Nursery Tour: Leo's Family History

Name: Leo Age: Two Location: St. Louis City

We love using old photographs in our home, and so do Leo's parents. Scanned photos of Leo's parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents framed along with the person's name and year of birth add instant personality and meaning to this lovely room that is full of old treasures at a budget totaling about $250...

What was your inspiration for the room?: The room used to be our guest/tv/book/craft room, and it was already painted a pale sort of aqua blue. I wasn't about to change it (I hate painting) and since at first I thought I wanted a gender-neutral "mod" theme, I thought I'd buy lime green and darker aqua accessories to go with the walls. But my husband and I were at a fabric store and he came across a vintage-looking print that had a red pattern with a cream background. I ended up using that to sew window valances and a crib skirt. I bought coordinating fabric to sew a couple of crib sheets and basket liners.

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We kept with the "vintage" theme by buying alphabet posters by Cavallini papers. We found a couple prints at a local art store for only about $5 each and bought another one online. The frames are plexiglas poster frames we found on clearance at Ikea for about $5 apiece. They used to be royal blue but we spray-painted them black.

Both my husband and I are into family history, so he scanned and printed out old baby pictures of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents. We bought some cheap frames from Target, mounted the photos in the frames with old-fashioned photo mounting corners, and he wrote the name of the baby in the picture and the year they were born. It's amazing to see the resemblances between Leo and some of his ancestors!

I already had the Russian movie poster print hanging there where the crib is now (I know, totally not babyish) but the red colors matched and we liked how it looked. We had the glass in the frame replaced with unbreakable plastic and the poster is hung securely on the wall (my husband used to work at an art museum, so that thing hasn't moved!)

Years ago I bought the old wooden carnival sign at an antiques store. The color and theme fit, so in the baby's room it went.

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The wooden shelves came from a college stint working at a sporting goods store. The store was going out of business, and the shelves used to hold shoes in the back room. They let me have the shelves for free and they've traveled with me from apartment to apartment and been painted over white a zillion times.

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The vintage tin typewriters on the shelf I had also already collected. The vintage game boards are courtesy of my mom and mother-in-law, who are also packrats! Since one of our moms wanted a particular board back, we made a Xerox copy of it and mounted the print on foam core board.

The changing table is an old enamel-topped kitchen table I had bought several years ago and had used as a desk. That size is widely available in antique places, and the enamel wipes right up. The dresser is my childhood dresser, painted white and replaced with green glass knobs. The crib came from my sister, and used to belong to my niece and nephew.

All in all, I think we spent about $250 on the room. Seriously. Outfitting a baby's room doesn't have to be expensive if you can use the things you already have. Obviously, being a pack rat helps!

What's your favorite element in the room?: It's hard to choose. I just like how everything came together, and with the huge shelves we're been able to add toys and books as our son has acquired them. The higher shelves are nice because we can keep more collectible things out of reach.

I love the family photos, too. Anybody can do this, and cheaply!

What was your biggest challenge?: Reconciling my "vision" of the room with the reality. I honestly thought I was going to go into this with a mod theme, and at first when my husband came across the red fabric I hated the idea. But once we thought about all the stuff we already had that would fit, it all came together.

What Friends Say: Our friends and family always comment on the room. It's such a relaxing place to play and hang out.

Proudest DIY: I think it's the family photos. They're the ones who made our son possible, and in a way we're sort of honoring them.

Biggest Indulgence: I hate to say it's the glider, since it was a gift and one of the cheaper ones available. But it's really the only bigger thing that was bought new. I don't like the looks of these type of gliders anyway, but they're super-comfortable and practical. I really didn't want to blow a ton of money on a more traditional-looking stuffed rocker club chair that we wouldn't use elsewhere in the house one day.

Best advice: Make up and repurpose. Can you create something more personal that you can hang on the walls? Do you have a favorite poster from an old apartment that just might work? If it doesn't come in the right color, can you paint it? Do you have your own crazy collections that just might fit in a little kid's room one day?

Dream source: I'm not sure what I used when I was planning, but I do enjoy looking at nurseries on Ohdeedoh now. I like the storage ideas presented in the Ikea catalog and look to see what places like Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod are doing.

Resources: Ikea, Target, Cavallini papers (available at art supply stores), Hancock Fabrics, my basement...

So, before you get overwhelmed with trendy modern nursery design- shop in your basement! Throw in a few black and white family photos, and you'll have a truly special room, just like Leo! Thanks to Leo's parents, Valerie and Andy, for sharing their ideas!

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