Clockwise from the top; Pink Betsy armchair – DFS | Misty Nest of Tables – DFS | Marble Industrial Table Lamp – Aldi (in store) | Flamingo Print – Sofia Rolfsdotter | Cushions – DFS | Cheeseplant – Etsy | Arden grey sofa bed – DFS
They talk about the ‘nesting instinct’ which people apparently get when expecting a baby, and seeing as we actually flew our old nest and found an entirely new one within a few months of getting pregnant, I’d say this is particularly true for us.
The thing is that we’d been planning to move out of London and into a new abode ever since we got married, but we seemed to have spent a whole lot of time looking, and planning and researching and viewing, and very little time actually doing. I guess you could say that the pregnancy was the kick up the behind we needed and gave us the impetus to get going with the move sooner rather than later and be settled ahead of the baby’s arrival.
I can’t say the combination of navigating early pregnancy, and trying to look for, decide upon, and eventually make the move to a new home wasn’t stressful and perhaps our timing wasn’t ideal, but now that we have this current roof over our heads and are getting set to welcome a new arrival into it, I can look back and say it was definitely the best decision we could have made.
And, as mad as we felt doing it at the time, it seems we’re certainly not alone in the ‘doing it all at once’ method. Whenever I regale the tale of moving house while 4.5 months pregnant to others, I usually get a bunch of resounding nods and knowing smiles and even more tales of people sitting on top of boxes in an empty house while 8 months pregnant getting thrown back at me. This weekend we had our NCT classes and I’d say around 5 out of our group of 7 couples were currently going through some sort of house renovation or re-decoration mission to get their homes ‘sorted’ before baby. And some, like us, had made the decision to move altogether upon getting pregnant. For many, many couples, a house move/house renovation or at least an overhaul on the current decoration is deemed a necessity ahead of a new baby arriving.
I think expecting a child, and perhaps especially your first child, is such a huge event in anyone’s life that you automatically feel like every other part of your life needs to be sorted and organised and arranged just so. For the best part of nine months, you listen while everyone around you tells you – just how much your life is going to change when that baby comes along – and – that there’s no way you can possibly imagine the magnitude of what is to come – and honestly, it’s rather terrifying. Change is coming, you know that much. But it’s change that you can’t entirely prepare for and to some extend have no idea how to prepare for. It’s totally out of your control. So instead, you try desperately to get a handle on any or all of the other things which you can control, to assert some sort of order and calm and stability around you, so that when that giant change happens, you can concentrate fully on it without worrying about anything else. And so, the nesting instinct occurs, and the desire to sort out everything, even those random boxes which you haven’t delved into since the last time you moved house, begins.
Being a creative soul, and having a love for all things interior and styling, I’d like to say this would have occurred no matter when we’d moved house and regardless of whether there had been a baby bump involved. And while I definitely think the Pinterest boards would have been full and the ideas for style and re-decorating brimming, I know that the urgency wouldn’t have been there like it has been recently. Before baby is a term that seems to be getting thrown around a lot in our household at the moment – what do we need to buy before baby? We should really get all the painting done before baby, let’s make sure we have enough date nights before baby, let’s catch up with so and so before baby, I really want to go there before baby, I must wear those shoes at least once before baby and so on.
Of course we jest with some, but aside from wearing fancy shoes, catching up with friends and going on date nights (all of which are apparently NEVER going to happen again once we are parents!!) our main priority between now and the middle of February is to try and get our little house in as liveable and comfortable a set up as we can manage before we welcome a baby into it (and it turns upside down in chaos).
Having spoken to other Mum’s to be (and Dad’s to be) I know I’m not alone when I say, that this in itself can be a tricky business and perhaps raise more questions and hurdles than if you were decorating without the pitter patter of tiny feet getting ever closer. Certain sacrifices have to be made, compromises considered and styling options re-thought. Questions such as; as chic as it is, is a light coloured sofa really the best idea? Should we put all those pretty yet jagged ornaments on the bottom shelf anymore? Is that colour baby friendly? Can we fit a cot in that room eventually? Is there space to house a Moses basket AND a bouncer AND a play mat in that minimal corner we were planning? are raised, discussed, forgotten about and then raised again.
