We’re kicking off the Stork Report Guest Blogging with one of my dearest friends, Jenny! The theme of her daughter Olive’s room is Mo Willems’ Pigeon Books, which are not only adorable but hilarious to boot. Jenny truly embraces the lovely life in many ways, one of them being her totally green baby registry– and just her general eco-baby-savvyness, which you can read more about on her blog My Simple Green Baby. Not a single item was purchased (aside from the paint)– which makes this room green, thrifty, and LOVELY! Enjoy!
Although sometimes I dearly wish that I were the type of person who was able to decorate and maintain her home “just so” (that’s why I read this blog–to live the lovely life–vicariously!), I simply am not. I keep a respectable level of tidiness and a passing level of cleanliness, but, to give you an example, we have been living in our house for 4 years and I still have not taken down the heinous wallpaper in our master bathroom and repainted, even though it would take about one weekend and make the bathroom look a million times better (and even though, inspired by this very website to make some meager attempts to Refresh My Nest, I “promised” myself to do so back in, um, October).
I give you this important background information so that you have the proper context for how out of character it was for me to get super-inspired to do something creative, complex, and cute for my daughter’s nursery last year. And yet, somehow, a magical combination of inspiration, follow-through, and, also, a really nice and talented friend who volunteered to co-design with me as his gift to the baby made this happen:
(QUICK DISCLAIMER: This room is only cool on account of the paint-job–NOT because of the furniture. In keeping with the ethos of my own simple green blog, this room is green because every item in it is handed-down one way or another, and it is simple because I did not go to great repainting lengths to make it all match. So just keep your eyes on the pigeons.)
I have had a small obsession with Mo Willems ever since I was first instructed not to let the pigeon drive the bus. I think it’s because, as a former teacher of some quite volatile seven and eight year-olds, I feel a deep connection to that pigeon’s endearing irascibility. (I love you! I HATE you! No, but really I actually LOVE you!!!) When it also dawned on me that it would take the artistic expertise of a seven or eight year-old to recreate the pigeon and his friends, I knew that I had stumbled upon the perfect nursery theme.
We started by painting checkerboard panels that would imitate the comic-book style of the pigeon books. Below you can see the actual book and then our not-too-shabby imitation:
This was by far the most time-consuming part of the process. First we measured and found both the horizontal and vertical midpoints of all four walls. Then, using a level (because no row home in Philly has straight ceilings or floors!), we drew a horizontal and vertical line down the middle of each. We kept to the exact middle whenever possible, even when going around (and inside!) a door-less closet:
and a very much un-centered window:
The effect turned out to be quite nifty–as if the panels had always existed and it was the room that was placed on top! Then came the hardest part–the taping! Oh, the TAPING!!! To do the alternating colors, every single line and seam had to be taped two separate times–once for the green and then a second time for the purple. It was a brutal slog, and helped remind me why I don’t do this sort of thing more often. The payoff, however, came in the form of some impressively sharp, clean lines:
For the paint, we chose our favorite colors from the actual pigeon books and used some state-of-the-art color-matching technology to get an exact match. In the end, the panels turned out more subtle than they probably needed to be–but I have a horrible tendency to choose colors that are WAY to bold/bright (someday I’ll show you my shockingly bright blue window-boxes), so I’m glad I erred on the side of caution.
At last, we were ready for the actual pigeons. Of course, after all the work we’d already done, I was one exhausted 3rd-trimester pregnant lady. So we decided to take a wee bit of a break…until Olive was about 3 months old and could supervise our efforts. And also until I could no longer take my mother’s skeptical eyebrow-raise whenever the topic of “finishing the nursery” came up.
In the end, I don’t know why I waited so long–THIS was the truly fun part! To create the pigeons, my aforementioned talented friend showed up with a bunch of different sizes of art brushes and a few small cans of paint in all of the key pigeony colors. I was lucky in that this friend felt perfectly comfortable just free-handing our favorite pigeon poses. If you do not have that kind of artistic confidence available to you, however, the sketching can also be accomplished by making pigeon transparencies at the copy shop and blowing them up on your wall with an overhead projector, 1960’s librarian-style. (Get a teacher friend to “borrow” one from her school for you!) Then it was just a matter of “coloring” the pigeons in with the paint!
Here are some of my favorites:
And yes, your eyes weren’t deceiving you in earlier photos–that WAS a baby lying in the crib, having her post-nap snack:
Thanks for letting us share this fun project, Carrie! You can learn more about Olive and me and our simple green escapades at: mysimplegreenbaby.wordpress.com. (And wait a second–Carrie, have you never shown pics of Noodle’s nursery? It’s still my absolute favorite!)
And just because I can’t resist, here are Noodle and Olive playing together. Noodle is the one aggressively hugging her BFF… what can I say, my daughter is a lover not a fighter. 🙂