Group 6 8 minutes Read

zerbebe nursery: two directions

Lauren Zerbey

Ok, so we already showed you what we have in mind for the basic nursery layout, but over the last several months I’ve been thinking more and more about specifics like colors, patterns and furniture. Pregnancy can be pretty overwhelming (so much to learn! so many decisions to make!), but the nursery – well, this is something I know how to do. Although we don’t have a lot of baby experience (most of our friends don’t have kids yet), I feel like I’ve read enough blogs and heard enough advice to be able to form my own opinions about what the nursery should be and what makes the most sense for our lifestyle. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that the nursery is mostly for us (or me…as Kyle has stated he only cares about the little munchkin we put in the nursery…that, and a comfy chair). I know the baby isn’t going to care about a particular theme or color palette (we still have a few more years before I get to put the kibosh on her Disney Princess desires), but I do believe that putting together the space helps new parents feel more prepared and well, let’s be honest…it’s fun.

Just like the other rooms in our house, we have the same basic objectives for the nursery: we want it to be functional and reflective of who we are and what we like. We want to invest in smart pieces that are versatile and will last for many years while also getting creative where we can. We don’t want to spend a lot of money, but we also don’t want to buy things that will quickly fall apart.

With those thoughts in mind, we’ve come up with two design directions for our baby girl’s room. They are both based on a collection of images, products and ideas that have been swimming around my head, but they are not a shopping list. Unfortunately, many items are just too expensive (imagine that?), but in our experience it’s best to start with what you want and then employ some creative problem solving skills to achieve a more affordable version.

A general note about color: regardless of the gender, I’ve always imagined the nursery with dark blue-gray walls with layers of gray and yellow. A few weeks ago (right after we found out that we’re having a girl), ModFruGal, Morgan and I were having a little back-and-forth on Twitter about nursery implications and how I could pull off a girl’s room that’s not too girly. Morgan made the below comment about colors. I wasn’t expecting it to, but her words really stuck with me and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this lady is obviously a genius.

Although I love yellow and gray as much as the next person, I knew the nursery would need something else, something more. I kept churning this palette around in my head and this weekend I finally spent some quality time with Photoshop to see how it could all come together. I don’t know if I’m bold enough to go with hot pink, but Kyle and I have talked about a particular coral/pink color that we both like (seen in this quilt that my mom made for me last year)…and an inky blue-gray could mesh well with the other colors and pick up on the subtle dark navy thread in the chevron rug. It’s a palette that’s feminine and sweet without screaming “BABIES” and will work with the rest of our house (keeping in mind that the nursery will be quite visible). 

So anyway, DESIGN TIME! Oh, one more thing first – I would like to note that I’m intentionally not choosing a theme. I want our little girl’s room to grow with her, so I’m focusing instead on creating a room that is modern, cozy and feminine.

Scheme 1: (In both schemes, we’ll be using the West Elm chevron rug and IKEA PAX wardrobe that we already own. I’m also showing the Artemide Tolomeo floor lamp, but we’ll likely go with something smaller and oh…not $1K.) During a trip to IKEA a few months ago, I was excited to see the new SUNDVIK crib in gray-brown. At $119, it made me feel less sad about the price tag on the Oeuf cribs. In my head, I’d been imagining incorporating some gray hues with our dark brown cork floors and this seemed like the perfect solution to help tie everything together. The Ryder Rocking Chair is from West Elm and although it’s not inexpensive ($599) I was immediately smitten with the design (it’s comfy too!). Like many new parents, our goal is to find a dresser that can double as a changing table. Ideally I’d like to find something vintage (see Scheme 2) but as a backup the IKEA Hemnes seems like an affordable alternative (unlike many of their pieces, it’s mostly made from solid wood and we could easily swap out the knobs for something else). The birch plywood bench/cubbies is from Offi, but at $500-$600 this is something that we’ll DIY (we’d also like to do a floating shelf or two from the same cabinet-grade plywood above the dresser). As we mentioned in our last nursery post, we plan on installing a ceiling-mounted (i.e. secure) curtain in lieu of cabinet doors on the wardrobe. I’ve been drooling over the Coqo pattern from Anthropologie (available in rugs too) for a while now and could definitely see it as a way to add a punch of color and pattern in the nursery. (I also like that they’re feminine, but in a timeless way.) The gray pouf is from CB2 and the mobile is from Petit Collage.

