A Bright and Cheerful Boys' Nursery

For a very long time while I was growing up, I shared a room with my sister. Some of my fondest memories are of us talking late into the night. So when a client approached me to help her create a nursery for her son and his soon-to-arrive younger brother, I was really excited. 

A bit of background: the nursery was originally in a smaller guest room. Since the nursery would be for two tots and not just one, we were moving everyone to the larger guest room. Challenges? There was a laundry list. First every single wall had windows and/or doors, making furniture placement difficult. Also, we had to squeeze in two cribs, which had to be placed out of reach of curtains and windows. A sitting area was a must for reading. And of course, a changing table was a necessity for when the newest member of the family arrives. 

The design plan was to keep things minimal and monochromatic for the most part. I wanted the room to be one that the boys could grow into. I was positive that books and toys would bring in enough color to make sure that this room didn't feel drab. And although this is an older home, I pushed for a bit more modernity in this room to keep things fresh.  Below is the design board. 

Here are a couple of before photos of the room. 

As you can see, the wall colors had yellow/beige undertones which made the room feel a bit heavy. The brown curtains with the darker wood flooring made everything feel one note. The hardware and the fixtures throughout the room had to be updated. And the curtains were hung too low, making things feel a bit stuffy. Let's move on to the fun stuff. 

Yes, I promise you, this is the same room. As you can see, we deviated slightly from the original design board but generally the plan remained the same. 

 Let's start with the big changes we made. First, a big one: the clients replaced the windows. We also painted the room a lighter cooler color, Behr Lunar Light. We upgraded the sconces and the curtain hardware to polished nickel. Also, although we were on a budget, I thought it was very important to raise the curtain rods and get longer curtains. You can see how much of a difference this small change makes, it's almost like magic. It seems the room has grown taller! No Alice in Wonderland magic here, just curtain rods installed at a higher height. And yes, these are blackout curtains to create the ideal sleeping conditions for tired young boys. 

The perfect reading nook? Right here. 

This accent chair was repurposed from the master bedroom. It brings color into this otherwise neutral room. The gold accent table adds shimmer and light, also a great landing space for drinks and/or books. The changing table is just a dresser from Ikea that is perfect for a nursery, a workhorse furniture piece that should last for several years but can handle some dings and scratches. 

Where is big brother sleeping? See below. 

Yea I know, I want to move in too.  I'm obsessed with this graphic rug. It's also really thick, ideal for a bit of roughhousing. Since this is California (earthquake country), I rarely place anything framed or sharp above a bed and that includes a crib. This beautiful yak print is unframed and still looks beautiful. 

Look up, it's a ceiling fan that doesn't remind you of the 1970's. I don't have a before photo of the original fan fixture but I promise you that this is a good upgrade. It has clean lines, wonderful color and circulates air in the room, what more can you ask for?! 

Where is soon to arrive little brother sleeping? Take a look below. 

Yes, younger brother gets Mr. Buffalo to watch over him. Adorable. We kept things cohesive by purchasing the same Ikea crib that is on the other side of the room. 

But Clara, where are all the toys?! Follow me. Here is the before of this sad corner. 

And below is the after!

The gallery wall brings in so much color and life into this room. The cutest table lamp with the black and white shade touches back to the main colors of the room. It also brings in another source of lighting. These boys have their own little library and baskets interspersed throughout corral the smaller toys. I like how everything is consolidated into one side of the room, keeping the room visually clean and airy. 

I loved how this room turned out. It's bright, cheery and modern. Most importantly, we've carved out a space for play and sleep which is important for every nursery, especially a shared one. I hope you enjoyed it too. This transformation is just a reminder that even if you're confronted with a challenging space, even the smallest changes such as paint and longer curtains can make a world of difference. Thanks so much for reading!  

The Map House (Part 1)

If you've been following me on Instagram, you've seen some sneak peeks of a long term project I've been working on for the past year, the Map House Project! I'm really excited to share the final product with you. A little bit of background: the clients purchased a second home to be closer to their first grandchild. If you're lucky enough to have a second home - first, I'm jealous. Second, you can take some liberties with the decor since you're not using the home full time.  

The clients are serious DIYers and have a strong sense of style, which I really appreciated. My role here was more advisory, sourcing and editing, which I was happy to do. The inspiration for the entire house was these simply amazing vintage maps my clients picked up at the Alameda Flea Market. We placed them throughout the home to create a theme for the house.

