Nursery e-Design – Vintage Robots and Airplanes

Something I’ve wanted to get into for a while is nursery design. I’ve worked on baby rooms in the past, but this was a truly blank canvas project from the ground up that I had the opportunity to work on last Fall/Winter for Alicia and Chris, who had their baby boy Oliver, in January. Here’s how the process went- they gave me some of their wants and needs:

  • old fashioned/vintage-inspired
  • not cartoon-ey or too stereotypically baby-ish
  • airplanes
  • robots
  • elephants
  • Chris’ beloved orange General Lee figurine car from Dukes of Hazard
  • Chris’ black and silver Raiders dinosaur that his Mom sewed for him when he was a baby

So, that was a motley crew of inspiration, but what I took out of it was this: I knew Alicia liked subtle, soft, and classic, and Chris wanted the room to reflect the things he was nostalgic for in his childhood. Alicia was a bit horrified by the idea of including Chris’ car and dinosaur because they were such bold colors and patterns and very kitschy, but since I’m not afraid of a little kitch, I welcomed those items as inspiration. I liked black and a orange as accents and those objects to use as an element of surprise.

The third item I found that I pulled colors from was this blanket from Auggie. They didn’t end up buying it because it wasn’t organic, but it had all the colors in the room I wanted to pull together. Hopefully it still works without it.

I then put together an inspiration/project board based on their criteria that looked like this:

The room was a pretty funky shape (don’t be jealous of my awesome drawing… I don’t have access to CADD anymore so I had to use photoshop):

The room was a mixture of my specification and coordination, and Alicia and Chris’ execution. I left it to them to choose what they liked from the items I picked out, and I would substitute as needed from the original inspiration board. I think they did an amazing job!

One of the things I had to convince Alicia of was that for furniture to look custom and not like it came from a Target matching set, was that you need to purchase individual pieces and use different fabrics that work together but aren’t matching. I found the vintage 1960’sbrown/orange/yellow plaid in two pieces of cut yardage on etsy, and I thought it would make a perfect drapery and/or bedskirt fabric. Alicia didn’t want another thing to clean because they have long-haired pets, so we bypassed the drapes and made pillows with it instead. The chair fabric we chose for upholstery is a spotted gray and brown herringbone, and Alicia was originally hesitant about how the brown and gray clashed. I explained to her than with the herringbone and wall color, the three pieces would coordinate harmoniously once they were together. Can you imagine if we matched everything to be the same gray tone? It would look like a Nightmare on Boring Street.

Even though these plaids might seem like they would clash, their scales and tones make them read as different patterns. I brought the blue over to this side of the room by having the map pillow embroidered and trimmed in a navy, and the orange from the mobile/changing pad/art/accessories is brought in on the pillow.

An ipad drawing I made for our seamstress (Chris’ Mom) of the custom pillow designs 

There a few other projects we wanted to do in the room that may still get done, like the initial pillows in the plaid fabrics, and some more vintage toys added to the shelves, but Oliver came a bit early and after that point, he became the priority (obviously). We had also planned a bedskirt that used these supercute robot buttons.

The initial pillows might still happen for the crib one of these days. 

My favorite thing in the room besides the custom pillows is the mobile. I really can’t handle the delicate cuteness of it.

Laura of Silver Lined Designs did an incredible job of refinishing this vintage Ethan Allen dresser purchased from a local Craigslist seller for $200. The crib and side table were white, so I wanted the dresser to be painted a different color so we avoided the matchy-matchy. We went with a gray that was a couple of notches darker than the wall color. I’d originally wanted something that had contrasting panel colors with a vintage drawer liner, but Chris and Alicia wanted something more subtle. I think it turned out beautifully!


Refinishing Options:


When Alicia first received the fabrics, she put them together and freaked out a little bit with how they seemed to clash. She sent me this panicked photo one evening:

and then I sent her the drawing on the right of how I saw those patterns and colors once they were placed in their appropriate places in the room. Thanks for trusting me Alicia!

Overall, here are our main features in the room, and how they coordinate:

I’d love to do more e-design consulting for nurseries, kids rooms, or any kind of interior really. Feel free to reach out if you need some direction in your interior design. I had a blast with this project and would love to do more!

Crown Moulding: Ram Woodworks / Paint Color: Behr, Silver Drop / Chair: Room & Board “Carter Shay” Custom Upholstered in “Titan Putty” / Prints: Various Etsy / Dresser: 1970’s Ethan Allen Craigslist find refinished by Silver Lined Designs in Behr Granite Boulder, Satin / table lamp: Target / changing pad cover: Land of Nod / frames: Ikea / crib: Pottery Barn, Kendall / crib sheet and skirt: Pottery Barn /  shelves: Ikea / mobile: Cactus & Olive, Etsy/ floor lamp: Ikea / Dresser Hardware: Etsy / Rug: West Elm / Side Table: Pottery Barn, Windsor / Ottoman:  World Market custom upholstered in fabric from Ebay / Propeller Wall Hanging: Amazon / Ceiling Fan: Lowes

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