Suddenly your home needs to be multi functional. It needs to work as a modern creative living space for you as a couple, it needs to operate as a space to house parents and guests when looking after a small human on your own gets too much, it needs to provide enough sanctuary and calm and at least one spot to retreat to when you’re surviving on little to no sleep, AND it needs to be a safe and happy environment for a child to thrive in. Somewhere with room for all of the extra paraphernalia that a baby comes with and decor that won’t quake at the thought of sick and poop and goo. Suddenly the width of your hallway becomes a major talking point as you consider whether you can easily get a pram in and out. Stairs become yet another hurdle as you imagine carrying a Moses basket up and down them three times a day and storage becomes all the more important.
But despite all of that, having a baby doesn’t immediately turn off your creative switch. You’re still interested in a stylish home, a home that feels like you and has bags full of personality, and a home which you can inject some creative vision and flair into. Is it possible to create a space that is functional and practical enough to suit your impending new lifestyle, while still being chic, stylish and true to your own sense of style?
Well, I’m really hoping that the answer to that question is YES. Because that’s the journey we’re currently on, and I am DETERMINED to maintain a stylish edge as well as a practical view with every room we decorate.
Our spare room Project
For us, the biggest compromise we’ve had to deal with, has been deciding on what each of our upstairs bedrooms will be used for. We have two (smallish) double rooms, and one (tiny) single room in this house, and even though that’s more than we’ve ever had and a huge amount of space for us, it still doesn’t feel enough now that a baby has been introduced into the mix. For as long as I’ve been freelance I have been dreaming of/pining for/talking endlessly about the day I finally get my own home office. Somewhere with a door that I can shut myself away in and be in my own little space. Somewhere I can leave at the end of the night and know that work is done. Somewhere I can indulge my love of pink and rose gold and pretty pictures and shelves of shoes and not have to worry about whether that goes with the decor of the rest of the house. It’s been my ultimate goal, and when first considering moving house it seemed like it might finally be happening. It’s part of the reason we searched for houses with small third rooms, or conservatories off the kitchen, or renovated cellars, or even studio spaces in the garden – because even though we knew we could only afford a two bed place, I desperately wanted that office, no matter how small or how outdoors.
And then we viewed this house, and it had what we’d been looking for – a small box room as well as two doubles and within our budget – and the home office dream was re-ignited.
Except that it wasn’t.
Because by this point I was pregnant and as friends and family came by in those first few weeks to see the new place, nearly everyone walked into that smaller room and said the same thing – ‘So this will be the nursery then?‘. And as the only room that would probably fit a cot and a changing table without also having to fit a bed, I realised that my dream of a separate home office was probably a luxury that right now we couldn’t justify.
So, the small room that would have made the ideal home office, is indeed now set to become a nursery in the new year. BUT I have not given up. And instead I’ve set myself the challenge of creating as much of a home office/studio space/blogger sanctuary as I can manage in our second bedroom, while still allowing it to act as a spare room for guests when it needs to, AND being conducive to welcoming a sleeping baby and some practical baby storage at the same time.
In short, our second bedroom now needs to become the most multi functional room in the house. Considering the size of the room, it’s a big ask. But considering my determination, I’m not about to give up. I’ve even managed to convince GB to allow me a blush pink statement wall. Hurdle one = complete. My blog friendly sanctuary is on it’s way.
I’m going to be working with one of my favourite brands, DFS, on this project. And after visiting them at their factory earlier this year and seeing first hand how all of their furniture is made, I couldn’t be more excited to welcome some pieces from the brand into our home, and have naturally already started a giant wishlist on the website.
