Mafe Maria: Personal stories by autism parent mentor, Maria Stultz

Nest Planning

With the finally concluded yesterday around sunset, I took some quick photos of the room and started creating some Photoshop mockups to plan the nursery’s wall color and mural.

first design try for the nursery
green walls?

After much deliberation today, I think I have a plan I like a lot. Much thanks go to mom and Joey for their comments throughout the day. I was expecting this process to take a lot longer, and many of you to have a chance to see the photos and give me your feedback. There’s still time: I don’t expect us to do any real painting until fall break… But at this point, mom, Joey and I seem to agree on this direction:

final nursery design

Obviously, there are still many other details to be added… and well, execution may not turn out to be as pretty as the mockup, but the bird illustration is purchased and I can’t wait to put on my painting jeans — Oh oh… I may not fit on those any more…


  1. On , marla wrote:

    I really LOVE the direction you’ve chosen. The birdie is soooo cute. I do like stripes on that wall but the trade off between taping stripes and painting it solid is, for me, not worth the effort.:)

    Definitely green, definitely orange around the branch, definitely love the light color of the bird against the green. So clean and fresh.

    Would you try a black branch, hot pink outline, and take the note out of the bubble, maybe add another note and make them bigger and black also? That makes it even more graphic, but I love what you have.:)

  2. On , Maria wrote:

    I’m not sure about hot pink… It would be the only instance of that color in the room, not really connected to anything else… Plus, if Joey didn’t want yellow because he thought it’s girly, I can’t imagine him letting me do pink in the mural.

    But I LOVE your suggestion to play with the note. I’ll try that… Maybe several notes in different sizes, creating some interesting trail (no bubble).

  3. On , marla wrote:

    yeah, didn’t really think hot pink would fly. I’d love to see the notes if you decide to do that trailing thing. Might be fun not to restrict the notes to the bird wall but to trail them a foot or two onto the next wall.:)

  4. On , Maria wrote:

    I love that!… I knew you would come up with more fun ideas for me to try.

  5. On , Jennifer wrote:

    Really great. I think you will win no matter which you choose.

    Oh, to have flat walls again! I’ve always wanted stripes down here in TX, but I’m a stickler for perfect edges. Not possible with all the dang texture they put on our walls here!

    Good luck (and wish I could help paint!)


  6. On , Maria wrote:

    See, I’ve come to change my mind on flat walls…

    When I was in TX and saw all the Trading Spaces episodes where they did stripes and squares, I wanted flat walls so bad. Now I have them, and discovered that they’re terrible! They show every single imperfection, and the worst: Try to retouch paint and it will never dry seamlessly. For that, now I appreciate wall texture. We never had any issues retouching paint in Texas.

    But… I do get to paint stripes in our baby’s room!!!
    I also wish you could come and help us paint :)

  7. On , joey wrote:

    Marla – I too am concerned with the effort involved in the stripes! But I have to admit they are pretty and every once and awhile I need to throw a bone to the pregnant mama.

  8. On , Maria wrote:

    Aww, my sweet Pillito… But you meant to say “throw a bone to HOT mama”, right?

  9. On , Maria wrote:

    See largerOK, trying the idea we discussed with Marla…
    I’m not sure that brown would be a good color for the notes (though I can’t seem to find other one that works), but wanted to share this extra mockup with Marla since she suggested pulling the note out of the bubble and adding one more, and then I thought a trail of music might look nice.

    Joey takes a look an decides that he prefers the single note in the bubble. He thinks it looks more like a “tweet!” exclamation. I like better the concept of a bird song, but have to agree with him that this trail of music competes for attention with the branch.

    So I guess not. But it was a great idea, Marla!… It had to be tried…

  10. On , Petie wrote:

    I like the single note in the bubble – it’s more artistic. Everyone does the music notes trailing from the bird thing. This is original. I like the idea of extending the mural on other walls though. Although I love murals, they make me very sad because one day they will be painted over… you could paint on a very large canvas if you think you would want to save it.

    I posted this in flickr, but I really liked the room in yellow. I think it helps blend all the different colors of wood. If you had all dark wood, the green would be nice, but the yellow (to me) helps blend the wood grains.

    Sorry it took so long for me to respond. I have a sullen Joelle asking me how many more minutes until I can play with her as it is. “Mom, I’m asking you a question… how many minutes has it been. Has it been 2 minutes yet.”


