Love Child contributor Sara Beukema is back to share her adorable and multi-functional nursery with us. You may remember Sara from her post on capsule wardrobes. When we got a glimpse of her son’s nursery (complete with a full size bed), we knew we had to share. Simple yet playful, this room is sure to inspire baby #2 (a boy!) for years to come. Sara stopped by talk about her approach to pregnancy the second time around, how she is preparing her daughter Madeline for baby’s arrival (including no big sister books), and her favorite resources for decorating kid spaces.
You are pregnant with baby #2. Is your approach different this time around?
I’d like to say I’ve been way more relaxed overall, but it’s probably more accurate to say I’ve just prioritized (and procrastinated) differently. We had so much of the important stuff figured out already (like child care and a pediatrician) and most of the baby gear sitting in the closet ready to go, so I just kept thinking, oh we’ll get around to XYZ… no need to rush. And between work and an active three year old, you just get busy and time inevitably passes so much faster than you think it will – suddenly you’re eight months pregnant and like, oh crap! I guess we should get ready for this baby! It’s only been in the past few weeks that I’ve really worried about finishing the nursery or making sure we’re stocked up on diapers, etc. Needless to say I’ve made a lot of Amazon Prime purchases this month, haha.
How have you prepared Madeline for the arrival of baby brother? Any tips?
Some of the best advice I heard is to try to make sure the older sibling feels like it’s “their” baby. So instead of saying “mommy is having a baby” we talk about “her” baby brother. It’s just semantics, but I think it’s made a big difference in the way she thinks about my pregnancy and the baby. She’s very proud to be a big sister.
Like most (almost) four year olds, Madeline is very chatty, so we’ve also just spent a lot of time talking about the baby. We’ve especially tried to emphasize all the cool, big kid stuff she can do that babies aren’t able to do. She loves thinking of different ways she can help take care of him after he’s born and all the things she wants to teach him. We’ve also encouraged her to talk to her brother in my belly and give him hugs and kisses – it’s pretty much the cutest thing ever.
Oddly, one thing I initially thought would be helpful, but we’ve mostly ended up avoiding, were big sibling books. I found that a lot of them focus heavily on jealousy and seemed kind of negative. Since she hasn’t really shown any signs of jealousy so far, I felt like reading those books would actually be more harmful than helpful in this case. That said, if you are looking for a positive big sister book, we received this one as a gift and she loves it! (They have a brother version as well.)
We’ll see what happens once we actually bring him home, but so far, so good!
How did you approach decorating this nursery?
For both our kids’ rooms, my goal has been to create playful, happy spaces that aren’t too babyish; my hope is that with a few tweaks, their rooms will grow with them as they get older. I like to invest more in foundational elements like furniture and rugs and try to choose pieces I could easily see reusing in a different room in our house down the road. I tend to keep fun accent pieces fairly inexpensive or I’ll try to incorporate their toys and books as part of the design. I’m not big on themed rooms, so instead I find it really helpful to establish a color palette early on. In both cases I actually used artwork we already owned as a jumping-off point for the color and aesthetic of the space.
Was it a different approach decorating your son’s nursery than your daughter’s?
The biggest difference was that Madeline’s nursery was basically a blank canvas, while this time we had most of the foundational elements – we even chose to leave the paint color we already had in the room. Fortunately, I knew when I was planning her nursery that we hoped to have another baby at some point, so I made sure a lot of my design choices were fairly gender neutral – grey and white bedding, yellow rocking chair cushion, etc. – so we’d be able to reuse pretty much everything if we had a boy eventually. So the challenge this time was trying to figure out how to take what we already had and make it feel special and different for our little boy? I also knew that we wanted to keep a full-sized bed in the room but I didn’t want the small footprint to feel crowded so I focused on finding creative ways to add storage.
We love the full size bed in the nursery. Is this to double as a guest room or for those late night feedings?
