When I first started thinking about what I wanted to do in the baby’s room, my mind went to grey and yellow. I think I can blame Pinterest for this. I thought something in soft colours, with nice “baby-ish” prints on the walls would be adorable. I was going to do a fancy striped paint job, and everything was going to be perfectly matchy-matchy.
It didn’t take long for me to change my mind. Grey and yellow themed rooms were abounding. Did I really want to have the same baby room (I hate the word nursery for some reason, just FYI) that everyone else decided they wanted? Hey, there’s nothing wrong with doing something that’s being widely done, as long as you love it. I realized that I didn’t love it. I needed to come up with a new plan.
Having something gender neutral, even though we knew we were having a boy, was really important to both of us. If we were having a girl, we didn’t want to overload her with pink and make her think that she had to be all about princesses and Barbies. The same went for our boy. Sure, playing with cars, trucks and action figures is great. He will definitely be able to do that. But if he wants to play with dolls too, his room shouldn’t make him feel like that’s something he shouldn’t be doing. So, what direction would the room end up taking?
For some reason, my mind started gravitating towards foxes. Maybe it’s because I kept seeing adorable plush foxes everywhere I went. Who knows. Whatever it was, this ended up being the basis for his entire room. I decided that I still wanted to keep grey at the main wall colour, but that having a red accent wall would be really awesome. Then, when we were examining the room and trying to picture where things would go, we got the idea to do one wall with chalkboard paint. Brilliant.
The original wall colour, like much of our house, is a pale blue colour. A lot of people tried to tell me that it was already the perfect colour for a boy’s nursery. No offense meant to those who do baby blue rooms, but gross. I like it in the rest of the house (minus the bathroom and bedroom, which are black brown and dark indigo, respectively), but for our son’s room, it had to go.
I had almost forgotten how big this room was. Before we cleared it out, it was jam-packed with shit that we had no other place for: the enormous six drawer dress I’d had since high school; the treadmill, which is now enjoying a home with my brother; the double bed; the filing cabinet; and a huge upholstered cream chair that Shawn used to use for his computer at the old house. It really was too much, but once we got it all out and sorted, the room’s potential really started to speak to me. The search for “the colours” was on.
The first set of paint chips I brought home was from the Martha Stewart line at the Home Depot. However, after reading paint reviews online, abysmal reviews, we decided to go with the original plan, shell out a little more money, and get Benjamin Moore paint. It was well worth it. We went to the closest retailer and ended up finding colours that were even better than the originals. They also have a great line of zero and low VOC options, which was really important to us. The less chemicals and nasty smells around the baby, and me, the better.
The first colour we used was Gray Timber Wolf, a nice soft grey with a bit of a neutral undertone. When we actually bought the paint, we got it in the Natura Zero VOC base. This was the colour that we were using the most of, so it made sense to get this base.
For the red, we chose Million Dollar Red, a nice bright hue with a touch of orange undertones. I wanted something that would feel warm but still look like a true red, and this colour for the bill perfectly. This was mixed in the Aura base, which is low VOC. We didn’t get this colour in the Natura because, as our paint expert told us, it doesn’t perform as well with saturated colours. That was fine with me. I barely noticed any more odour with this than I did with the Natura when we were applying it.
The great thing about Benjamin Moore Chalkboard Paint is that you can get it in any of their colours. This was great, and made me consider (briefly) doing something really funky. I decided against it, though, and got a colour I’ve wanted to use somewhere for a while: Raccoon Fur. It’s a nice dark colour that reminds me of a true blackboard without being too dark. It’s got some definite grey undertones that worked really well with our other colour choices. It is also low VOC, but had the strongest smell of the three paints.
We started the actual painting process in mid-December, taping first and starting with the grey on the 14th. it was oddly exciting. For some reason, the actual act of starting the room transformation made things hop up the “shit, this is really happening” scale. Never mind that I had a huge belly and a super active baby. Physical things just seem to make a difference somehow.
Admittedly, mum did most of the painting. It wasn’t that I felt it was unsafe for me to help (it’s not like I was going to be huffing directly out of the cans), it’s more that my back did not agree with the whole process at this point. i did a little bit, of one wall, and that’s about all I could manage. As you can see in the picture of me at right, our existing blinds were a great match for the new decor scheme. This is good, because getting something else simply wasn’t in the budget.
