August 19, 2007

The Big Girl Room

When I chose which room would be our nursery, I wisely, or so I thought, chose the smallest bedroom in our house. It was the one closest to our bedroom and I figured one little girl wouldn't need that much room. Well, one little girl was actually two little girls so we made two cribs fit and it worked just fine. But once the girls were ready for big girl beds, two twin beds literally wouldn't fit in their nursery. So began the "bedroom shuffle." The office became their new room, their nursery became the office and Linda the painter got tired of hanging out at our house.

When planning the girls' new room I really wanted something that was bright and whimsical but still feminine. I love pink and orange together because it just feels "happy" or maybe because it reminds me of Oilily dresses. I wanted to honor the girls' Chinese heritage without creating a theme room. I really love European fabrics and the way that European designers mix things together in a way that just seems to work. I knew that I wanted to feature the peasant paintings we bought in China -- the ones that hung above the cribs in their nursery -- prominently in the room. And last, I wanted the room to be a functional space that would grow with the girls.

So, with all that in mind, I started putting together "The Big Girl Room." The girls have now been in their room for seven months or so and the room is more or less complete.

So here are the details . . . The beds were my grandparents' who, in very "I Love Lucy" fashion, slept in twin beds for as long as anyone can remember. I had them painted white to match the dresser and bookshelf from the girls' nursery. The little antique side table that sits between the beds was also my grandparents and sat between the same twin beds in their home. I've ordered two chairs that I know will arrive someday -- although I'm no longer holding my breath. (I think someone is waiting for the cotton to grow so they can weave the fabric!) I found the quilts and thought they were perfect for the room -- the pattern's even called Chinese Peony -- and then scoured online fabric stores for great complementary fabrics.

We live in a house that was built in the 1920s and one of the best parts of the room is an arched nook with built in shelves and cupboards on each side. I wanted to highlight the area so I had a mural painted in the archway by a wonderful local artist. The image is taken from one of our favorite books, "Bear Wants More" by Karma Wilson and Jane Chapman. (If you've never read any of the "Bear" series of books, go to your library or local bookstore and check one out!) I had the artist add a tea pot with the Chinese character for Double Happiness for obvious reasons! She also added the girls' monograms to the cupboard door. The mural is definitely the girls' favorite part of the room and they often point out Bear and all of his animal friends.

I still have a few finishing touches to make . . . I want to replace the light fixture in the nook with a vintage chandelier (I've been scouring ebay and 1stdibs for months), I'm still looking for additional fabrics for pillows for the beds and chairs (if they ever come), I'm having the most amazing dolls made for the girls by another China mom and can't wait until they're perched on top of their beds and the piece of art for between their beds is on its way. (It's by Laura Zeck. She makes really neat etched collages.) I guess like anything in your home, it's a work in progress . . . almost done but not quite.

(I'm also not 100% pleased with these photos. I've struggled with the lighting since there are four windows in the room and the abundance of external light, compared to the internal light, tends to throw off the exposure of the photos. I took a few more today, since it was cloudy, but those photos feel a little "flat." Oh well. You can get a good idea of what the room looks like. I'll take more pictures as I add in the final things to the room.)

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