Baby’s Leaving the Crib

Painting-by-Denver-artist-Jonathan-Fenske

It’s official: baby’s flying the nest. Our third daughter, who is three, is the proud owner of a new twin bed (actually, it’s the bed her older sister used before moving into her own room). The twin bed has a super comfy mattress which is much more luxe than her natural fiber organic crib mattress.

She’s used the new bed a few nights and all in all, it’s been a success. I think she likes the “bigness” of the experience. For us, it’s not even bittersweet. I am happy that our family is growing up. I used to be sad when the kids outgrew their clothes and such, but now, with a 9, 6 and 3 year-old, I’m excited that we can drop naps and do things. We travel easier. We see movies. We don’t have all the gear. 

Friends with younger children will ask me, “When do you know it’s time for a big-kid bed?” Of course, every child is different but we generally evicted our first two girls from their cribs when a new sibling was almost on the scene.

With Girl #3, it just seemed like the right thing to do. She’s getting bigger and the aforementioned organic mattress had a groove worn in it. Baby was also waking a lot at night. We think she probably just wasn’t comfortable.

So far, so good with the new bed. She’s sleeping great and seems to understand she should stay in the twin bed and not roam around the house at night.

Here’s a link to a children’s room interior design Pinterest board I made when we set up the room the first time with two twin beds. It doesn’t look much different now. I think I’ve said it before, but the painting in the picture, above, is my favorite of Jonathan’s.

Bonus: we’re selling things on eBay to help fund our summer vacay. This is incredibly fulfilling because our basement just has too much stuff: outdoor equipment, books, kid stuff. So, that crib will get a new home and we’ll be a little closer to the beach!

Crib: Baby Mod, “Modena”; Painting: “Poultry in Motion,” by Jonathan Fenske; Pouf: Crate and Barrel; Rug: Angela Adams

Girl Nursery + Guest Room Budget Makeover

I redid this room a few months ago, but I could never get really good pictures, so I put off writing about it. I still don’t have great snaps (sorry!), so I’m just going to throw it out there. Ya’ll are crazy understanding and super supportive, so I think it will be okay. Let’s dive in!

Here is what we were dealing with: a combination guest room with queen bed and nursery space + crib for our third daughter. (Third kids don’t get fancy nurseries….life IS unfair, I know.) We had the green wall color for about six years and I was over it. I had replaced the duvet cover with a Target sale duvet cover but it really wasn’t the right choice. It was high time for a redo…something that our little girl could grow into when the crib was removed and she would sleep in the big bed.

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I usually start with a color “feeling” and in this case, I wanted strong, intense colors like aqua, raspberry and perhaps yellow. But in recent years, I have been dialing back the saturated wall colors in favor of more neutral tones. (I did this with our family room makeover last summer. Gray was the word of the day.). So, I decided in this room, I would go for a neutral wall and then turn up the volume on the bed covering and the accessories.

Here is the “After”:

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I went with “Pink Cadillac” by Benjamin Moore color-matched to Valspar Ultra No VOC on the walls. This delicate paint is almost cream with a hint of pink. I love it and it gives the room a warmth that was unexpected. Jonathan painted the butterflies on the wall. I have seen a lot of 3D paper butterflies tacked onto girls’ walls on Pinterest, but I have to admit that my girls are rough. They would tear down paper thingies in seconds. Plus, I figured I would be forever sticking butterflies back on the wall once the adhesive wore off. So, I asked Jonathan to paint some butterflies and he agreed. Love my man!

The art is from Michael Mabry and it’s actually cover art from Land of Nod catalogs. Michael designed LoN catalogue cover art for about ten years, Google tells me. We found these beautiful, professionally framed prints in a thrift store for $10 each.

The curtains are pretty polka-dot cotton panels that we had in the linen closet from our last house. I love reusing things and it saves money!

A closeup of the modern bed with pink pillows and artwork

The quilt coverlet (Overstock.com) really set the tone for me to jazz up the room with fun pillows and art. The monogrammed pillows are from my friend Laura’s Etsy store, which she has since closed. The gray pillow is from HomeGoods and the flower and butterfly pillows are MudPuppy from Target.com.

