Age: 20 months
Location: NSW Central Coast, Australia
The last time we checked in on Real Living editor Belinda Graham and her daughter Layla, they were sharing a lovely bedroom/nursery. Now Layla's moved into her own digs, and we couldn't wait to get a peek inside.
It's not surprising that Belinda, who also run the design blog The Happy Home, had a clear vision for what she wanted, as evidenced in the mood board, pictured above, that she created before rolling up her sleeves. This planning step paid off, as did the inspiring DIY projects Belinda and her husband Steve undertook to make Layla's room perfect.
We asked Belinda about her inspiration, sources, and proudest projects in Layla's room.
Inspiration: To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with her room, aside from making it mainly white (I’m white obsessed), but when my husband wanted to paint a bright yellow feature wall I quickly thought up a way to get his "required colour" in the room minus a full-yellow wall by some kind of stencil with various colours.
Layla would squeal every single time she saw a bird, and they’ve always calmed her down or distracted her from tantrums and tears, so I thought a flock of birds would be sweet so she could watch them always. I made up a stencil (there is a how-to here), painted them on in pinks and yellows, and used those colours together for the rest of the room. I had the birdhouse so it was the perfect finishing touch.
Favorite Element: The bird stencils. I love the way they float across the wall and I love her reaction to them. I had planned to do more, but never got around to it. Now I like them just as they are and think more would have been too much.
Biggest Challenge: It’s really quite a tiny space (we divided up a converted garage into two bedrooms for the kids) so the fact one wall has a window that takes up all the space and there is just a teeny tiny half wall near the door meant we could really only put the cot in one place. But it’s fine – she has plenty of room to play and make a mess, and that same spot will fit a full-sized single bed when the time comes, so we’ll just have to stick to small but stylish all the way along!
What Friends Say: Oh they rave! Say I’m so clever! That the room is fabulous! Brilliant! Kidding. They love it, though, and often ask for tips for their own rooms, which I secretly love! And they do ask if I was mad covering the dresser knobs with fabric. And I think I must have been – they’ve been ripped off several times, but do look pretty!
Proudest DIY: I think the chalk silhouette of my pregnant body. I did it out of the blue one day while pregnant with Layla. Just painted over an old canvas and drew my shape. (I fully admit to abusing my right to creative license!) But I smile whenever I see it – it’s a nice reminder of a nice pregnancy.
Biggest Indulgence: Nothing really – the cot and wardrobe were hand-me-downs, the dresser was cheap and has been revamped several times in its short life. I guess the Moroccan leather pouf might be considered an indulgence – it was $AUS150 but is probably one of the most used items in the house so worth every penny.
Best Advice: Decorate to reflect the interests and personalities of your child – it doesn’t take long for babies to develop a love of something or interest so if it doesn’t go away, use it. Just don’t overdo it. Subtle is best.
And keep toys and baby "stuff" to a minimum in their room – rotate frivolous toys every few weeks to keep them “new” and the room uncluttered. But always leave a pile of books, something creative like a box of dress-up clothes or blocks and their absolute fave toys in arms reach at all times. I love it when the house is a mess with train tracks running through it, pencils in all corners and tiny cars lined up on the floor from a crazy, noisy play morning and suddenly it’s quiet because they’re both in one of their rooms sitting next to each other in tutus and fireman hats and Zak is reading Layla her favourite book. And of course: please keep licensed products limited to underpants and books!
Cot and wardrobe: hand-me-downs.
Dresser: Fantastic Furniture
Moroccan Leather Pouf: Leather World Shop on eBay (They don’t always have them, but great source when they do.)
Curtains and lamp: Freedom
Linen: Q Collection Junior
Prints: Belle and Boo prints via Mummy’s Favourite and Studio Mela on Etsy
Bird stencils made by me but inspired by the bird templates in Lena Corwin’s Printing By Hand book.
Feathered headpiece: BIG by Fiona Scanlan at Baby’s Got Style
Child’s rocking chair: Blossom Bubbas
Oobee toy (on dresser) by onegirl design works
Zebra-print storage boxes: Kmart
Thanks so much for the tour, Belinda and Layla!
Images: Belinda Graham