't stand the idea of paying thousands of dollars for fugly furniture that you have to sell at a quarter of the price once the kid turns three. [Like this wretched crib to the right - which by the way, retails for a mere $1200. ]

The Varmint and I refer to this as pragmatism. Other people call us cheap. (They're not entirely correct here: I would willingly invest in pricier, well-designed vintage furniture because it appreciates as it ages and doesn't lose its resale value - if only it weren't being used in a kid's room. Hello, destruction zone!)

So, we utilized the old stand-bys of IKEA and hand-me-downs.

The Players

The Varmint's mostly leaving the design / idea stuff to me because he knows I enjoy it and am willing to do the shopping. But he did request "something colorful." He's helping out with labor. Mom's pitching in heavily in that department, as have friends Karen and the rest of The Girls. (Thanks, Team!)

Have I mentioned how badly it bites not being able to pitch in physically? I have a new appreciation for the frustration felt by the elderly: I've learned that I truly suck at sitting still, and am driving everyone crazy. They spend a lot of time reprimanding me to "sit my ass down." Sorry guys.

The Palette beddingcrib.jpgEvery design project needs a starting point, something to hold it together and give it consistency. It can be a theme (bleah!), an inspiration (better) or you can do something like choose a palette of three colors and stick with it throughout.

I went with choosing a palette. I'm keeping the kelp-forest green background color on the north and east walls. (So much easier to touch-up than repaint, don't you agree?) The bedding's a cool, quilted concentric circle pattern (that's the pic above). The palette's reflected in the bedding and amped up elsewhere with peacock colors in punches.

I was going to throw in a tiny smidge of hot tones (hot pink, yellow, orange) for some contrasting fire - and because I am not as disciplined as I should be when it comes to color - but that went out the window. The warmth comes from the yellows in the bases of the blue and green. My ability to keep focused will keep the room cleaner-looking and let me use texture to greater effect. (Me? Disciplined? Har!) 

Stuff We've Bought

For furniture I bought a plain, modern birch-colored crib (see pic, right, minus the bedding) for $135. A

s previously mentioned, we bought IKEA furniture, none of which came from the Kids' Department. It includes an entertainment center (to hold the kid's stereo, her growing book and DVD library, to provide seating, and act as a toy chest) and the big butcher block kitchen storage cabinet mom gifted us (to act as a dresser and changing table combo). Both can be used long-term. Our personal out-of-pocket expenses for brand-new "kid" furniture: $375.

Two Birds, One Stone Instead of buying a new rocking chair, we took my grandpa's old metal garden glider which sat brown, rusting and covered in spiderwebs on our porch to a metalwork shop. (It looked similar to the one at the left when it departed our house last Friday.)

There, it is being sandblasted, weld-repaired, refinished, powder-coated and lacquered a creamy white for a surprisingly reasonable (cheap!) price. I've been wanting to do this for years - and this is such a cool, cost-saving and useful way to get it done!

My fabulously talented mom (she really is! she can sew anything, fix plumbing, etc. etc. etc.) is tailoring new custom seat cushions for it (and the entertainment center seating), using fresh, firm custom-cut foam. She and I splurged on gorgeous, easy-to-clean peacock blue micro-striped fabric. This is where we'll rock the munchkin when she's bawling her head off for No Apparent Reason.

Let There Be Light

Instead of a tacky crib mobile, I bought imported Chinese paper and silk party lanterns online. (Less than $20.) I strung them with big colorful glass beads salvaged from old necklaces and will secure them high out of the reach of little fingers and throats, but close enough to see and twist in the breeze from the new windows.New bamboo blinds will make the room nap-ready at the yank of a cord.

We inherited a funky little 1970s hanging lamp in puice last year from my favorite Aunt Jayne (you can sort of see it in the top picture of this entry). We hung it to softly mellow the southwest corner of the room.

And finally, I found an eight-foot round, woolly-n-washable Greek flokati carpet (see pic, right) on sale (!!!). It's got a retro appeal, softens everything texturally, feels great underfoot and really brightens the room.

To be continued...

So there you have it. Can you picture it, girls? (I'm assuming any guys out there stopped reading at about paragraph two, once they realized this entry was akin to a 'Design on a Dime' episode about a baby room and that their testicles would shrivel up and fall off if they continued any further.) When (and if) the room gets done before I burst forth in baby, I promise to post a snapshot. For now, you'll have to use your imagination to visualize it all coming together. And hey - as long as you're thinking about it, wish me luck in getting the glider to fit through the bedroom door. That's something I'm sweating about that has nothing to do with hot flashes.

Click here to see the final product.


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I am a writer and lazy artist who loves travel, architecture and design. Right now, I'm into photography. My fabulous husband (a.k.a. The Varmint) and I are also the principals of a San Diego-based creative agency - and new parents to the divine Baby Mak. Read More >