Sunday, October 11, 2015

Painting a Nursery Can Make You Crazy

Our "Little Room," which is now "Mystery Baby's Room" or just "the baby's room," needed some tweaks before it would be ready to fully become a nursery. In my head, I wanted it to look different than it had before, not just because there was a crib and other obviously baby-centered pieces of furniture in it, but because I wanted it to have a fresh start.

Once upon a time, when I first moved into this house 8 years ago, the little room was a deep loden green. It had been a little boy's room, Bryce's stepson from his previous marriage. It wasn't a little boy's room any more, and it held more than a small amount of sadness from the loss of that day-to-day existence as a stepparent. It was the ghost of a little boy's room. It had the bed, and a (giant, antique-y) rocking chair, but otherwise was not used. I actually didn't know that room existed until months after I'd been coming to the house, because the door was always closed and it is pretty much the size of a large walk-in closet, so I assumed it was a large closet. It wasn't.

One of the first things I did when I moved in was to redo that room. The green was too dark. I didn't want a ghost of a room in my home, I wanted a new room that could be bright and seaside-cottage-y, a guest room that could also be used for crafts or, as I did the following year, IEP-writing.

So I painted over the deep green and replaced it with Atlantic Gray, which was a misnomer and turned out more robin's egg blue. Bryce painted the trim a sand color, and the tiled floor was painted a milk chocolate color with porch paint (a brilliant idea from the depot of homes, as porch paint is meant to be walked all over). It was very ocean-y.

It was also a pain in the ass to paint. The walls are wallboard, and not solid wallboard but a paneling-look wallboard with divots like vertical stripes all around. Wallboard is like cardboard, only more porous. Because it soaks up paint like nobody's business. I think it took three coats to get the Atlantic Gray to cover the green, but I did it over April break so I had all the time in the world. I painted the absorbent walls first, and then we painted the trim, since the walls went down behind it and to paint the walls thoroughly I had to make a mess of the trim. Bryce's built-in bookcases and window seat went in after I painted the walls, so you could see the new blue through the cracks but I didn't have to worry about those things as I slathered the walls in ocean.

I think I sort of forgot all of these things when I decided that we should repaint the nursery.

I thought I could paint it all today, that I'd have the time (and the patience) for all the coats needed to replace the Atlantic Gray (robin's egg blue) with the toasted marshmallow/pale mushroom/putty color in the dining room. I figured a nice creamy color would be a lovely neutral backdrop to the bright colors in our owl bedding -- the light blue and spring green and orange would pop against the cream without competing, I could stick the wall decals that came with the bedding onto a nice clean canvas, it would be a little more gender-neutral than the bluish color, and it would be DIFFERENT.

Different is important, because after I replaced the ghost of a child's room with the guest room, it slowly became again a ghost of a baby's room, a room that was a nursery but couldn't materialize into a nursery because we couldn't seem to make a baby happen. I was okay with the blue-gray, but then decided I wanted a fresh start.

OH HOLY JEEZUM. I thought having all those coats of blue paint would make it easier to paint again. The walls are like a haunted sponge. They soak up the paint, and the blue paint is in all these nooks and crannies where the wallboard doesn't QUITE meet up with the ceiling, the low and angled Cape Code ceiling. I am keeping the trim the same, because it is pretty I am lazy, but I spent a lot of time using a whole tree's worth of damp paper towels to try and clean up the massive amounts of creamy paint that got on the trim in the process of covering the blue. And now, all the built-ins are there... and so I have to somehow get the cream to cover the blue behind the bookshelves where you can see. We decided to keep the window seat dormer blue, because I just can't get behind where you can see to cover it. I hope it looks interesting and not like the cheating shortcut it is.

The first coat of paint took me 4 hours. FOUR HOURS for a 91 square foot room! I have to put the second coat on tomorrow, which I was not planning on (I was planning on enjoying my three day weekend and working on some school stuff while also enjoying the outdoors and some couch reading time). But, our wall-to-wall carpeting is going in on Wednesday, so I REALLY need to get the paint done tomorrow. So second coat in the morning, and if needed the third coat in the afternoon.

I kind of wish I had just left it alone, but I do like how bright and fresh it looks now, even with the blue stubbornly poking through the cream. (First coat, I have to remind myself it's just the first coat.)

Throughout this process of getting the nursery together and finding that some things are harder than I originally thought they would be (go figure) -- from the glider, to finding a dresser we can assemble IN the room since none already-assembled will fit through the door, to painting porous walls... people have a tendency to say to me if I voice my frustration well-meaning things like, "Your baby won't care, your baby will just need you" or "All you need is love, you don't need a nursery, not really."

It goes through me like a nail. The nursery is for the baby, technically, but I could argue that the nursery is actually for the parents. It's not really needed, you could put a baby in a box like the one Finland sends all expectant parents and it would be perfectly happy. But for expectant parents who have wanted this baby forever, a nursery is a symbol of all the things you have to look forward to, a realization of a dream that will some day soonish come true. It's a space dedicated to the change to come. It's like weddings -- all you really need is someone to officiate, but all the bells and whistles that get added in are so you have a day to remember, a realization of a dream, a symbol of the love shared between two people.

This nursery is my symbol. It's all I have to hang on to right now as we wait. I want it to be beautiful. I want it to be fresh and new and cleansed of the sorrow and loss that it held previously, when we couldn't fill it. So much of how we envisioned becoming parents has turned out differently than originally imagined, and the nursery is one place where I can have as much of the original dream as possible. I don't see adoption as a consolation prize, not at all, but it is different than how I thought Bryce and I would start our family. We didn't think we'd be in our forties. We didn't think it would take at least 6 years. We didn't think that medical treatments wouldn't work. We didn't think that we would have to let go of pregnancy.

We get to be parents, and we are so grateful and excited for that.

And we get to have a nursery. I want this nursery to come together in a beautiful way, not a minimal or haphazard way. It will be reasonable; I'm not looking for a crazy fantasy chandelier-lit nursery (although good for you if that's your fantasy), I just want it to be clean, and beautiful, and new, and classic... and to not go freaking insane painting the wallboard. Wish me luck tomorrow as I finish up this job. I can't wait to share with you the pictures of our nursery as it slowly comes together.

The color of the "nursery" before from the windowseat view...
And the wall by the door view... see those dastardly divot "stripes?"
The first coat of creamy toasted marshmallow color...
The nook that stays the bluish color...does it look weird? The lighting tonight makes it look like it's the same color as the ceiling, but it's not. Obviously we need a new cushion for the window seat/picture book shelves.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! Me, too... I was just hoping it didn't look weird. :)

  2. Oh I know just how hard a room like that is to paint- we had the same issue in our sunroom- which is probably a 15 x 15 room? Oh and the boards were also on the CEILING. It took us forever to sand and paint everything so kudos to you!

    I love the blue nook!

    1. Oh, yes! There's similar material tiles on the ceiling, and I just didn't touch those. I painted it when I painted them blue, so I figured it was fine. And wow, that is a MUCH bigger room! Yikes, that much wallboard would make me stick a fork in my eye. Yay, I'm glad you like the blue nook!

  3. Love it, Jess! You need to do the nursery thing. It is a huge symbol and feels like a rite of passage. I loved doing Arlo's nursery and he spent virtually zero time in there since we ended up co-sleeping but I'm so glad I did it. :)

    1. Thank you! I agree, it feels like a rite of passage. It will feel so much better when it's all done and I feel like we're ready for our Mystery Baby... FYI, I totally registered for that ErgoBaby carrier on your recommendation (and because I tried it on and LOVED it). :)