the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Not Maria’s nursery

Last week we were finally able to put the final touches on the baby’s nursery after what seemed like months of living with piles of crap up to our ears. Because before we could even address the nursery we had to tackle sixteen other projects first, and in the meantime everything we were collecting for the baby started to stack up in wobbly mountains throughout the living room. Every time we had company over I had to give a rambling explanation of why the path from the front door to the kitchen was booby-trapped, why there was a stack of burp cloths plopped on top of a wad of crib sheets teetering precariously on top of a bulk package of disposable breast pads. FOR MY CRACKED AND LEAKING NIPPLES. AREN’T YOU GLAD YOU CAME OVER TO MY HOUSE?

One of the biggest things to check off our list was new carpet in the basement, something we’ve been planning to do since we moved into the house. The previous owners had a cat who lived primarily in the basement, and since we never had the carpets professionally cleaned before moving in, Jon’s allergies have made living his life nearly impossible. In fact, I may have brought up Jon’s allergies to our marriage counselor more than once, and she may have told me that OH MY GOD SHUT UP isn’t perhaps the most helpful reaction a wife can give to a husband who is complaining that his eyes have swollen shut.

So I took her advice, and the next time it happened I tossed a glass of water in his face and said SNAP OUT OF IT, FRANCIS. Much more instructive.

In the days leading up to the carpet installation I made a bet with Jon that it wouldn’t take more than 15 minutes for him to declare that his allergies had been cured. He has a habit of doing this, stumbling over cures for various ailments and announcing, “I’m healed!” before he’s even popped the pill or rubbed in the ointment. He will look at a bottle of vitamins and pronounce that he already feels better, and when I point out that I cannot take him seriously he will start listing off all the reviews he read about these vitamins, all the comparison shopping and painstaking research he did and A FIVE-STAR AMAZON RATING CANNOT BE WRONG, HEATHER.

And I am not even kidding, there wasn’t more than five square feet of new carpet on the floor when Jon handed me a twenty dollar bill and said YOU WIN. This is just another example of how well we know each other, how deeply we accept and understand each other’s various neuroses, and I’ll just go ahead and admit that I have the better deal here because I am not married to someone who is Southern.

Once the carpet was in we were able to assemble all the other moving parts, starting with an antique brass bed that my mother found at a flea market well over ten years ago:

Why do we have a bed in the nursery? One, this room will serve double-duty as a guest room for the next year or so. And two, Armstrongs are not known for their peaceful sleeping habits. If this baby proves to be anything like Leta, Jon and I will most likely take turns with night duty in this room while the other one gets some sleep in our room. So let’s just say that this bed will prove as vital as my Prozac to keeping the family intact.

Next we moved in the crib:

And then the dresser where all the baby clothes that Leta used to wear are now stored:

Jon schlepped down boxes and boxes of those clothes from the attic last weekend, and I spent three days washing and folding tiny onesies and nightgowns in between curling up in a ball and crying about how small Leta used to be. Where did that baby go? That irritable, chubby baby who screamed a lot every day with the screaming? I remember the moment she first discovered that she could fit both of her feet into her mouth, the delight on her face revealing that she had finally found a reason to go on living.

And then fast forward to last night as I’m giving her a bath and she goes, “These bubbles won’t melt, right? Because only ice and chocolate melt. I love science!”

Just to preempt any questions in the comments, here is where I got everything:

All bedding is from Target.

Crib is the Oeuf Sparrow Crib in white.

Lamp is the Twine Floor Lamp from CB2.

Wallpaper is Daydream in yellow by Julia Rothman for Hygge & West.

Dresser is from a local place called Specialty Furniture.

Magnetic flower art on the wall is from Chiasso.

Handmade bunnies are from Loobylu.

  • Daddy Scratches

    2009/06/02 at 1:30 pm

    Congrats on the nursery, and on curing Jon’s allergies. My wife suffers from brutal seasonal allergies every spring, and I’m so with you about the urge to yell OH MY GOD SHUT UP when the sneezing begins.

  • Anonymous

    2009/06/02 at 1:32 pm

    Looks lovely – any little girl would love to have it!

  • Marisa

    2009/06/02 at 1:33 pm

    I love it! So interesting. Youthful and fun, but not glaring or annoying. A room you can enjoy and the baby can grow into. It looks like a garden plot for the imagination. Okay, that metaphor is a bit wonky, but you get my idea. I’d love to dream in that room.

  • Sherry

    2009/06/02 at 1:33 pm


  • Milla

    2009/06/02 at 1:33 pm

    Cute! Cute! Cute!

    maybe i suggest “Milla” for a girl’s name? How about Juice? 😉

  • Jenae

    2009/06/02 at 1:33 pm

    You are one heck of a designer and it looks absolutely amazing. You made one of the most peaceful looking rooms ever & after looking at it, I now feel at peace. Good job!

  • Robin G.

    2009/06/02 at 1:34 pm

    Very, very nice color scheme. I also give those adorable rabbits about a week of lifespan before they come out of Coco’s butt.

  • jentifred

    2009/06/02 at 1:35 pm

    I think a bed in the nursery is a FABULOUS idea!

  • lyne

    2009/06/02 at 1:35 pm

    Wow, Not Maria sure has a pretty nursery. it looks a thousand times better than my childhood bedroom of fierce-looking race car wallpaper and a huge clown hanging in front of the window.

    Bravo, Armstrongs

  • Labradoris

    2009/06/02 at 1:35 pm

    Congratulations on finishing. Looks so cute and comfortable, all snugglylicious!

  • Anonymous

    2009/06/02 at 1:35 pm

    Totally gorgeous room Heather. I love the bird wallpaper and framed pictures.

  • Marie

    2009/06/02 at 1:36 pm

    Lovely! Love the dresser!!! Great idea with the bed! I know that our guest room is really my husband is snoring to loud to sleep next to him room. 🙂

  • Liesel

    2009/06/02 at 1:37 pm

    Wow, gorgeous. The haters will be hard pressed to judge you harshly on this one. Very chic and adorable at the same time. I wasn’t sure that was even possible until now. Though you are already insanely successful, might you consider a new career and begin immediately on my house?

  • Melanie

    2009/06/02 at 1:37 pm

    Anyone who asks why there is a bed in the nursery has never tried it. BEST THING EVER.

    We just moved into a new house and my daughter is now 2 so we thought we could ditch the bed in her room. I think about crying every day because I miss that bed in her room so much.

  • Sarah

    2009/06/02 at 1:37 pm

    Beautiful nursery! You’re an awesome designer!
    Love your site!

  • Karen

    2009/06/02 at 1:38 pm

    Very pretty. I like that you have a bed in the nursery … I’m pretty sure I will be doing the same. I’m 19 weeks with baby number 2 and we find out next week if it will be a boy or girl, so then I can start planning. Good luck to you these next few weeks!

  • A

    2009/06/02 at 1:39 pm

    You have excellent taste. I should know because I have that same crib, the little sheep mobile above the crib, and the lamp next to the crib…..

  • Laura

    2009/06/02 at 1:40 pm

    Very cute and welcoming! At first I thought it was weird having a bed in the nursery, but it totally makes sense if she’s anything like Leta was! The one thing that could be missing? A nursing chair. Did you have one for Leta or is that a general purpose chair somewhere else in the home?

    Congrats and good luck when Not-Maria arrives! 🙂

  • Leslie

    2009/06/02 at 1:40 pm

    Oh, Leta is going to be so excited when she figures out cheese melts, too. I know I was.

  • Erin

    2009/06/02 at 1:40 pm

    I am in love with that antique bed.

  • Lori Magno

    2009/06/02 at 1:41 pm

    Apartment Therapy, Dwell and Martha Stewart Living all need to pay attention. This room is lovely and sweet and even better, I can see the love that was put into it. (I can also see you and Jon taking turns getting some sleep on the brass bed.)

    Any bets on this child sleeping like a dream from day one?

    Cheers and cheers and cheers to you,

  • Erica

    2009/06/02 at 1:41 pm

    It’s beautiful, you have very good taste.

  • Kris

    2009/06/02 at 1:43 pm

    Outstanding job! I love the color scheme and the modern-mixed-with-old-fashioned touches. Please come do my bedroom next.

  • flybigd

    2009/06/02 at 1:43 pm

    So glad to see that someone else has a bed in the nursery as well. I felt foolish at first for having one in our little guy’s room, but then it worked out for the same reason you gave. Your nursery is very pretty BTW.

  • SAHM: Surviving Assorted Home Mayhem

    2009/06/02 at 1:43 pm

    Darling colors and decor! Now, cue the comments from the critics re: “how on earth could you be using BUMPER PADS in the crib now that we know they are unsafe?!”

