Fabric-Backed Bookcase

Now that we have a baby boy on the way, I decided it was time to re-do Myla’s room - giving her a “big girl” room - since we need the crib and other furniture for the nursery. Myla, super-lucky girl that she is, inherited my bedroom furniture from my young teen years. It’s a beautiful, white, vintage-country-esqe style. It’s much like what you see advertised for young girls and teens in Pottery Barn. (Glad I had such good taste so many years ago… wink, wink). It’s in pretty good shape and sure to grow with her throughout the years… which is exactly why I finally decided to finish her unfinished bookcase. 

Finished bookcase.

I actually got this bookcase years and years ago… it’s made its way through my many apartments and different rooms throughout our old house before it landed in her nursery. Since I knew the nursery was only going to last a few years, I decided to hold off painting it until now.

I thought it would look best if I painted it to match the furniture - PLUS I wanted to add a splash of color to her room. But, I didn’t want to paint the bookcase itself with a ‘pop’ color, but instead add a color backing to it that would be visible when viewing it from the front. And, I wanted to make sure that I could always change out that ‘pop’ of color if Myla decides that she wants to re-do her room down the road.

I started by filling in the screw holes on the bookcase with wood filler and painting the entire bookcase with a primer. I followed that up with two coats of paint that I matched to the furniture (an off-white, slightly creamy color) and finished it off with a spray clear, gloss coat. (Don't worry, I used the spray finish outside and wore a respirator to protect the lil' bub in my tum - it's probably a good idea to wear one even if you're not pregnant... those fumes were wicked). 

For the backing, I picked up some fabric that matched some colors in the quilt for her bed. A bright pink with polka dots seemed like the perfect fabric to not only add a ‘pop’ of color, but also some fun, to her room. Next, I went to the hardware store and bought a sheet of plywood which I had them cut down to size (slightly smaller than the actual width of the bookcase and long enough to cover the openings in the bookcase). 

Once I brought it home and tested it against the bookcase, I cut the fabric a bit bigger than the board. I mixed together Modge Podge and water (about a 1:1 ratio) so it looked like milk. I used a large, old paintbrush and spread it over the entire piece of wood. Then I carefully laid the fabric down on top, making sure there were no wrinkles or creases in the fabric. Once set in place, I brushed another layer of the Modge Podge mixture on top of the fabric making sure it soaked completely through. Once dry, I applied one more layer of the Modge Podge mixture. 

After I let that dry overnight, I used a piece of sandpaper to rub along the edge just enough to break the fabric fibers, while slightly tugging on the hanging fabric, leaving a perfect edge around the board. After that, it was simply a matter of laying the bookcase down, positioning the backer board (nailing in diagonal corners first to make sure it was square) and then nailing around the rest about every 6-8 inches. 

What I love about doing a bookcase this way, is that I can always pull the backer board off and apply a new fabric color on a new piece of plywood without ruining the painted part of the bookcase. I loved this bookcase so much that I just ordered one (although shorter) for baby boy’s nursery (from Wood Bin in Brookfield, CT). I will once again wait until his “big boy” room to finish it to match the furniture we buy for him then.

I also used the same fabric to make simple curtains for her windows (hung with tension rods - I love the wide molding too much to cover it). I still have extra fabric which I plan on using to make a few toss pillows or covering some frames for some artwork we created. We’ll see how far I can stretch the leftover fabric. 

Metamorphosis

This project is somewhat of a repeat but I wanted to share it for two reasons: 1. I used different materials and 2. The design is a fun idea for a height chart - so please steal it for your little one. 

When a friend was having her third child and the girls threw her a mini-shower, one thing she requested was artwork for the baby's room. I figured I could paint something but also make it multipurpose - like a height chart.

The Height Chart I made for Myla was made using a thick piece of pine with rounded edges that we hung with simple metal brackets. Since this new height chart was a gift, I was hoping to make it not as heavy and hopefully allow it to be hung easily with mirror clips (that’s how my mommy friend hung hers  - she is who I originally got the idea for the project from). 

