Digital strategist, brand specialist and glamorous trend creator Jenna McArthur recently gave up her bespoke communications company to take on her life’s newest and biggest adventure: motherhood. As she prepared her nursery, piece by curated piece, Jenna shared her mom-to-be experiences with her friends and family on Instagram, including the completion of her elegant, all-white nursery.
We caught up with Jenna mere days after Noa, Jenna’s beautiful and healthy daughter, was born.
what was the starting point or initial vision when you began planning your baby’s nursery?
I wanted a space that is calm and minimalist; a space that my baby, my husband and I would love to be in and spend time in. I find white and neutral shades extremely calming, so creating a cocoon of stillness was step one. An all-white space can often feel clinical or overtly sterile – lacking warmth as a result – which influenced my vision to include texture and play with different shades of white to give the room depth, like the upholstered ‘The Romeo‘ toy box, a laundry basket made from sustainable materials by local artisans in Swaziland and South Africa, and an Icelandic longwool sheepskin rug that each give the room a luxurious feel. I also added items that carry meaning and a story so that Noa’s space has personality – a beautiful chandelier that was a gift from my dad, antique silver and crystal vases passed down from my gran and a teddy bear that was mine growing up. These pieces mean something to us and make the room that much more special.
Although I didn’t know the gender of my baby, I did know that I wanted a nursery that is elegant and romantic and slightly more timeless and sophisticated than most nurseries. Many moms would probably be shocked by the all-white decision, but I see it as a blank canvas to grow with Noa over the years; a space to update easily. Essentially, a space that can grow with our child.
On a practical level, I knew many of the pieces would need to be Scotchgarded – if the items, fabrics and linens are taken care of properly, an all-white space is entirely possible. Personally, the key to planning your nursery is to take your time: collect things as you go, map out visually what you love and take the time to find the right pieces. This is all part of the nesting process.
what were the three most important factors you considered?
Comfort, quality and meaning. Long nights of feeding and settling the little one means that the space needed to work visually as much as it did practically. I worked with local brand Baby Belle and invested in pieces I knew would serve me long-term – long-lasting, beautiful and made with both mum and baby in mind.
The rocker is comfortable, solid and beautifully designed as a classic wingback. The deep buttoning complements the upholstery of the white cot, which is handcrafted with beautiful deep-buttoned and soft upholstery. The compactum, another example of an investment piece, is essential and anchors the room – it’s both spacious and practical but again, so beautifully designed with drawer-front details and crystal handles in custom arctic white.
While comfort and quality is key, it is important to do your homework; I chose to work with a brand that uses non-toxic and lead-free paints, and understands the importance of creating pieces that are special, unique and user-friendly with smart design.
Lastly, a room full of meaning was important for my husband and me. During my pregnancy we chose pieces together that we both loved (it’s so important to include your husband in the journey so that he feels as much a part of it as possible – he doesn’t have the bump as a constant reminder). We travelled to New York during my pregnancy and chose beautiful nursery art for Noa’s room. It is both playful yet sophisticated. We’ve collected a plush toy or teddy from each of the cities we’ve travelled to in the US, which have become little things that tell a story and that hold meaning.
Perhaps the most treasured item is a baby book we bought from Artifact Uprising, filled with beautiful prompts for you to capture each day and take note of monumental moments. I’ve so enjoyed filling in the blanks (there’s something about honouring that which is meaningful and documenting it in print), adding my own photographs and writing letters to Noa. It’s not your typical baby book, either – it chronicles the first year of your baby’s life in a modern and lovely way, with beautiful quotes, original ideas and even the option to customise the fabric cover and foil.
being a first-time mom (and the first in this nesting process), how much did you need to research or was the process very instinctual and organic?
A bit of both, really. I love design and curating spaces, so putting together the nursery was such an organic and special process. I did, however, do research too, so that my choices were practical and wise. For example, I have several sheepskins (they add great texture and depth and give the room a feminine warmth) and the merino wool is gentle against babies’ skin, has natural temperature control that results in better sleep and helps reduce stress and colic. It’s cosy in the crib, but also perfect as a play mat on the floor (Baaa Sheepskins and Baby Couture offer different sizes and selections).
Another product I researched was the Nurture One nesting pillow. It’s probably my number-one must have – it’s used as a transition pillow from your arms to the crib and provides a sense of security and calmness that babies feel in the womb. I have found that it settles my baby so beautifully and provides a really safe sleeping environment.
For first-time mums, I’d say the most important thing to do when planning your nursery is to connect and share with other mums; you learn a lot about what is practical, what’s essential (and what’s not), but ultimately, your baby’s space is an extension of your home and your family, so have fun with it.
what’s your favourite part of the room?
Noa’s crib. It’s where she rests and looks so peaceful. It was a customised piece from Baby Bell in arctic white, which feels so grand with its deep buttoning. The crib exhibits all the hallmarks of an antique, but is still modern and sweetly sophisticated. A few must-haves that fill the crib: Ewan The Dream Sheep – it will save your life – and a beautiful musical moutons mobile by Trousselier that plays the Mozart lullaby (and the sheep are just too sweet!).
To read more about Noa’s nursery and to follow Jenna’s new motherhood experiences, visit jennamcarthur.com.
Our daughter, Noa was born on Thursday 5 July. We’ve spent the last few days enjoying every moment of her. Thank you God for making her perfect, healthy and beautiful. Noa means “from love” in Japanese, in Hebrew, a name for movement. In the Bible, Noa was one of the five daughters of Zelophehad who brought about change through her obedience to God. The minute you were born Noa and we first laid eyes on you it was like we recognized you. Our world is now complete and are hearts full. #lifestyle #lifestyleblogger #instagood #CapeTown #SouthAfrica #baby #baby #babygirl #itsagirl #momsandmamas #ig_motherhood #motherhood