My husband and I met in an airport, so it’s no coincidence that we aptly created our son’s room with aviation in mind. You could say our love story really took flight.
My favorite things in life are a summation of all things adventurous: airplanes, mountains, and forests. I had started collecting wilderness-themed nursery decor almost instantly, but that theme wasn’t settling as happily as I had hoped. Then I happened to find a bag of my husband’s old flight maps from his private pilot’s license days and settled instantly on the idea. As a fellow aviation-enthusiast (read: fanatic), Ian was totally “onboard” with the theme. Here’s how we transformed our outdated bonus room into a nursery for under $1,000.00, including paint, supplies, decor, and furniture. If you want to know where I found all these aviation goodies in lieu of reading every detail, scroll to the end of this post for a list of retailers.
Priming + Painting
Our home was built sometime in the 1970’s, which meant a lot of outdated features, including tongue-and-groove walls and ceilings in just about every room. I wasn’t thrilled about all of the priming and painting that we needed to do, but I also didn’t want my child having a dark, outdated room that didn’t feel welcoming. This was the most expensive part of our project. We used Sherwin Williams Pro Block Primer so we didn’t have to sand any of the treated wood on the walls. My mother-in-law did all the priming (thank you!) because of its very strong smell. We didn’t want to take any chances, so I kept myself busy on other projects until the primer was painted and dried. I’m proud to report the product worked great and we haven’t had any chipping and we’re two years in. Painting tongue-and-groove is a painstaking and obnoxious project, so if you find yourself in the throes of a similar project, I recommend working in small sections and focusing on small areas instead of the entirety of the workload. Take your time and it will all come together, as per my mother-in-law.
As for what colors to paint, I wanted one dark wall to make the white crib we purchased really pop as the focal point in the room. Then the remaining three walls could be something light to complement the other colors in the design. We used Sherwin Williams Naval (SW 6244) for the accent wall, which happened to become their Color of the Year in 2020. Who knew I was a trendsetter. We loved this color so much that we also used it in our downstairs bathroom. The other walls were painted a light blue with the perfect name, Sherwin Williams Upward (SW 6239). We started by painting the edges and grooves first with paintbrushes, then we used rollers for the rest.
Decor + Accessories
Painting is great and all, but decorating is the best part. Hunting to find the perfect little details to sew the room together is exhilarating and fun. I wanted the room to incorporate all the details of personal hangars, commercial airports, and flying without looking tacky. How could I make these three connected (yet different) themes work together? We turned his dresser/changing table into the hangar. Used toy storage as an airport seating area with time-zone clocks. And framed old flight maps into picture frames.
Furniture is expensive, especially baby furniture. We bought the crib, dresser, and glider used off Facebook Marketplace. The crib is Eddie Bauer and looked practically brand new. The dresser, however, needed some reviving. Since I had leftover paint from paining the living room the summer before, I made the dresser new-to-me by lightly sanding and painting it. I added pegboard, hooks, and baskets to give this side of the room an industrial hangar look. In the nursing corner of the room, we used frames that cost $2.00 or less to display my husband’s flight maps above the glider.
But there was one map in particular that I saved for a special place: the framed glass from Home Goods with the words “And So the Adventure Begins” etched into it. For that piece in particular, I adhered the flight plan for Glacier Park International Airport, the place I moved to for just a summer (ha!) that happens to also be the place where I met my husband. I hung a metal airplane from the ceiling in front of the piece and I cried. That is my favorite corner of the room by far.
I was not about to spend hundreds of dollars on clocks and maps, so I did the next best thing and went to Wal Mart. The clocks certainly aren’t as accurate as they once were, but hey, they were only $3.50/each. The large Rand McNally world map came in at just under $25.00 and we mounted it with spray adhesive onto a sheet of foam insulation that we cut to size from Home Depot for $12.00. The insulation was way cheaper than buying corkboard, and the map pins work just as well in the foam.
Lots of elbow grease and patience really paid off for Gavin’s nursery. The paint job took time and finding the right used furniture also took time. But I think I am able to appreciate his nursery that much more because of how invested I was in making every detail just right. Having such a huge project during pregnancy was a welcome distraction from the aches, pains, swelling, nausea, and restlessness of growing a human. Gavin’s room feels like home and I have cherished every swaddle, kiss, and cuddle we’ve experienced in there so far.
While the nursery was complete in 2018 when my son was born, I still find myself always on the hunt for the next best aviation adventure decor. Even though it’s been a few years, here’s the list of retailers I used and the items I found on their shelves:
Home Goods/TJ Maxx – “And So the Adventure Begins” framed glass, red storage ottoman (not pictured), wire hamper.
Wal Mart – clocks, area rug, world map, metal airplanes, “Explore” banner, metal baskets on pegboard, picture frames.
Hobby Lobby – airplane banner above the crib, cloud shelf, wooden clouds, wooden arrows, model airplanes, metal “G”, cloud coat hooks.