Both! When we had Madeline, we were renting a two bedroom apartment, so we didn’t have the option of a guest room and kept the bed in there kind of begrudgingly, mostly just to avoid having to pay for a storage unit. But we actually ended up loving it – I could lay in bed for late night feedings, it gave us a comfy space to read bedtime stories, one of us could sleep in her room with her when she was sick or teething – we used it every day! Now we own a three bedroom home, so we discussed keeping the guest room and letting the kids share a bedroom, but ultimately decided that with the age difference they both needed their own spaces. So once again the nursery will occasionally double as a guest room, but now the spare bed is seen as a welcome addition to the room regardless.
Any rules you follow or break when designing a space?
I know it sometimes drives my husband, Michael, crazy because I have been known to take it to extremes, but “every room should have some black in it.” The thought is that even a little black in a room can add weight, crispness, definition, relief, style and sophistication. I especially love the black accents in our kids’ rooms – it feels a little unexpected and adds the perfect amount of depth and contrast to the space.
I also love mixing patterns and textures. It’s definitely a balancing act to keep it from feeling like too much, so I typically try to stick to a limited color palette and be aware of how the scale of the various patterns work together. A good rule of thumb is contrasting scale, consistent colors.
Where did you find those adorable prints? What are some of your favorite resources for decorating kid spaces?
The two that are over the full-sized bed are actually prints I bought Michael probably eight or nine years ago when we were dating, and it was his idea to use them in the nursery. I loved the updated primary color palette against the grey walls – especially the way the pop of yellow picked up the color of the rocking chair cushion we were reusing from Madeline’s room. It’s how I decided to make yellow the main accent color in the room.
I knew after that I wanted to find a large, predominantly yellow print to echo the color on the opposite wall. Since I had a specific color and size in mind, I immediately went to Society6 to dig around. It’s such a great online source for affordable art and there are a ton of different types of artists featured. I love that you can search by keyword or color, and that all the prints are offered in a range of sizes so you can really cherry pick based on what you need for a certain space. I found both the alphabet and crocodile prints through the site.
I wanted to hang something soft over the crib and had been looking for a banner when I found this one from Secret Holiday & Co. I really loved the “Be Kind” message. Especially with everything that has gone on in the world in the past year or so, my greatest hope for our son is that he’s kind. I love thinking that he’ll see this reminder every day as he grows up.
Aside from the artwork, we reused so much from Madeline’s nursery that, aside from a baby blanket we received as a gift, nearly everything else was purchased at Target or IKEA. Both stores are awesome resources for decorating kids’ rooms – I love good design at affordable prices. While I didn’t buy anything from either this time, Etsy and Land of Nod are typically my other go-tos. I’ve also found some really fun pieces through Urban Outfitters and West Elm in the past as well. I’ve found it helpful not to limit myself to the kids’ section.
Prints Over Bed (old) / “Be Kind” Banner / Alphabet Print / Crocodile Print / Zinc Letter / Baby Quilt (old) / Rocking Chair Cushion (old) – similar / Wooden Mobile (old) / Crib Bedding (old) / Baby Blanket / Bear Night Light / Changing Pad Cover (old) – similar / Rug / Wall lamps / Large Basket / Small Baskets
What excites you most about your growing family?
I’m really excited (and nervous) to be having a boy. I’m one of two girls and there are a lot of girls in my family, so after we had Madeline, I kind of assumed we’d only have girls, too. Finding out we were having a boy was honestly kind of a shock (despite Michael correctly predicting it; he’s now two for two with our kids). I worry that even though I’m a second-time mom, this is uncharted territory and I’m going to have no idea what I’m doing, but I also feel so incredibly lucky to have this opportunity. I know how much having a daughter has impacted my perspective on being a woman and the world, so I can only imagine how having a son will change me for the better – how he’ll change all of us. I can’t wait to see Madeline as a big sister and Michael as a “boy dad.” I can’t imagine anything better than adding more love to our family.
For more on Sara, follow her on Instagram at @sarabyandby