  11. On , Petie wrote:

    Joelle says, “I like the yellow. ’cause yellow and white looks better together then green and white. (the bird against the paint).” You have the soon-to-be 5 year olds vote. ;)

  12. On , Maria wrote:

    I agree: Yellow helps bring the lighter wood color in place. I love it too and couldn’t decide between that and green… but you should’ve seen Joey’s poop face talking about how girly the yellow room would be for “his boy”…

    The funniest thing is that Sharon told me last night to remind Joey that his room WAS YELLOW!… He laughed…

  13. On , Petie wrote:

    I think green is much more feminine then yellow. Tell Joey to visit the clothing store for kids… girls are in green and pink ALL the time. Green has been usurped by the girls. Sorry Joey!

  14. On , mandarine wrote:

    I agree with Joey about dissimilar walls. Your use of photoshop mockups is a fabulous idea and the quality is breathtaking.
    Speaking about breath: be extra careful with solvents while you paint. We found the solution for our house: lime paint with casein involves no organic solvents whatsoever. No odour, and no doubts.

  15. On , Maria wrote:

    Thank you Mandarine… for your comments and for the suggestion. Joey’s also a little concerned about the paint fumes. He’s been telling me about some environmental paint he heard about… And he hasn’t let me deal with any chemicals since I became pregnant. I’m not even allowed to change the liner of my shower (and it’s gross).

  16. On , Jennifer wrote:

    Chiming in again: I like the single note – it’s so simple and clean; I got it right away that the bird is chirping a pleasant tune – never thought twice. :)

    I had *heard* that it’s oil-based primers and paints that are the issue during pregnancy. Mind you, I’m neither a doctor nor a woman who’s been pregnant, so what do I know? But, I figured I’d share that in case it helps to put you on the right track.

    I do think, though, anytime you can use an environmentally safe paint is best – I always feel so guilty rinsing out latex paint in the utility sink, or tossing out the paint can (no one seems to know where to recycle!)

  17. On , Maria wrote:

    Yep… single note it is.

    I did ask my doctor when — and if — it was safe for me to paint. She said that as long as it’s latex paint and I keep the room well ventilated, it should be OK. Of course everywhere I read, “experts” say it’s best to avoid it while pregnant simply because it hasn’t been researched well enough. But they do all seem to agree that oil paints are worse than latex.

    Just to be safe, we just looked at Sherwin Williams. They do have the odorless product Joey had heard about, both in paint and primer. It’s called Harmony®, in case someone else is interested.

  18. On , marla wrote:

    Sorry so late in responding. So what did you decide on the color? Green or yellow?

    the way you had the wall originally was so cute, but you know being a designer and all, I can’t help but throw out other ideas. I agree the single note is best. The shapes of the notes compete, as you say with the curlies on the branch.

    So now, you’re ready to paint, right? Got the taping done, the right kind of paint and settled on a color? When do we get to see the real thing? You know you ONLY have a few more months. Haha. I just thought I’d remind you in case you’d forgotten. LOL.

    As a side note I know no one but Maria cares about, we’re finally painting our house. So excited for the outcome. Lay awake dreaming about new ways to decorate the walls after they’re fresh and have no holes! I know you can relate. :)

  19. On , Maria wrote:

    Well, that’s what I pay you for: Your other ideas :-) I wanted them… It didn’t work, but we explored it, right?

    Are we ready to paint? ARGH!!!! Not yet. Here’s why:

    see largerThe final decision was green (despite the many later opinions we got from yellow lovers), and I got the room all spackled (I’m a pro) and primed. We also got some samples of a base green color so I could experiment with the level of contrast I wanted between the stripes. I’ve been testing on foam board with the color at full strength with a stripe cut at 50%, and with a stripe cut at 25%. We found that we like the 100% to 50% color contrast best.

    Problem is we’re not totally positive that the base color is right. The green on the mockup works really well, but the lighting at the time I took the photo has a lot to do with that. You cannot try to match the green paint to the mockup because if you sample it, you realize that it comes out as an ochre! This is where doing mockups is kind of a whip. You fall in love with the color and then can’t get it right.

    So, the color I got is close, but of course, it’s a poop color (you know me), and we’re not totally sold. I took photos of the foam board in the room, trying to extrapolate the colors to the whole room, but of course the lighting today was not as bright and beautiful as back then, so I’m getting an extrapolation that looks more poopish than planned… And Joey’s starting to bark that he wants it brighter. It’s a child’s room for God’s sake!

