As the owner of a construction company, when I found out we were having our first child, I immediately began envisioning what type of nursery we would create.
With a solid deadline (and due date) of March 9th, 2016, we started our family project in late November and decided to wing the design as we went. We wanted to be as creative as possible throughout the project, so it was important we did not have an exact set plan of all the finishes.
We wanted to integrate a north woods feel, full of memories of family and tradition. I was born and raised in Minnesota and Natalie was born in Illinois. Being from the Midwest we have a healthy respect for nature and the outdoors. I am the oldest of 5 boys and money was tight growing up. Our family vacations were typically to Duluth, Lutsen and Grand Marais on the North Shore. Both my parents and all of us kids loved making the trip there. When I met Natalie14 years ago, a city girl from Chicago, we would take trips to the North Shore. We were attempting a long distance relationship so just the two of us getting away was important. Natalie instantly fell in love with the area. She grew up with Lake Michigan, I grew up with Lake Superior. So the mutual love for the water and mystique of the Great Lakes was an attraction for us. We simply loved the outdoors.
Natalie and I decided to go with a modern, rustic/woodland outdoor theme. We chose a room in the corner of the house because it has a myriad of natural lighting, and a scenic view of the woods in our backyard. I should mention we now live in the house I grew up in, so while preserving past memories was important, creating a new space for us to make new memories and welcome our new baby was our goal.
To create this new woodland nursery, we started by gutting the entire room and stripped the carpeting and walls. We salvaged the original solid core doors to preserve some of the room’s history, and they have a unique cathedral style raised panel. Natalie was set on having the North wall finished in a gray re-claimed wood. I thought it was a great idea and we used that as our inspiration for the rest of the design.
Every Baby Needs A Compass
One of our first inspirations was to add a truly unique touch to the room. We designed a ceiling with a directional style design, almost resembling a compass or star pattern. I could see the design clearly in my mind, and to play off of the ceiling, I knew we had to keep a compass guided feel throughout the entire space. Making sure the ceiling was perfectly centered was the first step to pulling off this design idea, and we laid out the entire ceiling before we could work on anything else. Alternating wood species and colors were used to achieve the look with a pattern that looks amazing when you enter the room. The process was painstaking with all of the 45 degree miter cuts. There is no cheating here as it had to be perfect! The ceiling was finished off with a simple crown molding and corner blocks to add a bit more detail. The ceiling is now the major focal point, after the baby of course. Everyone that visits raves about this architectural detail that went into it! The doors, windows and baseboard were finished in a flat style trim with a 3 piece topper at each door and window the help anchor each one.
One reason the ceiling is so captivating is the detailed Moravian star we chose as the light for the center of the room. The effect of this design provides our child with a sense of home, direction, and centeredness as he looks up.
Design with a Midwest Flair
We installed three birch pole accents in the corner of the nursery, and strung LED lighting around them to create a nightlight. The settings can be changed with the lights depending on the time of day and mood that is being created. The birch, being white in color, was a perfect accent for the room. Birch trees are considered a hardwood and I’ve always associated them with strength. It’s strong and durable, and it’s also prevalent in the Midwest.
Keeping with the theme, the carpet is patterned showing direction and pointing to a path. The carpeting was supplied by Above All Hardwood Flooring in Lakeville, MN. The grey carpet has a light pattern that pulls the wall color, instantly giving a sense of calm as you enter the room.
The reclaimed barnwood used was from Manomin Resawn Timbers in Hugo, and the owner, Sara, hand-worked with me on this part of the project. A platinum grey color was chosen, giving the room a rustic feel that ties in nicely with the white from the ceiling and rest of the space.
All of the paint used was a non-VOC paint (zero VOC or odor). The crib, doors, trim, crown molding, and baseboards were shipped to LL&H Woodworks, who specialize in pre-finish work. They prepped, sanded, and cleaned everything beautifully, and finished each piece with a no-VOC Sherman Williams paint.
Accents That Build Memories and Character
As accents, we thought it would be cool to incorporate a pair of wooden canoe paddles that have been in the family for years. Pops of color with the décor and furniture were soon added to make the room fun and inviting. The rocking chair in the corner was a gift from Natalie’s parents and was shipped to us as a surprise. Birch decals were added as something fun.
Curtains with star shapes punched into them were used to again keep with the theme and make the room fun, adventurous, enjoyable, etc. They really do shine little stars into the room. Three small hand painted pictures of woodland animals were hung on the wall behind the rocker for a colorful and playful piece to look at.
A handmade quilt was given to us by a family member was hung as a valance. The orange and blues help to add color to the whites and gray tones.
Fun fact: Our family are all water signs, and really into water, boats, especially being from the “Land of 10,000 lakes”. Since baby Camden is a Pisces March 9th, we had to incorporate pictures of Minnesota, Illinois and the Great Lakes.
Everywhere you look there are small little details that keep with the theme. Hand painted pictures that touch on the outdoors, a bronze arrow, antler switch plate covers and even a replica nautical search light that actually works.
And yes, we did install a plaster deer mount as an accent. It’s a Midwest thing.
We really wanted Camden’s name to be on the wall, so when he is laying in his crib looking up he can see it. The letters are spaced off of the wall to give it a floating effect.
We crafted a changing table from a repurposed dresser that is finished with a blonded-antique oak and we chose off-white for the doors and trim to keep a clean cool look.
Every part of the room was created to make our son feel comfortable and introduce him to the outdoors. All the details pointing to “direction” and being “guided” was an attempt to help keep him on a path through life as he grows up. We couldn’t be happier with the final results and are excited to watch him grow into his room.
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