Rainbow Nursery Before + After

Friends, we have been SOOOOOO excited to share this room and new project with you! Elsie and I have been talking about new project ideas for 2020 and one thing we landed on is we’d love to see A Beautiful Mess do room makeovers for single parents. So that’s exactly what we are doing, and we are kicking it off a little early before the new year just to get the project rolling!

Why are we doing this?

-We love doing room makeovers. Before and after decor content is not only really fun for us to work on creatively, it’s also something that we can tell from stats and your comments that our readers love seeing. So, having more of this type of content on our site is a win-win.

-We wanted to branch out from our own spaces more, but we quickly realized we probably needed a way to narrow this down as we can’t do a room makeover for everyone in the world. As we discussed, Elsie and I both felt passionate about doing room makeovers for single parents. We recognize that the role of parenting is so important—our parents had an enormous impact on our lives and it’s one of those jobs that just doesn’t get recognized in the same way a career job does. We also can see that doing this important, tough job without a partner is even more challenging than with one (recognizing that there are a million different situations out there and admittedly this is a generalization).

We see you parents! We see you working hard to raise the next generation of kind, loving, smart, creative leaders. And we see you parents that are currently doing it alone. You rock! And if we could give you all a room makeover we would. And although that’s impossible, we still hope that through this series you feel celebrated. We see you and our hats are off to you, friends!

My beautiful and amazing sister-in-law, Michelle, is a single mom. And she was kind of enough to let me kick off this project with a room in her home. I’m going to share some before and after photos and talk a little bit about what we did in the room. Then at the end of this post, I’m going to let Michelle tell you a little more about herself and her family in her own words.

Michelle chose this room for her makeover as it’s the nursery for her foster daughter, and she also chose the rainbow theme (again, read Michelle’s story at the end of this post to know more). We also talked about all the needs of this room. There was the obvious, a crib that eventually could become a toddler bed, a changing table, room for clothes and baby things, etc.

She also needed some space for her twin nieces to visit from time to time (which is why she had that wooden bunk bed in the room previously). Bonus that this extra sleeping space would also serve as guest sleeping space should that ever be needed. And even though this was needed sometimes, it wasn’t needed all the time. So I wanted to find a solution that didn’t take over the room or block the window light quite as much as the previous bunk bed.

Here is the mood board I emailed Michelle before I started ordering things for her space:

I’ll link everything here as well as the end of this post, where there will be a room details section. I started designing around this rainbow pillow and used that as the basis of the color scheme for the room. I wanted to avoid too many primary colors while still sticking to the rainbow theme. As you can see, we also found this really cute and affordable trundle bed that fit the space well. I think my favorite item was the rug (like most bloggers, I am rug obsessed—ha) and one of Michelle’s favorite items was this light fixture.

Items: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7

We also added a few floating book shelves for bedtime stories, a felt ball mobile, and I am SO in love with this handmade rainbow that hangs above the changing table. The space feels simple, easy to navigate, colorful (but not overwhelming, feels calm) and has all the functionality that it needs. So happy with how this space turned out and immensely grateful that Michelle allowed me into her home and to basically be my test subject for this project. 🙂 And now I’ll let Michelle tell you more about herself:

What can I say about my life … nothing went as expected, and that’s OK. I married young, for the wrong reasons and it ended about five years ago. From the mess of a bad marriage came the beautiful blessing of my son, R., my only living biological child. He should have been one of three siblings, but it just was not meant to be and my body would not carry the other pregnancies. I worked front line social work for nearly a decade, working with families struggling with substance abuse trying to reunite with their children.
From where I sat, I saw the need for good foster homes in my community. It laid heavy on my heart, that while I didn’t seem to be able to carry more children, I had more than enough maternal love to go around. My ex-husband, being adopted from the foster system, was adamantly against the idea. So, it was in my new freedom as a single mom that I took on the task of being a foster parent. I have been fostering baby M since birth—she had some early health struggles and needed a momma to sit with her in the hospital. Her smile is infectious and R and I are excited to announce that she will be part of our forever family. Our rainbow baby after the storm of loss.
Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Thank you for letting me share! Obviously, this first one is very close to my heart as I also get to welcome another beautiful niece into my life.

