Three Nursery Ideas for High-Style Babies


For high-style babies, pastels and primaries are waning in favor of a neutral color palette. As designer and new mother Chloe Warner puts it: “The nursery should be a comfortable and calm space for an infant. Later, he’ll probably want bright green dinosaurs and then I can easily add them in.”

Arts and Antiques

The inspiration for the nursery that Chloe Warner designed for her son came while she was shopping with a client in Los Angeles. “Until that day, I’d been looking at clean-lined, modern baby furniture, and I just wasn’t that inspired,” she says. “But when I spotted a bentwood crib in the window of an antiques store, I had to have it.”

She later learned that the piece was manufactured in 1895 by J & J Kohn, and that the Museum of Modern Art in New York has one in its collection. “The one in the store was faded and chipped and lined with a stained satin fabric,” says Warner. “I bought it, thinking it would be perfect if I had a girl.”
Warner had the crib stripped and repainted with a bright white, no-VOC paint.

She then used the existing satin insert as a template for a new (and easily washable) cotton liner that’s trimmed with masculine blue and khaki colors because, as she soon learned, she was carrying a baby boy she would name Ferris Livingston Warner.

“For the wall and ceiling colors, I chose a mink brown and a cloudy gray-blue,” says Warner. “It’s boyish and not at all frou-frou.” The colors are picked up in another dramatic piece of furniture: a Chinese dresser that Warner outfitted as a changing table. “I definitely got some funny looks when I said I was going to use this beautiful dresser as a place to change diapers,” she says. “But right now it works because it has the right-sized storage for his diaper equipment and clothes. Down the road, it would be perfect as a sideboard in the dining room.”

Camo and Color

When Alison Davin and Shannan Runner of Mill Valley firm Jute Interior Design were asked to create a room for their clients’ new baby, little Holden Cane, they chose a color palette that works well for him but could easily be adapted for a girl. “We loved the fresh look of the gray and bright green in this room,” says Davin. “But we also liked the way bright pink looks with the gray, if Holden gets a sister later.”

The decision to go modern was driven by the family, who lives in San Francisco’s Marina District. The rest of their home is very contemporary, and the Canes had no desire to switch gears for their child’s room. “Honestly, I think some of the choices for babies out there, especially boys, are pretty bad,” says Halle Cane. “It seemed like most of the options involved a pastel green or blue paired with brown. I wanted something different for Holden, something that he’d be able to grow into. In the room he has now, we could add a toddler bed and it would still be appropriate.”

The designers started by selecting wallpaper with a gray camouflage print that adds a big dose of pattern and texture to the small room. Holden was already sleeping in a modern Nurseryworks crib, and it looked right at home in front it. The Vitra lithograph was in the Canes’ collection, and provided the perfect color exclamation point.
The curtains and rug the designers added were chosen with an eye for durability and washability. “We had the window shades made with sturdy, easy-to-clean outdoor fabric. They also have blackout lining, which is great for a baby’s room,” says Davin. “For the floor, we chose a striped cotton area rug that’s easily washable, because, in the future, there will be crayons and markers to deal with.”

Style and Substance

Gerri Panebianco and Naomi Coe operate Little Crown Interiors, an Orange County design firm specializing in nurseries and kids’ rooms. “The trends we see include the rise of modern design and a focus on green materials,” says Coe.

When the team got the call to create this nursery for a baby girl, the first request was for a fabric-draped, upholstered ceiling. “Our clients had just returned from Las Vegas, and they were really inspired by the upholstered ceiling in their hotel,” says Panebianco. “They thought it would be a good look for the vaulted ceiling in their nursery.”

The designers chose a palette of gray and lavender for the space, and used a cool gray fabric to cover the ceiling and a similar shade for wall paint. “Deep brown has been the preferred neutral for a nursery,” says Coe. “But it seems like gray is the new brown. It’s the perfect, adaptable background color.”

The crib is a modern metal version of a classic form, and the custom bedding was created from a lilac-colored fabric. Artwork includes a Pop bird print and framed onesies that were made at the baby’s shower. The glider is a contemporary take on what’s long been the ugliest seat in the house. “Modern-style gliders are functional and comfortable, and they are getting better and better looking,” says Coe.

The finishing touch is a custom changing table that operates with space-saving efficiency. “The mother is a dentist, and she likes to have all of her equipment and materials close at hand,” says Panebianco. “We kept that in mind. The table itself folds down from the wall, and it’s backed by a mirror so it looks like a cabinet when closed. Discreet compartments in the console below hold all the equipment, and the diaper pail and laundry bin are built in on either end of the table.”

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