Designing a Mindful Nursery with YouthfulNest

When I was pregnant with my daughter, designing her nursery was my absolute favorite way to spend my time awaiting her arrival (besides taking long naps and feeling her kicks…sigh first pregnancy). I had multiple Pinterest boards, mood boards, custom pieces made…it was a whole thing. Fast forward to my second pregnancy and circumstances had changed quite a bit. As a pregnant stay at home mom running my own website and social channels, I barely had time to drink enough water let alone design an intentional space that would be my home for the early months of my son’s life. Since it wasn’t my first time delving into mothering a newborn, I was fully aware of just how much time I would spend in the nursery breastfeeding, diaper changing, rocking, cuddling, singing, bouncing, shushing, falling in love, crying from exhaustion, and doing all those things that are so important to bonding with and caring for a new baby.

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When I first spoke with Lisa Janvrin of YouthfulNest, we immediately connected over the joys and challenges of baby sleep, creating a space that feels peaceful and useful for mamas, utilizing pieces that will grow with the child, and the time constraints that I was facing given my difficult pregnancy, spirited toddler, and very particular vision for my son’s space. I hadn’t considered working with an interior designer before because I thought they would suggest outrageously expensive pieces, plus I already had a vision of how I wanted the space to feel. Lisa quelled my concerns by explaining that she works with mama’s budgets and the pieces they already own and want to incorporate. Plus, the questionnaire enabled me link to my Pinterest board, the pieces I already own, and asked thoughtful questions that allowed me to narrow down my aesthetic, the vibe I was going for, the room dimensions and limitations, etc.

I really wanted a space that was soothing and calming for both myself and my baby. Having had a colicky baby previously, I knew I wanted (and needed) a space that had cool hued colors, muted tones, and a clean feel. My husband and I love animals and incorporated flamingos in my daughter’s room so we knew we wanted an overarching llama theme but nothing too twee or overly babyish since we wanted the space to grow with our son. I feel like my daughter went from baby to toddler overnight and having a space that I didn't have to change as she grew was crucial. Living in Florida, I wanted there to be a bit of an airy feel that hearkened to the beach with a classic element but nothing overly nautical. So basically all the things. I wanted all the things.

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To my surprise and delight, the very first design my designer, Ali Forman, submitted met and exceeded my expectations. While there were little tweaks I wanted to make, overall the feel was where I wanted it to be and it was an excellent starting point. She introduced a lucite and gold theme that was elevated enough to make the space fit my adult aesthetic but she also suggested plenty of pieces that were soft and sweet for a baby boy’s room like this cuddly Slumberkins doll, this insanely cozy (and machine washable!) Kroma Carpets faux sheepskin rug, and this llama piggy bank. It really was the perfect balance for us. Lisa even had a custom hanging bookshelf made from an artist on Etsy which paired with this Paynes Gray pillow brought a bohemian element into the design that I really loved but didn't realize I wanted.

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Most importantly, this room is so functional. A beautiful nursery is lovely but there are certain elements that will make or break the long days and nights you’ll spend in it. A functional table next to the glider is a must have. These acrylic nesting tables provide expanding space for my salt lamp, crystals, postpartum teas, water bottle, snacks, extra burp cloths, nursing pads, and my phone. It’s my mama station that keeps me sane during marathon cluster feeding sessions and late night feeds. Blackout curtains that don’t sacrifice style are another mandatory item for us since my babies only sleep in complete darkness with a sound machine. One of the key elements that sets apart having a nursery-specific designer is that you need someone who understands the reality of what is going on in the space. My designers made sure I purchased enough baskets (these and these) for diapers, wipes, swaddles, and stuffed animals so the room feels tidy despite the constant barrage of stuff that’s constantly in rotation. Lisa educated me on the cleanest, non-toxic crib mattress since she knows way more about that than I do, and ensured my baby boy is sleeping on a totally chemical-free surface.

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Knowing I had someone in my corner (literally!) also provided a sense of community that I think mothers and mothers-to-be really lack today. Being able to bounce ideas about what types of plants would be safe in a nursery (like these delightful air plants and accompanying holders from the The Sill) to being able to e-mail neurotic third trimester insomnia questions like, “Will the books fall off the shelf on my baby’s head?” (the answer: no), made such a difference as I prepared to welcome my second child. When my pregnancy took a turn for the more complicated due to my gestational diabetes and my doctor indicated I may need to be induced early, Lisa was one of the first people I e-mailed. She got to work sending me every link to the pieces I still needed to order and updated my design to reflect what I had purchased and what was left.

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As the boxes piled up on my doorstep (this was the really fun part!), I followed the installation guide my designer provided and was able to get sweet baby James’ nursery put together just in time for his very timely (day after he was due) arrival. I practice lying in with my babies so for the first few weeks he slept in my bed with me and most diaper and clothing changes occurred there, too. While it was an incredibly sweet, milky, hazy time, it served as quite the foil to the convenience of the nursery. It was like he came home a second time when we moved him into his crib and I was able to have all the conveniences of my lovingly designed nursery at my fingertips.

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It’s also beyond lovely to be surrounded by some deeply personal elements that remind me of such important pieces of the interweaving of my family’s story. The guitar belonged to my late father whom my son is named for. I tear up when I look at the puzzle with his name because the day it arrived in the mail was the day I realized I would get to say my dad’s name everyday again. The aloe plant is also a nod to my dad who believed it could cure anything. Llamas and alpacas are one of my husband’s long time loves. He even tried to convince his parents to invest in an alpaca farm when he was in high school! The oversized llama brought my daughter and I into baby boy’s room daily where we talked about her baby and felt him move in my belly. This room already holds many special memories for us. The framed golf course illustration is where my husband spent most of his boyhood.

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I truly love how it turned out — from the softness of the fuzzy llamas to the Montessori-inspired accents to the mixture of medias and patina of themes that all came together so seamlessly — it’s easily my favorite place to be. I love nursing James in my glider softly moving back and forth in a space that feels deeply intentional and calming for both of us. I can easily picture him growing into toddlerhood in this room that was created with both of us in mind.

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