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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Ajax's Woodland Adventure gender neutral nursery

Being a 'professional nursery decorator', I thought designing my own nursery might be daunting for the mere fact that I love so many themes and fabrics.  I started drawing designs and ideas from practically the moment I found out we were pregnant.  I spent a lot of time walking nursery areas of fabric and department stores, to see what was commercially available and what too-trendy themes I wanted to avoid.

With just one extra room in the house (sorry kids, but this momma isn't giving up her design studio!) I wanted to make sure I designed a space that a baby could grow up in and even share with a future sibling so I didn't want a specifically boy, girl or baby theme.  I also knew I wanted the room filled with vibrant modern colors and not so soft and pastel like so many nurseries are.  Instead of trying to find the perfect matching colors at fabric stores, I decided to design all of my own fabrics and have them printed from Spoonflower.com. I was able to design modern prints like chevrons and alphabet in the exact color scheme I wanted for the nursery and open up a new product line for Creative Tradition at the same time. In the process, one of my fabric designs turned out to be the 2 Millionth design on their site!

Forest Animals

While managing our Creative Tradition Etsy online shop, I fell in love with some prints from SeaUrchinStudio that had a great woodland critters theme.  I specifically loved how the forest animals were cute but still realistic. So many of the animal themes available for nurseries are overly cartoonish.  I also found a great wall decal of trees at SurfaceInspired's Etsy shop that I knew would look just great on our pale yellow walls.

I collected different styles of frames from antique malls, Ikea, Target and Pier 1 to use for the prints.  Instead of just framing the prints, I made mats out of my custom designed fabrics to add even more color to the walls.  I didn't use any glass in the frames as most of the antique frames didn't have it and the large frame my mom used to create a memory board. I'm just hoping that I didn't make a mistake hanging them above the changing table, what with us having a baby boy ;)

On the same wall we hung Ikea Ribba Picture Ledges to create open facing bookshelves.  The picture ledges come in two different sizes and different finishes and just cost $10-$15 each.  Wish we had more space to add more ledges, I just love how the book covers are all on display and bring so much color to the space.

The picture ledges are also deep enough at 3.5" to hold diapering essentials like power, lotions, and even the new Huggie's Natural Care Resealable wipes.  I removed the design from the stand up wipe tube and recovered it with my colorful chevron fabric.  Several coats of Mod Podge will help keep it clean from its daily use.

A Bit of Adventure

Even though we wanted a gender neutral nursery, once we found out we were having a boy I wanted to add a bit more 'daring' instead of 'darling' into the nursery design.  At a craft show I was inspired and sketched out a hot air balloon quilt with forest animals riding in the basket.  From there on out our theme was 'Woodland Adventure'.  My hubby likes to consider it like 'Wind in the Willows' -- sweet forest animals, with a bit of daring adventure thrown in for good measure.

I found a great mobile pattern on Etsy at CraftSchmaft to make fabric hot air balloons to decorate the nursery.  The pattern was easy to use and follow.  As I wanted multiple sizes of balloons, I enlarged the pattern slightly to create the medium sized balloons.  For the large balloons I didn't enlarge the pattern on a copier, but instead took the medium balloon pattern and added an extra half inch on all sides.  This created a slightly different curve to the balloon that I find interesting.  I also created all of my own cloud patterns to make them unique.

I hung all of the balloons using clear CommandStrip hooks and wire. The wire was more sturdy then string or fishing line and provided a way to position the balloon and baskets in certain positions so they didn't spin and the animals in the basket looked the right way.  The baskets were made from burlap ribbon scraps I had left over from our wedding floral arrangements and were the perfect size for the Only Hearts Pets mini stuffed animals to ride in.

I created the window valance using chair foam sculpted into clouds and covered in different textured white fabrics.  I took plenty of pictures while I made the valance and hope to provide a tutorial soon.  I love how the light shines through and makes the clouds glow.

A Boy Needs a Good Closet Too

The closet went through several different designs as the nursery progressed. Initially I wanted to turn the sliding doors into open facing bookcase to maximize the space.  However as we got further along the more likely we would have structural problems led us to paint them with custom tinted chalkboard paint.  While the color worked with the room, it just felt wrong, so we replaced the sliding doors with mirrored doors.  The finished products looks wonderful!  It opens the small room up, reflecting the tree wall decal and hot air balloons.

Nursery Odds & Ends

Finishing touches are what really makes a nursery come together.  With my custom designed fabric, I made some of Creative Tradition's best selling products: nursing pillow covers, crib skirt, rocker pillows, toy chest seat covers, and contoured changing pad covers.

One side of rocker pillows

Other side of rocker pillows

Simple white clock from Target with face Mod Podged with fabric


  1. Fantastic post... the room has a warm and welcoming feel to it. The trees have a calming look and feel. Very well done !!

    ~ jeff

  2. Hi!! I absolutely love this nursery. Would you be willing to share the yellow color you painted on the walls? It's always difficult trying to color match and I just think this color is perfect.

    Thank You!