Pattern Players: The Difficult Journey to Motherhood and a Gender-Neutral Otomi Nursery by Writer Melissa Andersen
Photo by David Ayllon
Hygge & West: We're thrilled to be Pattern Playing with Melissa Andersen because we finally get to turn the tables and ask her all the questions. She's the voice behind all of our blog posts that involve eloquently written Q&As, and we're so happy she's part of our H&W team. She's out on maternity leave at the moment, so other than missing her, we couldn't be more thrilled for her and her newest addition to the family, baby Siena. We're asking her all about her career in freelance, nursery design (yes, we were honored she chose on of our wallpapers for this most special room!) and life as a new mom.
Hygge & West: We’d love to learn more about your background and why you reached out to us to work together. What are you favorite (and least favorite, if there are any, but how could there be?) things about writing for Picnics Under the Moon?
Melissa Andersen: I've always been both a writer and a design lover. My mom is an artist and interior designer, and growing up in that creative environment fueled both of my passions. I went to school for journalism and spent my early career in publishing, branding, and social media, but in each of those early jobs I was missing the creativity that I craved. So six years ago, I decided to strike out on my own as a writer and social media manager in the homes and interiors niche. I was already living and breathing interior design, so I figured why not make that my career as well?
The first step was to find clients. I knew I wanted to work with makers, designers, and brands that I felt passionate about, so I sat down and made a list of all the companies I loved and began cold emailing them. Of course, Hygge & West was at the top! I so admired (and still do!) not only the impeccably designed, top-quality products H&W creates, but also the fact that it's a woman-owned business. I reached out via email one day, and I've been writing for Picnics Under the Moon ever since—and soaking up every second of it!
The best part about working with H&W is collaborating with a small team of women who are all deeply invested—and incredibly talented—in what they do. Plus, I get to write about all things pattern and design, and interview tastemakers and industry icons whose careers I've been following for years! There's a truly supportive, open-to-anything spirit on Team H&W, and I'm honored to have been a part of it for so many years.
Melissa's framed baby shower invitation is now dresser decor in the nursery.
H&W: Can you tell us a little about your journey to getting pregnant?
MA: My journey to getting pregnant, like that of so many other hopeful parents, was not an easy or straightforward one. My husband, Bobby, and I started trying back in January 2017, and after about five or six months of no luck, we began to suspect that something wasn't right. We quickly found out that there was a common, but not easily fixable issue with my husband that would make it very difficult to get pregnant the old-fashioned way. Our doctors said that IVF (in vitro fertilization) would be our best shot at starting a family. Between the devastating news, the looming costs, and the incredibly demanding IVF process, we were heartbroken.
We decided to take a couple months off, head to Italy for a Christmastime getaway, and hit the ground running in the new year. We started the IVF process in January 2018, and after a few of the most emotionally and physically draining months of our lives, we found out I was pregnant in March. It was, hands down, one of the happiest days of our lives.
Melissa's dog, Molly, practicing her role as a new big sister.
One of the hardest, but most rewarding things we did during our IVF journey was talk and blog very openly about the process (admittedly, the blog hasn't been updated since I found out I was pregnant—things got quite hectic at that point!). When we first found out we were facing infertility, we felt incredibly alone. But when we finally opened up about what we were going through, we were shocked by how many people we knew were going through or had gone through very similar ordeals. The day we hit publish on our blog was terrifying, but the flood of messages, calls, emails, and texts we received from people offering support and their own stories blew us away. We resolved right then and there that we would never be quiet about our struggle with infertility—if we can help just one couple feel a little less isolated during this difficult struggle, then it's all worth it.
H&W: What are some of the things you are most looking forward to about being a mom?
MA: All of it! We've worked so hard to get to this point that I promised myself I won't take one single second of motherhood for granted. I'm so excited to raise this little human and slowly discover who they are right alongside them. I can't wait to see my husband be the incredible dad that I know he will be. I've always loved holidays and I know they'll be even more special through the eyes of my child. And, selfishly, I'm secretly hoping that he or she will share my love for design!
H&W: Now, let’s chat about the important stuff: your nursery design. What was the inspiration for the neutral and beautiful space?
MA: Since the process of getting pregnant was anything but fun and surprising, we decided to not find out the baby's sex—talk about the ultimate surprise! So I wanted to make sure I created a space that was gender neutral. Another goal was to design a room that could grow with our baby—I didn't want it to feel too childish and overly sweet, but I still wanted to embrace the whimsy and imagination of childhood. And lastly, I wanted to create a space that was both cozy and calming, but also bright and stimulating.
With those objectives in mind, I created a mood board of things that spoke to me. I kept gravitating towards natural textures, dusty greens, and light woods. I live in a circa 1725 historic home, so it was important for the nursery to fit with the rest of the home while still having its own identity. The room didn't turn out exactly like that original mood board, but it was great having that road map to keep me on track (and on budget!).
H&W: How did you choose the Otomi pattern?
MA: I knew I wanted to use Otomi (Taupe) from day one, and actually it was the first thing I put on my mood board along with the crib I'd had my eye on! I love how it adds a really interesting shot of pattern without being overwhelming. As I mentioned earlier, I wanted this space to fit in with the rest of my very old home, but still feel modern, and this pattern and colorway accomplish both beautifully.
I decided to use Otomi in the nook where the crib sits. With 10-foot ceilings, it creates an instant focal point next to the super clean-lined crib, and it's so visually interesting that I don't need any other artwork on that wall. The best part about Otomi is that it feels whimsical and childlike, but also very sophisticated. It's not something that I'm going to need to change as the baby grows up. Sweet without being saccharine, it's really the perfect paper for the modern nursery!
H&W: What are your favorite pieces and things about the room?
MA: The wallpaper is one of my absolute favorite things about the space, and it's the first thing that everyone notices and comments on when they visit. Other than that, I love the green dresser, because it was a labor of love that my husband and I worked on together while I was pregnant. We purchased an unfinished piece and spent so much time finding the exact green we envisioned, picking out the right brass hardware, sanding it down, painting it, and applying several layers of topcoat. It feels like a custom piece that we can keep forever and will always remind us of this truly special time in our lives.
My husband and I are also both avid readers, and I've been collecting children's books with great stories or beautiful illustrations for years before even thinking about having kids. Between the many nooks and ledges this room offers, and the spice racks I turned into book display shelves, I finally have plenty of places to display the collection I've amassed! It was also important to me to create a cozy spot to read them to my little babe, and the modern rocker draped in a quilt handmade by Bobby's aunt, finished with that super quirky sheep ottoman is just that.
Photo by Alyssa Joy Photography
H&W: We want to hear about your little one. Tell us all about her!
MA: Siena Fay Andersen finally made her appearance almost two weeks late, on December 10th at 9:21 PM. She was a little chunker, at 8 pounds, 6 ounces, and 21.75 inches long! What was originally supposed to be a Thanksgiving baby turned into a Christmas baby, and honestly, she's the best present we ever could have wished for. We're all still adjusting to our new life and this new little family we've created, but Siena has been an absolute dream come true. She's honestly one of the happiest, smiliest babies I've ever seen, and seeing her turn to me when she hears my voice or smile at my touch melts my heart and brings tears to my eyes every time. Seeing the world through her eyes has been magical, and although motherhood is tough and endlessly exhausting, it's worth every single second. I couldn't imagine or hope for a sweeter little girl to finally make me a mama.
Photo by Alyssa Joy Photography