More Earth-Friendly Nursery Options

by Sherri Blum

Today our Nursery and Kids Room Design Expert and Contributor, Sherri Blum talks about the choices we make when creating spaces for our kids. A pioneer specialist for children’s-room interior design, Sherri’s designs for celebrities, and for the baby next door.

In honor of Earth Day, I wanted to take a moment to share some great, earth-friendly decorating options for your nursery or child’s bedroom.

More Earth-Friendly Baby Rooms

Over the past several years, consumers have been educated on the importance of reducing one’s carbon footprint on the Earth. We are focusing on finding healthier, organic foods to reduce the pesticides and toxins we put in our bodies, as well as cleaning up the air we breathe daily. We are becoming more aware and focused on keeping ourselves and our earth, healthier.

Couple that awareness, with the parental instinct to protect and nurture a newborn baby, and you find the marketplace left with a great need to provide the healthiest and safest options in children’s products.

Baby Holding Fragile EarthParents are, and should be very focused on safety when designing their baby’s nursery or child’s room—much more so than the murals and fabrics used in the design. My job as a nursery design specialist is to provide my clients with a beautiful, functional and SAFE nursery.

I do realize that over the years, organic bedding options were very limited; furniture made of green-certified wood was scarce and our flooring and paint choices all seemed to produce off-gassing of toxic fumes. It was difficult for parents to find the “green” products they desired, while not drastically sacrificing style and design.

Just four years ago, I began designing my own line of nursery crib bedding. I wanted desperately to find pretty organic fabrics for my crib bedding line. I searched the world over (literally!) and came up with only a few, solid, muted fabrics from which to choose. No polka dots or striped options were even available! I used 100% cotton in the bedding I eventually produced, however I was unable to claim that it was organic. I was hugely disappointed.

Well, this is most certainly no longer the case! Manufacturers of fabrics and other children’s products have stepped up to the plate and have produced the safe products we desire and with the trendiest of style options. Below, you’ll find just a few nursery products that I believe stand out among the rest.


The Eicho collection, made of 100% recycled/reclaimed, formaldehyde-free MDF, is offered in a bright white non-toxic finish. MDF is a wood composite product that is made from the otherwise unusable, wood scraps and sawdust — recycling at its best.

Spot on Square Eicho Crib

Bratt Décor is one of my all time favorite children’s furniture manufacturers. Stephen and Mary Bauer have produced wrought-iron furniture that is made to last for many generations, (making it easily reused over many years), the paint finishes used are non-toxic and iron is a renewable resource.

Bratt Decor Casablanca Crib

Find their extensive collection, including this Casablanca Crib (used by Jennifer Lopez for her twins’ nursery) at


Serena and Lily produces Maggie, made of 100% organic cotton. Such yummy, citrus colors…very hot in today’s nurseries!

Serena and Lily Maggie Bedding

Each Argington Organic Crib Bedding Set is made with unbleached organic cotton. The prints are done with low impact dyes using a low-impact printing process.

Comforters, bumpers, and boudoir pillows are filled with Eco-spun, 100% regenerated polyester fill that does not off gas or emit any traceable VOC’s. This Hearts and Flowers bedding reminds me of some sweet sun dresses I wore as a child. Very nostalgic, indeed!

Argington Hearts and Flowers Bedding

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer or have a seamstress in the family, Mod Green Pod produces beautiful fabrics that are 100% organic cotton grown, woven, and printed in the United States using non-toxic pigments.

Mod Green Pod Wee Jubilee Fabric in Raspberry

I only wish they had been around when I was seeking such beautiful fabrics (like this one) for my bedding line!


This LED bulb (and many others like it) screws into an Edison base.

LED Light Bulb

It is up to 90% more energy efficient than an incandescent bulb and can last up to 100,000 hours, over ten years, reducing cost and conserving energy. These bulbs use only one watt and do not heat up and don’t contain mercury.

Rather than purchasing a new chandelier or lamp for the nursery, you can recycle an old one. I have often designed nurseries where I purchased or recycled an old ceiling light fixture, painted and embellished it, and used it as a great focal point to a designer nursery.

This neon-glowing Quorum ceiling fan was found at a yard sale for $10 and was perfect for this teen boy’s groovy “Surfer Dude” room!

Teen Boy Surfer Dude Room by Jack and Jill Interiors


Not only should you not be breathing toxic fumes during your pregnancy, but traditional paint is not as healthy for your new baby, too. Consider using low-VOC paints the baby’s room.

Conventional paints are made from petrochemical-based solvents, which off-gas toxic indoor air pollutants called volatile organic compounds that have a strong odor and may lead to long-term problems over time.

Olympic brand now offers zero-VOC formula in many colors. Olympic can be found at Lowe’s.

Benjamin Moore Natura

Benjamin Moore produces Natura, a water-based, virtually odorless, zero VOC paint formula that can be mixed in any color. It is durable, washable and fade-resistant. Benjamin Moore carries the “Green Promise” designation, promising to continue its quest to meet and exceed all environmental standards.


