Nursery Tour: Sam's "Zen Toddler" Space

(Hello again to Tammy, trying out for a spot on the Ohdeedoh editorial team. Enjoy the nursery tour she put together for us - comments are welcome.)

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Name: Sam, 3 years
Location: Vancouver, BC

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Designing a nursery is easy (okay, relatively easy). With only your own taste to consult, it's a breeze to create a space you love, because let's face it: you have great taste. But what about the next step up: designing a room for an opinionated three-year-old? Sam's room shows how a few vintage and homemade pieces, combined with some IKEA standbys, can result in a room that is, in the words of one visitor, "serene but not soporific."

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What were the main considerations when designing this room?

In three words: sleep, storage, and scaleability.

Sam is a big fan of sleep, but he needs the right environment to catch his Zs. So first and foremost we knew his room had to be kind of a "Zen toddler" space. And while he mostly prefers to play in the main area of our house, we really needed to create toy storage in his room to avoid that "Toys 'R' Us threw up in my living room" look. Storage planning is also a longer-term issue, because we plan to move Will, his baby brother, in with him eventually and reclaim our office-turned-nursery -- yay!

Aesthetically, we wanted the room to be simple and classic, without being spare or stodgy.

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Any major challenges?

We're long-term renters, so we're willing to do some work and eat some costs to have things how we like them, but obviously there's a limit to how much we want to do. Like every other parent we know, we don't have a lot of money to throw around. And like every other parent we know, when it comes to kids' rooms, all roads seem to lead to IKEA. We don't have a problem with that, but we wanted Sam's room to look homey, not like an impersonal showroom.


How does this room escape the "IKEA showroom" look?

Sidewalk and internet scores, homemade things, and gifts from friends. My mother made the sailor quilt at the foot of his bed. The table and chairs are from a friend; she's a total vintage junkie and doesn't have kids, but she absolutely needed to buy this set when she spotted it ... lucky us!

The Herman Miller shell rocker was a second-hand-store steal at only a hundred bucks. We made it cozier by adding the sheepskin that I slept on throughout both pregnancies. (It totally saved my poor aching hips!) The light-walnut dresser was another deal: it's a Lane design from the '60s, and the shop had marked it down from $800 to $275 to make room for new stock. The globe and the wooden clock toy were sidewalk scores.

We also love the artwork. A friend brought the vehicles poster back from a trip to India. Above the dresser is a print of one of the illustrations from The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It's one of my husband's favorite books. The photo of the tyrannosaurus is from Etsy, but I can't remember who the seller is -- oops. (Is it you? Let me know!)

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How do you define success?

Sam absolutely LOVES his big-kid room -- especially the bunk beds, despite the fact that the ladder steps aren't installed -- and he's incredibly proud when he gives people the grand tour. And he actually sleeps better than ever! Naptime, which he was starting to resist when he was in a crib in the nursery, is a dream once again.

As for storage, we now actually have more than we need. How many parents can say that? The room is only 10 feet by 12 feet, but it feels bigger. At bedtime, all four of us, plus the dog -- and sometimes even the cat! -- gather for storytime without feeling crowded. It's one of the best parts of our day, which is a litmus test for the success of this room.

-Tammy