  • Stacy

    2009/06/02 at 1:43 pm

    The nursery is beautiful!! I especially lovelovelove the flower art. 🙂

  • Laurel

    2009/06/02 at 1:44 pm

    Holy crap, that’s adorable! I want to live in that room. And because you so love bossy people, do NOT let Coco near those cute flower magnets. Magnets (plural) in the digestive system are not good, for humans or canines. Just thought I’d state the obvious.

  • Rebecca

    2009/06/02 at 1:44 pm

    WE ARE ALL GOING TO DIE! Just kidding. The nursery is fabulous, and the bed? Great idea!

  • Katya

    2009/06/02 at 1:44 pm

    Amazing! Absolutely beautiful. I love the mobiles, they are great. The “tile incident” is completely forgotten, and I think we are NOT ALL GOING TO DIE, because the babies’ happiness for this beautiful room will make us all live. forever!!

    rock on, dooce

  • Patti

    2009/06/02 at 1:44 pm


  • Katya

    2009/06/02 at 1:45 pm

    Oh wow, we had some perfect timing on that, Rebecca.

  • Marisa

    2009/06/02 at 1:45 pm

    But now I’m very very curious: How do you keep the little flowers on the wall dusted? Do they come off and go back easily? Is there metal in the wall for the flower-magnets? Or do you get to dust each petal separately while being very careful not to jar it off the wall?

  • Lisa-Marie

    2009/06/02 at 1:45 pm

    That room is beautiful! You two did a fantastic job!

  • famousamy

    2009/06/02 at 1:45 pm

    Congrats on finishing the nursery! It’s beautiful and on time, which is always great. I went a month early and ended up not finishing our nursery until my little one was about 5 months old.

  • Not hating - just asking a ?

    2009/06/02 at 1:45 pm

    Not trying to be a hater or anything but I’m just trying to figure out the layout of your house that puts your nursery in the basement. It is an adorable room and the bed totally makes sense. The bird elements (wall art/wall covering) are charming. The crib is very tasteful and who doesn’t like Target?

  • Claire

    2009/06/02 at 1:46 pm

    What a lovely room! So warm and inviting and peaceful. thanks for sharing the details and pictures. Will you please tell where those pretty glowing lamps on the dresser came from? I like those a lot.

  • Kirsten

    2009/06/02 at 1:46 pm

    It looks beautiful 🙂 I really love the colour scheme and I would die to have a dresser like that!

    I hope everyone goes ok for all 4 of you when Not Maria enters the world 😉

  • Kathy

    2009/06/02 at 1:49 pm

    You have such great taste and design ability! I adore this room!

  • dooce

    2009/06/02 at 1:49 pm

    #35, all our bedrooms are in the basement. Our house is built into a hill, so one half of the basement juts up against the hill, the other half opens up to the backyard.

  • sarah

    2009/06/02 at 1:50 pm

    GORGEOUS! Well done!

  • Amy

    2009/06/02 at 1:50 pm

    You definitely have a career in decorating, should you ever need one! Can you come decorate my apartment next, you know, after that whole creating life thing you’re doing?

  • Jenni

    2009/06/02 at 1:50 pm

    It’s beautiful! Well worth the wait to see it . . .

  • dooce

    2009/06/02 at 1:50 pm

    #36 Claire, the glowing lamps on the dresser are from Ikea:

  • Kelly

    2009/06/02 at 1:51 pm

    What a beautiful calming space! I totally get the reason for the bed.


    2009/06/02 at 1:51 pm

    Very cute !!!

  • tk

    2009/06/02 at 1:51 pm

    is that reflection I see in one of the photos the glow of the nonmatching tile from the bathroom..

    man if the tile trollers see that we’re all screwed..

    excellent room..

  • Sara

    2009/06/02 at 1:51 pm

    I love, love, love the dresser. Wish I could find one just like it in Minnesota. It’s a great room! Congrats!

  • Cass

    2009/06/02 at 1:51 pm

    It’s lovely. I have the same flowers in black in my living room. So cool.

  • Zak

    2009/06/02 at 1:52 pm

    Looks great!

    Just because I’m now 3 years on from having a child in a crib – what’s the current thinking on the crib bumpers? When we were given 2 sets most of our friends said we should only put them on if we WANTED TO KILL OUR CHILD (written in the form of an email to

  • Evans

    2009/06/02 at 1:52 pm

    Absolutely adorable. LOVE the dresser. As a first time commentor I also have to say you have a beautiful family.

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Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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