Decorating home, one element at a time.

Category Archives: Inspiration

“You have the most popular nursery that no one has seen.” – Jackie

If you’ve read this blog before, you already know a couple of things:

1. Jackie, my dear co-blogger, has written about her beautiful nursery decorating. Check it out right… HERE.

2. If Jackie and I were decorating politicians, our platforms would be anti-store-bought themed nursery sets. Our nightmares have us fleeing from things that are too matchy-matchy. I specifically spelled this out after carefully defending a motif in my home, which you can see……. HERE.

With this second point in mind, my husband and I had long ago decided that should we have a baby boy, we would decorate his nursery based on one of our favorite movies, Fantastic Mr. Fox. In case you have missed this Wes Anderson gem, here are the reasons we find it inspiring, especially for our decorating purposes (movie photos courtesy Century Fox) :

1. The story itself is about family: a dad, mom, and young son. This could easily be us!

(Seth relaxing while I paint and listen to my records)

“Ash”- a cutie like baby

2. The colors: All of the colors are bold and saturated. We were really struck with the golden jacket of Mr. Fox, red of Farmer Bean’s apples, and the yellow of Mrs. Fox’s dress. Hints of blue make great pops of an accent color, too.

3. The textures: the movie is stop-motion animated, making everything realistically tactile. For example, Mr. Fox himself has so many textures- the corduroy jacket, his soft fur, and the glassiness of his eyes. Textures through the use of different elements and prints (checkered, polka-dot) create visual interest and are perfect for a developing baby.

4. The great outdoors setting: the “nature” of the movie allows for bringing the outside in. This topic is even addressed in the plot, as the characters deal with the destruction of their natural habitat. (They fight back with flaming pine cones.)

5. The maturity: the humor of the movie makes it not just for children. It has a classic quality and nostalgic feel. Anytime I can add vintage qualities to a room to give it a more comfortable aesthetic I do. And besides, is a nursery only for a baby? I wanted this room to be an extension of who we are, just as baby is a part of our family.

For these reasons and more, Fantastic Mr. Fox was our inspiration. Taking these concepts, I present Judah’s nursery!


The nursery is a small room, but that can be the perfect setting for a bold, saturated color.


This changing table was the first “official” purchase. I fell for the color when I saw it on craigslist and the price of $30 sealed the deal. The alphabet wall hanging I purchased two summers ago at the local, famed Normal Park neighborhood sale. It is handmade and frightfully old. The creatures have quirky colors and many have red eyes, including the Rat- which is a character in the movie who also has red eyes. It hangs from a stick.


The cover here is brown with brown stars- like Ash’s official bandit mask. Here my bandit reorganizes his diapers.


 The toy fox has jumped into a large basket box that serves as a toy box. I got it for a steal with plans of embellishing it, but we’ll see if that happens! All the textures make for a fun place to play.


There’s a photo shoot going on?


Baby needs a place for his sweater and cap.


I love this little vignette. The handmade sweater was a gift from dear co-blogger, Jackie. His cap is from another close friend.

The iron cast hanger was a garage sale pick up.


Every nursery needs a comfy spot to sit. After searching high and low for the perfect chair/rocker/glider I found the perfect blend of function and aesthetic in our living room: our midnight blue poang from IKEA. With a couple of gorgeous handmade throws as gifts, it is the best place for a story.


Of course, perhaps the best accessory is a fun pillow. I saw many cute “fox” pillows on etsy, but sometimes the thrills don’t make it in the budget. Instead, I came across this red, metallic (hard to see the shiny here) iron-on decal at JoAnn’s. Another clearance pillow and I had a sweet and easy DIY.

Speaking of DIY and IKEA- the graphic tree curtain is another IKEA pick-up. And speaking of a literal pick-up, it also hangs from a mighty stick on curtain tie-backs.


I love the black-and-white graphics on the curtain. I think every room in a house should have a black-and-white element. It seems to add a sophistication and yet stays playful.


It is important to my husband and I that we support real artists and fill our home with their artworks. So it was wonderful when were given one as shower gift! We have “Hellephant” here now to be apart of our story time. This was given to me by my cousin, Jewel Renee, who is a very talented artist. She knew I especially liked this adventure of “Hellephant” (there are many!). The colors fit perfect in our scheme.