Now, a quick reminder that this is just one direction and of course does not include the various accessories or other small items that we’ll likely add. We actually plan on incorporating some pink into the room (that’s what the coral-colored band on the left represents), but in small and subtle ways. We also realize that baby stuff is colorful, so we don’t need a lot of brightly colored furniture or textiles to compete. Also, by choosing timeless pieces we can reuse them for any future zerbebes. Finally, I started this palette out with my beloved inky blue-gray wall color in mind. (Even though we’ve painted every other surface in our house bright white (“super white” to be exact), I’ve always thought the nursery could go darker without feeling like a cave.) However, once I added the darker color things quickly got muddy and the grays and browns no longer seemed to work together.

Which brings us to scheme 2.

Scheme 2: I knew that part of the challenge with the first scheme was the gray-brown color of the crib and dresser. For this scheme, I found myself gravitating back towards a birch crib (by the way, are you surprised that we’re going birch instead of fir?). Oh hello, Oeuf Sparrow crib. You’ve weaseled your way back into my life. Ok, I love this crib. I love that it is well-crafted and responsibly made (minus the fact that it’s coming from Europe) and that it’s modern without being austere. I do not love that it is $730. My practical side is telling me that the IKEA Gulliver is similar and $600 cheaper, but there’s something that doesn’t quite click with me. (I do wish that the Sundvik came in birch though, that would certainly help my dilemma.) In my fantasy world I would also love to find a used Oeuf, but after months of trolling Craigslist I’m guessing that people who buy these cribs really do hold onto them or pass them on to their closest and dearest friends. On that note, I would also love to find a sturdy and clean-lined vintage dresser that is in need of some TLC (the example above is from a previously sold piece on Midcentury Modern Finds, the same people we bought our Eames fiberglass shells from). I’ve seen so many posts about people picking up versions of these for $30-$50 but I’ve been stalking Craigslist with absolutely no luck. Anyway, let’s move on to an equally depressing topic: gliders. Kyle has had an eye on the Monte Grano glider, but I have never been on board because to be quite frank, I thought it looked like something from Star Trek. But then, then…I saw the Luca. It’s not super modern, but if you’ve spent anytime researching gliders, this is pretty much the best thing out there. I love the charcoal fabric option and after seeing it in person, I was impressed that it was comfy without being oversized. (It also seems like more bang for your buck than the $600 West Elm rocker. Funny how you can rationalize an extra $400, huh?) The problem of course is that it’s expensive. Just under $1000 for the chair and another $400 or so if you want the ottoman. Although I know this chair would get some serious action and has received stellar reviews, it’s hard (ok, impossible) to justify shelling out that kind of cash for a glider. (Again, a perfect opportunity to buy a used version but they too seem to be nonexistent.) Yes, I also know that gliders/rockers are not a necessity but we really don’t have an equivalent piece of furniture that could serve as a substitute. 

Sigh. Ok, let’s talk about something else. I love the yellow and white chevron shower curtain that Benita of Chez Larsson made from fabric she purchased off Etsy. It’s cheery and fun without being all rainbows and butterflies. I’ve also got an idea stewing about air plants in small glass orbs (like these from West Elm).

Finally, wall color. Yesterday I stopped by our local Benjamin Moore store and picked up a dozen or so different shades of dark blue-gray. We used BM’s “soot” on the exterior of our house and I’ve always loved how people have used it and similar shades indoors. The color above most closely resembles “abyss”, but I’m also liking “raccoon fur”, “gravel gray” and “baby black seal”. (If you’re raising an eyebrow and need convincing, check out some of the dark-walled nurseries I’ve pinned recently.) 

The blue color is “lakeside cabin” and is what we used on the nursery sliding doors. We could always paint them (or even just the backside) but I’m thinking this color might work fine. The mustardy yellow and coral-pink swatches just represent how we might incorporate those colors through textiles, art, etc.

So what do you think? (You guys have been coming up with some great ideas and tweaks for our other projects, so I am open to all suggestions, especially from people who have “been there, done that”.) Right now, Kyle and I both like Scheme 2 better but of course it’s more expensive. But rather than wallow in my “champagne taste, beer budget” dilemma, I see it as a challenge to achieve the same look without breaking the bank. We have not set a specific budget number for this project (we actually never do, for us it’s easier to just do the best job we can while being financially responsible), so I don’t have a magic number in my head. The important thing is that I now have a vision and direction that I’m happy with and can spend the next few months scoping out thrift stores, online sales and the un-mined creative corners of my brain. (In fact, it’s the same strategy that I plan to use with our baby registry…a topic that is not directly design-related, but might be worth a blog post of its own.)

Finally, this weekend marks the halfway point in baby-growing! I still don’t look very pregnant yet, which I’m a little bummed about but I know that might also be a blessing in disguise. (I’m sure in a few months I’ll want to punch my 20-week self for having such thoughts.)

Seriously Bailey, must you photo-bomb every picture I take?