Dear Debbie: Our daughter and son-in-law are expecting their first baby, and we thought it would be fun and helpful to give them a new baby room. Have you any tips on some good purchases that would last for longer than the infant stage? We are all so excited and love your style! - Marianna
Dear Marianna: So much love goes into planning a new baby’s room that I believe you can feel the walls vibrate with happiness. I receive lots of e-mail from people like you who want their nursery to be special. It’s a great idea to think ahead a bit when you choose the major furnishings. The pretty nursery shown here that I designed for a baby girl requires only a bed change to transform it into a toddler’s space, and then a young girl’s bedroom. Look for an armoire that has a mirrored front at antique and secondhand stores, and refresh it with paint. Babies and toddlers love mirrors; they have a magical presence that is timeless. If your furniture does not have one, then hang a mirror low down anywhere in the room so that your child will be able to watch her- or himself playing. An armoire or similar well-made chest is ageless, so that works into your long-range scheme.
A central light feature fitted with a dimmer switch is a practical element that comes in many delightful styles. The latest trend toward shaded chandeliers is showing up in every room, from nurseries to dining rooms and halls. Crystals always add sparkle and glamour, and the shades contribute a touch of whimsy that is right for any age.
If the walls are plain, why not dress them up with some wainscoting? Because it breaks up the height of the walls, you will discover that this traditional wood detail is cozy for a child’s room and offers lots of different decorating options. I applied bead board to the lower walls, and painted it a creamy white. For the upper walls, wallpaper is a fun alternative. Look for youthful circles and dots, shimmery metallics and paintable embossed wallpaper designs.
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For even greater longevity, shop for a crib that reverts to a toddler’s bed. This is an excellent investment, and you have now produced a charming nursery that will grow with your grandchild.
Dear Debbie: I’m on a fixed budget and also believe in reduce, reuse and recycle. I’m planning on repainting the walls in my upstairs home office and thought it would be nice also to refinish the computer desk that is made of particle board and has a fake wood pattern. Then, why not the filing cabinet? Then I noticed the melamine chest of drawers in the bedroom. I’ve become obsessed with this growing project, but need some expert advice on what paints to use for all the different surfaces. – Evelyn
Dear Evelyn: I absolutely salute you for your motto! You have heard me say repeatedly that paint is the most versatile and inexpensive decorating tool ever, and it is perfect for reusing and recycling. With today’s sophisticated paint products, any surface can be covered, as long as it is properly prepared. Look for blackboard paint for your filing cabinet, you can have great fun with the design and labeling. Melamine or laminates can be transformed with a paint primer designed for slippery surfaces. There are also metallic and laminate paints that will give you a new look and are durable. Next month, watch for my column on IdeaPaint, which turns any smooth surface into a dry-erase writing surface.
Before you paint, clean the surface, and sand glossy surfaces to roughen them up. Ask the pro at your paint store, or check out the Internet for retailers that sell the specific paint and primers that you require. And have fun!
Debbie Travis’ House to Home column is produced by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. You can follow Debbie on Twitter at www.twitter.com/debbie_travis. Please e-mail your questions to email@example.com.