September 5, 2012

The Little Man Cave

I've never been one for decorating much. In college, I usually provided hand-me-down furniture options (thanks, sisters!), and my roomies would handle the decor.

I know what I like and what I don't like, but it's hard for me to plan it all out.

That, my friends, is why my son is ten months old and I am just now able to tell you that his room (can I call it a nursery any more?) is now COMPLETE! Wahoo!

You see, I was one of those highly-motivated pregnant women whose nesting instincts took hold early and didn't let up until my water broke. Almost literally, as I've mentioned before.

My nesting took various forms, but it was mostly about crafting. As the youngest of four daughters born to an extremely creative and talented mom, I grew up being around crafty genius. I've always thought of myself as a crafty and creative person by association, even though I never really crafted much in my "adult" years.

The crafting planets aligned when my Pinterest membership and nesting instincts began at the same time. I had a nursery to create, and it had to be just right.

While I didn't know exactly what I wanted, I knew I didn't want a packaged theme. This could change for future Brownies, but for Bryson's room I didn't want pastel "baby" colors. No animals, no cartoons, no boats, no wall stickers. I drew inspiration from a toy given to us by B's Aunt Courtney early on in my pregnancy. In case you've never met him, I'd like to introduce you to Captain Calamari:

So that was it. People asked what colors I wanted, and I responded with "All of them!" I wanted fun, bright colors. Stripes, squiggles, and polka dots. I got tired of seeing the same stuff over and over online. Nothing really matched what I'd envisioned, and I started feeling a bit hopeless, until I found the perfect crib sheet.

I also knew that we had to consider the queen-size bed we would have in his room. We live in Hawaii with limited space, so before it was a nursery, our second bedroom was a guest room. That bed was staying put, and I liked the black, white, and blue color palette we'd already established in there.

Still, a bed, a crib sheet, and an octopus left a lot to be desired.

Because I'm a huge nerd who happens to have trouble visualizing things, I started a PowerPoint file to house all of my ideas. I had Captain Calamari, of course, the sheet, some virtual swatches of colors and patterns I was looking for, and all sorts of other ideas - rugs, furniture, and wall decor name it, I had it all in one spot. [This was early in my pregnancy, before I knew of Pinterest, which is basically a cooler and more detailed way to keep your inspirations in one spot!]

Here's my confession proof of nerdiness, in case you don't believe me:

Between my PowerPoint of ideas, Pinterest for even more inspiration, and my own nesting compulsions, it all started to fall into place. I painted, taped, tied, Cricut-ed, mod-podged, paper-punched, and fabric-glued my crafty decor until I had just ONE blank wall left. I also had help from my handiest, craftiest family members.

Here's what we came up with:

While reading Parenting magazine one day, I snapped a photo featuring a "little man cave" sign. My extremely crafty twin-sister-in-law Courtney made Bryson his very own, and it now hangs proudly at his man cave entrance. The photo collage frame on the right took its sweet time to come to life. The month or two before B was born, I emailed everyone in our "immediate" family - all of his aunts, uncles, first cousins, and grandparents. I shamelessly tried to guilt them into sending me photos for this project so I could have it completed before he arrived. (Since his newborn eyes would be able to identify them all?!) Anyway, he came early and those plans went out the window until, like, a month ago. WOOPS! It was worth the wait. Even though we live an ocean (and a few time zones) away, we say good morning and good night to them every day!

Idea for military families: Before it was a "Fan Club" collage frame, it was a "Welcome Home" collage frame. I had them each send me photos holding up "Welcome Home" signs after J's last deployment!

The beautiful cross on the wall was a gift from my mom and sisters, made in Texas. It was part of the decor at my Texas baby shower, and we carefully brought it back in our luggage. It suffered a minor crack, but J was able to fix it with some wood glue and clamps. (My hero!) The tiny black shelf up there is the perch for the baby monitor when it's on the other side of the bed.