Designer Sherri BlumSherri Blum loves putting her talents to use designing beautiful rooms for her tiny clients. Sherri’s designs are popular among celebrities and have been featured in numerous TV shows and publications.

Sherri shares with us trends, designer projects and advice for creating beautiful, yet functional kids rooms and baby nurseries.

Sherri operates her design firm Jack and Jill Interiors and she creates her signature line of children’s wall art, clocks and hand-hooked, wool rugs — Sherri Blum Designs. Sherri writes the Jack and Jill blog, and resides with her family in rural Pennsylvania.


These are just a few ideas on ways we can be more planet-friendly, and more safe, in our babies’ and children’s rooms

Please share with us: What you are doing to make good choices for the kids spaces?

Recycled Jeans TV Remote Pocket Pillow

Here’s a practical project that adds a touch of whimsy to your couch.

Recycled Jeans TV Remote Pocket Pillow

“Where’s the remote, Mom? Hey!! Have you seen the remote?”

The interrogation and cushion tossing begins in family rooms across the country. You’d better hope we can find the remote before the opening face-off of The Sharks game.

The solution? A Pocket Pillow to hold the remote. And this one’s extra-special, crafted from recycled denim shorts, custom-dyed to match your decor.

Recycled Jeans Remote Pillow Materials

I started with a pair of off-white cotton denim shorts, for $3.99 from the Goodwill. I bought a ladies size 16. 100% cotton would work fabulously; this pair is 98% cotton, 2% Lycra.

I laid out the shorts and plotted what shape pillow I’d like to make. Some options:

  1. One horizontal, rectangle-shaped pillow, with two pockets on each side.
  2. Two vertical. rectangle-shaped pillows with one pocket on each side.

I went with option number 2 because the shape would work better on our couch (and this would allow me to make a second pillow as a gift).

I sliced the jean shorts in two. Yup, cut right up the crotch – Ouch!

Slicing Jean Shorts in HalfRecycled Jeans Cut in Half

I wanted to make the pillows fun and not make the design complicated. How do I spell fun? C-O-L-O-R.

I chose two shades of fabric dye from the craft store. Our pillow will scream ‘Hey! Here’s the remote right here,’ in its cheerful, lime green (an accent color we’ve sprinkled sparingly in our room).

So, following the package directions I dyed half the shorts our lime green, then laundered it according to the directions.

Dyeing Shorts a Wicked Good Green

Those Are Some Stylin Shorts

The other pillow will be aqua blue, so I dyed and laundered the other shorts-half and set it aside for later.

Back to the lime green. For the whimsical look, I wanted to keep much of the jeans detail. To do that and sew the pillow easily, I removed the bulk of the inside half the zipper.

Here’s how the sewing went. With wrong-sides together, I top-stitched closed only the zipper-flap, along its existing stitching near the outside edge. Then I flipped the pillow inside-out and sewed the remainder of the seam (from the bottom of the zipper down) with right-sides together.

First Seam of TV Remote PillowFirst Seam Completed

I trimmed off the extra fabric, close to that first seam. Then with chalk I marked the bottom seam. I found it easiest to fold the waistband down and trace its line. On the right you will see the seam marked and ready to stitch.

Marking Bottom SeamBottom Seam Marked

Because I was taking advantage of the existing jeans styling, the third side of the pillow was already sewn (the outside seam of the leg). So I trimmed the excess fabric from the bottom seam, then flipped the pillow case to right-side-out. On the right below is the TV Remote Pillow, ready to stuff.

Finished SeamsTV Remote Pillow Ready to Stuff

I stuffed it with Polyfil, being sure to fill corners and nooks and crannies. I played a bit to get the amount I liked for a soft and not overly-stuffed pillow.

Stuffing the TV Remote Pocket Pillow

All that was left was to top-stitch along the existing top-waistband stitching. This closed and completed the Remote Pillow!

Here it is in its happy home.

Finished Remote Pocket Pillow

And you can switch up the look (or stow another remote) by using the flip-side with its remote pocket too!

Flip Side of the TV Remote Pocket Pillow

Now, I’ve got to get to work on the aqua pillow. I think this is destined for my daughter’s bedroom–nope, no TV in there–she will use it to hold her little journal.

Aqua-dyed Shorts Half for Pillow 2


Where do you corral your remote(s)? And what are your favorite projects for recycling jeans?

Makeover — Girl-Next-Door Painted Cupboard

by Diana Durkes

Don your possibilities spectacles and scour the alleys, Design Junkies! It’s DIY time with furniture and accessories makeover specialist, Contributor Diana Durkes. Diana gives “New Life to the Tossed and Found” at her blog, Fine Diving.

DIY Painted Cupboard Makeover

This cupboard deserved a second lease on life, I thought when I came upon it in the alley last month. It was in well-used but sturdy shape and had a girl-next-door friendliness about it–plain and pretty.

This became the challenge for a new look, how to bring out its personality without going too far and ending up with a prom queen wannabe.