I went to Home Depot and talked to an employee about how big I wanted to make it. We finally decided on a certain type of ply wood that would work with mirror clips. Since it came in huge sheets, he was able to cut several pieces out for me (I foresee giving more height charts as gifts in the future). Having them cut it at the store also made it much easier to get the pieces home. And since I had to pay for the full sheet anyways - might as well get some craft supplies going.

After a bit of sanding it was ready for painting. I didn’t know what the theme of Baby Rachel’s room was, so I thought a general girly design would work. I went to Michaels to buy the name letters along with the flower and butterfly shapes - which would add some fun dimension to the piece. Then it hit me… the metamorphosis of a caterpillar to cocoon to butterfly would perfectly represent growth and change. Unlike Myla’s height chart, I actually painted in measurements, every 6 inches, so a simple tick mark with age would most likely work well. They just needed to get the height correct when fastening it to the wall.

A Little Project to Celebrate a Birth

Here's a little project that's quick and easy enough for anyone, even the not-so-crafty momma. Although, I swear there's something about becoming a mother (or other exciting, life changing event like planning a wedding) that brings out the creative side in people who thought they never had a creative bone in their body. 

This simple shadow box displays a few of the items from Myla's birth: the hospital bracelets, the little hat she wore for those first few days and a small picture of her in the warming blanket and hat, with her cheeks still pink. This shadow box sits on her bookshelf and is a constant reminder of that amazing day and a reminder of how tiny she was. Sure, it may not be as "creative" as many of my other projects for her, but it's special and sentimental and something to be cherished.

In the beginning, I really wasn't sure what I wanted to do with these items but I knew that I didn't want a huge shadow box on her wall with many items, or to make a scrap book that would be put away and out of sight, or to pack them away in her Memory Box where I keep cards, her homecoming outfit, her pavlik harness and the Balloon Bloomers I made her, among other items. I wanted these few items to have their own place and to be easily displayed in her room, or other rooms in the future, without becoming a focal point. By keeping it small, it sits perfectly on a shelf and acts as a little surprise among the books, radio, toys and dolls.

Measuring Myla

Oh my, Myla… look at you grow. It still blows my mind how much a baby grows during the first year of life. Myla grew more than 9 inches and more than tripled her birth weight by her first birthday. Now as she is approaching 2 years old, she has already grown another 4+ inches. And one day… it's going to be hard to look back and remember just how tiny she was - it's already quite difficult to remember how I cradled her in one arm.

Although we have a little book from the pediatrician's office with Myla's stats - which will always be a nice keepsake, it's not very visual for helping to remember our tiny tot… which is why I wanted to make Myla her very own Height Chart. A special place to mark her height every year on her birthday. Sure, a wall or doorway works too - but what happens if we want to paint or remodel or even end up moving? Making Myla her very own height chart will make sure we have those little tick marks forever - and maybe one day she can measure her own children against it as they grow. I'm sure they'd get a kick out of comparing heights.

I got the idea of making this project from one of my mommy friends. She created one for another baby for the "Babies First Birthday" I wrote about last week. She used a thinner piece of material than the wood I chose - but I knew this was a chance for Justin to get involved in my project again. He used the router to add a curved edge. We attached simple brackets to the back of our piece, whereas my mommy friend was able to use mirror hanging clips.

Since Myla's room is based on the Skip Hop treetop friends theme, I painted a tree along the one side (figure it's a cute image to mark her height on and solid enough of a background to write her age and height). I called upon Justin again for this project when I drew an owl and bird on a piece of wood and asked him to cut them out with the power tools. After a good sanding and painting, they came out perfect - and I love the added dimension along with the letters of her name. After painting the rest of the board, I used wood glue to attach the pieces to the board (and they've held up great to Myla's tugging and pulling). We then attached the brackets to the back at top. And just like the letters above her bed, I attached the pink bows at top AFTER hanging (to hide the brackets in this case as they aren't very pretty).

