Seven Speedy Nursery Updates

When we last left off in the nursery, we had painted the closet door green, but still had a few lingering functional things that we needed (like a changing pad cover, a hamper, and a bin for dirty diapers) as well as a plan for the wall behind the crib that we had been debating.

Update #1. You probably remember when we were considering this fun arrow wallpaper for that spot (among others) but thought it might be a little busy on that side with all the built-ins, so imagine our surprise to find a changing pad cover in the same pattern on Etsy. Teddy loves it. So much, in fact, that he has already peed on it a whole bunch of times. You know, to mark his territory.

We’ve heard a ton of tips (washcloth, wipe, clean diaper) to block the spray, but even with those methods we found that it still managed to run down and pool on the changing pad cover, meaning that we had to strip it off and wash it more times than we hoped in the first few days of being home from the hospital. To the point that even if we had 4 spares we’d still be washing them constantly. We had the same problem with baby Clara (good genes I guess) so we used a wipeable changing pad cover over her cloth changing pad during that phase (it was so much easier to wipe that down than constantly be washing the cover itself).

Which brings us to Update #2. Now that we use that vinyl pad in the car for changes on the go, I thought I’d make one for the house from oilcloth. Here was my process in a nutshell:

1. I grabbed half of a yard of “marine coat vinyl” in white from JoAnn for $6 (they didn’t have white oilcloth), and I actually got two changing pad covers out of that half a yard (so we can use one downstairs when we change Teddy on the ottoman as well)

2. I laid out our existing car pad by Skip Hop (the front is the shiny vinyl part and looks like this, so the black fabric is the back) and traced the shape onto the back of the white marine coat vinyl fabric with a sharpie (twice since there was room for two).

3. Then I just cut them out. Vinyl doesn’t have a fraying edge, so I didn’t even need to hem them or anything

So far it has been awesome. Just look at Teddy modeling his new waterproof cover. He actually peed through his diaper and his onesie while we took this shot. True story. It’s like he wanted to test just how waterproof it was. Thankfully, it worked like a charm. And it has been saving us a little bit of laundry (every little bit helps!) ever since.

Update #3. You can also see the simple white trash can that we grabbed at Ikea for diapers (we’re using disposables until Teddy grows into our cloth ones, just like we did with Clara). So far it’s working well. The lid (with the step-to-open mechanism) keeps smells in, and makes for hands-free opening, which is really convenient.

Update #4. In other “I’ll take all the small conveniences I can get while running on a lot less sleep” category, we also got this adorable navy and white Boppy cover from John’s sister as a baby gift (it was also from Etsy). I know some folks skip the Boppy and just use a pillow or something but I use it so much in these early days when the baby’s so small and nursing all the time. We debated bringing ours to the hospital and I said “nah, that’s overkill” and I actually wished I had it instead of using wadded up blankets and pillows, which surprised me.

Please avert your gaze from my dirty nails and focus on the cute baby.

Update #5. This is a little craft fair item that we bought here in Richmond at the annual Spring Bada Bing event (we’ve blogged about it a few times before). It’s always fun to support small businesses and browse homemade wares – and this one is made by The Little Bandit Shop. It’s an embroidery hoop with discontinued fabric (from Ikea a while back) that she hand-stitched with some cute green vines on each side. We thought it was so charming, and a great idea for a DIY project too.

Update #6. We also realized we needed a clothes hamper, so we grabbed a basket from HomeGoods that’s around the same size as the hamper that we use in Clara’s room and I quickly sewed a little inside-out pillowcase to create a liner. Why inside out? That way when you fold the edges over the side of the basket, they face the right way (and when you look down at the inside of the hamper the patterned side shows). It’s easy to pull out and wash, and I got half a yard of this soft gray ticking fabric at JoAnn for $4.

Update #7. Now for our little plan behind the crib wall, which we didn’t actually do yet – but we think we’re set on this idea. John came up with a repeating pattern of T’s (for Teddy of course). Although this photoshopped version leaves a lot to be desired in the “realistic” department, in our minds it’ll look awesome.

It’s subtle and sweet enough for both of us to like it best of all the other options we’ve considered, so now we’re just debating if we’ll end up making a stencil to paint the T’s on the wall like Clara’s raindrops, or if we’ll use contact paper or some other method to add them. Will keep you posted!

Oh and I finally remembered to snap a picture of the fourth wall of the room (it briefly flashed by in this video tour, but I don’t think I ever took a photo of that angle). Right now there’s just a floor lamp for function (it works on the wall switch, so we can flip it on when we enter the room) but eventually we’d love an overhead light on a dimmer and we think we’ll use that wall to make a fun little play area once Teddy’s a little older, like we did on this wall in Clara’s room.

Are you rallying to add a flurry of small things to a space that’s mostly complete? Buying anything fun from Etsy or at a local craft show? Peeing on changing pads, just for fun?

Psst- To read about all of the nursery updates from the beginning, here’s how we painted all the pink trim, laid new hardwood floors, got a rug, painted the walls & ceiling, added built-ins, tackled some baby bedding, hung extra thick crown molding, filled up the built-ins, added a storage cabinet/changing table, made a mobile, and made art & painted the closet door green.

