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Thank you all so much for your kind words on last week’s post! We’re excited about the changes ahead and prepping our house for another little one!
I meant to put together this post in January, to share how we managed to fit Avery’s Christmas bounty into our already cozy home. Since our last nursery post back in August, I’ve also been meaning to show what’s changed and how we’ve had to childproof our house. But y’know – there were two things I needed to hang in the nursery so the post got delayed for months. Last weekend I finally got around to hanging them and it took me all of seven and a half minutes.
So, now that we’ve got procrastination out of the way…
We haven’t changed the nursery too drastically since last summer. When I was nursing Avery I liked the idea of the glider facing into the room and feeling a bit more cozy, but a few months ago we decided to flip it to the other side as we’re mostly using it for reading before bedtime. Her storage boxes then moved to the other side of the wall. We’ve played with a half-dozen or so configurations but this more compact stacking seems to work well for our current needs. Although we envisioned it being used more for toys, it is almost all book storage now. I love that Avery loves books and have, rather eagerly, added quite a bit to her collection in the past six months. (We also regularly visit our local library branch and usually have 10-12 loaners in the rotation.)
Because Avery loves to read (err…look at the pictures), I bought her the Land of Nod chair (against my more rational, space-conscious side) for Christmas. Turns out she’d still rather sit on the floor and flip through books but maybe that will change as she gets older? Or maybe I’ll just put it in the basement for a while and free up some space in her room?
Also, have I mentioned that this girl is obsessed with trash trucks? In Seattle we have three different trucks that roll by each Monday and it’s pretty much the highlight of her day.
I’m keeping things real by keeping the Disney princess car in this shot. She’s more into pulling it out and re-parking it, so maybe it will live outside once summer comes. By the way, the rug is going bye-bye. We have some ideas for a replacement and ordered samples last week. (For the record, it’s Bailey who trashed it. Dirty paws and claws that get caught in the loops of wool are to blame. Besides, we’d like something with a more level surface for playing on.)
As another Christmas gift, I ordered Avery this custom growth chart from Etsy shop, PaperRamma. Tracking growth is just one part really, it’s more of a modern infographics baby book and as you can see I haven’t actually filled any of it out yet. (In hindsight, it would be been better to get before or right after she was born since we’ve already passed many of the milestones.) I do love the colors and overall design though.
Not much has changed with the wardrobe organization either. We keep surplus books and art supplies at the back of the laundry basket shelf and use the bottom three drawers for toys, blankets, sheets and extra diapers and wipes.
Hey, I also finally hung the “Z” that had been sitting on her dresser for the last 20 months.
The big addition to the main living area is the IKEA play kitchen that Santa brought. This chunk of wall was literally our last free space so it was fortunate that the kitchen just barely fit. I researched a few kitchens and came back to this one for the price, design and size. Many of the others were quite small and I liked that this one comes with plastic extenders that go on the legs as the child gets taller.
We’re still using the under-bench space for additional toy storage. The bench is at a good play height for Avery right now, so we took the cushion off and stored it under the couch.
Avery is also really into blocks and building right now so this is typically her construction area. (I totally gave Kyle a hard time for buying her the girlie Duplos but she loves them. Although, I think she’d love them if they were primary colors too.)
She also rediscovered her Grimm’s rainbow recently and its endless configuration options. Take note, rainbow cuffs are the hot new toddler trend for Spring!
Now, onto childproofing. The good news – we really haven’t had to do much. The fauxdenza has had the most attention and primarily because it is parallel to a main path of toddler travel. Although we haven’t had any issues with our fancy, architect-designed pulls in the kitchen, Avery has had a couple run-ins with the ones here. So a few months ago we bought some foam padding, cut pieces to size and adhered them with some double-stick tape. (We put up the foam corner guards last fall when she was less steady on her feet.) She’s at the point where they could probably be removed, but it will only be a matter of time before we’ll need them again and yeah…who likes removing double-stick tape?
The downside to installing the foam is that it made the cabinet doors easier to open. We had bought some door catches from IKEA six months or so ago but just couldn’t bring ourselves to install the fussy hardware. So instead of childproofing, we tried child-deterring instead. Yup, we used a good ol’ fashioned rubber band around each pair of door pulls. Surprisingly, it worked. She fussed with them for a couple of days and then eventually gave up. In the kitchen, we have mostly drawers within her reach and she doesn’t really open them. I credit this to the drawer dampers that we installed, making them just a tiny bit harder to pull open if you have the strength of a toddler. (I should mention of course that we don’t keep anything dangerous in any drawer or cabinet within her reach. If she got into them, it would be a nuisance more than anything.)
