Moving home is considered to be one of the most stressful things you can do, and even more so when you are expecting a baby. Although there will no doubt be a huge amount of excitement in the royal household with the impending new arrival, the fact the Duke and Duchess of Sussex have moved into a new home means that there will be even more to think about. Two weeks after our son Rocco was born, we completed on a new house purchase. The timing wasn’t ideal. The perfect scenario would have been to move in before Rocco was born, but sometimes when it comes to house purchases (or the arrival of babies), timings don’t always go to plan. We simply had to make it work.
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It helps massively if you have the support of your family just like Alex and I did, and no doubt Meghan and Harry will. However, as new parents, they will most likely want to cocoon themselves with their newborn in their new home and enjoy some precious time just the three of them AND they will want to do that in comfort.
If you are about to move home, or have recently moved home and need some last-minute tips of how to get it ready for your newborn, or how to start to turn it from a house to a home with not much time to spare, here are a few tips that I hope you (and Meghan) will find helpful.
It’s incredible how mothers have this urge to ‘nest’ prior to a baby arriving. It is like spring cleaning after consuming a huge amount of sugar (which is probably not advised during pregnancy). We want to clean, get organised and sometimes redecorate. Cleaning a new/existing home with eco-friendly products that don’t contain hefty chemical detergents is one of the first things I would do (or if you can’t, get someone else to do it for you!). Keep your house well ventilated to improve the air quality for your expectant newborn, and when you have finished, make sure any guests leave their shoes at the door! When your home is clean, you will have a better idea of what you need to do décor wise.
Create a mood board
My next bit of advice would be, create a mood board of your long term 'ideal' look. This might be as simple as getting a little scrapbook and collecting magazine cuttings and fabric samples. However, if you are limited for time and need some inspiration, a company I have recently come across called Maisons Du Monde have a really good catalogue with style guides and some of their products are excellent value for money.
Moodboard inspiration courtesy of Maisons du Monde
Focus on rooms you'll be in the most
If you do have an urge, or the time to decorate (I decided to hang wallpaper when I was eight months pregnant), then make sure you use a child safe products. Frenchic has a range of eco-friendly, child-safe chalk paints with some beautiful colours. Don’t stress yourself over getting the whole house decorated in time for the new baby. Focus on the rooms that you will probably spend the most time in; the sitting area, kitchen, the babies room and your bedroom (but only if you have time). I always think it is good to go for a neutral base colour and then you can build the colour in with accessories that are also then easily changeable when you want to restyle the room.
Get 10 colour options from Frenchic and then decide
Consider a feature wall
Wallpapering a feature wall is a good way of making a big transformation, fast. In my little experience of wallpapering while pregnant, I found ‘paste the wall wallpaper’ easier to hang rather than ‘paste the paper wallpaper’.
Paste the wall wallpaper, £34 a roll, Graham & Brown
Create an ambience
For me, lighting plays a huge factor in making a house feel homely and there are some simple things you can do that can make a big difference that doesn’t take long at all. I rarely have the ceiling lights on in our house as I like the ambience from freestanding lights with shades, or lights on side tables. Using a lamp which omits a ‘warm light’ instead of a ‘bright white light’ can instantly change the mood of a room. When I say lamp, I mean bulb but ever since my electrician told me ‘lamps glow – bulbs grow’ I have felt compelled to use the right name for them!
Say it with scent
Another way to make a house feel homely? Candles. Obviously with little ones you have to be extremely careful so you might feel more comfortable using diffusers. I have a big collection of a variety of scented candles and diffusers which I adore. Some of my favourites include Jo Malone, Monique Hart, Diptique and Heir and Grace. However, for a babies’ room, Mustela has a beautifully scented candle (that is baby safe) which I loved burning when Rocco and Tahlia were born. It added a beautiful scent to their bedrooms and omitted a lovely glow when they were going to sleep. It is also a good way of taking the edge off smelly nappies!
Choose wisely when it comes to home accessories
Throws, cushions and rugs can add some beautiful texture to a property to make it feel homely quickly. Make sure you wash any throws or cushion covers with a non-bio detergent and be mindful that with a new baby they will probably need to be washed on a regular basis, so chose a fabric that ‘washes well’.
I have purchased some really nice rugs and soft furnishings from Next, Wayfair and Dunelm and if you don’t have the time to physically get to the shops, they can all usually deliver within a few days, subject to availability.
Happy mat, £14, Next
Don’t stress and retain the mess
It’s really important to remember that while you might want to have your newborn babies’ bedroom set up, and ready with a cot and all their furniture, as soon as they are born, they will, in fact, be in a crib, or similar for possibly up to six months in your bedroom.
However, a well-organised chest of drawers with all your baby essentials (wet wipes, nappies, baby grows, and muslins), as well as a changing table will come into its own. There is no need to buy two pieces of furniture. A chest of drawers with a changing mat on top is all you need. I loved the changing mat someone purchased me as a gift from Bambizi. It was made from a luxurious washable fabric and adds a touch of cosiness! To save time and any stress, I would suggest buying a ‘ready built’ chest of drawers rather than going for a flat-packed option. If this isn’t possible then make sure you get someone else to build it for you!
Changing mat, £95, Bambizi
Have one chaos room
Finally, if you have just moved into a new home – why not consider using one of the rooms as your storage space. You can retain all the boxes in one space if you don’t have time to unpack them and shut the door. Enjoy spending precious time with your baby in the rooms you have been able to make a bit cosy and get someone else to come help you unpack the boxes. If people want to buy you ‘New Baby & New Home’ gifts, why not point them in the direction of ‘My First Years’ who offer some beautiful, personalised bedroom pieces!
Storage bag, £40, My 1st Years
Making a house a home isn’t something you can do overnight. It can take years and is something that you should enjoy taking the time over, just as much you will enjoy the time with your little one.
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