I know Elsie has already started on her first single parent room makeover for this series. We hope to show you at least three to four in 2020—that’s our goal. But who knows, maybe we’ll find the resources to do more. Cheers to all the awesome parents out there! xo. Emma

Room Details: crib toddler bed / crib sheet / rug / floating book shelves / felt ball mobile / rainbow pillow / trundle bed / comforter set / rainbow wall decals / pom curtains (similar here) / changing table dresser / rainbow pull knobs / rainbow wall hanging / light fixture

Credits // Author: Emma Chapman. Photography: Janae Hardy and Emma Chapman. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop. Project assistance by Ethan Randolph.
  • Kudos for this amazing initiative Emma! So kind (and inspiring)!
    Michelle is such a strong woman, her story moved me to tears. Please, let us posted on her beautfiful family.

  • I’m not crying, you’re crying! What a lovely story. Kudos to you Michelle (and Emma and Elsie)! Congratulations on your sweet baby. This is a phenomenal way to give back.

  • I think this is an AWESOME idea! I was raised by a single mom who worked night shift as a nurse so that she could spend time with my sister and I during the afternoon and evening when we got home from school. As an adult I marvel at how she did it all – on her own, with NO help from family and no support from a dead beat ex-husband. I often think, if I start a charity one day, I want to focus on single mothers. This warmed my heart to see that you and your sister are reaching out to single parents to make their lives a little brighter. LOVE IT!

  • I love everything about this! I love how thoughtful the makeover is, encompassing all her needs. And it’s so pretty and fun too! I hope everything goes smoothly with the adoption for your sister-in-law. I really look forward to the rest of the series!

  • Michelle is a gem <3 So glad you were able to transform these rooms for her. And better yet, you get to call her family. So special!

  • Wow, my love cup is overflowing with this one! Endlessly impressed by how you gals incorporate your values into your work. You really walk the walk when it comes to advocacy and support of families (and all the beautiful different configurations of). So inspiring; brava!!!!!

  • Beautiful & heartwarming! I became a mom this year, and I am so much in awe of single parents. Your children are lucky to have you for a mom, Michelle <3
    Emma, what a lovely job you've done with the room, there's tons of inspiration on this blog for my own upcoming nursery design, yay!

  • Also, love that Michelle included Jeremiah 29:11! (It looks like there’s a typo….”hard” should be “harm.” I know it’s nearly impossible to catch everything, so I hope this is helpful. ????)

  • How very sweet of Michelle to share her love (& R too!)! And how sweet of ABM to share a makeover!

    Are you planning to accept nominations for future makeovers, or are they pretty much planed out?

    • Not at this time, we already have enough for our small team to work on but if we need more suggestions / nominations in the future we’ll for sure let you all know. 🙂

  • Michelle’s story made me choke up a bit! And of course this room turned out so cute.

  • That is a REALLY beautiful story!!

    Also, question.. the Pom Pom bed skirt on the crib.. where is it from?

  • What a beautiful story and makeover! I AM SO EXCITED for this series! What an incredible idea!

  • I found this post really touching. What a wonderful family you are, so full of love. I became a mum this year and I am in complete awe of parents who do it alone, whether through choice or not. They are incredible. This is such an amazing idea! It’s easy to let home decor slip to the bottom of the priority list, especially when kids come along or you don’t have an extra pair of hands to help. As you’ve shown, it’s not just about gorgeous asthetics, it’s about functionality and well-being too. Makeovers like this can help make life easier and more enjoyable too! Congratulations on enhancing a happy home and thank you for yet again inspiring me! Xx

  • This is wonderful! Thank you, Michelle, for sharing your story, may God richly bless your family!! Congrats to ABM for this awesome project – – will be looking forward to seeing more!