Monogrammed by SimplySweet by Laura on Etsy

I was able to add a pop of yellow color with the lampshade (Threshold from Target) which we simply affixed to an ancient Martha Stewart lamp base we have had forever. The art is from my middle daughter and is framed with a Target frame. Chair is vintage.

A picture of a nursery and guest room painted with Benjamin Moore Pink Cadillac paint color matched to Valspar No VOC

 

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Jonathan painted the Fisher Price race car above the BabyMod crib. You can purchase a canvas print of the car on our Fat and Appy store. The rug is from Angela Adams–we have had two of them for a long time.

A picture of a Fisher Price race car by illustrator Jonathan Fenske

That’s it! The room is bright, cheerful and has a young sophistication that will grow with our sweet babe. Plus, we can still host overnight guests (and the baby can bunk with us).

If you liked this post, you might enjoy the True Tale of the Millionaire’s Chandelier, stuff you can decorate with for just $6 and our Family Room Makeover.

This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

Here’s an example of normal living with a kid (or three) life. We have two floor lamps from IKEA. The first was broken within 48 hours of arrival. The second? Smashed this summer. The pretty glass bowls were sturdy…just no match for children shoving them into the wall. Sigh.

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An image of a broken lamp bowl

I am a big believer that children should respect the houses in which they live. Although every room is allowed in our house for play or reading, every room is not available for eating. That’s the domain of the kitchen.

Toys are put up each night so we can start fresh the next day.

Jumping on furniture or ramming rolling toys into furniture is not permitted (but happens anyway).

If a stain does pop up somewhere, the girls are helped in their task of cleaning it up. I spot clean our carpet immediately. I once knew a neighbor who allowed her carpet to get trashed by her two boys. She just shrugged it off as “Kids. Meh.”

Me? I don’t have the money to rip up our carpeting (six years old and going strong) so stains are vanquished instantly.

I was inspired on this path by my friend Jessica who had the coolest house with eclectic furniture, perfect decor and awesome art. You know the friend whose house looks like it should be in Real Simple or BHG or HGTV magazine? That’s her. Anyway, she had kids before I did and believed that little ones can enjoy nice things. Note that “nice” is not expensive…nice is lovingly and stylishly arranged. See our post about what you can do with Six Dollars.)

If you have children, you can also have a clean, artfully arranged home. I’m queen of budgeting, so I know it can be done on the cheap. Will your house be cluttered and toy-bedecked by the little darlings? Of course! But do they have to destroy it? Absolutely not. You deserve a lovely home, Mama.

The Best Things In Life Are…Six Dollars?

We’ll start this post with a yahoo! and congratulations to Amber for winning our necklace giveaway from Etsy shop budpnq (say “budbud”) and artist Katie Fenske Bridges. Congratulations to Amber and thank you to all who entered. Amber, I’ll shoot you a note about receiving your beautiful new necklace.

Now, to today’s post:

We’re thrifty people and loooove a good bargain. Since I dig interior design and house tinkering so much, I long ago learned how to shop garage sales and thrift stores for items for my home. I even once spray painted simple wooden dowels a silvery textured paint so they would look like metal curtain rods underneath some sheer dotted panels. Friend, I know some serious skillz. I am also blessed with patience. If I want something, I will save and stalk it and save some more.

Lately, three things have entered our home from thrift stores that each cost about $6. I like the price! And I like what we found.

This is the iconic Umbra OH! Chair. They hit the scene back in 1999 and are still made today. Designed by Karim Rashid. Price: $6

An aqua Umbra chair with flowered pillow

This ubiquitous wooden chair is probably from Target, but plenty of other places make their own version, such as Crate and Barrel. I replaced the folding chair that was at my desk for this one. It’s more comfortable and I like the zing! of color. Price: $6

A Target dining chair in green

We’re kind of cheating on this next one. The table was indeed $6, but it was a hot mess of chalkboard paint and multicolored legs. The great news? This baby is solid wood and made incredibly well. I don’t know where it’s from, but it’s definitely high quali-tee. I pleaded exhaustion for painting after our recent family room makeover, so Jonathan picked up the roller. We used Valspar’s National Historic Preservation colors in Jekyll Club Veranda Ivory. The seagrass baskets underneath are a nod to Jekyll Island. Price: $6 plus a quart of Valspar. 

A wooden coffee table painted with Valspar Jekyll Club Veranda in Ivory

You truly never know what you’ll find when you go out thrifting. Just make sure to bring your six dollars, and good luck! What’s your best thrift store/garage sale find? Tell us in the comments!

Fat and Appy Modern Art for Kids on 5280.com

When I was in Racine, WI last week, I had the pleasure of talking to Daliah Singer of  5280 Magazine about Fat and Appy, our line of modern art canvas prints for kids. You can read her sweet article about our art in the 5280.com story.  She really “got”  what we are up to with our small business. I am so happy we chatted!

Here’s a sneak peek:

“As a mom to three daughters (ages seven, four, and 18 months), novelist Jennifer Manske Fenske knows something about decorating kids’ rooms. But as the wife of an artist—and a creative woman herself—Fenske had trouble finding works to hang on the wall that felt appropriate and unique for her girls. “I believe that children really do deserve pretty art,” she says. “I think that they are incredibly intelligent and that they respond to art that speaks to them.””     

Black-dog-by-Jonathan-Fenske                              

Family Room Makeover: It’s An “After”

We’re done with our DIY family room makeover! Well, I guess you can never say “done” because there’s always something, right? We would loooove to install hardwoods one day. And we’ll always arrange art around our house. And I did just order a Threshold side table on Target’s “Clearance on Clearance” online sale. Target, you vixen! Anyway, we all know decorating a home is an ongoing process. This summer’s project, however, has come to a close.

You can get caught up on the beginning and our open shelf building and even our desk construction. Other readers will remember this is where we started in June: too much kid clutter, a green wall color I was beginning to loathe and bookshelves that were falling apart:

A family room

And here we are now. This is our “After.”

A modern family room

We arranged the chairs and couch to create (we hope) a welcoming space that says, “Sit down and relax.” Before, the couch faced all of the toy mess and I always felt like sitting down was something to do in a hurry, on my way to pick up a toy. I rarely ever sat on my couch (that I love!). I would despair of the kid junk, too. We don’t have a toy room or spare room for kiddie flotsam. I just couldn’t figure out how to fix it. And then I did.

Two orange chairs with a yellow coffee table

We ended up donating most of the baby’s toy bin. Rattles and teethers were all tossed, since she’s past that stage. Toys she never played with (even if I thought they were so cute or so German or so eco-friendly….all donated because if a child doesn’t play with a toy, then why keep it?) After all of that purging, we were left with a basket worth of awesome baby toys. Then, we sold the bins on Craigslist. The second toy bin was curated down in the same manner, although our 4 and 7-year-olds had veto power over most of the save-toss decisions. We placed that bin in the basement and if they want a toy that they can’t live without, they can go down there and get it. This has happened exactly once.

Pillows from HomeGoods

The yellow table was a surprise. I originally wanted an ottoman in front of the couch and even started a jam jar fund (when I want something that’s outside the household budget, I start a glass jar with a picture of the thing I desire. I sell stuff on CL until I have enough funds.) Anyway, as the jar fund began to grow, the ottoman started looking pretty indulgent. For the cost of a well-built fabric ottoman, I could do a lot more with my decor budget. So, I shifted gears and went the coffee table route. But I wanted rounded edges, no cold stone or rough wood. I found an inexpensive Queen Anne-style coffee table for $40 on CL and then purchased about $21 in paint. I used Valspar’s Oatland Daisy after I sanded the table and did some very minor repairs.

A living room makeover with Petrie sofa

The open gray shelving combined with the mid-mod dresser is definitely my favorite part of the entire room. You know how you want something to go in your head sometimes? And it hardly ever turns out that way? Well, color me happy, because this time, what I envisioned actually worked out. I hope I’m on a roll.

Modern shelves with wooden shelf brackets

I won’t lie, the baby knocked over this vase of zinnias after she woke up from her nap. We do not keep anything delicate at her height. (I held back the other two girls by drawing an imaginary line behind the couch while I took pictures.) I’m just keeping it real, folks. This room does not look like this now. It won’t ever look this way again. That’s why there’s a stack of library books in the next picture. The only thing we can keep down low are books and usually, they are strewn around the room. We don’t do knick-knacks. Or balls of pretty HomeGoods twine. Or jars of sea urchin skeletons. Are you kidding me?

A vase of zinnias on a coffee table painted with Valspar Oatland Daisy

The art on this wall is work by (clockwise from top); Robert Matre, Matre Gallery, Atlanta; Near and Deer from Fat and Appy; and Katie Fenske Bridges. You can see her amazing Etsy jewelry shop here. The chair is vintage.

Jonathan Fenske art and other artists

I posted this picture the other day (it’s from last week). I love my desk and I’m thrilled it cost a fraction of a store-bought desk. Hurray!

A picture of a family room makeover with Jonathan Fenske art

A DIY wooden desk

I thought the coffee table might be too hard at first for our rough-and-tumble girls. All of the girls have rolled off the couch and hit it at least once. But they are learning to avoid it. And I placed a few extra pillows under the coffee table for fort building. It’s funny…now that they don’t have all of their broken and abandoned toys living in the family room, they use my stuff to play: baskets, pillows, blankets, cushions.

A Petrie couch with a yellow coffee table

Whew, that was some summer! You can’t see it, but the girls are panting around the corner, dying to be released to trash the room once more. But that’s living with kids and I’ll take it every day of the week. The best part of the new room? I “enter” by walking past the couch and snuggle into the cushions. Within minutes, at least one child has piled on top of me. Babies climb up, 4-year-olds nap and 7-year-olds talk theology and pranks on that couch with their mama. It’s heaven. So, I would say my main goal of making the room fit our family better has been achieved. And I don’t have to paint anything anymore…at least for a while. Happiness!

Sources:

Wall paint: Benjamin Moore “Moonshine” color-matched to Olympic’s No-VOC in satin; Couch: “Petrie,” Crate and Barrel; Mid-mod dresser: Mod Mid Century; Orange chairs, ottomans: Storehouse; Wooden desk: custom; Open shelves: “Straight 10” shelf brackets by Tyler Morris Woodworking, Fort Collins, CO; Paint on desk and open shelves: Benjamin Moore “Storm Cloud Gray” color-matched to Olympic’s No-VOC in semi-gloss; Rocking chair: vintage; Coffee table: Craigslist, painted with Valspar “Oatland Daisy” spray paint in flat (legs and sides) and same color but with liquid paint in satin (top); desk chair: a store in Atlanta, I’ve forgotten the name, sorry!; Media cart, curtains, trash can and silver shelf: IKEA; Pillows: HomeGoods; White pouf: Crate and Barrel; Art: most is FatandAppy.com or Jonathan Fenske; also, Robert Matre, Katie Fenske Bridges; Bruce Clark; Emma Klingbeil.
We’re Jennifer and Jonathan. And we’re parenting three girls and making art. Thank you for visiting our blog! Please stop by again. 

A New Wooden Desk in the Family Room

I’m happy to report our family room makeover is complete. Today, I’ll show you the corner desk Jonathan and I collaborated on. A little backstory: I don’t have a proper desk in our house. We have a desk in the living room where Jonathan works, and I mooch off of his space when he’s not working. It’s an arrangement that we started once I quit my social media job back in April. So, we’ve kind of limped along, me working when he’s not. We know we need a permanent solution (finish the basement? rent a studio offsite?) but for now, we’re winging it.

That’s how I came to the “what should I do with that corner in the family room?” You might remember that the “Before” family room looked like this:

A family room

Check out the back corner on the right—that space to the right of the red rocking chair. I knew I could put something there special, and it finally hit me: a DESK! My own desk, lah.

Jonathan is Mr. Frugal and when he heard I was looking at $300 West Elm Parsons desks (he heard because I said, “Honey, I think I’ll put a Parsons desk here!”), he went into DIY mode. Love my man.

