Filed under: house

nursery + childproofing updates

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…

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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Hey, I also finally hung the “Z” that had been sitting on her dresser for the last 20 months.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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!

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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?

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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.)

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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.)

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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.

playing catch up

Hello!

I didn’t really intend to take this little break from blogging, but these last few months have been busy. I know, that word is almost trite these days, but it’s true. Busy (really busy) with work, busy with life. Although we have a few post ideas in the hopper, the blog has been like that stack of magazines on my nightstand that I just can’t seem to get around to.

My thoughts on blogging have also changed a bit since I got back from the Alt conference and I’ve been trying to process what that means for chezerbey. Expecting to come back re-energized about the direction of the blog, I instead felt a bit underwhelmed and unmotivated. The conference itself was great – very well organized and orchestrated, especially considering how many people (I heard somewhere between 600-700) were there. I also finally got to meet Jaime, Nicole and Dana! Dana and I shared a room and stayed up way too late each night, mostly talking about things outside of our blogs.

That said, I was a little disappointed by the seminars and presentations. Perhaps it’s because ours is somewhat of a niche blog (in the greater “design blog” sphere at least) or because it’s one that isn’t monetized, but I felt like most of the topics didn’t really apply. It also made me realize how much blogging has changed in the last several years and maybe that wasn’t a direction I wanted to go. (I went to a seminar about how to monetize your Pinterest account and it left me so overwhelmed that I had a Pinterest nightmare a few days later and haven’t logged on since. Seriously, I had no idea what a juggernaut it had become for some people.)

So, here we are. Our blog has been personally and professionally valuable to us and we have no intention of stopping. But moving forward, we are going to reevaluate a few things. In the beginning, I mostly blogged about what I wanted to, when I wanted to. The last few years brought more of an agenda though, with intentions to blog twice a week, to do more quick posts, to go outside our normal focus…to do more. But here’s the thing, once a week is challenging as it is and even my “quick” posts take at least 2 hours to write. So I’m going to abandon my previous ideas of what I think I should be doing and instead focus on what I want to do (realizing that this is what got people reading in the first place). Without the pressure to make money off the blog (something I’d been considering off and on for a few years), I want to instead focus on the opportunities it can afford and the relationships we’ve made and can continue to make. Since we started our architectural firm, Studio Zerbey, almost every single remodel project (we do about 50% remodels, 50% new construction) or consultation has come to us through the blog. People have hired us not just for our design aesthetic but because we’ve gone through (and documented!) the experience first-hand. This has made us more relatable and approachable and guys, that feels pretty good. That’s where we want to be, the kind of architects we want to be.

So we’re going to keep pushing in that direction and maybe we won’t post as often as we’d like, but we hope each post is interesting and well-done. Also, we are still not done with this house! Although our DIY accomplishments this year have consisted of 1) fixing the bathtub drain, 2) lubing the door locks and 3) repairing the screen on our return grill, our to-do list is more ambitious. In fact, we have a few deadlines in the next several months (including a photo shoot and an expiring construction permit) that will mean some serious PROGRESS on the home front!

Finally, thank you to those who have stuck with us through the years, offering your continued support and encouragement. Even if the blogosphere feels a bit different these days, I continue to be inspired by so many of you – whether it’s the comments you leave or the posts you write.

holiday cheer

A few weeks ago, we went with some friends to the National Forest to cut down our own Christmas tree (after obtaining a permit of course). Usually we just buy one at the small lot near our house, but we were up for the challenge.

Or so we thought.

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I guess I thought we’d drive in, spot a tree, cut in down and then be on our way. Instead, it ended up being a drive and a hike. Since I was wearing Avery in the Ergo, I opted not to climb the steep hillside (where the better trees were, naturally) and instead stood in the snow/rain with our friend’s tarp draped over me and an increasingly fussy toddler. (Making family memories!)

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But my mood lifted when I saw this guy come down the hill.

