The Final Word: My “Green” Nursery Challenge

JProvenz-Maximus Bob Vila My Green Nursery Challenge

I had 8 weeks and $2,000 to transform our storage room into a green nursery. After sanding, painting, drilling, and otherwise making a 9-month pregnant spectacle of myself, I finished 2 days ahead of schedule and $94 over budget. I remember that, when I finished, I looked around the nursery and told the baby that I was finally ready, he could come now. Maximus Rhys Claburn arrived the next morning.

Pregnancy made me more cautious and more crazy.  I used to hold my breath when I passed a smoker on the street or the exhaust from a truck. Extreme, I know, but I didn’t want the baby exposed to anything impure. I realized I couldn’t protect him forever, but this green nursery was my effort at giving him a safe and healthy start.

JProvenz Baby Furniture Bob Vila Green Nursery
Since Zachary Smith and Maria Ivarsson—the Color Crew hanging the wallpaper and painting the nursery—are photographer/filmmakers, I asked if they would document the transformation. I figured when Max is in his rebellious phase, I could point to his nursery and say, “Look how I sacrificed for you!”

I was hoping for a few photographs, but Maria took 3,000 photos over 2 days. She set up a tripod in the closet and captured the room’s image every 5 seconds. Zachary edited the photos into an 88-second time-lapse video (which I find so entertaining, I’m tempted to run on loop in the nursery). Composer Jay Lifton provided the music, performed by Catherine Ho. My entire family is featured—my dad most prominently, along with Menelaus the cat and Maggie the dog. I hope you enjoy the results…

It was not possible to research every item that entered Max’s nursery, and I had to make compromises. Plus, organic and eco-friendly products are expensive (and therefore make excellent baby gifts, if you’re in the market!). But like other parents, we did our best. What I didn’t anticipate is how much the nursery would be, not just a reflection of Max and me, but of our friends and family as well. There are the chimes from his cousins in Israel and the name plate from his cousins in Africa. There’s the handmade knitted blanket from Auntie Phyllis in New York, the quilted playmat from Cousin Robyn in North Carolina, and the height chart and stuffed penguin from best friend Theresa in Massachusetts. Grandmom Claburn gave the glider, Grandpa Provenz built the crib, and Auntie Ruth passed along her dresser. Everywhere I look around the nursery, I see the warm welcome I was hoping to give Max long before we ever met.

Thank you for allowing me to have an adult conversation on a baby topic.  Now I must return to a world ruled by a self-obsessed dictator wearing a bib and footie pajamas.

JProvenz Handmade Baby Quilt Bob Vila My Green Nursery

Maximus’ Nursery Time-lapse
Produced by Jessica Provenz for
Photography by Maria Ivarsson | Video artist Zachary Smith

“Fugitive Garden Gnome”
music by Jay Lifton (ASCAP) Published by Jay Lifton Music (ASCAP)
Performed by Catherine Ho
Produced at Pulse Music, NY