We picked up a cheap piece of oak plywood from Lowes (about $15) and some thin oak strips to give the cheapie board a nice edge. Then, we used the paint we had for the open bookshelves, Benjamin Moore Storm Cloud Gray color matched to Olympic No-VOC Premiere paint in semi-gloss. (You can read all about those shelves in our recent shelf bracket DIY post.)

First, Jonathan attached the thin trim strips to the front and one side of the desk (the back and other side would touch the wall, so they didn’t need trim.) He pre-drilled the holes (to keep the wood from splitting) and used deck screws and wood glue. Then, he propped it up in our indoor/outdoor woodworking shop. (Otherwise known as a “garage.”) It was now my turn!

A picture of a DIY wooden desk being built

Jonathan countersunk the screws for me, leaving a little hole to fill with Plastic Wood. I scooped some up with a spackle knife and swiped it on. The Plastic Wood tends to sink, so I did this twice after letting the first application dry. We did all of this so the trim edge would be smooth with no bumpiness from the nails.

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After that second application, the hole was nice and flush. I sanded it well.

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I then brought the desk top into the house and primed it, using the Valspar Bare Wood primer we used for the open shelves. I also primed the two Parson legs I bought from Lowes. They were about $9 a piece and are made of a solid hardwood. Pretty and simple. We just needed two because the back of the desk was designed to rest on little rails. More on that later.

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The next day, I moved on, painting the legs with the gray paint. This is my favorite picture. Of course, we have peanut butter on the floor. Don’t you? (True story: Our 17-month-old toddler will go into the pantry, take out food and leave it on the floor. She’ll sit down beside it, as if to say, “I like to eat, people. So, why aren’t you feeding me NOW?”)

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I painted the desk top, using the roller. I like the even coverage and it’s faster (for me, anyway). Gray happiness!

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At this point, Jonathan jumped back in and attached the leg brackets. This was pretty cheap—I think a few dollars each. We bought two, of course.

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And here’s a shot of the table leg, masterfully painted, don’t you think?

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Jonathan carefully measured and mounted the poplar support rails, pre-drilling the holes before attaching them to the wall.

A how-to-DIY desk project from I Love Your Work, Jonathan Fenske

Using a level, he made sure the desk top was level before attaching the desk to the rails (from underneath, so the screws wouldn’t show, and, once again pre-drilling the holes).

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And after drying and arranging, here it is:

A picture of a family room makeover with Jonathan Fenske art

Sources:

Orange chair: Storehouse

Desk, custom: (read this post!)

Art: Sweet Pea in Blue and Fast Car, both by Fat and Appy™ Modern Art for Children (this is our line of modern art prints on canvas). Canvas of rock and tree with silver frame: original still-life painted by Jonathan Fenske.

Paint: Benjamin Moore Storm Cloud Gray color-matched to Olympic Premiere No-VOC in semi-gloss.

Chair: Modern furniture store in Atlanta—can’t remember the name

Trashcan, curtains, silver shelf: IKEA

White porcelain votive holders: Target

Sitting fox: Zsolnay

Stained glass window: Vintage

And another shot, from the left.

A corner wooden desk tutorial from I Love Your Work, Jonathan Fenske

You know me, I like to get all artsy.

A picture of a colorful birdhouse from I Love Your Work, Jonathan Fenske

This is a tincut from the Georgia folk artist R.A. Miller. This is the first piece of art I ever bought. I was 18. I still adore it.

An RA Miller tincut in artist Jonathan Fenske's family room

So, that’s the path from boring blah spot to my own little corner and my own little chair! I’m really happy to sit there, work, organize and kind of just daydream sometime.

What’s next? Pictures of the entire room so you can see how our family room makeover turned out! I was held up a little by some long days of cloud coverage (photos with a flash drive me crazy, and I wanted to spare you that). Also: I picked up a Queen Anne-style coffee table and painted it, so that took a few days. It’s in the new room and I wanted to debut that cutie pie table here. So, soon and very soon!