Trains + planes nursery

The inspiration for Archie’s nursery came from The Little Engine That Could – specifically, the 1954 edition by the husband-wife duo George and Doris Hauman. Its charming primary-colored illustrations and vintage vibe feel perfectly suited to a child’s room.  

It also holds nostalgic significance for our family: It was the first book Maria read to Jane, and the first book Jane read to Archie.  

With my initial focus on trains, I decided to add airplanes. Together, they are symbols of our hope that Archie’s dreams will one day find lift and locomotion. The motif is intended, in some small way, to foster a sense of adventure.

I stuck with the primary-color palette and vowed to keep things simple. This is not an elaborate first-born’s nursery, the kind you can methodically plot on Pinterest while sipping a flax-seed smoothie in a quiet home. No, this is a third-born’s room – a DIY on a budget with a mix of white and woods, a secondhand crib, a 4-year-old helper and good-enough standards.  

It could not have been easier to pull together. It required just a fraction of my limited free time. Best of all, the room feels good. It fills me with happiness and cheer each time I walk in. What more could you ask for?

Here’s how you can get the look. 

Decals are my favorite way to animate a room -- no holes in the wall, no major investment, low stakes and a big return. After scouring Etsy, I found the perfect train decals from PlanetWallArt for just $45. They make the whole room spring to life. 

These were incredibly easy to apply: peel and stick. It's like slapping stickers on your wall. No fuss!

I felt comfortable letting my 4-year-old handle them. She claimed the engine and helped lay the track.

These are top quality polyester-based decals with a soft, sturdy fabric feel: eco-friendly, no PVC, vinyl or toxins. Danette at PlanetWallArt was a pioneer of this decal media when it first hit the market five years ago. When you order from her, you can be assured you're dealing with a true pro. Her decals are the best out there.

I've used others that are much more expensive and incredibly labor intensive. One involved more than five hours of work by a two-person team with tree branches that were so tricky to apply we felt, at times, as if we were playing Twister with the wall.

These decals are quick to apply and also cover a lot of space. Danette's offerings on Etsy are expansive: from robots to unicorns, from under-water themes to outerspace

An immediate conversation starter in Archie's nursery is the six-panel mirror from PineTerraceTreasures on Etsy. This Maryland-based shop is run by Bill and Maureen McPhail and includes 150 offerings, including wood signs, rustic shutters, decorative ladders and mason-jar sconces.

This PineTerrace mirror elicits so many compliments! It lends the charm of a farmhouse, which perfectly ties into the train and vintage-book vibe. 

I love the shade of blue they chose and the rustic finish. 

It feels like a window and adds a third dimension, opening up the room, reflecting light and mirroring the decals. 

You'll welcome the shelf to display special items, such as these vintage blocks from my grandma. A is for Archie -- and airplanes! 

The red shoes are the first pair I bought for Archie, and they bring back the happiest memories of our first outings together: to church, to 4th of July fireworks, to the apple orchard.

Displaying our favorite books provides another form of decor. 

So does a quaint touch like hanging this old-school train sweater, a garage-sale find. Can't wait to see Archie in this one day! 

I bought two copies of The Little Engine That Could to make this pennant banner so I could use the image from the front and back of each page. I couldn't fit the whole book but tried to cover the key plot points -- and also choose a few images simply for aesthetics. 

I'll read this story off the wall many times -- until Archie knows it by heart. I love the idea of turning a book into displayed art. 

The banner is accented by wooden blocks -- $2 a pop at Wal-Mart -- to which I glued buttons, also from Wal-Mart, available in monochromatic bags.

This was a 10-minute project. Easy peasy! 

I hung the letters with these Scotch restickable tabs from 3M, which allowed me to reposition easily.

Again, no holes in the wall, removable at any time. 

The finished product is another personal, tactile element of decor. 

A neighbor made a train quilt for Archie right after his birth. It was such a sweet surprise! Little did she know I'd been thinking about train decor during my third trimester!

The finishing touch -- the one that garners oohs and ahhs from all who enter -- was handcrafted by a remarkably talented Etsy artist: a felt airplane baby mobile customized for Archie.

MinimezShop sells the most darling felt creations I've ever seen. 

My favorites include the Wizard of Oz characters, the Little Red Riding Hood mobile, the Dr. Seuss mobile and a circus mobile so darling it almost convinced me to change the theme of the room. That seal gets me every time!

Olga's felt creations are expertly crafted. They're detailed and dainty but also sturdy, ready for hard tugs from small hands. 

My heart melts every time I look at this little aviator.

I can't imagine a more meaningful gift for a beloved child than a MinimezShop mobile. What a reaction it would spark at a baby shower! 

These mobiles are more expensive than the average plastic, mass-produced mobile, but they are so much sweeter -- a handcrafted masterpiece worth handing down generation to generation. They would give a little lift to any sleep-deprived parent swooping in to tend to a crying baby. A gift for Baby and Mama! 

Ultimately, that's the beauty of Archie's planes-and-trains room: It's a place that draws me in and fills me up. 


Christina Ries is a freelance writer who lives with her husband and three young children in Inver Grove Heights. Write her at


Charmed reviews are entirely the author's opinion. Special thanks to the following vendors for supplying complimentary samples for review and photography: