Originally appeared on The Scout Guide Alexandria
I should probably be embarrassed to admit one of the most exciting things about learning I was pregnant with my son seven years ago was finally getting to call Nancy Twomey at FINNIAN’S MOON to help decorate the nursery, but I’m not. Over the previous couple of years, every time I walked into a friend’s beautiful, new baby nursery, I was always met with the same, “Nancy at FINNIAN’S MOON helped me!” Alas, it was finally my turn.
Since my late husband and I were both earning modest Capitol Hill salaries, I did not have the largest budget to work with, so Nancy ensured I invested in a couple timeless and neutral pieces of furniture that could either grow with my son or work in a future nursery. We had already received a hand-me-down, white, four-poster crib from some friends, so we added a white set of chest of drawers that doubled as a change table and a white glider. Nancy then added varying shades of blues and greens to the room with SERENA & LILY’S Blake crib bedding, soft cubes that doubled as a foot stool or additional seating, lamps, throw blankets and accent pillows.
Three years later when I became pregnant with our baby girl, I called on Nancy again for her expertise. We were moving into a temporary rental house, which served as the perfect opportunity to transition our son into a big boy bed and room while preparing a nursery for his baby sister. Since all of the furniture was white, Nancy and I decided to keep it for the nursery, and she and I selected some big boy, navy blue furniture for my son’s bedroom working in brighter primary colors and bolder plaids through his bedding and window treatments.
I then started scouring websites and catalogs for inspiration for girl nurseries but nothing ever piqued my interest. They were either too pink, ruffly and girly-girl for my taste or else I felt they were affirmatively trying too hard to NOT be a pink nursery and came across looking like a little boys’ room. I knew I wanted her nursery to be feminine without being the color of sparkly Pepto-Bismol, but I never could find exactly what I was looking for.
Around that time, I traveled to Amsterdam and visited the Van Gogh Museum where I absolutely fell in love with “ALMOND BLOSSOM.” That was it! That painting became the inspiration for my daughter’s nursery. It was feminine, delicate and full of perspective. Sharing this with Nancy, she started pulling fabrics for me to choose from for the custom crib bedding, hassock, and curtains.
My very favorite fabric was a bird print by DURALEE that we chose for the window treatments. We went back and forth over whether to do Roman shades versus drapes but ultimately, chose drapes as they would grow with my daughter. We would be able to mix the fabric with hot pink, chocolate brown or a leopard print (the day!) when she wanted a more mature room, and most importantly, they would work in any house where Roman shades would be custom fit for the size of the windows in that room which were two different sizes.
A little over a year later, as my late husband’s health continued to decline, we knew we needed to go ahead and move our family into a more permanent home. The timing felt absolutely crazy, but it was also essential for the overall peace of mind and health of our family. Well, leave it to me to find a historic house in Old Town that not only needed much love but also had 12 foot ceilings and thin walls made of plaster in the room we had identified as the nursery. But not only that, our family therapist had advised us to make the move as quick and seamless as possible, most especially for the sake of the kids. The transition into a new home needed to be practically non-existent so that we could continue focusing our energies on spending quality filled days together as a family and attempt to prepare ourselves for the next inevitable and greatest transition we would ever go through.
Once again, I called upon Nancy to help me create bedrooms for the kids they could continue growing into–and dropped the bomb on her that we only had a few weeks in which to get it all done. Nancy walked in, stared up at the ceiling, measured the height of the windows, calculated the length of the curtains including if we dropped the deep hem out of the panels, explored alternative ways to mount the curtains, and anyway she sliced it, those beautiful birdies were doomed to just hang in that room at an awkward length like a full set of badly botched bangs. Unacceptable. Thankfully, Nancy did not shy away from the challenge.
Within days, Nancy had tracked down six additional yards of fabric from the exact same dye lot. The original drapes were sent back to her seamstress, who brilliantly dropped the hem, added a triple tuxedo pleat to disguise the additional fabric being added to the bottom of the panels plus made valances for additional length and balance.
When it was time to move in, the kids left for daycare one morning with their current house mostly intact, and professional movers came in and packed up the house. We all “vacationed” in a hotel for several nights and once everything had been moved into the new house, with the help of many dear, loyal friends who showed up one night bearing pizza, chocolate chip cookies and wine, tool belts, drills, tall ladders and irons, in one night, all pictures had been hung, window treatments installed, every single box unpacked, clothes arranged in closets, sheets placed on beds, bookshelves, cabinets and dressers loaded, and the play room was all set up. Nancy miraculously installed the heavy, elongated panels and valances into the nearly 200 year old bedroom walls, and those little birdies were once again up and flying. My late husband and kids were able to walk into our new house with everything in its proper place. The entire feat, and those three days especially, felt like nothing short of being on a reality design show.
It has been such a joy to work with Nancy over the years, and it has not only been just in the kids’ rooms. Nancy is such a real person who has grown with our family’s needs, budget and sophistication over the years. Working with Nancy has never been a one-stop shop. I so very much appreciate her practical and clean aesthetic, ability to continually work with and enhance what we already have, to not shy away from an extreme deadline, and willingness to always go the extra yard(s)! Oh, and on this go-round, we painted my daughter’s bedroom just a teeny bit pink.
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In life’s most joyful moments and in the darkest of hours and seemingly impossible circumstances, there is grace. Abundant grace always abounds if you allow yourself to see it. This I know, and these are my lessons in grace.
Read about what came before Sweetness Follows at TeamKennett.com.