Friday, January 14, 2011

A room of baby's own

Every time I move, I put a lot of work into designing my surroundings.  My favorite room was in my college dormitory my junior year, a tiny room on the fourth floor.  I painted it golden yellow (ceiling and all), and sponged it white; I had an old oriental rug, little red lamps on my desk, and a very fluffy black duvet printed with yellow and red roses.  You could crawl over my bed and out the lead-paned gothic window onto a miniscule stone balcony overlooking the courtyard.

For years, the way I decorated never really changed.  I shopped for things in my parents' attics, and at estate sales and on Craig's list.  I relied on old, dark wood furniture, with brightly painted walls, lots of framed paintings and photographs, textured curtains, pillows, and bedspreads, and bookshelves packed with books as well as figurines and boxes that I bought when traveling.  I liked clutter!  Colorful, eclectic clutter.  It could verge towards messy pretty quickly, but when everything was clean and arranged just so, it was quite appealing.

Six months ago, I had a baby.  And everything changed.  I mean everything!  Somehow, unexpectedly, that included the environment I wanted to live in.

Suddenly, all the old dark furniture seemed like an endless, breakable dust repository.  The shelves filled with books and knick-knacks became a safety hazard, and the curtains and oriental rugs made me feel claustrophobic.

While we were visiting family in Taiwan recently, we went to the apartment of some family friends, who had a toddler as well as a baby about the same age as our daughter.  I didn't spend much time looking at their children, though, because my greedy eyes were too busy bouncing around the apartment.

There were bare, silky smooth blonde wood floors.  Built-in everything:  a low couch tucked under a window, shelving, even a bed that rested on a platform built up from the floor.  They did have a few spotless, soft white rugs.  I imagined that you could clean this apartment by sliding the furniture out of a given room and then simply hosing it down.

Unfortunately, new babies are not usually accompanied by a windfall of cash for the purpose of redecorating.  I've had to content myself with little changes.  One of the most satisfying has been packing up all of our rugs to leave our bare wood floors...bare.  It feels like my life is full enough now; I just don't need the clutter anymore.


Once our daughter started to roll and tumble, I realized that the newly bare floors were a bruised forehead just waiting to happen, and we bought one of those foam play mats to cover the floor of the nursery.   Usually they come in primary colors, but in keeping with my newly modern aesthetic, I found one that was printed to look like a light wood floor.  Here are the before and after pictures of our nursery:

With rug... 
New floor mat!

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