Meagan Williamson's blog, Row House Nest, has been a must-read for years because it makes us feel that we too could make cool DIYs. Lately as a brand-new mom, Meagan has been using her home decor chops for all things baby. We reached out to Meagan to talk about how she is living well in motherhood and to learn how we can create a simple, stylish nursery.
Meagan, you're a new mom and write one of our favourite DIY blogs, Row House Nest, but we want to know more. What can you tell us about yourself?
Meagan: I know it seems like such a simple question, but this is actually difficult for me to answer. I am a woman who wears many hats – and some hats are unknown to the other ‘hats’!
Foremost, I am a new mom to a beautiful three-month-old boy as well as an overzealous dog mom to my wonderful pup Nan. I love spending time with my amazing partner, family, and close friends and being outdoors as much as possible. Camping, walking and drinking coffee in the sunshine are just a few of my favourite things.
Getting back to my ‘hats,' by day I work in the field of school and child psychology working mostly with special needs students. I am passionate about advocating for the needs of children, promoting resiliency and helping students get the support they require to have their learning needs met in the classroom.
By night, I am a DIY and home decor blogger at Row House Nest who writes when she can and spends way too much time on Pinterest.
We can definitely relate to the juggle. Adding in the motherhood hat is full of delights and challenges. What has surprised you the most?
M: I think being a mother is the most difficult job I have ever been signed up for. Nothing can prepare you for the twists and turns of being a new mother, especially in those first four weeks (Eight weeks? Ten weeks?).
The most challenging aspect of being a mother for me is coming to terms with the unpredictability of my baby. Just when I think I have something sorted or figured out, my sweet child changes it up.
We are our own worst critics. I could sit for hours picking apart what I did to ‘cause’ the change. I ate something; I wore a different outfit, I forgot a step in our sleep routine.
The reality is he is just a normal infant who is evolving and changing rapidly.
I have struggled to find the balance of squeezing in the things I enjoy (that make me feel happier) without feeling guilty.
When I should be sleeping, I can be found at my computer doing blog and social media ‘work’.
While I am home in the day with my son, I have WAY too much time to think about all the things I want to do (blog post ideas, new projects, ways to improve old content, complete this interview….) but when the baby is awake, he is with me.
I know this is ridiculous, but I was surprised by the fact that there is no more real ‘me’ time. I thought I would have a little time while he napped (HA!). Even when he does sleep for more than 20 minutes in the day (when he isn’t on me), I find myself needing to see to my essential needs: food, water, washroom break.
As he matures, I am beginning to make steps towards finding ways to see to more of my needs so that I hopefully can find more balance, for instance, my wonderful mom has a standing date to take Kieran for a walk every Monday for at least an hour or two.
We've had a glimpse at your baby's gorgeous nursery space. Tell us all about how you created it.
M: Our nursery is actually a nursery nook. Being an urban-dwelling family during a time of low vacancy rates for apartments, we decided not to relocate when we found out we were expecting. That meant making do with what we had – a one bedroom apartment.
Designing our nursery nook was a little trickier as we needed the nursery items to integrate well into our existing bedroom design. I focused on creating a gender neutral, space smart nursery that did not turn our bedroom into a sea of pink or blue.
Sticking with black, white and warm natural wood, we have created a little space that is big enough to meet my son’s needs while not taking over our bedroom.
Many of the items I picked up have a dual purpose – for example, a ‘display’ shelf is a great place for me to store swaddles. And Kieran’s nook? In its previous life, it was a useless closet space!
Speaking of nurseries, we can't complete our interview without asking you about designing one since you made yours so beautiful. How do we marry our craving for simplicity with the stylish to make a nursery we adore?
M: Nurseries are such a tricky thing… as I think we all know, babies need very little (especially in the beginning). Hence why I believe that we should get away from the mentality of more is better and go instead with simple designs that marry style with practicality. I think it is better to go with the bare bones and add to it once the baby arrives.
Many parents talk about creating a beautiful nursery only never to step foot it in once the baby arrives. A smart move for parents to do before the baby arrives is to think of items that can grow with their children, extending the ‘lifetime’ of the items you carefully gather or buying items that are more portable.
For example, our crib (that we have not transitioned into yet) has wheels on it. If we wanted it could remain in Kieran’s nursery nook or be wheeled up beside the bed.
Another tip I would give is to make the layout work for you. Forget what all the inspiration images show (most of those are set up for what photographs well), think about what makes sense for you.