Sadly, we do not have a wonderfully creative solution for stroller storage. We keep the full-size one here in the mudroom and the smaller umbrella one in the back of the car. I know that with #2 our stroller situation is only going to get bigger, but that’s a topic for another post. (Our mudroom was limited in size because it’s in our front yard setback so we had to work with the existing footprint – had this not been the case we definitely would have gone bigger and incorporated more storage.)
The only other childproofing measure we’ve taken is to put corner guards on our table. These started out at the corners of the fauxdenza but as she’s grown they’ve migrated to the table. I know it will only be a matter of time before they move to the island, especially since she’s already able to stand on her tip toes and swipe things from the edge (which has led to enforcement of the “12″ rule” where everything (like knives!) gets pushed in 12″ from the edge).
As for a quick update on high chairs – we’re still mostly using the Inglesina clip-on chair at the island (it’s more convenient), but she does sit at the Stokke a few times a week and we also use it for crafty activities like coloring. I know she will eventually outgrow the clip-on chair and it will be passed on to the next sibling so the Stokke still has a long future ahead of it.
So that’s our update. And if you didn’t notice – we have done nothing with the loft ladder! I know, we’re surprised too. I’d like to think we taught her not to climb it but really, that’s just her temperament. She’s a bit more reserved and quiet and that’s probably a big reason we haven’t had to do much to our house. I know it will change at some point (can’t keep a kiddo off a ladder forever!) but because Kyle’s office is up there and he uses the ladder multiple times a day, it’s been nice not to have a gate or contraption to deal with.
Of course, I probably just jinxed us and #2 will be the polar opposite and we’ll have padding all over our house.
The northwest corner of Avery’s nursery has been sad and lonely for the last twelve months…waiting, patiently, for this:
You see, the trouble with being an architect and being married to an architect is that you set the bar pretty high for even the simplest of projects. For over a year now I’ve had the idea that we would design and build Avery some type of toy and book storage for her room. Originally, we were going to build a bench/cubby that would sit under the window. Well, it didn’t happen before Avery entered the world so we considered just buying the similar (and very pricey) Offi version ($$$) and calling it good. But then I started seeing modular storage boxes well, everywhere and thought this could be a quick and easy project. (Ha!) Thinking I might be able to find some inexpensive pre-made boxes (that we could then finish/paint), I scoured the interwebs but no luck. (Seriously, I’m sure this would be a lucrative business model. Someone should get on that.)
So, DIY it was.
The four boxes are made from a single 4′x 8′ sheet of 3/4″ maple plywood. In lieu of exposed fasteners, we opted for biscuited joints. Our clamp collection came in handy.
We did consider installing backs but the boxes were plenty rigid without them and their omission simplified the construction and overall project costs.
After the boxes were assembled, Kyle applied a coat of benite and a couple of coats of clear polyurethane to the outside faces.
I wanted to do something playful for the inside faces, so we chose four of our house colors (“lakeside cabin”, “thuderbird”, “luminous days” and “birds of paradise”, all Benjamin Moore). Also, this photo was taken the day before her birthday party. If there’s one thing we’ve learned through the whole remodel process it’s this: PARTIES = FINISHED PROJECTS. Seriously, trust us.
Thankfully, the littlest Zerbey approves.
(Side note because I know someone will ask – all of our outlets are tamper-resistant which means they have a plastic “shutter” behind the holes to keep kiddos from sticking objects in them.)
Mid-way through construction we wondered if we should have spent more money on a nicer plywood with more ply’s (since the end grain is so prominent) but now that they’re finished and in the space we’re really pleased with how it all turned out (and realistically, she’s going to eventually give them her own “patina”). The individual box dimensions are as follows (all are 15″ deep): 15″x30″, 15″x15″, 12″x12″ and 15″x9″.
Aside from basic toy and book storage, we like the idea that the boxes could also be used to encourage creative play for years to come. (My sisters and I used to spend hours making “doll houses” from cardboard boxes and I like to think Avery might use these in a similar way someday.)
Of course, safety was a concern so we bought these clips from DWR to attach the boxes to each other. They’re metal with a rubber lining so they fit snugly and can’t be removed by little hands. At first we attached them to the front faces but then decided it looked too busy and instead attached them to the back. We have five clips, which should be plenty for the various configurations we come up with.
(Since Avery’s still in the paperback destruction phase, I love that so many classic children’s books now come in board books.)