The Room requirements
Act as a spare room when required
With a new baby, we are expecting to have regular visitors and will probably need a fair bit of help and extra hands in the beginning, so a room for parents/friends etc to stay is very important. A bed of some sort is needed – but a full bed frame would take up WAY too much space and make the office part of the room non existent so that’s out. Instead we’re looking at day beds or sofa beds which can sit comfortably along one wall and not take up too much floor space
Be as close to a home office as I can manage
I need to be able to fit my desk, chair and some shelves/storage into at least one corner of the room, and allow myself one wall for a pinboard/inspiration wall. When working here it need to feel like the entire room is my own office, and shutting the door on home life is super important for a motivational work space.
Function as a studio space for my photography work, and of course those all important flatlays
As I create content for brands, having a space which is well lit and open to allow me to take photos and create stories is vital. And as blogging is such a huge part of my life, I want the room to be where I can go to plan and create blog posts. I’m already thinking of a blogging rail which can hold outfits I need to photograph, a table or set of tables with which to take flat lays on, a wall of shelving to house all of my shoes, and a cosy rug for maximum hygge.
Be suitable for a baby and allow me to put my Mum hat on when I need to
As lovely and calm as my vision for a chic studio office is, I recognise that as of February I will also have a second and rather important job – being a Mum. The room needs to be cosy, comfortable and baby friendly too. Somewhere relaxed that I can rock a baby to sleep next to me while I get some work done (wishful thinking?), space to fit the Moses Basket in next to my desk. Perhaps an armchair to nurse the baby to sleep on. And most definitely a storage unit of some sort to store extra baby things.
Before Pics and Current Progress
So what needs to be done? As you can see, it’s currently a white box but even that needs to go. When we moved in there was some horrendous patterned wallpaper that literally gave me a headache every time I walked into the room, and seeing as I was suffering migraines at that time in pregnancy, one of the first things me and my Mum tackled in those early few weeks was just to GET RID and paint the whole thing white. Unfortunately the wallpaper fought back, and it took so many coats to cover it that the paint was left too thick and gloopy and just wouldn’t stick. Blogger sanctuary – 0 Wallpaper – 1.
Anyway the plan is to start from scratch and strip the wallpaper before putting up a simple lining paper and then re-painting in the colours we want. And what better time to do that than the week before Christmas right??
This is our current status – attractive hey? But we’re hopeful the wallpapering at least will be done before the Christmas holidays start and then the painting will begin in the new year.
The Colour scheme
In fear of being the ultimate cliche here (I blame Pinterest) I am hoping to style the room with a chic, minimal and slightly blogger friendly palette of white, soft grey and a dusky blush pink. With my current desk and chair being white and me having a lot of grey, pink and rose gold pieces from when I designed my small office corner in the flat, it seemed silly to start from scratch and buy everything new. Plus I love that colour combo! But, in a bid to make it a little less – girly home office – and a little more – grown up studio space/spare room which happens to house an office, I’ve also decided to introduce a bit of sage green into the mix. Pink and green go so well together in my view, and I’m hoping the almost grey matte colour we’ve chosen will offset the sweetness of the pink and make it feel more grown up and less Pinterest cliche.
At the moment the ideas are all there, but it’s a guessing game with what will actually work in the space, how much we can make fit and just how much pink GB will allow me to get away with (I’ll sneak it in slowly). I have a HUGE list of things I’ve discovered which I reckon would be perfect for the room, but it will probably progress in stages so I’m trying not to get carried away.
I’m really hoping that our spare room makeover can give other parents to-be some inspiration on how to create multi-functional spaces in their own homes, and remind us all that we can still have a stylish home, as well as a home that’s ready for a baby!
I’ll of course keep you posted on the progress and I’m hoping to be able to do a big reveal before the end of January! In the meantime you can follow my spare room inspiration board on Pinterest and of course get some ideas yourself by browsing the DFS website for your own decoration mission.
Wish us luck!
Any other parents to be out there feeling the nesting instinct set in?
*This post is in collaboration with DFS, who I’m currently working with on this project, but of course all ideas, and words are my own. Since meeting the brand earlier this year, I absolutely rate their products and service and wouldn’t recommend something I wasn’t happy to advocate and have in my own home!*