Bambino’s Nursery Decor

raised by design - baby boy nursery decor design planI put together this mockup to illustrate my vision for Bambino’s nursery in real life. I wrote here about the main pieces of furniture we decided to bring into the room. And as you can see here, we already have white walls and geometric brown and white carpeting to work with. Finally, in this post, I wrote about the design concept and inspiration for the room which we’re calling “Adventures in Boyhood”.

It’s helpful for me to be (loosely) tethered to a concept when I’m designing a room, otherwise it can go to Crazy Town pretty quickly. I’m like the proverbial leashed child at Disney World at the start of a design project – a quick snap away from gobbling up all of the unicorn pops in the joint and then barfing on the ferris wheel. My concept acts as a road map – anytime I start to feel lost and alone I can refer to it for direction.

I pulled a color palette, another useful tool, from the below image in the inspiration board. This vignette is clearly not a nursery and that’s OK! It inspired me (that painting!), which is what imagery is meant to do – it doesn’t matter where it comes from.

The palette helped me stay focused while choosing art, accessories, crib bedding and toys. You don’t have to be rigid though. Saying things like, “Oh, too bad I can’t get that adorable blanket because it’s not deep sea blue, it’s more of a robin’s egg blue,” will do nothing but twist your panties up tight and get you beat up on the playground.

A serious thought on choosing colors for Bambino’s room: I really don’t think baby rooms need to be limited to a multiple choice of pale blue, girly pink, gender neutral sage green or baby yellow. As long as the space feels comfortable, relaxed and inspiring it will serve it’s purpose as both a sleep sanctuary and playhouse. In reality, this palette is tempered with white walls, (mostly) white furniture and a handful of neutral textiles. The pops of color come through in small doses via the art, toys and accessories. Mkay?

You can see how the inspiration board informed the design plan without being too literal:

raised by design - nursery inspiration moldboard adventures in boyhood

Below is a list of sources for all of these goodies.

raised by design - boy's nursery decor plan

  1. Framed 8×10 Print – The Rapids by Rose Lindo via Minted – $46
  2. Vintage Binoculars – (similar) via Rue15Vintage – $92
  3. Driftwood Mobile – (similar) by LumaLine – $40
  4. Framed 8×10 Print – Free by Kristi Kohut via Minted – $46
  5. Nursery Bedding – crib sheet by Little Auggie, crib skirt by ModFox and blanket by Fine Little Day
  6. Vintage Castle – (similar) by The Crafter’s Merchant – $35
  7. Modern Crib – Mid-Century Natural Crib by Dwell Studio – $649
  8. Log Cabin Blocks – Abe Lincoln Log Cabin Playset – $20
  9. Arrows – Gold Arrows by Mineral and Matter – $66
  10. Squirrel Teether – Organic Toy Teether by Bannor Toys – $12
  11. Pink Ugly Doll – Little Bent by Ugly Doll – $20
  12. Teepee Pillow – Tooth Fairy Teepee Pillow by Apple White – $24
  13. Brass Reading Lamp – (similar) Brass Pharmacy Lamp via Lamps Plus – $100
  14. Glider – Graham Glider in Lagood by West Elm – $899
  15. Moccasins – Stay Golden Suede Moccasins by Freshly Picked – $60
  16. Dresser/Changing Table – Hemnes 8-Drawer Dresser by IKEA – $229
  17. Ottoman – Rhys Ottoman by Anthropologie – $998
  18. Toy Basket – (similar) Handmade Fair Trade Woven African Hamper via Connected Artisans – $175
  19. Brown and White Carpeting – (similar) Geometric Pattern Rug via – $245

Many of these things we already own and many are vintage so I tried to provide similar options in those cases.

If you’re wondering where that incredible arrow light fixture from the inspiration board went…it went into my dreams, that’s where. We have ho-hum lighting in place for now, and our budget certainly doesn’t accommodate a $975 splurge. But DAYUM, somebody get that! The gorgeous leather ottoman from Anthropologie will probably be relegated to my dreams as well. Bambino won’t know the difference.

Once the room is ready (which, at this rate will be at the 11th Hour!), of course I’ll share heaps of pics. Before you know it, there will be a wiggly baby in them too. Eek!

Loveyoubye! Maggie

Bambino’s Nursery – Adventures in Boyhood

raised by design - nursery inspiration moldboard adventures in boyhood

Image Credits: Claudius Schulze via En Route Magazine /// The Merry Thought /// Sean Fennessy via The Design Files /// Pantone /// A Beautiful Mess /// ZuHouse Berlin /// Tulonksy /// Caroline Wanitzek /// DAMM /// Raised by Design /// Ryan McElhinney

Coming up with a cohesive design theme for Bambino’s Nursery was harder than I thought! There is so much inspiration out there and an infinite number of cute ideas for baby rooms. I had about a million design concepts bouncing around my head and couldn’t pick just one.

We settled on a hybrid of our favorite boy themes, wrapped into one overarching concept we’re calling ADVENTURES IN BOYHOOD – one part Peter Pan’s Lost Boys, one part Robin Hood, one part Moonrise Kingdom, two parts Little Woodsman/Scout/Explorer.

