I've been thinking a lot recently about the thought that goes into designing your child's nursery. Where ever you shop for the bits and bobs that will one day shape your child's immediate environment, the room will undoubtedly begin to reflect your personality as it comes together. I'd say this was certainly true of Arthur's room, which has become an eclectic jumble of antique and vintage pieces, with a smattering of art across the walls. And as with the rest of our little house, and the clothes in our wardrobe (ok, wardrobes - I have a lot of clothes), there is colour everywhere. We started with the walls, and before we even knew if we were expecting a girl or a boy, we had decided on this gorgeous blue ('Stone Blue' by Farrow and Ball). The room is north-facing and small, and we didn't want it to feel like a dark little cave. The blue brightens up the space but without feeling in anyway cold. In fact, the way the sunlight bounces off it really warms the room up.
The room is a testament to impulse purchases. Take, for example, these curtains, bought on a whim by my partner at a French antiques fair many years ago. He had no real need for them, and they've spend a good few years sitting in a box, but he knew as soon as he saw them that if he ever had a child, then this fabric would be perfect for the nursery. Sometimes, a lack of self-control is a very good thing.
But that didn't stop my partner cautioning me away from a credit card splurge when I became pregnant. You're very hormonal, he intoned, you'll see baby-related items everywhere and you'll feel compelled to buy them! Control yourself, and remember the poor state of our overdrafts! He then promptly took himself off to our local auction, fell in love with a box of moth-eaten vintage teddies, and bought them for a ridiculous sum of money. I couldn't be cross for long, however, as the box contained this beautiful 1930's leopard.
One of things I'm really pleased about when it come's to this room, is how little we needed to buy new. Obviously, this is handy if you're decorating on a budget, but it also means that a lot of the objects in the room hold real meaning for me and my partner, and that makes it extra special to think of the boy growing up around them. Take the cot, for example which dates from the 1930's and was bought for my Grandma as a baby. My mum slept in it, I slept in, my sisters slept in it, and now it's where the boy lays his weary head every night.
If you are considering a vintage crib for your little one, there are a few things to remember. Firstly, be careful of buying cribs that have been painted with lead paint (if the item hasn't been painted for 30 years, it is likely to be lead paint), as this can be extremely harmful. A good water-based paint stripper will sort you out, but please remember to wear a mask as the dust is especially dangerous. Secondly, you will probably have to have a mattress custom made, as modern cots are built to different dimensions. This can be expensive, so do your research first.
The boy's room also contains a painted chest of drawers which belonged to my partner's Grandmother, and my Great Grandfather's blanket chest (currently hidden under a rather massive dolls house). We've accessorized the room with antique items and vintage toys to add extra character, and to make the room feel a part of our home (which is rather too full of antiques and vintage items). We're also extremely lucky to come from two very crafty families, and received a lot of handmade gifts that simply add to the nursery's charm. Take a look at the knitted bunting above the dolls house, made by my very clever mum.
I'm a big believer in hanging art in children's bedrooms, not simply for aesthetic reasons, but because I think it's extremely important for children to grow up around many different forms of visual stimulation (see also the amount of colour we've used). I'm especially lucky in that my partner is a very talented artist - that's his paper-cut hanging next to the cot. As well as a few smaller paintings, we also have a large piece by St Ives artist David Haughton. His work invites you to take a closer look, and I can imagine the boy, when he's older, exploring all of the different shapes and textures on show.
So there you have it, that's what we've achieved so far. Now if you want to buy a matching nursery set, that's absolutely fine. The point is you've created a space that's welcoming, stimulating, and comfortable for your child. But mixing colours, and different styles of furniture, and using vintage-inspired style ideas is an excellent and surprisingly easy way of creating a nursery that's unique and characterful, if that's your bag. It certainly is mine, and I hope the boy grows up to love the little sanctuary we've created for him.
For more vintage-inspired nursery ideas, check out our Pinterest.