I’ve always been a huge sucker for decor. Before I moved out of my parents’ house, I used to buy magazines like House & Home, Elle Decor, Tuis and Idees – all the while dreaming up my perfect someday-home. As a student, with zero income and a wish to spread my wings, I became so obsessed that I couldn’t shut up about it, much to the annoyance of my friends. All I wanted was to be able to pick out my own laundry basket! But, being a student when I was newlywed and still depending on my hubby’s then super low income and not living in the dreamiest of apartments didn’t do much to satisfy my thirst for beautiful spaces in our home. Our house was made up of hand me downs and donations from family, some odd items I received at my kitchen tea and one or two self bought items. So I often turned to building my dream home in SIMS (yes you better believe it!) and it was a wonderful creative outlet for my decor dreams (and still is – maybe I’ll show you some of my creations in another post at some point).
We’ve moved house a couple of times after we got married – slowly but surely buying things we like and upgrading some of the hand me downs (I reupholstered the sofa I got from my parents as a wedding gift in a dark navy blue bull denim – it was the best decor decision I’ve made in a long time: affordable and it resulted in a great looking couch). At one point we decided to buy a house and it was so exciting. FINALLY I get to do what I want in our own house! So when we found out we were expecting our little boy, I was so happy that I had free reign (within budget) with the what his nursery would look like. I spent so much time on Pinterest, hunting for ideas and collecting inspiration for my moodboard.
I knew that if it was a girl I wanted to do light and bright with colorful pops of aquatic blue, pink, purple and gold. If it was a boy, I wanted to go darker, but still use powerful colors: deep green, navy blue, bright orange and yellow paired with lots of raw wood. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE monochrome, but I personally feel like that’s a bit of grownup color scheme (although I’ve seen some beautiful monochromatic nurseries and toddler rooms) and I imagine that a child’s bedroom should be a place to get lost in all the awesome color this world has to offer. I also knew that I wanted to design the room in such a way that it would last past the baby days and well into childhood – my budget doesn’t allow a redesign every two years, soz babes.
Being on a limited budget, I knew we would have to do some upcycling and get down and dirty to create the look I was going for. I was already heavily pregnant and still working permanently when most of the work on the room began, so most of the heavy lifting was done by my amazing family who all jumped in to help, but a huge thanks to my mother in law – seriously one of the strongest, hard working women I know – who painted the bedroom, the table (an old, used desk that was just standing around the house, unused), the toy chest and the chest of drawers all by herself. This is the same wonder woman who now has her own little baby & kidswear knitting business – check out @oumaseliefiekind on Instagram and her website here.
So here’s what we used our budget for (unfortunately I don’t have prices anymore – I’m writing this about 3 years after the project):
- I bought a black and white printed rug on Superbalist (during a special offer of course, being bargain betty and all)
- I bought a second-hand storage unit, and a second-hand toy chest.
- Two water-based paint colors for the room’s walls
- Three different high sheen oil paints for the furniture
- My dad helped me source that hardboard panel with the little holes in it (still to this day don’t know what it’s called and had a hard time trying to explain to several hardware stores what I wanted)
- Most of our money (read, ALL) was spent on that beautiful bamboo eco-cot from Clever Little Monkey. We saw this cot at the Mamamagic baby expo and both Niekie and I were instantly in love.
- I bought little baskets for the dressing table and the wall storage at Boardmans
- A little floating shelf from Mr Price Home
- Can’t remember where I got the picture frames to be honest (I think it might have been Makro? I remember that I was looking for those pretty white block frames that’s been so popular the last couple of years, but couldn’t find any in the usual home decor stores at the time and these were the closest I could find)
- A raw wood Giraffe sculpture piece that I bought from the maker that has a stall at the Mac Mac Falls near Sabie, Mpumalanga.
- A bedside lamp and Beetle car model from Mr Price Home
- The plush toys were all gifts and there’s even a bunny from my sister-in-law that she knit herself!
- The white rocking chair, also from Mr Price Home, was a gift from my parents.
For a final touch I wanted to create some personal touches myself. So I illustrated a scene that would hang above his crib – a polar bear, walking among melted ice, with a huge moon in the starry sky and mountains in the distance – and had it framed.
I also made a geometric origami mobile to hang above his crib, using old plastic straws that I spray painted copper and tied together with string. My brother kindly folded some origami birds for the mobile, which I attached to the ends of the string.
I found two prints online that I put in some more white frames (the dr. Seuss quote and another one that I actually didn’t hang at the time, but hangs in his current room, of some illustrated mountains). Lastly I created three more illustrated prints: The Batman quote (because, Batman is awesome), the Bible verse from James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above” together with a mom and baby giraffe that I illustrated, and a quote from one of my favourite songs Nature Boy “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return” accompanied by a mom and baby fox.
I was so happy with the outcome of this nursery we created for Juwan and we created many amazing memories here in Juwan’s first year. We moved back to Cape Town though, shortly after Juwan turned one, and we’re back to rental living for now. But I’ve managed to keep the essence of this room to some extent, even though we don’t have those warm wooden floors and the dark blue wall anymore. Making a rental your own decor-wise is hard, and it remains a challenge, but I wouldn’t trade living in Cape Town for owning a house anywhere else in South Africa.