The result is what you see in this inspiration board – a mixture of textiles and toys that reflect boyhood dreams and bring nature and imagination to teeny Bambino’s bedside.

Next up is a look at how we’ll actualize this inspiration in the room itself. Stay tuned!

Loveyoubye! Maggie

Bambino’s Nursery Plan

If you’ve been keeping up with this blog for the last few months, you know that we’re expecting a baby this February (!!) and we’re having a boy who we affectionately refer to as Bambino. I’m resisting the temptation to be all Baby Town over here, but I’m sure you can imagine how excited I am to design Bambino’s nursery. And I promised I would dish once we got some details squared away, so today I’m sharing The Plan for the baby’s room. Here goes…


Here’s a rough sketch of the room’s floor plan and how I’m imaging the furniture layout:

raised by design nursery design floorplan

The room is separated by a sort of invisible corridor created by the door to enter the room off the living room and the external door that leads out to the driveway. In the original floor plan, this room was the eat-in kitchen which is why there is an exit. (Until we created an exit off the new kitchen to the backyard, this door functioned as the back door.) We left the door in place because we weren’t sure how we would use the room long term. For now, we’ve placed furniture in front of it so that it functions more like a window.

I wrote here about how the West side of the room is my office space, which will stay that way for as long as I can manage.

The East side of the room will be Bambino Territory. There is plenty of space for a crib, a large dresser that we’ll use as a changing table, a bookcase and a glider.


There are a few challenges in converting this space to a nursery:

  • The scary-steep basement stairs right off the room. We will need a serious Alcatraz-style baby gate there some day. The tricky part is that Roxy’s litter box is down there so we always keep the door cracked for her. Eff. Do they make baby gates with pet doors? Somebody get on that and become a millionaire.
  • The counter-height outlets leftover from the kitchen layout. DANGIT! In some ways these are great because they’re out of reach when baby is crawling on the floor. But they are perfectly within reach when baby is on the changing table or in the crib. To solve this one we’ll be hanging artwork over the one above the changing table and we’ll be putting the crib on the wall without an outlet under the windows.
  • It’s chilly in this room. Probably because of the drafty door but also because this room stays pretty shaded by the house next door during the day. Having the crib under the window may not work well if it’s too cold so we may have to rethink the layout.
  • There isn’t a closet. The one you see in the floor plan is actually our front hall/coat closet and we haven’t figured out how that’s going to work yet. We currently stash our coats, vacuum, ironing board, drying rack and umbrellas there. Where will we store all of our impending baby gear and huge packages of diapers? Our solution to that problem is to wing it until a solution presents itself.


For the most part, we have tried to repurpose furniture and decor that we already own or use things endowed to us by our families in their timely effort to downsize. But we will need to buy a new crib and a chair for rocking baby to sleep.

We have our eye on the Midcentury Crib in Natural from Dwell Studio. There are a bazillion cribs out there that we like, but this one is our favorite because of the killer x-shaped base and gold-toed legs.


For cuddling up with Bambino and late night feedings, we are going with the Graham Glider from West Elm in Lagoon. The deep blue faux-velvet is a bold choice that will give the room a good jolt of personality. I’m kind of obsessed with it. The chair has a nice high wingback shape – which means Mommy and Daddy can rest their weary heads while rocking fusspants to sleep.

I’m holding off on getting the matching ottoman until I can say for sure that the room can fit one. If we have the room, I may look for something fun from a different maker to mix things up.

West Elm Graham Glider in Lagoon

Next to the glider, we are keeping the brass/walnut bar cart in front of the door as an end table. I found that guy about 7 years ago at a thrift store in Roslindale, MA years ago for $40. It’s kick ass. I’m happy it can hang in the nursery.

raised by design - bar cart styling in office

We are (happily) taking my little sis’s orphaned Hemnes 8-drawer dresser from IKEA to use as Bambino’s dresser/changing table. This big guy didn’t make the cut when she moved into her studio apartment but its only a few years old and is incredibly versatile. The Hemnes is the perfect height to use as a changing table and the 8 gliding drawers should be enough storage to house diaper changing supplies, clothes, crib bedding and maybe a few toys.


Speaking of toys, for the majority of Bambino’s prized possessions we are planning to use two hand-me-downs from my parents: an extra large braided basket from Mexico and an antique bookcase with adjustable shelves. The basket will be a catch-all for easy cleanups and the bookcase will house books and things we want to have on display.

raised by design - honeymoon woven mexican basket

Once we settled on the pieces we would be bringing into the space – all basics for the most part – I started to brainstorm ‘themes’ to round out the decor. OH BOY! That’s where the fun starts.

I’m going to share the Mood Board with you later this week so you can see what we’re doing to fun the place up for Bambino.

Stay tuned!

Loveyoubye, Magoo.

2014 Garden Plan – 10 Lessons

So it’s definitely spring in the Northeast and the forsythia, oaks, tulip trees, redbuds and red maples are all poppin’ off. In that order, everything looks like this:


We have NONE of that happening here at Lil’ Spot. Everything is still twiggy and muddy and I don’t have any early bloomers that brighten things up this time of year. That’s okay though – gardening is a slow process and I’m learning to enjoy it. Each year I add a few things, move a few things and learn a lot of things.