Cupboard Before Alley-Worn

I started by stripping the layers of paint from the chest. White, then green, then a caramel color – each layer was like a history lesson about the life of the former users. While purists would value this original finish, it held onto years of grime, so time for a fresh start.

DIY Painted Cupboard Steps

After sanding the chest, I brushed on two coats of primer, then a butter yellow semigloss. Cool turquoise, celery green and a medium bright pink were also colors that came to mind for this small piece.

When the paint had cured for a few days – very important! – I gave the chest a final coat of water-based polyurethane. This will protect the painted finish from chipping.

As with some decorating details, you never know what will work until you try it. I find this especially true with pillows and scatter rugs. For the hardware on the chest, I chose three pulls to try from the selection at Anthropologie.

First, this glass nob.

Cabinet Hardware Option 1

Then, this whimsical one.

Cabinet Hardware Option 2

And last, this one for a yellow on yellow look. This is the keeper, and with makeover complete, this chest is ready for its sunny new life.

Cabinet Hardware Option 3

Diana Durkes

Diana Durkes is a creative recycler and a confessed alley shopper. She gives a makeover to one found item each week, and publishes the before & after on her blog, Fine Diving.

She also writes the Tossed and Found column for Time Out Chicago and pens the blog Garage Sale Warrior for the Chicago Trib’s Chicago Now.



What piece of furniture is calling out to you, to be made over? How will you transform it?

The Great Lady Decorators — Books

What’s best about producing The friendships I’ve made with creative, colorful people, and the motivation we share on a daily basis.

Some of the people I’ve become closest to are “designing women.” Not those from that comfy old TV show (RIP Dixie Carter), but real, design and decorating professionals who do incredible work; and talented DIY’ers that turn their homes into striking expressions of the unique people they are.

The Great Lady Decorators

Yet my newest designing-women friends I haven’t met, talked with, or even chatted with online. I’ve gotten chummy with them through the pages of Adam Lewis’s new book,
The Great Lady Decorators: The Women Who Defined Interior Design, 1870-1955 (Rizzoli, 2010).

I admit my love of history runs warm and cold. My husband can recall the players, dates and locations for important world events and when asked, can recite a synopsis. For me? Touring a historic estate or an exhibit of ancient artifacts–I’m in. Reading about historic figures–not so much. But this book grabbed me from the get-go.

Design + Trailblazing Career Women + History = Captivating.
Ruby Ross WoodLewis profiles thirteen pioneering women decorators:

  • Elsie de Wolfe
  • Ruby Ross Wood (at right)
  • Elsie Cobb Wilson
  • Dorothy Draper
  • Frances Elkins
  • Rose Cumming
  • Thedlow (a designing trio)
    and Marian Hall
  • Syrie Maugham
  • Nancy Lancaster
  • Madeleine Castaing
  • Eleanor Brown
  • Sister Parish

These women were instrumental in shaping what we know as the Interior Design trade. I was entranced by Lewis’s accounts of the world and times in which each woman lived, and how her interest in decorating (as it was called then) came about.

Solarium Entrance Apartment of Conde Nast by  Elsie de Wolfe

I could feel the influences and pressures on each woman, and could see how her talent and signature look developed. Lewis weaves in other key women and men who crossed paths with the Decorators and covers how Candace Wheeler made way for them all.

Swan House Entrance Hall by Ruby Ross Wood

As Lewis explains, much of these ladies’ work–including images of it– was not well-documented, but I found fascinating the ample photographs he was able to include. I kept spotting vignettes that could be snipped out of the past and woven effortlessly into today’s eclectic spaces. A few times I gasped audibly, thinking ‘Wish I could have been in that room, at that party.’

Speaking of parties — Oh my! The personal lives these women led! Most of them came from money and traveled in high society. But the stories of their marriages, affairs and divorces would give the Desperate Housewives writers excellent material. Here I thought those proper women in their beautiful dresses lived proper–if hum-drum–lives. Not so.

Back to the images. Celebrated painter of “Room Portraits,” Jeremiah Goodman, contributed about a dozen of his sumptuous impressions of the lady decorators’ work.
The book is worth purchasing solely for these design confections — but there is much
more here.

Jeremiah Goodman Painting Room of the Edward G. Robinsons by Frances Elkins

I’ve enjoyed getting to know my new designing-women friends. I’ve felt the feminine guile by which some, and the steamrolling will by which others lived their lives, and produced their sitting rooms, ballrooms and drawing rooms. The resilience that after the war brought Elsie de Wolfe back to Versailles to restore her beloved Villa Trianon, the independence that drove Dorothy Draper to orchestrate her theatrical resorts.

I admire the optimism of Nancy Lancaster who–after losing her grand Haseley Court home to fire–created a hug of a sanctuary in the coach house. And I adore the confidence with which Rose Cumming saturated her bedroom in sparkling blue.

Rose Cumming Bedroom by Rose Cumming

The Great Lady Decorators have become good friends that will continue to inspire.
Pay them a visit — you’ll enjoy their company.

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