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New mom hits the sales and Pinterest while crafting homemade charm

Ashley Gilbert holds her son Zander Haydon in their nursery at their rural Duluth home. The room's decorations include crosses over the crib, stuffed bears and plaid fabrics. Photos by Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com1 / 10
The rocking chair in the nursery created by Ashley Gilbert for her son Zander Haydon at their rural Duluth home. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com2 / 10
Stuffed bears in the nursery created by Ashley Gilbert for her son Zander Haydon at their rural Duluth home. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com3 / 10
The crib in the nursery created by Ashley Gilbert for her son Zander Haydon at their rural Duluth home. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com4 / 10
Ashley Gilbert and Amber Gilbert have been planning their baby rooms for years, they said. The plaid theme was a decor idea between sisters. Photo courtesy of Amber Gilbert5 / 10
A picture frame in the nursery created by Ashley Gilbert for her son Zander Haydon at their rural Duluth home. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com6 / 10
Zander's father painted this mirror in the nursery created by Ashley Gilbert for her son Zander Haydon at their rural Duluth home. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com7 / 10
This bear hangs on the wall in the nursery created by Ashley Gilbert for her son Zander Haydon at their rural Duluth home. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com8 / 10
This art was created by Zander's older sister in the nursery created by Ashley Gilbert for her son Zander Haydon at their rural Duluth home. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com9 / 10
Crosses hang over the crib in the nursery created by Ashley Gilbert for her son Zander Haydon at their rural Duluth home. Clint Austin / caustin@duluthnews.com10 / 10

Everything's pretty much plaid in Zander Haydon's nursery. The curtains, the baby-changing pad, the wall art.

For the latter, mother Ashley Gilbert of Duluth opted for a clever, cost-cutting route with 50-cent frames and home-printed images in plaid with animal silhouettes. One of them reads "You'll never know deer how much I love you."

You can tell they're homemade when you get up close, Gilbert said.

There are garage-sale finds in a bottle warmer, a baby wipe warmer, a closet of clothes ready and raring with bigger sizes.

You can spot 2-month-old Zander's father, Jason Haydon, in the art on the walls — a painting he did in high school of a deer overlooking a lake with orange skies, and a repurposed frame with a realistic woodland scene drawn in chalk pen. He's craftier than she is, Gilbert said.

Gilbert's sister, Amber, searched Etsy for personalized pieces. On another wall, there's a wooden bear in mid-stride with Zander's name in red, raised letters. Spot his name throughout a nearby children's book; the title page has his birth date and a message from "Auntie Amber."

She wanted to give her nephew a book he could have the rest of his life, she said, recalling a copy of "Precious Moments" that she and her sister had since they were "babies."

More items from family are two stuffies and a handmade piece with the words "Welcome home" from big sis, SarahJean, 8.

Above Zander's crib are three crosses, one Gilbert made with chevron fabric, a frame and a broach. The others are hand-me-downs from her grandparents, including a white rosary that she used for her first communion.

Her Catholic faith is important, Gilbert said, and she has been going to church since she was born.

Near these artifacts are small hanging pictures of Zander's elders who have passed. "I always wanted them above the crib ... They're his guardians," she added.

Also above his crib is a shadow box with a pacifier, identification wristbands and a picture of baby at the hospital.

You'll also spot bottles of baby powder, plaid booties — and a small plastic hammer? "My boyfriend wanted to name him Thor. We had a battle," she said.

Asked how she convinced him otherwise, Gilbert said she doesn't know, but the name they eventually agreed upon was compliments of SarahJean.

And while her son looks like a Zander, who knows? "Thor" might be a nickname, she said.

The nursery took a couple of weeks to get together, and it's still changing, she said, pointing to a Santa hat resting on the edge of a wall hanging. Two weeks ago, Gilbert and Haydon moved a bed into the space. Gilbert likes to sleep next to her son because it's easier for feedings, and everything's accessible.

"I've got the pump, the changing table over here; it's all contained."

On the ceiling, Gilbert had pinned pictures the size of Post-It notes with designs in black and white — the only colors Zander can see right now. While she thought she'd be nervous all the time, she said parenting feels natural, and she's looking forward to adding to the family.

Her nursery tips are to check rummage sales, grab items that you already own, and check Pinterest for ways to make it nursery-friendly, she said.

Up next: "We're planning her kids', whenever she has kids," Gilbert said of her sister.

Added Ashley Gilbert: Once she's done using it, I'll take it over.

Share your space

Have a Pinterest-y nursery or a pic-worthy child's bedroom? Email mlavine@duluthnews.com or call (218) 723-5346 for a story in the News Tribune's Home section.

Melinda Lavine

Lavine is a features and health reporter for the Duluth News Tribune. 

(218) 723-5346
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