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I’m not sure why, but we always tend to go for a Charlie Brown tree and this one is no exception. Also, one strand of lights, gotta love that. To make it fit we had to push the couch over and put it on a small side table, which I think also helped as a toddler deterrent (although she’s been really great about not touching the tree). Growing up, we always had an eclectically decorated tree and I’m carrying the tradition on. We try to buy a new ornament each year and I have a few that my mom passed on during a purge a few years ago (and they’re 80′s fabulous, which is the best).

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Other than the tree, we did a little decorating here and there. The moose are new this year and were bought at Crate&Barrel.

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My mom gave me this little craft store advent calendar last year and it’s been fun to count down the days with Avery. Although really, she has no idea what’s going on and often reacts with a blank stare.

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Finally, Mr. Bails – still not a fan of the reindeer antlers.

Merry Christmas and happiest holidays to all of you! We’re certainly looking forward to it. Even though Avery doesn’t really get Christmas yet, she has a few surprises sitting in my office that I’m pretty excited about.

master bedroom redo: wall color options

Yesterday, I painted swatches of the four bluish-gray colors we’re considering for the bedroom walls.

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(They are, from left to right: “silver streak”, “eclipse”, “smoke gray” and “ashland slate”. All Benjamin Moore.)

Drastic differences, huh? Kyle and I laughed at the idea of a serious blog post about what color we should choose (though it’s not as comical as our choices for Avery’s nursery!), especially given that colors can vary from monitor to monitor. But, if you do have an opinion feel free to weigh in! (At this point, we don’t have a clear favorite.) Back in 2008 we painted the room white because it only has one window (north-facing) and tends to feel darker than the rest of the house. However, after living with it for a few years we’ve decided to embrace the lack of light and go more cave-mode. We love how cozy Avery’s room feels, but decided to lighten things up a bit for this space.

We’re going to give it a few days before we make a decision, but anything will be an improvement over the yellow-tinged white paint that’s there now. (Lesson learned, never buy off-the-shelf “white” paint.) Slowly but surely we’re chipping away at this room. Maybe a post-Thanksgiving bedroom charrette? What could be better!?

(Painting these swatches reminded us of our first go-around with picking colors for this room. Yikes, our house was scary.)

checking in

Somehow, we’re always busy. In the past, busy meant working on the house weeknights and weekends – often staying up late to upload photos and share our progress on the blog. Nowadays, even though we’re still working on the house (sloooowly), we’re working on Studio Zerbey more. And that work doesn’t necessarily translate to direct blog posts.

(Oh, you did want to read a summary of interior insulation options for mass masonry wall assemblies?)

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Actually, I have several blog post ideas floating around in my head, but they are either time-consuming or not quite ready for showtime. I’ve also been reluctant to write a “we’re still alive!” post, but here it is. We’re still alive! Our one year anniversary of starting Studio Zerbey (formally, as a team) is this month and I’ve been thinking of writing a series of posts that talk about what we’re working on, what it’s like running our own business and how we strive to maintain a healthy work-life balance. We also have some new Studio Zerbey projects in the works that we’ll be sharing in the next few weeks.

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…and behold, we are still making progress on the bedroom!

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We haven’t made a decision on paint color, but I’ve narrowed it down to 50 4 shades of gray. Now I just need to get sample quarts and see how the colors look in the space. (We’re thinking something in the mid-tones.) And a big thank you to all the feedback we received on our last post – we’re leaning towards option 3 but are still undecided on a few elements.

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Avery and I took a short trip to the east coast last weekend and when I came back a new headboard was waiting for me! This is a teaser shot, but we’re really happy with how it turned out. Of course, we’ll have to take it back out to paint and such, but we’re enjoying it in the meantime. (I’ll take photos and give a full run-down of how it’s fabricated in a later post.)

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Finally, we’ve also been busy with a certain toddler. Avery is walking all over the place and generally very busy doing busy toddler things. She was too young to get into Halloween last year, so this was our first attempt at trick-or-treating. (And because she’s only 15 months old, her candy = our candy! Yesssss!)

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We kept it simple and went to our neighborhood’s downtown area, but she was understandably overwhelmed by it all. It wasn’t until we got home and gave her a few bites of candy that she put two and two together. Sugar rush, weeeeeee!