Baby nurseries and children's rooms are coming of age, and a growing number of tots are starting life in spaces that are so stylish, I would trade bedrooms with them in a New York minute.
We just finished helping my cousin Kathy's daughter, Kate, with her baby nursery, and Kate says she tells people that her newborn, Evelyn, has a better bedroom than she does. That's because the nursery is filled with fabrics and finishes that are chic and stylish, timeless enough to grow with her so she can keep the same room for years.
Kate's journey to find a room that was just right for her baby started when she looked at decorating magazines -- and seeing what grabbed her and what didn't.
When I work with clients who aren't sure what they want in a room, that's exactly what I recommend: Go through home-decor magazines and books and put a sticky note on the rooms that wow you. Then review the rooms you've marked. What do they have in common? Maybe it's a color scheme or a furniture style. Use that as your guide when designing your room.
That's how Kate happened upon a fabric that would serve as the inspiration for her nursery. Her fabric wove together lilac, blue, light gray and apple green, a great mix that served as the palette for the entire room. She painted the walls of the nursery light gray, then had curtain panels made out of her inspiration fabric, banding them with an apple-green flange. The baby's bedding pulled out the lilac, and an area rug, the apple green.
The crib or bed is often the star of the show in a nursery or child's room. Now the sky is the limit when it comes to selecting fabrics for youth bedding ensembles. We're designing bed skirts, bumpers, quilts and pillows out of a wonderful assortment of fabrics that spans the spectrum from soft florals to menswear plaids, trendy geometric prints to texture-upon-texture solids. My favorite approach for any bedding is to mix together an assortment of fabrics bringing in different colors, patterns and textures. The same principle holds true for bedding in a child's room.
Right now a lot of new moms are bypassing made-for-the-nursery furniture and, instead, using timeless pieces they will be able to keep in their child's room for years.
To add a personal touch to her nursery, Kate took an old dresser that was her changing table when she was a baby and gave it new life with a coat of lilac paint and crystal knobs. Kate also purchased a comfy upholstered rocking chair and had it covered in an outdoor fabric in a dark gray geometric pattern, durable enough to handle anything baby dishes out.
One of the best parts about finishing Kate's nursery was adding some unusual accents. A few months earlier, I had a baby shower for Kate and used colorful paper lanterns and tissue-paper flowers as part of the centerpiece and front-door decorations. After the party, we carefully pulled down the lanterns and flowers and transported them to the nursery, where we hung them from fallen sticks spray-painted apple green to match the nursery fabric.
• Adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at nellhills.com.