“Hellephant” isn’t alone. On the other wall he is joined by none other than a “Mr. Fox” and “Mr. Badger.” This artwork is the most direct reference to our inspired nursery. I found them on Etsy, from an artist named Michael Jonathan Smith in the L.A. area. Also on display is a prized giant pine cone I got from a local treasure store. Here is a close-up of Mr. Fox (minus the clear “repin” and “like” buttons on the top left):


Isn’t he dapper? I love the vintage colors and “stained” print. It looks as if it was torn from an original copy of the book.


And what a better place to store a book than here! This bookcase comes straight from my childhood room and my mother’s before me! My grandfather made this back in the 1960s.



As we round the room we encounter my artistic addition to the room: birch trees!



In a post to follow, I’ll show the easy steps I took in completing this project. As a new and somewhat paranoid new parent, I did not want to hang anything above the crib. These tree silhouettes add great balance to the room as they pull the eye up and continue what the graphic curtains started.


There is still some room on the wall to the left of the trees for showcasing more artwork and some shelving… to be continued!


To my surprise- though surprises are almost daily for this new parent– it turns out that baby’s room cannot escape the trendy need to have his name displayed. However, I adore this exception to my rule, as it is the banner from his baptism and a beautiful reminder of that special day.


And another thrift store find: metallic owls. Whoooo doesn’t like that?

Finally, the most comfortable spot must be the crib.


Baby has many friends to keep him comfy, not to mention a beautiful quilt handmade by a friend. The colors and patterns are everything foxy for our little fox.


Little Fox

So if you are looking for a unique inspiration for a nursery, or any room for that matter, I suggest finding the book, movie, object, quote, or artwork that inspires you. Let it allow you to reinterpret it into a whole new experience. You will love the process and with cobbled finds and handmade touches, it will truly be original in every way.


Aw. That’s such a Pollyanna post title. Doesn’t sound much like everyday-Jackie, but there’s something about decorating that makes me wax optimistic. Maybe it’s because I get so darn attached to every decor purchase I make or project I complete. Or maybe it’s because I’m so dang CHEAP I can’t stand the heartbreak that comes when something I’ve put money into doesn’t work out. Or is destroyed, at least in part, as is the case in the two examples I offer here.

Exhibit A, Before: A salvaged window that I painted yellow and green for hanging in my living room.

Exhibit A, After: Sigh. Gravity. Perhaps an ill-timed rumble of an 18-wheeler down Indianapolis’ US-40. We’ll never know for sure.

Exhibit B, Before: A lovely red lamp my mum bought for me at Midland Arts and Antiques downtown.

Exhibit B, After: Sadly, there is no photo of what happened when my son knocked the lamp on the floor and shattered the shade, because I was too busy weeping in the chair to take one, and my husband was too concerned with making sure no feet-shredding glass remained on the floor to create a photo-journalistic record of the event.

So, here we have two decor items very much liked but no longer usable in their original conditions. The window’s glass is all gone. The red lamp’s lovely shade is smashed to bits. Time to chuck the items and move on, right?


So my husband and I stashed the shadeless lamp and the glassless window in the basement until such time as they would be needed to decorate again. And that time DID come, rather recently in fact, and here are our two repurposed disasters today:

The salvaged window, along with the [somehow also glassless] transom window we removed from our kitchen during its remodel now provide a geometric visual over our dining room desk area. And the lamp (on the right and in closeup) is completely revitalized with a coat of gray spray paint and a new shade I picked up for $5 at Midland. All that I needed to do to find the perfect new shade was 1) measure the diameter of the opening where the shade sits and 2) keep my eyes open each time I was in an antique/thrift/etc. establishment.

Lesson: Broken doesn’t have to mean over. (Thank goodness, or I’d still be crying over that lamp.) If you’ve got the room and love the item that’s damaged, hang on to it and see if you can’t bring it back to life in a new way. I might even like our second-time-around versions of each of these items a bit more than the first!