After the grey was done, we didn’t get a start on the rest until December 28th. This wasn’t a huge deal. There were other things to do, like put the crib together and start thinking about where we wanted to put things. Oh, and I was also anxiously awaiting delivery of the super awesome wall decals that I had ordered.
That’s right, I decided that the room was going to have a woodland theme. This, in turn, led to me scouring etsy for the perfect forest decals. There are so many people there doing the vinyl decal thing that it was hard to sift through the crap and find something really great. After waffling back and forth for a while, we ended up getting a great set of trees and animals from Smiley Walls. I was so looking forward to getting them and putting them up. But first, the rest of the paint.
In addition to one awesome chalkboard wall in Finn’s room, Shawn wanted to do the biggest wall in our kitchen the same colour. This has been such a great idea, and it really brings out the colours in the cabinets and counter tops much better than the solid blue did. I also got the idea to do a chalkboard door sign on one of the panels on Finn’s door. I’m sure, at some point, it will say “Keep Out”, but for now it has a lovely picture of a tree and the words “Finn’s Forest”.
At this point, all of the furniture, which we got in the week following Christmas, was assembled and placed about the room. Everything, with the exception of my Palliser armchair, came from Ikea. The Sundvik crib was on sale for a mere $69 when we got it, and it fits perfectly with the room. I originally had white furniture in mind, but after taking the pant chips over to the store (and thinking about how horribly dirty white would get), this is another decision that got changed. We ended up getting two things in black brown and one in red, and it looks awesome.
I’ve always thought that having a separate change table was a huge wast of space, so the plan was to get a dresser at the right height and equip it with a changing pad. It turns out Ikea has the Hemnes 3-drawer dresser in the perfect red to compliment the accent wall, and it’s just the right height for changing. The room is rounded out with the Expedit shelving unit with eight compartments and two pull out storage boxes.
The decals were delivered the Sunday before Christmas during an extra rush to get all the holiday parcels delivered. I was thrilled, even though I knew they couldn’t (or shouldn’t) go up until the painting was done and the furniture was in place. I did spend some time cutting individual decals out of the larger sheets, just to save some time. The huge floor-to-ceiling trees were the first things to go up. We put one on the same wall as the door, and one on the wall opposite the closet.
Once I got a system going, they were really easy to put on. All the experience I have applying vinyl window clings at my last job probably didn’t hurt the process any. I actually found this to be much simpler. Once the trees were out of the way, as they were by far the most tricky, everything else was a snap. I found it easier to put them up if I trimmed the branches off and reattached them separately. Only one branch from each tree came as a separate piece, and it made more sense to apply the remaining branches the same way.
By far the most time consuming part was cutting out all the individual leaves. The leaves came in two colours and three sizes, so I sorted accordingly as I cut. I thought I was being anal retentive about it, but it really did make things easier. The leaves went on second, the owl in the background at left being first. I couldn’t help it. I had to do an owl. The animals came in lots of pieces and were all several layers, so they were really easy to do.
It took me a while, and I had to be up on a ladder to get the tops of the trees, but I’m so happy with the result. The decals are nice and matte, so they almost look painted on. If I ever have any decal needs, I will definitely be ordering from the same shop again. Let’s take a look at the finished product, shall we?
If you’re wondering where we got that awesome dragon, it also came from Ikea. There are several types of cover to go on an inflatable insert, but the dragon was the obvious choice for us. I’m trying to make it as much of an enchanted forest as I can.
It took a lot of work to put together, but this is one of those things that looks exactly how I wanted it to. So often, the image you have in your head of a particular project doesn’t match up with the final result, but that was not the case here. I think this is now my favourite room in the house.
Some additions since these pictures were taken include an infrared space heater (this is the coldest room in the house if you keep the door closed, which we do to avoid suffocation by cat), a contoured change pad on the dresser, a lamp with a flower and bug embroidered shade, a Lego Darth Vader clock and a collapsible hamper. Babies make a lot of laundry.
So… yeah. That’s the room. If you like it, let me know in the comments! Hell, even if you hate it, let me know why. I’m always curious.