  • Tears are spilling down my cheeks. The pain of miscarriage is still fresh on my heart (doesn’t ever seem to dim) and mingles with the love that bubbles up in this post. Glad to hear another little one is being loved! Thank you for spreading such support for parents that come in all these different and beautiful ways.

  • Lovely makeover! While I understand that one’s faith can influence our choices, please remember that the world is made up of lots of different faiths-not everyone is Christian (in fact, most people in the world are not). I don’t feel that Christian references or the words of any religion are necessary to this story.

    • All faiths are welcome, including Christianity. I appreciate you sharing your opinion in a respectful way.

    • The difference here is that it’s MICHELLE’S story that she is telling in her own words, so she has the right to say whatever she wants since it is relevant to her.

  • I LOVE everything about this post! I’ve wanted to adopt since I was a kid; whereas my husband, while open to the idea, had planned on biological children his whole life (HA! Like one can plan these things ;D). Well, after over 3 years of losing battle with infertility, we have decided to start the foster-to-adopt process. It’s a pretty funny story because we (mostly me) thought we were going to live child-free. Then my husband was in a bad hiking accident, and we got to know a really incredible medical professional with adopted children. We feel SO lucky, despite all the heartache and medical bills, to have been steered in this direction. I don’t believe in fate, I certainly don’t think the universe decided a privileged woman in the US needed a helping hand–but it’s interesting the way things work out.

    Annyyyyywaaayyyy, now I know how to decorate the nursery 😀

    • Oh Kate, I am so excited for you on your journey. As much as you can, let go of expectations and enjoy the ride! And I love everything Emma did for my nursery- it’s so bright and functional and beautiful!!

    • We all need help sometimes. It’s not a competition. 🙂

      Thank you for sharing! Best of luck to your family and much love!

  • What a beautiful makeover and the story of your sister in law is amazing. What a strong woman and mother. As a new mom I am in awe how she does it all by herself and chose to foster another child. Just amazing!!
    A little tip, the floating shelves can also be found at IKEA (spice rack bekvam 3.99$).
    Lots of love from Germany xx Lisa

    • You have no idea. She’s a very strong person! Actually, both of my sister-in-laws are. I hit the jackpot on my second family when I married Trey.

  • I didn’t have a difficult childhood by any stretch but I was raised by a single mom and I know it wasn’t easy for her even though she gave me nothing but the best and I never saw her struggles. I remember at one point, we were living in a mobile home because that’s the only place she could buy as no one would rant to us and our very large Rottweiler (I don’t get it, she was the sweetest thing ;p ). My mother gave my tiny room a makeover I will never forget (cream and royal blue striped wallpaper, cushions everywhere on my bed, she even re-painted my wooden desk and chair). I think you can make any home special with a room makeover and I think that gearing this towards single parents is wonderful. A lot of them do incredible work and raise their children without letting them see their struggle and I think taking the stress out of re-decorating a room is a great way to help them. Good job girls!

    • Love that your mom did that! Parents are the best—sounds like your mother was / is an amazing woman!

  • Love that your shirt matched the theme, Emma! Where did you find it?! This story is just so heartwarming 🙂

    • I actually wore this sweater twice the week we did these photos because I just HAD to wear my rainbow sweater in this room. 🙂

      It’s from Nasty Gal, I think two or three years ago.

  • Thank you for the wonderful post and exciting new series! The rainbow room is beautiful! The ideas of making over rooms for single parents is so heartwarming! Thank you to Michelle for sharing her story. Wow, what big hearts you all have! Michelle, many blessings to you and your growing family.

  • What a beautiful story! Thanks for sharing! I love that you use your platform for so much good!

  • I started coming here for the beautiful design and come back for the heart. Y’all have done an incredible job building a brand with compassion embedded throughout. Thank you for sharing your story, Michelle!

  • You guys have outdone yourselves. LOVE THIS post and the project! Can’t wait to see more!

  • Small changes here and there and everything looks completely different! I love the bed especially! ❤️✨

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  • I’m crying over Michelle’s story, how beautiful. You are an incredible woman!

    The room looks beautiful too, nice job! I’m so excited about this series!

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