 

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Deckgate

Okay, so this isn’t “Deckgate” in the sense that there’s a scandal involving a deck (sorry Olivia Pope). It’s actually about a literal deck gate. Although I guess our previous method of deck “gating” could be considered a little… lacking.

The nice weather has accentuated a shortcoming of our deck once again. Burger likes to sunbathe out there, but the temptation of a grassy yard full of bugs and fascinating smells often proves too great and he goes wandering. We don’t have a fence on our property, and he has gotten more brazen lately and may even wander into the neighbor’s yard. Hence the classy plywood barrier on one side and the leaned board on the other (yes, that was enough to keep him deck-bound).

Clearly some gates were in order, since we didn’t want to deny Burger his precious sun time but knew with a newborn that policing his whereabouts could fall through the cracks. I read a couple of tutorials online that were particularly helpful (this one and this one), then I took some measurements, sketched out a game plan (I modified both plans a little), and hit up Home Depot. Here’s what I came home with:

I was making two gates, so picture these supplies twice over.

To get everything I needed, I purchased two 10′ boards (cut into 3′ / 3′ /4′ sections) and one 8′ board (cut in half). The lengths above were just the rough cuts I got at Home Depot to make everything fit into the car more easily, but I knew I’d need to cut my own mitered corners at home. So I started by cutting 45° corners on one end of each board.

Making the second mitered cut was where I had to be precise on my measurement. I knew I wanted the gates to be an inch shorter than the length of the opening (to give them room to swing) and about the same height as the rest of the railings around the deck. So I marked my lengths and even drew the angle on the board so I was sure I was cutting each one in the right direction. This particular gate was 44″ wide and 29″ tall.

I cut the boards in pairs: the top & bottom boards together, and the two sides together. This ensured that the pairs were identical lengths, which was key to getting my gate all square in the end (so I carefully clamped them together before making the second 45° cut on the opposite end).

To join my frame together, I used my Kreg Jig to create two pocket holes on each end of the side boards. These are holes I’d later fill with wood putty.

So here’s my frame after everything was screwed together nice and tightly.

Next I had to attach the balusters to mimic the look of the rest of the deck’s railing. Before shopping I had measured the spacing between the existing balusters and determined I’d have space for five of them on my gate. So after cutting mine to length, I attached the first one at the center point of my gate on both the top and the bottom – using two 2″ decking screws (remarkably still left over from my deck project at our last house). Then I used some scrap wood to cut spacers to help me place the next balusters evenly. You can see those in this shot:

With the gate constructed, we just needed hardware to attach it. Home Depot sold this $15 kit that included two T-hinges and a latch, so I grabbed two of them. I had read in my research that a hinge should stretch about 1/5th the length of your gate. So these 8″ ones were just about perfect for our project.

To hang the gate, I used some scrap wood to prop it in place and (with Sherry’s help) determined the best spots to attach all of the hardware with of the provided screws. We couldn’t center the top hinge (it ran into the existing deck railing) so it rides a little low – but once the light wood is stained to match the rest of the deck we hope it won’t be too noticeable.

Then we just attached the latching mechanism to the other side, and we were in business.

We still have some leftover stain from last year’s deck “rejuvenation” that will make the gates a perfect match, but we have to wait about 2-3 weeks before we can stain them (pressure treated wood can bubble or peel if you don’t let it dry out for a little while before staining or painting it). But regardless of the mismatched look, we’re just happy to have ‘em up and functional. Especially since it only took about three hours to make both of them and my total cost was $53 for two gates ($23 for the wood and $30 for the hardware). File this project under “Why didn’t I do this last year???”

Here’s the gate on the other side. I used the same process, although the opening was a half-inch smaller than the other and – get this – an inch shorter! I guess the original railings get a little lower as they wrap around the deck.

The only extra challenge this gate presented was that I had to screw the hinge into the hand rail and foot rail, rather than the post. The hinge was too tall to fit entirely on it (we really wanted it to open in this direction, so hinging it on the other side didn’t make sense).

Thankfully it was a pretty easy remedy – I just screwed in a couple of scrap blocks (the initial mitered corners that I had sawed off) to give the hinge a place to attach. Obviously I’ll be staining those too, so they should blend in a lot more in a few weeks.

We’ll probably leave this side open most of the time, since this is where Burger exits to do his business, and just close it when he wants to linger on the deck. So we’re planning to add some sort of hook-and-eye latch to keep it propped open so it doesn’t swing in the wind or anything.

Sherry and I have been talking about eventually fencing some of the backyard so Burger can roam a bit more freely, but in the meantime he seems to love that he can warm his bare belly more often without us chasing him into the house.

Update: Thankfully, just like Burger can’t slip through the rest of the deck’s perimeter, he can’t get through the new gates. He’d have to leap into the air, clear the bottom frame and the balusters perfectly, and then land on the stairs below, and he’s just not that daring (he’s much happier to be lazy and bake in the sun). But a more brazen pup might be able to squeeze through if they’re small – and determined – enough, in which case I’d recommend closer spacing or adding some sort of a cross board.

And we figure we’ll probably be very grateful (gateful?) to have these once Teddy’s more mobile so we can keep him contained without having to worry about tumbles down the stairs. Parenting win!

 

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