I (Jackie) can’t believe I’m about to write this, but, sometimes older isn’t better.

(Let me cry a minute.)

Okay. *wipes eyes* It’s true. But let me explain.

On Saturday, my friend Kayla and I went to White River Salvage (on 30th, on Indy’s westside) in search of, well, a number of things, but the item I’ll mention here is the one to which I’m applying the S.O.I.B. I uttered above: doors.

I’ve been kicking around this idea of forging a guest space in my rather ridiculously long living room (it’s about 13′ wide by 22′ long, cut in half visually and spatially by the front door–check out the top photo for the sense of the room, and the photo below it for a gander at the corner under consideration for ‘guest space’). Why? Ours is a two-bedroom house, and since nearly all of our family/friends do NOT live in Indy, we have guests frequently. However, though I DO want this guest space to be significant and include some privacy feature, I DON’T want it to be permanent. So I have tasked myself with devising an entirely portable yet AWESOME guest space that includes some privacy-creating element. Sure, we could just do the air mattress in the middle of the living room (we’ve done this), but I wanted to see if I could manage something a bit more.

And for that—for privacy without permanence—I thought, how about some room dividers?

For those of you who know me and how I like to decorate, you will not be surprised to hear that my reflex-action after deciding I wanted room dividers was NOT to jump in my car and head to the nearest store to see what I could purchase from the mass market. Instead, I went online to see how I might MAKE said item, or where/how I could acquire room dividers vintage or in some other state of old or interesting. I find the easiest way to avoid cookie cutter decorating is to avoid starting every decorating quest at the Big Box store nearest you.

(And this makes me think of a scenario where older WAS better: Recently my husband and I purchased a new-to-us desk at Domistyle—a fabulous Indy resale store on the near southeast side—for $50. It’s solid wood and doesn’t resemble any desk I’ve seen around. What will $50 at a Big Box store get you? Actually…$50 might not be enough to get you anything. But if it does, it’s going to be pressed particleboard, and it’s not going to be particularly unique. So if you’ve never thought well-made/special furniture was possible on a budget, it is. Check out our find, paired with the sewing chair I reupholstered.)

But back to the Case of the S.O.I.B. Based on my online research, I’d gotten it into my head that it might be cool to use old doors to make these room dividers. I imagined them looking so awesome I’d be able to, when the guest room was not needed, fold them up and secure them to the two short walls on the south side of my living room, thus adding a touch of panache to the decor at that end of the room (as well as storing my dividers till the next guest arrived)

So there Kayla and I were, at White River Salvage. And we found doors. Many, MANY doors. The problem? All of the doors we found were priced, on the cheap end, at around $200 (and the worst of them were closer to $2000).

So here comes the S.O.I.B: Though these doors had all of the uniqueness I wanted in my space, I sure wasn’t willing to drop hundreds and hundreds of dollars to make some room dividers. Heck, I COULDN’T: I don’t have that kind of money. Kayla and I left White River Salvage without doors, and I departed with a mind working frantically on a new idea.

Now what? I had found a few old doors for not-a-billion-dollars on Craigslist, but I decided it would 1) take too long and 2) be too much of a hassle to stalk/contact/physically procure enough doors for my project. Next step, then? Hit the internet one more time, find a new idea.

And that’s where I am today. I have my new idea. A post on DIY Furniture at, uh, Women’s Day (first time for everything–proof that all sources can have kicky fun ideas), has set me right again. The folks of Women’s Day suggest snagging some hollow-core doors and transforming them into a divider. And at ~$20 apiece, hollow-core doors are an inexpensive way to immediately have the structural component one needs for this type of project. Where you go from there (will your doors remain looking like doors, but with some kind of paint treatment? or will you transform them with another manner of embellishment, like fabric? or something else entirely?) is completely up to you/your brain.

But wait, Jackie, aren’t hollow-core doors basically on the same level as  particle board furniture? Well: yes and no. They certainly aren’t the most remarkable product on the planet, but I’m not suggesting you install them in your doorways. Instead, I’m suggesting that a prudently-priced item can be used as a building block for something entirely unique. In this, you’re elevating a modest item into something more than it ever could have been on its own. You can facilitate a transformation.

