Let the fun begin! Or, baby boy nursery inspiration.

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Yeehaw!

We are expecting another baby—a boy this time! “NO,” I said when the ultrasound technician told us. Disbelief. (You probably aren’t surprised that I had neither the will nor the desire to come up with some kind of clever gender reveal thing.)

To tell you the truth, the utmost issue in my mind re: Bebé Tres—aside from worrying about what in the world little boys wear, and fearing the inevitable urine sprayed in my face—is the nursery. I’ve been having a pretty good time brainstorming and playing [mental] tetris with furniture arrangements.

To get you up to speed: we are in a charming little bungalow in a charming little Nashville neighborhood. The girls are sharing a room, and so we have the office/third bedroom available for the new little dude. I hate to admit that this “home office” has been steadily slip-sliding into junk room status. (Do you have a junk room? Please tell me about it in the comments!)

So I’m excited for a fresh start. Redemption time, baby.

I decided that until we learned the sex of Bebé Tres, I’d be content with gathering ideas and brainstorming (i.e. Pinterest-ing hardcore) before springing into action. (Maybe springing isn’t the most exact term. Plodding into action?) I’ve been following Nashville designer Colleen Locke’s blog, Trot Home, where she opens a window into her process, especially the step of dreaming and scheming before narrowing down your options and deciding on your direction (which she discusses in this post in particular).

In that spirit, I’ll share some of the inspiration images I found.

[The picture at the top of the post is one I’ve had on my Pinterest baby baby board from the beginning, from Abbey Nova’s Upper West Side apartment.]

Here’s one that’s awesome and patriotic (though I’d be in trouble with Mama Rote if I didn’t point out that the flag’s field of blue ought to be on the viewer’s left):

flag baby nurseryWe have a framed Springsteen poster I gave to Israel when we were dating that could be used to similar effect.

I love this clean, white look with the oriental rug:

nursery white walls

A similar feel:

Amber Interiors nurseryBut then I saw this office tour (Sarah Vickers’ and Kiel James Patrick’s shared space):

Sarah Vickers officeSarah Vickers office

I really dig the green, and the layered, collected vibe.

(And I forgot to say that I’d like to keep a small office space in the nursery: at least a small desk for laptop, the printer, small filing cabinet.)

More delicious greens:

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Yum. And so, the time has come (the walrus said), to make decisions.

I scientifically evaluated my Pinterest board, and saw that my two directions were the white and the green, using a rug with character in either scenario. I’ve been reading Montessori stuff about simplifying the kid’s environment (not to mention Marie Kondo!); and considering that it’s wise for me to keep it simple (stupid), I decided to go with the white, clean walls; anchored with some kind of awesome, beautiful rug; natural wood and white furniture. (And I need not tell you, many pops of color.)

I’d love an oriental rug,

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or maybe a southwest/Mexican feeling one.

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I’m hereby sending this wish into the universe. (The room is about 11×10, in case you have the ideal rug for me.)

Which direction calls to you? Green or white? Perhaps my soul is an old British study, while my inner parent longs to be clean California cool.

Tips from the Danes: Simple & Cozy

walking in Copenhagen

A year ago, we were exploring a new-to-us corner of the world: Stockholm for two nights and Copenhagen for the rest of the week. (Recall, Ashley’s advice on prepping for Danish fashion and culture, and traveling in general.)

Evidently, I’m a fake blogger because I didn’t record the trip after the fact. (Ashley did! Here and here.) But now that it’s getting cooler, the smell of autumn air is bringing back Copenhagen memories.

It was a lovely trip—obviously!—and the charming Scandinavian way of life and simple aesthetic were inspiring. Here are a few specific ideas to make your life simpler and cozier this fall:

  • Nix the top sheet. The Danes and Swedes sleep on a fitted sheet with just a fluffy down comforter. I did this last night, after Mary Tobin peed through our quilt and top sheet. (I don’t think she did it out of spite, but I can’t be sure!) So I stripped those and pulled out the comforter that had been stored away for summer. It was a delicious night of sleep. And if you’ve got two comforters, a separate one for your partner, I think it could solve some marriage problems.
  • Candles, that’s all. The Danes were so into candles it was ridiculous. Clear off all other tchotchkes and light your (unscented) candles. Ashley and her husband rented a furnished apartment, really just the basics—mostly from IKEA of course!—but it felt so cozy even as the days grew darker and shorter. I was inspired to evaluate what we really need, materially. (Of course, I did go nuts at their equivalent of the dollar store, stocking up on cool Scandinavian napkins and weird trinkets.)
  • French press. Yummier coffee, no counter space. I’m so happy we made the switch.
  • Go outside anyway. “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.” All the restaurants and cafes still had their outdoor seating available. They added blankets to the chairs and cranked up the outdoor heaters. What a dream it would be to install an outdoor heater on our little balcony! But for now I’ll pull out our sturdiest blanket and park it out there.

