The interior designer took a small guest room and turned into a dream nursery that’s ready to grow up with the baby. “A nursery is the place to live out a little bit of fantasy,” says Nate Berkus, who has decorate a baby’s room that has less than 100 square feet. And yet, with his expert eye, a soothing (and cleverly-chosen) palette, and smart furniture choices, he’s turned the wholly unremarkable guest room into a calm, chic, and beloved nursery. See how he did it—and take advantage of his tips for bringing whimsy and utility to every room in the house. The couple insisted on keeping this IKEA twin daybed with trundle in the room so they still be able to host visiting family members.
THE GUEST ROOM BEFORE
LESSON #1: LET FABRICS LEAD THE WAY
A good part of the nursery’s unique charm comes from the several projects made from fabrics from Berkus’s line at Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. “The whole collection was designed for people who want to do things their own way,” he explains, noting the roman shade, the crib canopy, the duvet, and bed shams created for the room. “For years people bought a yard of fabric and turned it into a pillow. But now with Etsy and Instagram, it’s so easy to get inspired by the affordable and high-impact things people are making.”
LESSON #2: KEEP IT PLAYFUL
“Every room needs a note of playfulness,” says Berkus. “And there’s no room I can think of where you can lose yourself in that idea more than a nursery. I mean, you get to put a rocking elephant on the ground!”
LESSON #3: DON’T UNDERESTIMATE AN ACCENT TABLE “An occasional table is not only really good looking, it’s practical, too,” says Berkus. “A chair with nothing next to it looks like it’s floating in space—you need to create groupings for seating to truly work, and you need that space to put something down.” It’s realy nice to have that table there—it hosts water bottles, tissues, and similarly less-photogenic but very-necessary items.
LESSON #4: GET FURNITURE THAT GROWS
“Babies are expensive. Why not be smart at this stage in the game and build a collection of pieces that will last as he grows?” In this room that means the the frames and baskets from Berkus’s line at Target and the bloom crib that transitions into a toddler bed (and can fold up to a fraction of its size for storage when needed), the AllModern glider that will look elegant when moved into the living room, plus accessories that are more sophisticated and don’t automatically read as baby. “This collection has resonated with customers more than any others,” he tells me proudly. “It really hit on all the elements: design, price, and craftsmanship.”
LESSON #5: GRAY IS GREAT
What makes the elegant neutral so perfect for a nursery? “It’s really soothing, and can easily go masculine or feminine by adding small accents,” says Berkus.
LESSON #6: BE SMART ABOUT LIGHTING
Overhead lighting it’s an attention point because it’s harsh for a baby, especially when looking up! Berkus layered clever pieces, such as the RH baby & child star light, which serves not only as an additional, softer light source, but decor—even when switched off. On the other side of the room,the Barbara Cosgrove floor lamp has a step-button on/off switch, which makes it easy to turn on without ever removing a hand from the baby.
LESSON #7: CONSIDER THE POSSIBILITIES OF EVERY OBJECT
“Whenever I look at something, I always think: What could this be used for that people wouldn’t typically think of?” says Berkus. “I’m certainly not the first person to hang plates on a wall, but I love trying something modern and minimal with porcelain in an unexpected spot.” He also suggests trying something similar with heirlooms— perhaps use your grandmother’s salad plates in a place on the wall.
LESSON #8: MAKE (CLEVER) USE OF FAMILY PHOTOS
Berkus discovered old family photos and had them reprinted in black and white to keep with the room’s calming color palette. (Plus a lovely frame from Nate’s Holiday collection at Target adds to the charm.)
LESSON #9: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CLASHING
“If you’re working with a consistent palette, you just can’t break the rules,” says Berkus. “It’s like a cute kid that dresses himself. It’s not mismatched, it’s charming!”
LESSON #10: IN A SMALL SPACE, RETHINK STANDARD NURSERY “MUSTS”
To changing table, was decided to get creative and utilize a space-saving crib-top changer. With the floor space reclaimed, it is possible to bring in special pieces that otherwise never would have had room for.
THE COMPLETED NURSERY “I’ve always thought a small space needs real-sized furniture in it,” says Berkus. “And keeping the palette fairly light and neutral tricks the eye a little bit, making the space seem more expansive.