So that’s that: That’s the end of my S.O.I.B. admission moment. But here’s the take home message: regardless of old, new, expensive, or thrifty, the best decorating makes everything you bring into your house YOURS.

How-to and pictures to come as I move forward with my room divider project!

Jackie here. Although it’s only just 50 degrees here in Indy today, spring has come to us over the past couple of weeks, and my perennials are out in full force. Every time I walk up to my house, or drive through my neighborhood, I’m blow away by how marvelous plants and flowers look: they’re always coordinated, no matter the plants; and even the overgrown or slightly ramshackle have qualities of free-spirited loveliness.

I have a bit of a crush on plants and flowers.

What can the natural world teach us about decorating? Probably everything, but today’s thought regards color (I know, I know, we talk about color a lot, but much decorating is made or broken on the color-front, so I feel the time is warranted).

One quick thought: flowers tend to be bright, but I often notice people decorating in more muted palettes, and I wonder about this. If we love bright flowers, shouldn’t we make room in our decorating palettes for a bright color or two? Note the marvelous way brights can play off of more muted plant greens and dirt browns and mulch tans and gray rocks.

And speaking of all those plants and woods and rocks…natural elements make great decorating accessories. Rachel and I are both fond of a well-chosen rock or stick brought indoors…I have two sticks in pots in my house and always musing how I might get my husband to let me bring more in. (More on decorating with the aesthetic of a three-year-old boy later.)

Time to shut up and take note of nature. Here are a few shots from around my house and neighborhood. If you hold your cursor over each pic, I’ve ‘labeled’ the colors I see in the picture. Pay attention to not only obvious colors—flowers and plants—but also to ‘background’ colors like rocks, sidewalks, branches, etc. Click to enlarge shots!

Rachel and I are at that age when every time we turn around, another one of our friends is pregnant. Not that I can say anything: as I write this, I’ve just turned the corner, flipped the page, whatever, into 31 weeks pregnant with my second baby, a girl who is due June 9. Every time I turn around, there’s a Bundt-cake-ish sized protuberance revolving with me.

And babies bring all sorts of inevitabilities, the most psychologically arresting of which is, no, not that fact that one is going to be for all time a parent to a complex, somewhat inscrutable human being, but that one will have to assemble a practical and attractive nursery.

Well: I am assuming. A nursery doesn’t HAVE to be attractive. But I am hoping that a small measure of hubris on my part is allowed in assuming your interest in this because you are here reading a decorating blog.

(No, really, it’s a decorating blog.)

I was particularly thrilled to prep this baby’s nursery because we were renting when we had Oliver. I did ask my landlady at the time if we might paint a room or two in our duplex—I was excited to try out a color palette in Oliver’s room-to-be. Her response? “Oh yeah, if I can pick the colors.”

Oh. Huh. Okay…never mind.

Our house isn’t large—it’s a two-bedroom home—so my husband and I decided to put the baby in the little bonus room off our bedroom—my Virginia Woolf room, the room of my own, that was initially loved and adored and persuasive in our home purchase because it would be a space for me to work and write. (Now I work and write on the couch…the laptop made me do it.) Here’s the room as we first saw it, before we bought the house:

Since the room was initially intended for me, I decided on wall color as I always do: I wanted something saturated. We opted to paint our bedroom Sherwin William’s Drizzle (a bluey-green), and my VW room one color down the color swatch, Lagoon. Here are a couple of pics, taken shortly after we bought the house and began customizing, that show the colors we chose and the relationship of the VW room to the master bedroom.

When we found out it was time to convert the VW room to a nursery for Baby Girl, I was determined to keep the same saturated color I’d initially chosen for the room. I can’t wrap my brain around wanting to paint a baby’s room a light color—I don’t generally care for them to begin with, and, further, babies don’t particularly respond to pastel colors as newborns because their eyesight isn’t fully developed yet. And I admit I tend to be opposed to what mass culture says I ought to do in my child’s room. So no light pink, light blue, light green, light whatever for me.