Thoughts, feelings, emotions? Other ideas for creating hyggelige? Would you try any of these?

copenhagen hygge

P.S. For more on cultural differences—more than just tighter jeans and “blondes have more fun”—read Ashley’s thoughts as they wrapped up their year in Copenhagen: lessons from the Danes.

P.P.S. If you need another boost to simplify your possessions, here’s a post for you: Nobody’s Dream Job.

New City East Lake (or, How to Decorate for Interracial Couples!)

On the subject of churches and Spanish speakers, we visited a lovely church when we were in Chattanooga. Friends from Gracia y Paz had told us about New City East Lake, a diverse Presbyterian congregation in Chattanooga’s East Lake neighborhood, which from what I can tell has been over the years mostly white—my mom wondered if it was the same building she went to church in as a little girl; then black; and is now an increasingly Latino neighborhood.

Their building is a beautiful, old, mostly-but-not-fully renovated Methodist Episcopal church, with a simple sanctuary that retains its yellow stained glass windows, lending a beautiful sunny glow to the place. I really liked the atmosphere. (OK, don’t judge me for judging other people, but these were my impressions.) The congregation was majority white, fairly young, with a kind of preppy, southern, but still a bit crunchy feel—which seems like standard Chattanooga to me, and kind of feels like Charlottesville, which may be why I felt so comfortable. But then they had a solid number of black parishioners, numerous interracial couples (holler!), and a sizable group of hispanics, most of whom we learned are Guatemalan. That was the group I was interested in.

Those Spanish speakers used headphones with simultaneous translation (the reverse of our church, where there’s translation into English for the non-Spanish speakers, i.e. me). At various points in the service, Spanish was spoken. When it happened, without warning, I was surprised at how moved I felt . . . that a congregation whose majority did not need it, gave some time for a few people to be able to hear a prayer, a greeting, a song in their “heart language.” I kept my head down and tried to be subtle about dabbing the tears in my eyes.

At such times I wish I had a big name tag explaining, “I’M PREGNANT” to excuse my red face and erratic emotional behavior, and also bad driving. In a sweet way, though, those moments at New City East Lake showed me what a long way I’ve come in identifying with hispanics. Going to our church, I became the minority probably for the first time. The awkwardness and embarrassment that I experience once a week with my fumbling Spanish is what many immigrants face daily, and I respect their courage enormously.

But, what I actually wanted to get to in this post were the visual/design elements I noticed in particular. It seemed like the church consciously chose things to create a welcoming space for all their members, wherever they’re from.

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The first I saw was the cross, which looked to be made of steel or tin (some kind of metal) with candles. It immediately reminded me of the Mexican aesthetic (punched tin, candle altars), though much simpler. You could also argue it as a nod to Chattanooga’s industrial history. Am I over interpreting this?? Amateur art historian alert!

Then, when communion bread was passed, I noticed the lovely simple cloth napkins they used. They have to be Guatemalan, or something, right? Yes, I should’ve been thinking about JC, but I noticed the napkins.

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The baskets for the offering also looked like they had a story. A lot more interesting than stodgy old collection plates, I say.

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I think the vibrant baskets only worked so well because, as a whole, the place was simple and light-filled.

In my mind—again I’m way over-thinking this, probably—it was such a nice combination of design elements. The old reclaimed church, the crisp white interior, a couple punches of color, the simple beautiful cross lit by simple white candles. It was enough to please the crunchiest of yuppies and the freshest of immigrants, not to mention the spanglish-speaking, bright-color-loving, whitest-of-white person that I am.

Have you ever been to a multicultural church, or other group like that? I think it’s hugely challenging to pull off, and the visuals are probably the least of your problems! But symbols and appearance matter, and in this case they seemed to be a reflection of the church’s deeper values and commitments. Visit them if you’re in Chatta-vegas!