Mike Mulligan and the Steam Shovel was Kyle’s all-time favorite book as a kid. In fact, he checked it out of the library so many times that his teacher had to stage a mini-intervention.
The heights of the boxes are perfect for Avery at this age and encourages more independent standing (she’s not walking yet, but I know it won’t be long!). Although we haven’t reconfigured the boxes yet, we have discovered that by pulling them away from the wall by a few feet we can create a cozy little nook for her.
Aside from the boxes, we’ve made a few other tweaks to the nursery over the last several months:
We bought the IKEA PAX wardrobe with the intention that it could be rearranged and added to as Avery’s needs changed. At first, I just bought four shelves and stacked everything inside. That worked fine for the first 9 months or so but it wasn’t the most efficient set-up. As she started playing with more toys I pulled out all the newborn gear that we no longer needed and packed it away in the crawl space. I then bought three plastic drawers and rearranged the existing shelves. The bottom two drawers are for toys and I use the top one for blankets, sheets and extra diapers. We’ve had this configuration in place for a few months now and it works really well. She can only reach the two bottom drawers, but because they’re so wide she can’t pull them open far enough to create a ladder. Moving the laundry basket up keeps her from constantly emptying her dirty laundry. (Behind the laundry basket and diaper bag is our stash of non-board books.)
Having three areas for toy storage (these drawers, the plywood boxes and the felt bins in the living room) also allows us to rotate through different toys so she doesn’t get bored or overwhelmed with too much to choose from.
Toys, what toys? Actually, we usually have some toys strewn about but since the living area also doubles as a place to meet with clients it was important to have a system in place for quick and easy clean-up.
Also, I’m finally calling this room DONE! So, a few overall shots to commemorate!
Confession, this is the third set of air plants I’ve bought. The first ones got neglected in those first six months and then the second set quickly died when we put up temporary blankets over the windows to make the room darker. (Apparently plants need sunlight?)
Speaking of, I procrastinated so long on curtains because I really did not want to make blackout shades for the windows (those chevron curtains took way too long as it is!). So, imagine my surprise and happiness when I discovered that IKEA sells both blackout curtain liners and roller shades (and in a dark gray color)! At the larger window I used the liner with a pair of IKEA curtains in a dark gray-blue (the curtain rod is from West Elm). We hung them near the ceiling to compose with the wardrobe curtains but stuck with a color similar to the walls so that they wouldn’t compete visually. At the smaller window above the crib we installed a surface-mounted roller shade (we wanted to keep the existing recessed shade for diffuse natural light). The exposed hardware on the roller shades leaves something to be desired but we figured we could build a custom valence of sorts if it bothered us too much (it hasn’t).
The 3 Sprouts canvas bin (which used to hold all of her toys!) now houses our collection of baby quilts (thanks Mom!) plus a few stuffed animals.
Aside from these few modifications and additions, the overall layout hasn’t changed in the past year. It’s simple but continues to work really well for our needs. We still use the dresser to store most of her clothes, diapers, wipes and a few regularly used odds and ends. Bonus, I think it finally lost that Craigslist smell!
The only thing we might swap out in the near future is the rug. I love the design and feel (we bought it from West Elm a few years ago), but it does show dirt and the looped design is not conducive to giant golden retriever paws. It would be nice to replace it with something more easily cleanable too, so we’ll see.
I’d also like to design/incorporate a growth chart into the nursery – maybe something on the backside of the sliding doors? My mom did this on the back of our closet door (my sister and I shared a room) growing up and I want to continue the tradition.
The nursery is starting to feel more and more like a kid’s room and we love it. (In fact, it’s Kyle’s favorite room in the house!) I know there will be more items to accommodate as she expands her interests and abilities (art supplies! a mini kitchen!) but I’ve got some ideas for that.
We’re about 2 1/2 months into parenthood, so I thought it would be a good time to update you on how the nursery (and related baby products) are working out for us.
In general, the nursery is great. Its proximity to the living areas hasn’t been an issue and actually served as a secondary hang-out space when family was in town to visit. (These photos were taken a few days ago, without any tidying up or staging first.)
Although I was wary of the dresser size, it’s worked out just fine. I like having a little counter space next to the changing pad and the drawers provide adequate storage for diapers, wipes and clothes. The wardrobe isn’t terribly organized but it’s functional and I like that everything is easily accessible.
I moved our old IKEA full-length mirror next to wardrobe – Avery likes to “stand” on the edge of the dresser and check herself out and sometimes I lay it horizontally on the floor during tummy time. I’m also happy to report that the air plants are still alive! I water them about once a week and they seem happy enough in their glass vessel homes.
