Question: Hey there! I really enjoyed your post a few years back on the “antiqued nursery.” Could you give any tips or ideas on using antique pieces for kids’ rooms? In particular, a little boy’s room? We just found out we are having our first (a boy) in the new year and I am looking for some unique pieces to start a collection for him. I want to create a nursery that can double for a “big boy” without changing too much decor. Thanks!
– Caroline in San Marco
Answer: Caroline, thanks for your question. We are expecting a little boy in the new year, too, so this is a fun one to answer. You mentioned my post, The Antiqued Nursery, and you might also check out one I did a few years back on Man-tiques. The neat thing about Man-tiques is that although you are making a little boy’s room, you are putting together a collection that won’t go out of style and that he can take with him to start his own family one day.
1. Think practicality and versatility.
Can this piece double as something else in another house? Can he use it when he’s older? I never buy anything that can be used only in one particular space, because my wife and I are constantly moving furniture. For bedside tables, just look for solid, attractive side tables with good lines, preferably with a drawer or two. If they are not particularly old or fine, don’t think twice about painting them. If they are old or fine, put a youthful pair of vintage lamps on them to fit the nursery. Don’t fall for one of those new “nursery bedroom suites” if you are going for an older look. I have stolen bedside tables from my kids’ rooms at least twice when we re-arranged things around the house and needed them elsewhere. Children’s rooms are a great place to use pieces that you might also need somewhere else later. Oh, and don’t buy a changing table (see this post). Find an old 1930s sideboard and paint it or use a beautiful lowboy. A changing table will end up on the street one day… a lowboy won’t.
Primitive, country, side or work tables make excellent additions to kids’ rooms. They have been beat up and can take more!
2. Look for dogs, boats, maps, and antler motifs. (It you need extra help, there’s sure to be a plethora of these items at this year’s show.)
3. For beds, consider antique 3/4 cannonball or spindle beds.
Yes, they are shorter. Yes, they can be a pain to outfit. But they look really cool. As a rule, 3/4 beds need a custom mattress because they are shorter and skinnier than a double bed. But, they make the perfect kid or toddler bed. They add so much character and charm to the room (and you can get away with full/queen bedding). They are space savers, while also allowing you to have a guest bed in your nursery. Remember two people used to sleep in these things.
4. Don’t overthink it.
Babies don’t know or care what their rooms look like, and let’s be honest, when they get older, you will want them acclimated to older things and trained to like what you like. Right now, my second son (arriving in 2016) has a pair of red and green floral, William Morris style lamps on his bedside tables, and it doesn’t bother me. I can ‘masculinize’ the room in other ways to off-set the lamps. I bought the lamps for my wife for our first bedroom together, and our third child’s nursery is just where they happened to end up. I love it. Use what you have. Use what you like. And if you are hunting, try to find a vintage or antique alternative to what you see in the catalog.