Name: Levi (20 months)
Location: Newton, KS
Our friend Megan at Whatever tipped us off to this beautiful room and the pictures took our breath away. Over at The Macs we learned the story of Levi's family and we were incredibly moved by this family's love, strength and faith. Mama Mac Jessica puts incredible heart and soul into everything she does and it comes through so clearly in Levi's lovely room, from the handpainted mural and homemade pillows to the artfully organized closet and customized roller shades.
For most parents, decorating a nursery is an unequivocally joyous process, but it was infinitely more complicated for the McClenahans. Preparing Levi's room meant packing up the belongings of Cora, Levi's big sister who passed away at 11 months; all of the furniture in the room was Cora's, and the Macs grieved their daughter as they prepared to greet their son. Bolstered by her faith, Jessica found ways to imbue Levi's room with memories of his sister while creating a room that reflects Levi's interests and personality. Levi's dad is a farmer, so it's no wonder that Jessica added plenty of the cows and tractors that Levi loves. The design elements are simple and consistent, with a green and blue palette that is carried through many details without ever seeming excessive or contrived. It's a great-looking room thoughtfully appointed with personal and meaningful items. Jessica shared lots of details about Levi's room on her blog and she was nice enough to answer some questions for us.
Levi's room is so lovely and cohesive. What inspired you and what was your process?
I really wanted Levi's room to reflect his growing personality as well as have a few reminders of his sweet big sister, Cora. Cora's room was green and pink. She had the same polka dot crib sheets, except in the girl version. When Cora's sheets went on clearance because they were being discontinued, I bought the boy version thinking that maybe we would use them someday if we ever had a little boy. The sheets are green, navy blue, royal blue, and light blue polka dots. I used these colors as my inspiration and went from there. We kept the walls the same neutral color that we had painted for Cora's room and most of the furniture we had already purchased for her room as well. We used what we had and added some meaningful and "boyish" elements to make it Levi's room.
What is your favorite element in the room?
We love telling Levi about his big sissy. She only lived a short eleven months, but left behind a huge legacy for such a little girl. God has used her story in some amazing ways to change our lives as well as the lives of many who prayed for her through her short battle with cancer. Levi often will pick up the blocks that were sold to raise money for Cora's Playground or walk around talking to the frame that holds his sissy's picture. Those elements of Levi's room not only remind Joel and I of God's faithfulness through tragedy, but give us the opportunity to tell Levi all about Cora. I love that.
Since Levi was a little older when I was adding the finishing touches to his room, I love that I was able to incorporate his little personality that was starting to shine through. Levi's daddy is a farmer and he loves cows. He loves the cow picture and the "moo" letters above his bookshelf. I also love how the chicken wire frame turned out (inspired by Ashley Ann at Under the Sycamore). It is so fun to be able to attach pictures and memories that are meaningful to Levi, and we can change them out anytime as he grows.
What was the greatest decorating challenge?
I love to decorate and create things, but I think the biggest challenge was dealing with my emotions as I dealt with both the sadness and joy of changing the room I had created for my daughter into a room for my new son.
It is hard to put into words what it was like to pack up Cora's baby things and change her room, knowing that we weren't just moving her into her "big girl" room. It was another incredibly hard step of letting go that has seemed to continue on in many ways as I grieve the loss of my little girl. While many find such joy in decorating a new baby's room, Levi's room was created with many tears. Saying goodbye to your first child while welcoming your second child into the world is such a mixture of grief and joy. Levi's room has been a process. I found that I just had to change things as I felt that I was ready to handle it emotionally. Of course, having Levi in my arms made it much easier to get excited about creating his very own space.
On a less emotional level, when it came down to figuring out the layout of the room and where the furniture should be placed, the biggest challenge was the step in the middle of the room. Now, Levi loves to sit on that little step and play and read his books. It was a decorating challenge, but definitely adds character to the room!
What do your friends say about the room?
I am so thankful to have friends who were willing to walk beside me on those long, hard initial days of grief. They cried along with me as I processed putting my daughter's girly things away and transforming the nursery into a boyish room for Levi. They would agree that Levi's room is filled with sweet memories of his sister as well as elements that reflect Levi's cheerful, tractor and cow loving personality.
What was your biggest indulgence?
Initially, when we were planning Cora's room, the biggest indulgence was furniture - crib, dresser, and rocker. For Levi, the biggest indulgence was the book rack from Pottery Barn Kids. Definitely worth it though. It is very kid-friendly and holds so many books.
What advice would you give to someone designing a nursery or children's room for the first time?
Have fun and don't stress out! There are so many things you can buy for a nursery. You could spend a ton of money if you wanted to and it is hard to not compare with others. I say keep it simple and add things to your baby's room that are meaningful to you and your family. And don't be afraid to repurpose and try DIY elements. There are so many great tutorials out there that can help save you money on decorating.
What is your dream shopping source?
I love getting ideas from places like Pottery Barn Kids and Land of Nod, but my dream shopping source is finding something that someone is getting rid of (Craigslist, garage sales, antique stores) and repurposing into something usable and meaningful for my home. We didn't have as much time to do that when we were creating Cora/Levi's room, but are having so much fun repurposing items for baby brother's room - due in three weeks!!!
• Crib: Walmart
• Crib bedding: Gap (discontinued)
• Rocking Chair & Ottoman: Walmart
• Dresser: Target
• Round table: Target (clearance)
• Book rack: Pottery Barn Kids
• Green quilt & star pillow: Pottery Barn Kids (color discontinued)
• Lamp shade: Pottery Barn Kids (clearance)
• Closet curtains & floor pillow: made from IKEA fabric
• Roller shades: Lowes (covered in Metro Living Dots fabric)
• Cow picture: The Animal Print Shop
• Silhouette print: sarah + abraham
• Olliegraphic "Levi" pillow: sarah + abraham
Thanks to the Macs!
Images: Jessica McClenahan