Avery hasn’t exactly tested the limits of the IKEA crib, but I have no complaints thus far. (Bailey never could figure out how to get his tennis ball out from under the crib.)
The original plan was to build a bench/cubby for under the window to hold toys, books, etc. That project didn’t get done in time but now I’m not so sure we really need it. More importantly, this is some of the only available wall space left in the house so I think we might need to preserve it for larger toys (custom-designed dollhouse? what?) down the road. I’m not a big fan of keeping the stroller in here, but I think with a little tweaking we can find a good place for it in the mudroom. (I also didn’t take into account the baby monitor in the nursery design, although I think I can come up with a way to put it on the dresser while discretely running the wires that go to the movement sensor.)
Many people advised us to get the best glider we could afford and they were right. I spend so much time in that chair and it has held up remarkably well to both frequent use and frequent projectile spit-up. If you have a comfy chair or couch it may not be totally necessary but this is the only non-Eames chair in our house. I’ve also found a few uses for the squirrel coat hook, like the k’tan or bath towels. Avery likes to stare at its silhouette but I remind her frequently that squirrels are not to be trusted.
In addition to a simple and functional nursery, my other pre-baby goal was to acquire only a minimal amount of baby “stuff”. I did a ton of research and since many of these items directly relate to living in a small home, I thought I’d share with you all what’s working and what’s not.
1. The Bassinet:
Even though our house is small, we planned to keep Avery in our room for the first month or so. We didn’t have enough space for a pack ‘n play so I looked for more compact options. Although a co-sleeper would have probably fit between our bed and the wall, I liked the idea of something that could be multi-purpose. One day I came across one of those “Best New Baby Products for 2012″ lists and saw this Rocker/Napper from Tiny Love. Although it was new and didn’t have much in the way of personal reviews it seemed like the perfect thing for us (I also liked that it wasn’t too colorful or obnoxious.) The rocker is essentially a bassinet that reclines up to a semi-reclined position (for babies with acid reflux I’m guessing) and then to a lounge chair of sorts. It has a rocking base with kickstands on both ends, which I found to be quite handy. The rocker has a vibrate setting and also comes with a removable mobile (that plays a few songs and lights up). The pad isn’t plush, but comfortable enough. It doesn’t have a removable cover so I opted to wrap a receiving blanket around it for the inevitable spit-up.
The pros – it’s lightweight and easy to move around the house (we even put it in the back of our car for our road trip last month), the different functions keep her entertained and at different phases of development (she’s just now batting at the mobile) and it was fairly inexpensive.
The cons – it doesn’t fold down or disassemble easily (not great for travel), Avery nearly outgrew it as a sleeper by the time she was 8 weeks old (this is in part because she was swaddled and thus had her legs stretched out) and the mobile comes out but doesn’t rotate freely to different positions.
All things considered, I’d use it again for sure.
2. Baby Carriers:
As far as baby-wearing goes, there seems to be two categories: the sling/wrap (like the Moby, K’tan, or various other products) and a more structured carrier (like the BabyBjorn, Ergo, Beco, etc.). Most of the structured carriers aren’t designed for newborns, so we’ve relied mostly on our K’tan these first few months. (We do have a used BabyBjorn “Comfort” but have only used it a couple of times as she’s not quite big enough just yet.) Lots of people love the Moby wrap, but I was a little intimidated and instead registered for the K’tan. The idea is similar but a bit less complicated to put on (or so it seems). Avery is small enough that she’s easy to carry this way and almost immediately falls asleep – the few times she’s freaked out on me I’ve put her in the K’tan and she quickly calmed down. Like most wraps, there are a half-dozen or so different positions that can accommodate your baby as she gets bigger and has better control of her body.
(The photo above was taken at the Seattle Design Festival a few weeks ago.)
3. Strollers + Carseats:
Truth – I was intimidated by strollers. I remember being about 5-6 months pregnant and spending a Saturday morning watching stroller reviews on YouTube (and subsequently rolling my eyes at myself). Although people seem to make a really big deal about these little rolling carts, I was relieved to find that there are some well-built (and affordable!) options out there. After much research and polling of other parents, I decided to go with both a stroller and stroller frame.