I’m making a huge effort to plant only native species on our small piece of suburban property. Planting native takes a little bunch of extra research and planning. But it pays off in the form of a green conscience, plants that are easier to care for (because they’re meant to grow in your conditions) and a yard full of birds and butterflies (because you’re providing their favorite food and nesting sites). That last part really sold me. #birdnerd

People are always amazed to learn that in our area, just 25 miles north of Manhattan, we have hummingbirds! (Don’t tell anyone, but they’re in Manhattan too.) Well listen, if you plant native Trumpet Honeysuckle instead of invasive poo-pants Japanese Honeysuckle, you’ll actually SEE them in your own backyard. For REALZ. It’s science.

image credit: chris dupe

ruby throated hummingbird | image credit: chris dupe (CC)

Here are my favorite resources for learning about native plants:

  1. American Beauties Native Plants – a comprehensive resource for building a garden plan around native plants; look for their branded pots at your local nursery to help you distinguish native cultivars
  2. National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife –  a great guide for native plants with instructions for turning your space into a Certified Wildlife Habitat (yes, please!)
  3. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center – I love their list of recommended species searchable by state or effort; you can find out which plants are good for honey bees or monarch butterflies, for example
  4. PlantNative – a thorough database for native plants by type – trees, shrubs, perennials, ground cover, etc.
Chanticleer Garden | image credit: JR P (CC)

Chanticleer Garden | image credit: JR P (CC)

And here are 10 lessons that I’ve learned the hard way and am happy to share with you:

  1. Don’t be fooled by what you see in your neighbor’s yard. Many of the most popular plants used in landscapes are actually super invasive (forsythia, privet, bamboo), and nurseries don’t necessarily advertise plants as invasive. So it’s up to you. Here’s the Naughty List you can use to cross-check your shopping list before you leave home.
  2. Speaking of, make a list before you go to the nursery. Plants aren’t good impulse-buys. Trust me. Please trust me.  Plus, it’s hard to remember their crazy long names by heart.
  3. Ahem, learn the scientific names that are crazy long and impossible to pronounce. The common name (i.e. winterberry) is SO much easier to say than the scientific name (i.e. ilex verticillata), I know. But common names are not as specific and there are multiple common names per species so they’re all jumbled in a big drunk 18th-century-botanist mess. It’s actually a terrible nomenclature system, unless you stick to the scientific. Plus it makes you sound SMART! Bottom line is that using the common name may lead you to purchase a species or cultivar (variety) that isn’t what you were looking for. No bueno.
  4. Learn about cultivars and varietals. If you want to plant a red stem dogwood in your yard do a little homework first. I learned that there are 2 species of dogwood shrubs that have red stems and each has SEVERAL CULTIVARS. Oye! All are different sizes, shapes, growth rates and colors. So if you buy one plant that’s a different cultivar…you’ll end up like me and have a “3 of These Things Belong Together” situation on your hands.
  5. Figure out which Hardiness Zone you live in and don’t try to deny it! If you live in New York, you shouldn’t be growing palms or succulents outside. Our harsh winters will kill those babies right away and everyone will be sad and poor. If you just can’t live without palms and succulents, move to Arizona. Here’s a map where you can just plug in your zip code to find your zone.
  6. Non-native doesn’t always mean invasive. There are many non-native naturalized plants out there that aren’t harmful to our ecosystem, they just weren’t born here. Over the years, naturalized plants have learned to play nicely in our sandbox and they are not invasive. They’re good guys, they just may be more high maintenance.
  7. Don’t take the nursery staff’s word for it. Unfortunately, staff knowledge can be hit or miss. Plus, not all nurseries are up to speed on the demand for native plants. For serious questions, ask for the head gardener. And at some nurseries you can look for the American Beauties pots and know that you’re choosing a US native.
  8. Try to choose a color palette and stick to it. Back to the cultivar issue – if you’re trying to grow a purple, white and gray garden and you accidentally install a plant that flowers red, you blew it. Just kidding, but now you have to either move the red plant or plant more red so it looks intentional. This part has been hard for me , but I’m trying to stick to purple, white and yellow.
  9. Don’t forget about the leaves! They’re part of the plant too and will contribute more to the look of your garden than the flower, most likely. Try to mix up broad leaves with feathery, waxy with fuzzy, chartreuse with deep green and so on.
  10. Plant for all seasons. This goes along with #5 – remember that most deciduous plants, most perennials and all annuals will lose their leaves in the fall and die back in the winter. Mix in plants that stay beautiful and evergreen all year long and you’ll have “winter interest” (and birds!) in the cold months.

I’ve learned all of these things through trial and error…and more error. Gardening is about patience, planning and coaxing – skills that we aren’t used to honing in our modern lives. A beautiful garden doesn’t happen overnight and doesn’t always work out the way you hoped. Which is why it’s something worth having.

Tomorrow I’ll share some of the before + after progress we’ve made in transforming Lil’ Spot’s Plot (aka our yard).

Loveyoubye! Maggie