While I teased covering the vintage elements in the space last week & talked about a certain furniture transformation we’re working on – I didn’t *quite* make the progress I planned to this weekend! So instead, we’re focusing on the overall design scheme this week & how it’s evolved as we’ve planned the project. Before I got pregnant (and quite honestly, before we even started trying for a baby), I had a tasteful & gender-neutral nursery design in my head, all based around Scalamandre’s Raphael wallpaper in Light Blue. This has always been one of my favorite wallpaper patterns, it’s such a classic & compliments the overall vibe of our home extremely well.
However, once a baby became a reality, I couldn’t help the creeping thought in my head that our little peanut might be a girl. As much as logically, I loved the idea of a gender-neutral nursery & not pushing a stereotypical gender on our kid, I couldn’t shake the thought of how much I loved being a girly girl and how much I loved my pink and gold fairy-themed bedroom as a child. Especially because it’s one of the key things that I think of when asked about what sparked my interest in interiors and design, which ended up being my calling in life. And then we got the results of our panorama test, and come to find out, we were expecting a little girl! All my sensible thoughts about keeping it neutral so they could choose what they preferred one day went out the window, and suddenly, all I wanted was pink everything. As well as lots of colorful, bright, exuberant patterns – something I wore a lot of as a young girl (and quite honestly, still love!) Enter, the first draft of my girly and brightly colored nursery space!
Instead of the blue colorway of my favorite paper, I switched to the white colorway, which would still let me keep that classic pattern I loved so much & be a great way to balance the bright pinks I wanted to add to the space. The big pop of pink I wanted to use? On the ceiling! Painting the ceiling a bold color is something I have always wanted to do in a room and while it would give the room ton’s of personality, it would also give the whole room a beautiful pinky glow, especially at night, making the wallpaper appear as more of a blush tone. While many cautioned me against using bold colors for a baby’s room because it could be too stimulating, the color pink in particular has been found to produce a calming effect in people, which is why it has often been used in prisons & mental health facilities (this is known as Baker-Miller pink). As much as I loved this concept, we started running into issues that required us to rethink some things pretty fast…
First, we brought the hand-me-down crib we had received from my parents from the attic (pictured is similar) and quickly realized we were missing all the mechanical parts & hardware needed to assemble it! My parent’s had downsized since giving it to us so there was no chance of finding them, it was also a drop front crib (which is no longer recommended as safe), and though I’d thought it was from my childhood, once I talked to my mom about it she said “Oh no, I bought that at the thrift store when your sister had her kids so they’d have somewhere to sleep when they were over.” As soon as the sentimental aspect was gone, I realized I didn’t really like the design of crib that much, and that trying to make it work despite missing pieces and safety concerns was not worth it. Time to start shopping for cribs!
The next problem we ran into was budget, as usual, my champagne designer taste did not quite align with the budget I had to spend on the project. Wallpaper plus install in a room this size is pretty much always going to be $2,000 and that was one thing I really wanted to make happen (and I’d gotten my paper hanger to promise he’d fit me in before I gave birth, despite being booked out months after my due date with work). Even with my designer discounts I was going to need to get creative to allow room in the budget for that.
I’d tried to keep things reasonable by being smart about my higher-end selections but when I totalled it all up, I was spending WAY more than even I was comfortable on a baby’s room – nevermind trying to talk Chris into spending that! That’s the tough part about working for clients with much bigger budgets – you get real used to having access to all these beautiful bespoke things… but when it comes to your own home sometimes you need a reality check.
I thought using pre-made velvet curtains and applying a decorative trim to the edges would be a great way to keep the cost low but get a more custom look… but when I priced them out in height I needed, multiplied by the number of panels, and calculated the trim yardage – I was going to be spending well over $1,500 on curtains I still was going to have to hem & apply trim to myself – and that didn’t even include the rods or hardware! Though I loved this Schumacher trim more than any trim I’d ever seen… it wasn’t in reality for me. And even without trim, the velvet curtains still seemed a bit pricey for a kids room where they very easily could get destroyed, totalling $600 for 4 panels, that I decided it was time to look at other options.
Then, came the lighting … I’d selected this gorgeous Ceiling Fixture from Kate Spade for Visual Comfort, and while definitely a splurge, it seemed worth it for a statement piece on the pink ceiling and was so fun and playful… but then a client changed their mind on some lighting and returned the very same affordable fixture I’d used in Chris’s Den across the hall from the baby’s room and suddenly it seemed silly to spend so much on a light when I had a perfectly good one sitting at the office I couldn’t return to my vendor!
Though I thought I’d been pretty savvy with the bedside lamps (I’d had my heart set on these Regina Andrew lights with Acrylic Butterflies for a girl’s room ever since I saw them at High Point Market last year & they were actually priced very fairly) the patterned lamp shades were where I started to run into trouble. I planned to use one of my favorite details, custom Lampshades by Judy of Lake’s Lampshades, who’d sponsored my last One Room Challenge to really make these lamps pop! But once again, my darn designer taste struck again and when I looked up what I’d hoped was a reasonably priced 60’s inspired printed linen from Schumacher, I found out this beauty was $296/yard- oof! Not to worry right? I could make 1 yard work for these shades – couldn’t I? It was the detail I loved the most and had pretty much been my jumping off point for the whole room’s color scheme… so it felt hard to let go.
I quickly sent Judy a message with specs for the shades and she confirmed, we could definitely make a yard work for two shades, I might even have enough left over for a lumbar pillow (yippiee!) So I decided this WAS the splurge that was worth it and went to order, only to find out if I wanted to actually place it, there was a 2 yard minimum to actually cut into the bolt… a rookie oversight I’d made in my excitement to make it work. Suddenly, it was no longer a splurge I could justify to my husband, especially when I had nowhere else to use the second yard and being a baby’s room there was no where I could really use extra pillows as those aren’t safe to have in a crib. While I haven’t totally let go of the lamps & fabric for someday when she’s older and I’ve got a bed to utilize that extra fabric on, I didn’t like the lamps against the wallpaper without a colorful shade to make them pop and I didn’t find anything more affordable that tied in all the colors this pattern did, so I resigned myself to utilizing one of the many pairs of lamps I seem to have accumulated over the years instead of buying something new.
While this post may have been a bit of a bummer solely focusing on all the things I decided I really couldn’t afford, it’s an important lesson I think we need to highlight – that truly good design not only takes time, but it’s expensive! And sometimes what you want needs to evolve to meet the reality of your budget – which is something I remind my clients of quite often. It’s easy to see these gorgeously shot and styled interiors in magazines, on Instagram and Houzz or everywhere you look these days and think it’s something you can have but what we don’t ever seem to see is a realistic look at the budgets that go into them.
Lots of people look at me in shock when I say a fully furnished custom designed room starts at $20,000, with most rooms landing in the $30,000 – $60,000 range – but it is the reality when you’re buying it all at once and you want something special! Don’t get me wrong, you can do a room for a LOT less if you’re willing to do it yourself like me, AND you’re willing to purchase things slowly over time – but it takes effort, ingenuity, and lots of revisions and pivoting to make it happen. With this room, the one thing I don’t have is time, It’s important to me that when baby comes, the room feels complete and ready – so I’ve had to shift my thinking and really get creative to make sure that happens. It hasn’t been easy, but I think I’ve come up with a great new gameplan to make it happen and I can’t wait to show you how. Stay tuned for next week’s post where we’ll talk about what I decided was necessary to stick with from my initial concept, and what I decided could change to make it happen.