Avery can’t really benefit from a stroller till she’s sitting up on her own, but I liked that the Baby Jogger City Mini seat could lay flat (also makes great lakeside lounge chair). Other perks – it easily folds down for compact storage (critical for small houses like ours), it’s well-built, comes in pretty colors (like brown!) and will accommodate Avery until she’s 50 lbs. (at which point she better be walking on her own two feet). It also has a decent storage basket (important for things like clothes shopping) can go off the beaten path without being a full-on jogging stroller and has a gigantic sun shade (which I’m hoping will also serve as an umbrella of sorts…when it actually decided to rain again). The downsides – you have to buy a separate “parent console” to get luxuries like cup holders and the handle height isn’t adjustable.
For quick errands and walks I opted for a stroller frame that’s compatible with her carseat (a Chicco Keyfit 30). The girl loves to sleep in her carseat so it’s a real benefit to be able to move her from the car to the stroller frame without waking her up. I bought the coordinating Chicco stroller frame (very similar to the more common Snap ‘n Go) and it’s been great. It has a big basket (which I’ve used as an impromptu grocery cart), two cup holders and a compartment perfectly sized for an iPhone. (The handle also rotates 180 degrees which makes a world of difference squeezing into crowded restaurants.)
I registered for the Chicco Keyfit carseat because it was affordable, got good reviews and everyone seemed to own one. I have no complaints – it’s easy to use, durable and comes in decent color options.
4. Misc. Products That We Love:
Finally, here’s a rundown of some miscellaneous products that have been true lifesavers:
WubbaNub pacifier: Avery’s “lamby”, our friend Erica brought this to us in the hospital and it gets used every single day. We do not leave the house without it.
Fisher-Price swing: I resisted a swing for a long time but finally caved about a month ago. After a formal Facebook poll, I ended up with this Fisher Price one, purchased used on Craigslist (from another little Avery!). It’s gigantic but not nearly as obnoxious as some of the other ones out there. The one thing the Tiny Love Rocker doesn’t do is swing and this contraption does the job forward to back and side to side. It also plays a few ditties, has a spinning mobile and a mirror for self-reflection. Best of all – it plugs in to the wall so NO BATTERIES. I know it’s only a matter of time before it will have served its purpose and is back on Craigslist so we don’t mind it too much.
Sleep Sheep: my parents got this for us and I had no idea how much we’d rely on it. Basically it’s a stuffed animal that makes different white noise sounds – a stream, rain, the ocean and whales. We never use the whales – that’s just creepy coming from a sheep. We have the smaller travel version but it seems more than adequate for home use. (We also have a Munchkin white noise machine and image projector which we’ve just started using and is equally mesmerizing.) The idea of course is that white noise mimics the sounds from inside the womb and helps them fall asleep. Admittedly, it has also helped me fall asleep on more than one occasion as well.
Bath Sponge: when we were remodeling the kitchen we joked about having a sink big enough to wash a baby in. Maybe it’s old school, but it’s worked beautifully so far. We just use a $6 bath sponge – that and the pull down sprayer on the faucet makes bathing very easy. (Note: we also have the Puj tub. I was really excited to use it but the reality is that our kitchen sink is too big and our bathroom sink too small for it to work well.)
Other products that we love? For one, anything by Aden + Anais (we have their swaddles, burp clothes (which can also be used as bibs) and crib sheets). We also get a lot of use out of our Boon drying rack, Angelcare monitor and Skip Hop crib mirror. Oh, I can’t believe I nearly forgot – The Miracle Blanket. We started out swaddling Avery in the Aden + Anais blankets but switched to TMB (we received a couple from people who obviously knew what was up) when she was about 4 weeks old. It works so well that we haven’t dared put her to bed at night without it. To put it bluntly, it’s like a baby straight-jacket. That concept felt a bit uncomfortable to me at first but she seems to like it and hasn’t Houdini’d her way out yet.
The one thing I haven’t needed (yet) – a diaper bag. I’ve been sporting a fashionable ziploc bag of necessities that gets shoved into my Orla Kiely purse and that’s worked fine so far. (I know things will change when she gets bigger and starts eating solids and playing in the dirt.) Actually, I’d love to upgrade to an Orla Kiely diaper bag but man oh man they’re spendy!
Last but not least…birth announcements! Our friend Jenny (owner of Wendu Ink) designed and produced these gorgeous letterpress announcements to commemorate Avery’s birth. I love them. It’s always such a privilege to work with a designer who just gets it.
(Thank you Jenny!!)
Ok parents, are we all on the same page here? Any must haves that aren’t on our list or advice on living small with a baby? Suggestions for 3-6 month old essentials that we should stock up on?
Disclaimer: I haven’t been paid or perked for any of these products…just thought I’d share my experiences in the hopes of helping out some other parents-to-be!