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A Farmhouse Nursery Inspired by The Velveteen Rabbit


When my husband and I decided to start a family, we planted ourselves in West Point, Virginia, a small coastal community with great schools and an abundance of historic charm. It's the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, where kids still ride their bikes up and down Main Street until the street lights come on, and most businesses are still Ma and Pop-owned. We were drawn to our circa 1917 farmhouse style dwelling by its giant wrap around porch, rich unpainted wood details, and the little bits of charm you just can't find in most new construction (mantles in every room?! a secret passage into the attic?! a "Harry Potter Room" under the stairs?! what's not to love?). It's been a long, labor intensive project to be sure, but we're turning this old house into our forever home one plaster crack at a time.

I'm a designer (floral) by trade, so nesting comes naturally to me. Multiply that instict by 100 once I found out we were expecting! I immediately started thinking about all the design possibilities for baby's nursery. I wanted it to reflect the same kind of charm my husband and I felt when we fell in love with our town, our home, and how we knew we'd feel when we met our sweet girl. I wanted a sense of continuity with the rest of our home, which has a farmhouse vibe with lots of texture and vintage elements, and I knew the room should grow with our little one, transitioning seamlessly from infant to toddler, from kid to teen. A challenge that constantly presents itself when designing for our home is preserving and highlighting the original hardwoods without allowing them to overwhelm and darken the space. Keeping these practical goals in mind, I selected a light, airy color palette - whites, grays, and tans, with pops of mint and dusty blues - and then settled on a motif, which needed to inject a bit of childlike joy (it is a nursery, after all!). Ultimately, my favorite classic children's book - The Velveteen Rabbit - became my inspiration and supplied a much-needed touch of whimsy.

I love the contrast of simple white walls against the color of our hardwoods, but I often find white paint can make a space feel a bit void; I created a textured accent wall behind the crib to liven things up a bit. Bearing in mind our budgetary and practical constraints (aka: plaster walls), we opted to use a blown wallpaper that looks and feels just like shiplap. Y'all wouldn't believe how many people are surprised it isn't the genuine article.

Another challenge that often presents itself in older homes like ours is storage; none of our bedrooms have closets. Rather than opting for a bulky wardrobe, we chose to install a custom shelving unit. I fully anticipate this addition to turn into a catch-all as baby girl grows, so eventually we'll install a floor to ceiling curtain to hide what I'm sure will be a small disaster zone. But for now a few decorative bins, boxes, crates, and an adjustable tension rod suit our storage needs quite well.

I walk a fine line between extravagance and frugality. If it's not something that will stand the test of time (think family heirlooms like the custom made quilt from Little Bits of Everything or the antique wooden horse passed down by my father in law), I'm not willing to splurge. But being a designer and general craft queen, I'm pretty thrifty. Armed with my trusty muscle (ahem...husband) and a can-do attitude, I decided to tackle a few small projects that make a big statement in the nursery. In addition to hand-making all of the wall decor, stenciling the inside of the mantelpiece, and hand-sewing a sweet little bunny garland, my husband and I refurbished an antique dresser to repurpose as a changing table. My hope is that someday my sweet girl will look back at these photographs or pick up some of these items and realize that they were made with love just for her.

Photography by The Hart Collective.


Wednesday 12th of February 2020

Hey there, Janelle! My husband purchased this sweet little rabbit at an antique store in West Point, Va.

Janelle Burdick

Wednesday 29th of January 2020

Hey I was wondering where I could find a Velveteen Rabbit like the one in image 12? Thanks.