Houseknechts design dreamland nursery for baby Retta

MADISON – One-year-old Retta Houseknecht can drift to sleep with a smile in her stylish nursery, custom designed by her parents, Coleman and Lauren Houseknecht.

Coleman owns a small business, Belle Maison (‘beautiful house’) for refinishing and painting antique/vintage furniture. His spin-off business, Retta’s Ruffles, is dedicated to children’s furniture and home decor inspired by Retta’s nursery. Belle Maison and Retta’s Ruffles are located at University Pickers; Belle Maison also operates at Funky Monkey Vintage Store.

Lauren is a lawyer at Lanier Ford Shaver & Payne, P.C. in Huntsville.

During her pregnancy, Lauren waffled on themes for Retta’s nursery and ultimately let the color scheme drive, instead of a character or object that would grow dated. She kept light gray walls, “versatile no matter what colors used as accents. We mainly used corals and aquas, with a vintage style since her dad was doing her furniture,” Lauren said.

An antique crystal chandelier, painted white, was one of their first finds. The Houseknechts selected an antique French-style dresser and chest that Coleman painted in a customized coral pink he created especially for Retta’s room. A glider is an aqua blue. Coral and aqua carry the scheme throughout accents and bedding.

“Retta’s crib is a Jenny Lind vintage-inspired crib from Target! I fell in love with it, and it didn’t break the bank,” Lauren said. Supporting small businesses like their own, Lauren found bedding on an Etsy shop. “Her crib sheets are a beautiful floral pattern, crib skirt is coral ‘ombre,’ and the teething bumper is coral with gold polka dots.”

An antique chest and dresser that Coleman painted in custom coral, a white nightstand and white corner-shelving round out furnishings. Retta is fond of the nightstand, containing all her books. “She is a bookworm,” Lauren said. “She pulls out books from her nightstand every single day. Dr. Seuss is her favorite.”

Continuing the shabby chic theme, window treatments are floor-length curtains with white ruffles.

“Special” stuffed animals from friends and family keep Retta company. Her grandmother gifted a pink “jellycat.” From a close family friend, a pink elephant has ‘Retta’ embroidered on its ear. “Retta has her ‘baby’’ grand piano, which she absolutely loves now that she can stand,” Lauren said.

Sentimental touches include a special blanket that Lauren’s friend Mary hand-knitted in matching colors and a baby blanket from Lauren’s mother. A favorite accent is a sign that Coleman’s former boss made that reads, “All of God’s Grace in One Tiny Face.”

Although Lauren wanted hardwood flooring, Coleman convinced her to stay with carpet. “Now that Retta is in the crawling/trying-to-walk stage, I’m glad he did,” Lauren said. Retta thinks it’s hilarious to ‘fall’ onto a big, fluffy white rug in the middle of the room.

A wall gallery features a wooden cutout giraffe; ceramic cross; shelves with coral and aqua flower vases; and sayings like “Amazing Grace” and “Hello Beautiful Girl.” Over her crib, a large antique wooden frame boasts a ‘Retta’ banner. Coleman made a shadow box for hospital keepsakes, like Retta’s first onesies, hospital bracelets and first hat.

For Memorial Day weekend, the Houseknechts planned to celebrate Retta’s first birthday with a balloon/’Up, Up and Away’ theme party. “Retta loves Dr. Seuss’s book ‘Oh Baby, Go Baby,’ especially the baby flying away in a hot air balloon,” Laura said.

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