    Brighter is not the answer… I don’t want to introduce a bright green on the walls because then it would clash with the bedding, and if I go for lime green then it’s just going to be too lime green and boring. And the whole point of green was to provide a soothing environment for Bolliti. Not make him go to sleep in a crazy green room ’cause then, he won’t.

    We decided that maybe we needed to go lighter. We spent like an hour figuring out what new samples we wanted to try: 25% with 75% or 15% with 50% Argggh!!!. And then Joey dropped the bomb: “Maybe we should try yellow”.

    Yellow would be easier because I wouldn’t have to worry about how it goes with the bedding. It will be brighter. But then, have you ever tried to pick a yellow? We did once, painted the whole room and the glow of it made us repaint it within 24 hours.

    So tomorrow I’ll be picking a tame yellow swatch and we’ll get more samples so I can keep experimenting… We’re so not ready yet…

  20. On , Jennifer wrote:

    Yes, yellow is difficult to pick – but so are most colors for all the same reasons you list for the green. My parents have a nice creamy yellow in their formal living area that I’ve enjoyed being around. Certainly the lighting is different, but if you’re interested I can dig up the color name / brand for ya? I think it’s a Valspar paint (Lowe’s).

  21. On , Maria wrote:

    Well, so here’s what happened…
    I spent all morning going through the color palette and using the Sherwin Williams online visualizer, trying to pick a yellow that won’t kick us all out of the room.

    Because of the orangie wood color in the room, and because the crib has a tiny reddish tint to it in certain light, I knew I needed a warm yellow (as in more towards orange than towards green). We have a great “neutral” yellow in a lot of the house, so I used it as a guideline in terms of brightness. We want Bolliti’s yellow a little more cheerful than our living room yellow, but again, not glowing miles away as that dreadful yellow color we once picked.

    After much deliberation, I think I have the right color. I show it to Joey. He says he doesn’t like it, and points me to a light lemon yellow. I say that won’t work, and if he was worried about a pussy yellow room, he just gave our son the pussiest of all yellows. He points to my color and with a poop face asks me if I’m sure about it. Hell!, I’m not sure, but I’ve picked what I think is the most likely one to work, so I throw the SW color palette to the floor and proceed to perform an episode of hormonal pregnant lady (I didn’t sleep that well last night). Bolliti begins to kick too.

    After I eat something I explain to Joey why the yellow needs to be warmer than cooler. He understands. We just got back from the store with the sample. I put it on foam board. Looks great!… I knew it: The swatch looked peachie, but I knew that in large scale it wouldn’t be peach. It is much brighter than our house’s blonde, but it doesn’t bark at you.

    If it’s going to be yellow — and we still have to see — I think I have the right color. So, no Jen… No need to dig out your color name. I think I’m surprisingly fine, for now. We’re also testing a new green… The saga continues…

  22. On , Mafe Maria • Painting a Mural wrote:

    […] The original image is a vector illustration by Simon Oxley, purchased for $7 at The size of the finished mural is 55 x 42 inches (140 x 108 cms). Colors are from the Sherwin Williams palette: “Lime Rickey” (SW 6717), “Arresting Auburn” (SW 6034), and Extra White. The background wall is painted in “Afternoon” (SW 6675) — for those wondering why yellow and not green as originally planned, you missed some drama: Here’s why. All in all, I reckon that the whole project took about 40 hours of work. Yikes! […]

  23. On , Mafe Maria • Painting Stripes Part 1: Color wrote:

    […] The process of painting stripes was a lot easier than I expected. It involved a few decisions, a healthy dose of planning, a little algebra, and a bit of color tweaking, but the actual masking and painting of stripes in our baby’s room went a lot faster than all other steps in my very ambitious nesting plan. […]

  24. On , Mafe Maria • Painting Stripes Part 2: Layout wrote:

    […] Previously, I talked about color. How I went far beyond my usual way of selecting paint colors only to make sure that the contrast of the stripes was very subtle, so the vertical bars wouldn’t box us in the small room. With colors selected, now I needed to decide on the layout of the stripes. That is, how many stripes per wall, how wide, how uniform. All these aspects were key in the final effect and feeling of the room. So once more, I used Photoshop mockups to guide my decisions. […]