Not that pastels can’t be okay—I have an Indy friend who painted her daughter’s nursery a pale pink—but she didn’t pair her pale pink with myriad other pale colors, instead opting for a bold black and white zig-zag rug for the floor and other color-rich prints and pictures for around the room. So if your particular aesthetic says, oh I must have light walls in my little one’s room, see what interesting non-pastel accessories, etc, you can bring in to contrast with that. (More on that later.)

Once I knew I’d be keeping my Lagoon room, I got to choose a set of colors to go with. I headed off to Michael’s to stand in the aisle of acrylic paint—to wait for inspiration to strike me. (Why there and not Lowe’s, Home Depot, Sherwin Williams, you wonder? I knew I’d be using the colors on small projects, where a tube of acrylic paint would come in loads handier than a bucket of interior.) Here’s what I settled on: Light Blue Violet, Brilliant Yellow Green, and some kind of Orange (that’s the top of one of my fav vases shown in the pic). These three colors have guided all subsequent decorating/accessorizing choices for the room, the first of which is here in the picture: I redid a shelf that’s been around in my family for YEARS in Light Blue Violet.

When my brother Addison first saw a posted pic of the completed shelf, his response? “That shelf is still around?!”

Oh yes, brother. It would be cobble-remiss of me not to re-purpose perfectly good shelving—here’s our first glance at the “thrifty” part of the Thrifty-Stylish Nursery: look for items you already have and see if you can “refresh” them for a new decorating scenario. And the shelf was my first opportunity to enact the accent palette—more opportunities to be detailed soon; I’ve got to bail now to go play outside with my nap-spurning Oliver.

It’s really quite amazing and even overwhelming to stop and think about color.

I know undoubtedly my dear co-blogger would agree that even picking a color for a wall can be an arduous task (though completely exciting at the same time). When I, Rachel, was picking a color for my __________(pick a room) I came home with about 9,489 swatches… all of the same color and with such fun names (who gets this job and where do I apply?!). For example, for my “green” dining room we had hues like:

  • “Field Grass” (I get it, the creator is referencing the green of a field)
  • “Summer Watermelon” (clearly the creator is hungry)
  • “Restful” (okay, obviously after naming 9,488 swatches of green the creator is very tired and seeking sanctuary in a color)

We went with “Restful” and are quite content.

But all of the colors!! It can be mesmerizing to stand in the paint aisle at Home Depot/Lowe’s/(pick a room), soaking in the infinite arrays of color. And then to coordinate/design/cobble with existing colors… such agonizing bliss!

I almost had this feeling the other night while helping my husband with what is his major work project: building & designing a website. He was at the point of choosing the color palette. After finding an image that inspired us (and would be included in the background), we set about selecting colors that would complement this image and introduce some needed warmth.

It was at this point that he introduced me to a “color aisle” of the computer world:

Here it is! A place where you can experiment with different colors and not only create colors and palettes- but name them! Other reasons to like this site:

  • You can adjust the amount of a color to reflect its usage within the palette (think “accent” color)
  • You can browse through the palettes of other creators & connect with people who love color as much as you do

I’m still exploring the different features of this site, but I encourage any “colour lover” who could use a colorful distraction to try his/her digital hand at creating the palette of a current “(pick your room)” or the next one!

And here is a sneak peek at our website color palette that we call:

In Inspiring Spaces, we your Cobblers will post pictures of spaces and places we find compelling and energizing, spaces that we feel have something particularly wonderful to teach us about decorating and design. For our first inspiring space, we invite you to the living room of Liz, a marketing communications consultant who lives in Minneapolis, Minn.

Liz has translated her love of bright colors into a mis-matchy fabulous room that makes primary colors cool for Us Big Kids.

“I tend to be drawn to bright colors (hence the bold red and blues),” says Liz. “If there is option other than black, I tend to take it.”

How does Liz decide what stuff to invite into her world?

“I have never cared too much about being matchy-matchy–I think eclectic/hodge-podge=homey, hence the different color pillows and blankets, posters, lamps, etc. from different points in my life.”

Liz, we applaud your color wonderful living room that commemorates all of your past experiences while still being visually dynamic. Thanks for inspiring us.