There were a couple of challenges. The townhouse, though in good condition, was a little bit stuck in the 90's, and updating the home on a budget was going to be difficult. Also, since this was a second home, there would be no preexisting furniture - the townhome would start as a completely empty space. Furnishing a three bedroom condo from scratch is no small feat! Thankfully, decisive clients and the internet are great tools to speed the process along. Below are the maps that served as the creative inspiration!

First up, the foyer.  Here is the before with the prior occupant's furnishings. 

If you've read about any of my projects before, you know I love a well styled foyer. It's the first space to greet guests, the gatekeeper for everything you bring into your home, and in some instances the place where you remove your shoes before entering a home. Foyers are important!

Below is the after. 

Such a cheerful space right? The detail on the vintage armchair is everything. After some searching, we finally found the perfect table lamp to give height and additional lighting.  Since the foyer is adjacent to the dining room, the credenza can store additional serveware, dishware and miscellaneous items.

On to the living room, which I like to call the adult sitting room.  A room meant for relaxing and reading.  Here is the before. 

And the after!

An improvement? A resounding yes. The vintage map of China hangs over the mantle. We pulled shades of green, blue and neutrals from this map to style this room. Those weird cutouts above the fireplace are such a blast from the past. We think they were originally constructed for TVs when they were thicker than a few inches. Remember when? I decided that a collection of larger glass jars would be the perfect way to fill in such an awkward space, it retains visual separation of the two rooms but keeps it light.  


Yes, that's a Fiddle Leaf Fig tree AGAIN. Guilty. I love them, they add so much greenery to a room with those large lush leaves.  And I agree, sometimes things are too trendy, and we should all take a break. For example, it's going to be a very long time until I can embrace chevron again.  But sometimes things are trendy because they are so great, retaining their longevity, and I think Fiddle Leaf Fig trees fall into this latter category.

The arc floor lamp really works here because the ceilings are so high and the space is very airy. Another tip? When purchasing an arc lamp, buy one that has a shaded bottom so no one feels like they're on a spotlight when sitting down. And, as in many of the other houses I've done, no coffee table so the baby and adults can roam freely without worry. The side tables should be sufficient for the occasional beverage or book. 

Follow me to the other side of the fireplace wall where the TV room is located.  Here is the before. 

And here is the after. 

Comfort is the priority for any room made for some serious TV watching. I think we've achieved that goal here. My talented clients actually made most of the throw pillows, and covered that ottoman. Yes, you heard right. I'm not much of a DIYer, nine times out of ten I prefer to purchase versus making something myself. So they surprised me a thousand times throughout this collaboration when I would send a product suggestion and they would respond by saying we can totally make/sew/build that. 

Come follow me upstairs to the guest room/nursery. Here is the before. 

Just because it's a small room doesn't mean it can't have personality.  Take a look at the after. 

Again using the vintage map as inspiration, this time we used this map of Canada to serve as the centerpiece.  This room was designed for the clients' granddaughter when she comes to visit but can also be used as a guest room in a pinch.  The mostly pink map was apt for such a space. 

BW's Room.jpg

The bolder punches of color and the geometric accents bring modernity into the room and are a great contrast against the softer pink hues. My clients completed this room with some handmade accessories, including this hand painted globe.  

We're not quite done yet, one more guest room for this installment.  Here is the before. 

At the top of the list was painting over the yellow walls, which unquestionably dated the space, See below for the amazing after. 

Another vintage map serves as the ideal artwork for this wonderful guest room. The kelly green campaign dresser is fantastic and adds that nice pop of color to the predominately black and white decor. The vintage wooden bench at the foot of the bed brings in the warmth and texture. We created a little office area in the corner as well - see below. 

I will never get tired of vintage chairs. They just don't make them like they used to. The detail on that back is its own accessory. The collection of sister vases I picked up on one of my shopping excursions. I was hoarding them in my inventory closet for the longest time until the perfect space came along. This little corner was it! This guest room will have a waiting list, I'm sure of it. 

That's it for this post, please come back for the second installment where I'll you show you the magic we performed on the kitchen, dining room, master bedroom and bathrooms. Thanks for reading!