From Man Cave to Sweet Baby Girl’s Room

Assistant HOME editor Jessica Sinichak documents the process of turning her husband’s ultra-masculine office into a vintage-chic nursery.

the finished product: a vintage chic nursery for baby/photos by jessica sinichak


When I found out I was having a little girl, I was thrilled.

Don’t get me wrong, I would have been equally excited to have a little boy on the way, especially since I already have a little girl. But I was secretly delighted at having the opportunity to decorate another room fit for a princess — just as I did with my other daughter’s room.

It just so happened this room would have to be in the least-girly (and third largest) bedroom in our house, my husband’s so-called Man Room, aka the only space where he had carte blanche to decorate — and admittedly my least favorite room in the house. 

The man room


Now, before you start feeling sorry for John, just know that his man cave (with all of its pictures of hunting dogs chasing waterfowl and its oversized, dark furniture) didn’t go away. It simply moved to the basement office, which is a fine place as any for a cave.

For this baby’s room, I had a vision of a vintage-chic space with a feminine but not babyish vibe in tones of blush, cream and gold; a room that would carry her well into her teen years. I particularly was inspired by one of my favorite HGTV shows, Fixer Upper.

If you’re a fan of the show, then you know that Joanna Gaines, who remodels homes in Waco, Texas alongside her husband, Chip, is a big (BIG) fan of adding shiplap, a rough-sawn pine paneling often used in barns and historic home, to walls. I don’t think I’ve watched an episode yet where she hasn’t added the rustic boards to the walls, and it always turns out great. 

I love the look of shiplap, but I’ve never attempted anything like it in my home before. I wasn’t sure what to do. 

For help, I turned to my secret weapon, my dad.

the author's dad, joe Bruni, ripping out a wall at her home


My dad is a (semi-retired) contractor, and when I was growing up, there always were projects going on in our century-old home in the east suburbs. Construction is something I feel very comfortable around, and my dad is responsible for knocking out quite a few walls in my own home.

To create the look of shiplap, which typically isn’t sold western Pennsylvania, we went in search of 8-inch pine boards to nail to a feature wall. Unable to find the number of 8-inch boards we needed (apparently 8-inch boards are hard to come by. Who knew?), I settled for 6-inch boards found in the lumber aisle at our local Lowe’s Home Improvement Store.

six-inch pine boards were used to create the look of shiplap


John (who is learning to embrace, or at least accept, the sawdust) and my dad spent almost an entire day sawing and nailing the tongue-and-groove boards to what would become the room’s feature wall. Later, we painted the wood Alabaster, a creamy white paint from Sherwin-Williams.

Because we wanted the character of the wood to show, John thinned the paint by adding water. To keep with the rustic look, we choose a matte (or non-glossy) sheen for the paint. After two coats, we achieved our (OK, my) desired effect.

For the rest of the walls, I chose Romance, a blush shade also made by Sherwin-Williams. By using light colors and adding the wooden feature wall, we were able to make the room look much bigger — or least much bigger than it did as its previous incarnation.

to give it a rustic look, a matte coat of off-white paint was applied to the wood


Up next was arranging the baby furniture, which included a curvy, feminine crib in antique white from one of my favorite local youth stores, USA Baby to Teen in Ross Township.

Above the crib, which is set against the “shiplap” wall, I created an eclectic art collection with pieces I’ve been picking up over the last several months. I found most items at Target, HomeGoods, Kirkland’s, and even Francesca’s, but if you’re looking to shop local, check out House15143 in Sewickley or Sweet Water Decor, an online shop that also is based in Sewickley. Both boutiques carry an adorable array of original wall art, many of them with catchy quotes.   

One of my favorite pieces in the room is the vintage crystal chandelier. For decades, the fancy light fixture hung in my grandparents’ dining room. After my pap died and my grandma moved out of the house, she gave the chandelier to me. For several years, it sat in my basement while I contemplated what to do with it. I already had a chandelier I liked in my dining room, and the delicate crystal piece would get lost in space if I hung in our two-story entryway.

The author's husband, john, hanging the chandelier


Baby Girl No. 2’s room proved to be the perfect home for it. My dad and John doubted me, saying the chandelier would be too big, but it wound up being just the right size, as I knew it would be.

Knowing that one of my favorite uncles, who died in 2006 after complications from heart surgery, gave the chandelier to my grandparents as a gift makes it even more special to me. The shimmering light gives a soft touch of glamour to the room, and I think of my family every time I turn it on.

For the finishing touches, I selected a pair of creamy window panels with tumbling 3-D flowers by Lush Decor that I found on sale on I picked up the faux fur Safavieh accent rug at HomeGoods.  

Not finding anything I liked in the way of crib bedding in stores, I turned to the internet. After searching high and low on Etsy (a great resource for handmade gear), I found a crib skirt and matching sheet I loved by Carousel Designs. The three-tiered crib skirt has a different design (chevron, flying gold birds and plain pale pink) on each layer.  

the crib skirt from Carousel Designs


Oh, and no crib bumpers for us, thank you. I learned my lesson last time after I bought an expensive crib bumper for my older daughter, Aurelia (now 2), and never used it. 

If you’re searching for unusual crib bedding, the kind that can’t be found at chain stores, USA Baby to Teen also carries a ton of custom crib bedding, and the staff there will work with you to find a design you love. I purchased Aurelia’s pretty gray, pink and white bedding there, and I still adore it.

the author's older daughter, Aurelia, is ready to welcome her new baby sister — We think


These days, it’s hard to believe the ultra-feminine bedroom was once a man cave. John may grumble about moving his room to the basement, but I know he was happy (at least in his heart) to give it up for Baby Girl No. 2.

We’re ready. The room is ready. Now we just need Baby — due March 16 — to fill it!    

Categories: Nest