Here are some detailed pics including the "bark" pattern I added with the brown-tinted glitter paint, the labeled tick marks done with silver sharpie marker, and the brackets we attached to the back. The only thing I might have changed looking back now, is that maybe I should have stuck with a more neutral theme as she will soon be outgrowing her Owl nursery… and moving on to her toddler room… Oh my, Myla, please don't grow so fast… I want you to stay tiny for quite a while longer.

M - Y - L - A

All parents have their own methods for choosing baby names… post-it notes, white boards, apps, family names, etc. We had a very difficult time with names. I constantly searched through apps and websites, and even movie credits, reading names to Justin - but nothing ever came of that. We chose Myla's name sitting at dinner one night listening to music. "A Song for Myla Goldberg" by The Decemberists came on and immediately, we both looked at each other and said - that's it! We had already discussed middle names knowing we wanted to honor a grandparent - but didn't want to use their actual legal name. My grandmother, Loretta, used to go by Lottie in her early years. Therefore, we decided on Myla Lottie for a girl. We never fully decided on a boy's name - good thing we had a girl. 

It was Thanksgiving Night after I went to bed, and after a big meal and a glass of wine, that I went into labor (before my scheduled c-section a few days away). After denying that I was actually having contractions, we made our way to the hospital in the middle of the night. Once there and they confirmed my contractions - I was told I'd be having this baby in about 45 mins. My parents came by the hospital to see me briefly before I went into the OR. I remember turning to my mother and saying "this day is the day that gramma past - 4 years ago". She turned with a smile, and a tear in her eye, and said, "yes it is". Justin turned to my mom and said, "if that's the case, it's gonna be a girl." Neither Justin nor my Mom knew that I had once asked my grandmother before she passed to give me a sign after she goes that she was still with me. I said it couldn't be just any sign - I wanted her to slap me up side the face with a sign. I couldn't have asked for a sweeter or more amazing and blatant sign than Lil' Miss Myla Lottie herself who arrived exactly 4 years after my grandmother had passed, just about to the minute.

After we brought Myla home, I wanted to take her gender neutral bedroom, and girly it up a bit. I always wanted to decorate the letters of her name for her wall. At first, I was going to do some funky patterns or continue the owl theme, but then decided that I wanted this to be something to grow with her beyond her nursery. I bought the letters at Michaels and used Martha Stewart pearl paints. I kept the brush strokes even in a diagonal direction to keep them uniform and dotted light pink around the edges. I simply glued the light pink ribbons to the back and hung the letters on nails. To keep those pink dotted bows at top looking good - I cheated and hot glued them to the nails once the letters were hung. M to the Y to the L to the A… Yay!!!

 

Having a Baby

(Rewind a few years) Boy? Girl? I know, we'll just say Baby K. With the unknown ahead and my obsessive nature to have the nursery complete before baby arrives (or at least nearly complete), I needed to pick a theme that could be swayed toward girl or boy. I knew I wanted bright, happy colors. I had seen the Skip Hop Treetop Friends bedding collection and had to have it.  Based around Owls it soon turned into a slight obsession in the nursery.

At the time, Skip Hop did not offer a crib mobile - a nursery must-have. I decided I needed one that matched the owl/bird theme. I found a very simple and inexpensive plastic mobile (with music and wind-up motion). I bought fabric squares in different patterns that matched the colors of the bedding set. I disassembled the mobile and sewed covers for the plastic pieces, made stuffed owls and birds, added some ric rac trim for strings and "Ta-Da"… the perfect mobile. Surprisingly, this mobile hypnotized and calmed Myla for a long time and still hangs, out of reach, high above her crib.

With the extra fabric I made curtains to match (another accessory not available for that bedding collection). I took some old Ikea drapes, which just so happened to match the crib dust ruffle, and I cut some fabric from them. I used the extra fabric remnants from the mobile to make the tabs at top. 

I still had extra fabric so I decided to make some custom wall decor. I found some simple and inexpensive wood frames. Then I sewed the fabric to fit around the frames and glued the backs. I used Adobe Illustrator, and the bedding theme as inspiration, to create these silly images.

With those last remaining remnants, I decided to add some ABC shadow boxes next to the bookshelf.