This embroidery hoop wall art was inspired by Pinterest. I had the guys (aforementioned handy husband and twin-bro-in-law) take apart some embroidery hoops (including the metal pieces that hold them together) and wood glue them back together. Most of the examples I saw had the metal included, but I didn't want that. Just the circles! I then used fabric and glue to cover each one. They're not perfect, but hey. Neither are we. They are a fun way to cover some wall space, and Bryson loves looking at them!

Before I painted stripes and his name all over it, the giant canvas above his crib was painted black. We used it above the bed as a faux headboard. I used some painter's tape to help me with the stripes, painted his name (almost) to my perfectionist heart's content, and then added some buttons to give it a little texture. I wanted a plain blue crib skirt that didn't cost a lot of dough. You can't see it in this photo, but my mom sewed it using fabric from the blue curtains we'd had in this room before the transformation. Voila!

A favorite of mine - the Texas corner! When we were just married and living in a small condo down the road, I painted these two square canvases. One was a take on the Texas flag, and one said "Home is where the heart is." We had these canvases in the kitchen until I decided to revamp them for B's room. I painted the blue and red different shades to match his colors, then used the Cricut to cut some signature lyrics to a Texan's favorite tune.

I mentioned my husband and his bro are handy, right? From scratch (meaning wood, paint, and nails), they built the dresser here on the left, inspired by the DaVinci Kalani combo dresser! Pretty amazing, right? We wanted a version with the tower on the left side, not the right. We also wanted one that didn't double its total cost just to ship it to Hawaii. The beautiful red B was a Christmas gift from our twin-laws, and the frames were from Pier One. We had those in the guest room already.

Inspiration for this little stinker was pulled out of a magazine by Courtney, who let me use her Cricut to cut allllllll of these tiny little circles! They're made of card stock and held together with tiny silver jewelry rings. Each column is hot glued  to the painted embroidery hoops, which are tied together with fishing line. Yeah. While simple, this took way longer than I thought. Transporting it outside between our two houses, Hawaiian trade winds blowing with full force, may have been the most stressful part. Needless to say, Bryson can't get close to it without me getting a bit anxious. It has already been moved and raised quite a few times :) In the above photo you can also see the Texas Star finials we found online at Bed, Bath, & Beyond! Our location didn't have them, but my mom brought some for us from Texas and Jerm spray-painted them black to match. And no, I didn't know what finials were until I was looking for a pair.

This, my friends, was the last of the decorating. This wall was big, white, blank, and mocking me for months, but now it's complete!

Jeremy built the little shelf while B and I were in Texas this summer. The small canvases hiding down there were painted by our nieces and nephews when we visited back in February, and the stuffed animals have been gifted to us from loved ones near and far.

Over the past year, the extremely talented Brenda Van Photos has been able to document so many special moments for us. Of course we wanted to bring some of those images to B's room! After a few canvas print Groupons gone wrong, I went back to Pinterest and found an idea to cover canvases with fabric and add photos on top. Less expensive than actual canvas prints, and you can swap the photos out when you're ready for a change! Great idea. Instead of buying new canvases, we used spare wood that J had in the garage. He cut the circles for me, stapled fabric to them, and I added the photos. I was going to order some actual photo corners, per the Pinterest post, but opted for colorful buttons instead, since we've got those in a few other spots....which leads me to the last segment of the room.

The last project I'll tell you about is actually the first Pinterest project I ever completed - the B of buttons. Inspired by Courtney's pin and B of buttons, I decided to create one for his room.

This was another "simple" project that took way longer than I expected. Once I finally had all the buttons placed how I wanted them, I went back to glue each one in its final resting place. It took a while, yes, but I love it. I snuck a little pineapple in there as a nod to Hawaii, along with a star to represent his other home state, which is evident throughout the room!

There you have it, world. That's the story of the very personalized labor of love that we call "The Little Man Cave." True, B didn't sleep in here until he was over six months old, but it was worth the wait. I was a little worried about it being TOO stimulating, but hey. He doesn't sleep with the lights on, and from what I can tell, he's pretty happy with it.

P.S.  This post is not related to my business, which is about helping bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time. HOWEV - if you like my writing and want help with your own, sign up for free tips at!


  1. Grand slam home run... outta the park. Well done!

  2. Loved reading your blog and amazing job on the little man cave!