Just because the change table looks good against a certain wall does not mean it is practical to have to walk all the way over there at 3 am.
An excellent way to keep things simple is to repurpose items that you already own (for example, an old dresser makes for a great change table) instead of buying new items.
If you find that the dresser isn’t working out, shop for a change table after the baby arrives. I prefer to keep things more neutral and stick with neutrals – whites, blacks, and grays and add in pops of colour. It is easier to switch up accessories (textiles, art, toys) than it is to buy a new crib!
Do you have a simple nursery DIY that you can share with us?
M: Very recently, I partnered with a talented calligrapher to create a custom print for Kieran’s nursery! This print is near and dear to my heart as I dreamed about having a family since I was pretty young (my friends even call me Momma Meags).
This DIY printable is a handwritten calligraphy print using a quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald.
You can download the print and either print it at home or take it to a local print shop for a higher quality poster.
Housing prices are high, rental vacancies are low, it seems like more and more families are choosing to rent. We love how you share DIYs that work for rentals. Any advice on something that everyone can do to make their living space feel like their own?
M: Paint and add removable wallpaper or wall decals! You do not need to be incredibly skilled to head out to your local hardware store and pick up some zero-VOC wall paint or hop online to look at removable decals.
Making small changes like a fresh coat of paint or personalizing a room by adding wall decals makes space more ‘you’ while not causing permanent damage. One of my favourite DIY’s was adding wall decals to my mudroom.
You've curated a beautiful Pinterest feed. As a blogger, oftentimes, new opportunities open up as a result of the skills we develop. Tell us how have you used Pinterest to grow your readership on Row House Nest and are using it to begin a new business.
M: My time on Pinterest started back when it was in beta mode! It all began innocently enough. I loved having a virtual place to collect my favourite images.
Slowly over time, I noticed my following grew and grew and grew… And I was just doing my own thing. Pinning when I could, looking up tutorials or a new recipe that I was interested in.
Pinterest is a place of wanderlust and inspiration for me. I pin images that inspire me in one way or another. It might be a beautifully luxurious kitchen or an ancient wood stove in a cabin. I like to go back and look at homes that might have a much bigger budget than mine but think about how elements I can achieve within my budget.
Pinterest has helped my business in so many ways – first off it has provided me with a world of inspiration. It pushes me to get creative and to think about how I can recreate looks in my own home.
Second, Pinterest is a source of referrals to my blog! Users may see images of my home and make their way to my blog to read about how I created that room and read my tutorial for a DIY project.
And third, my natural love for Pinterest has grown into a thriving consulting business that I provide to bloggers and brands. In fact, I just launched my website. As a Pinterest consultant, I focus strategy on organic growth (no tricks or online ‘games’) and building a coherent platform for users to enjoy.
I have to be very honest and admit that I may have ‘found’ Pinterest but truly Pinterest found me. I spent time there, and my following grew naturally. I would like to say that spend time where you enjoy it most, and you will see growth. My work as a consultant blossomed naturally when brands noticed my natural approach to growth and asked me to help them grow their presence on the platform.
What does it mean to you to live well in motherhood? Is there an area you feel you are rocking it, at least, most of the time.
M: My journey as a mom is just beginning, so I feel that this answer will likely change as time goes on.
To live well in motherhood is to understand who I am as a mother and not get bogged down the information overload of parenting in the 21st century. We are bombarded by theories, apps, Facebook groups and mommy groups that tell us what is the new “right way” to raise our kids.
At the moment, I think I am doing well to tune out most of the outside pressures and rely heavily on my maternal instincts and intuition. I am trying my best to learn from my baby and not a book or know it all mom online.
I hear about a lot of new moms doubting themselves once they are in the thick of it and luckily, I think my strong commitment to attachment has made me confident in the decisions I have made thus far.
Other than that, I think I am rocking it by trying my best to embrace my new normal and continue to get outside with my new ‘squad’ as much as possible.
Finally, we're always curious about how other moms do self-care. As a mom to a very little one, how do you carve out space to care for yourself?
M: In the first six weeks of motherhood, I made a commitment to take a bath everyday. This was my ‘me time’ and important for my recovery. My husband did everything he could to make this time happen.
I read a beautiful quote from the poet Nayyirah Waheed recently, “I am taking a bath. I am washing a war from me.” In those early days, every day felt a little like going to war. It was unpredictable, and I felt unprepared at times, but I got through it with cuddles, love and knowing that we were made for each other. I would celebrate getting through each day with that bath.
Photos from Row House Nest