Before & After: A Painted Pink Nursery

Lonny's Kaylei McGaw creates a transitional toddler room for a growing family

Nicole and daughter Alexandra enjoy the new upholstered window seat in their Greenwich Village, NYC, apartment. 
Nicole and daughter Alexandra enjoy the new upholstered window seat in their Greenwich Village, NYC, apartment. 
Photographed by Genevieve Garruppo

When someone announces a pregnancy at the Lonny office, the outpouring of cheers and congratulations are inevitably followed by one question: How’s the nursery coming? Subtle we are not, especially when faced with the prospect of an exciting home project. This was most certainly the case a few months ago, when Nicole Amico, our parent company Livingly’s vice president of sales, shared the news that she and husband Harrell Smith are expecting. A baby on board meant changes for not only the couple, but also their three-year-old daughter, Alexandra, who had outgrown her nursery furniture and needed a more transitional space that established her as a big-sister-to-be. With a new nursery on the horizon for their Greenwich Village abode, the multitasking Amico thought it wise to take one project off her to-do list, ​and asked if I would meet her for a design consult about Alexandra's room.

Because the couple is on the hunt for more square footage, it was important to transform the room with pieces that could relocate with them in the future. So to start the process, I sought well-crafted, classic furniture that will grow with Alexandra, such as the RH Baby & Child Bellina Bookcase, which has deep drawers for sweaters and nightgowns and carved architectural details; it replaces the changing table that's now been reassigned to the newborn’s room.

An Art Deco letter ornament mingles with books and a bud vase of dried cotton stalks on a bookshelf. 
An Art Deco letter ornament mingles with books and a bud vase of dried cotton stalks on a bookshelf. 
A cozy wool rug from Lulu & Georgia provides a soft landing for playtime on the floor. 
A cozy wool rug from Lulu & Georgia provides a soft landing for playtime on the floor. 

I also stuck to timeless shapes and neutral hues for larger investment pieces, frequently asking Amico, "Could you love these items in any room?" This way, pending the needs and layout of their future home, they could be appropriated to other rooms if desired.The Dutch Industrial Shelving from RH takes advantage of ceiling height in Alexandra’s current room, but it is also easily imagined in a future dining room or kitchen. Getting rid of their old horizontal shelving unit freed up precious floor space, so I positioned a versatile skirted storage bench from Wayfair in front of the courtyard-facing window to provide both a comfy spot for story time and a necessary catchall for toys and blankets.

A pleasantly spartan gray toy bear from Gap is my finishing touch to the bookshelf.
A pleasantly spartan gray toy bear from Gap is my finishing touch to the bookshelf.

Once the foundation pieces were settled, it was time to discuss color. Since the furniture hues were generally restrained, we wanted to saturate the surrounding walls with a relatively low-commitment treatment. Seeing this as her cue, Alexandra exclaimed that her favorite color is pink (and that she’s warming up to purple). And at just $40-a-gallon, paint was the preferred option over expensive wallpaper or substantial amounts of artwork. So we covered the walls in Faded Pink by Ralph Lauren, which was a cinch to apply thanks to their no-base-coat-necessary, paint-and-primer formula. The result was a fun and playful backdrop to the more mature furniture choices. 

To give the space some depth, I balanced the saccharin hue with sky blue accents. In place of a flat pink polka-dot dhurrie, a sophisticated hand-knotted rug from Lulu & Georgia  adds textural dimension to the space; its charcoal-and-muted-peach palette satisfies even the most finicky opinions of a growing child. DIY pelmet boxes (thank you Jenny Komenda!) covered in Robert Allen’s Puzzle Play fabric lend architectural interest to the coordinating custom Roman shades. Since the boxes are made of a light foam core board, only two small nails were needed to secure them in place. This was a huge selling point for Amico and Smith, as we continued to avoid heavy-duty hardware for the short term.

Before & After: A Painted Pink Nursery
Before & After: A Painted Pink Nursery

Alexandra’s recent graduation from the crib also called for a well-deserved bedding upgrade. Working with the three taller rails of the converted model—now looking slightly like a daybed—we lined the back wall with throw pillows from Loom Decor and flanked the sides with aqua lumbar cushions. Though animal motifs run rampant in children’s decor and bedding collections, I wanted to avoid prints that read too “cartoon-y,” opting instead for clean white sheets as a backdrop. For the finishing touch, the geniuses behind Abnormals Anonymous, whose wallpapers are appreciated by design lovers of all ages, provided just the right amount of whimsy. We framed a 38-inch square of the Animal House paper, which gives the sleeping area a sense of expansiveness.

Soft teal lumbar pillows and a orange stuffed bear mimic the hues of the framed Abnormals Anonymous wallpaper. 
Soft teal lumbar pillows and a orange stuffed bear mimic the hues of the framed Abnormals Anonymous wallpaper. 

Soft decor and painterly accents continue throughout the room. Cotton braided baskets and petite woven bins from Wayfair keep t-shirts, dresses, shoes, and hair accessories neatly organized. Branches adorned with colorful paper flowers from West Elm are a child-safe and maintenance-free alternative to live plants; likewise, small succulents are easy to care for, won’t shed much, and naturally filter the air. This petite vase from The Sill adds a pop of color to the bookcase, mingling with stacks of story books and a framed watercolor print from Artfully Walls. In a call for more texture, I layered an ever-popular Ikea sheepskin atop the area rug, and, nearby, a woven Pottery Barn Kid’s Abaca Basket is my answer for a genuinely eye-pleasing laundry hamper.

With everything in place, it was time for the big reveal. The verdict? Alexandra truly loves the space—and so do her parents. I couldn't be happier with the space, but now only one question remains: how are Amico and Smith going to get Alexandra out of it?

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