Room to Grow

When I was decorating my second daughter’s nursery, I fell in love with a fabric I saw in a magazine, a modern floral print with large


When I was decorating my second daughter’s nursery, I fell in love with a fabric I saw in a magazine, a modern floral print with large orange, green and blue flowers, very Marimekko. At $80 a yard, it seemed an unlikely choice for a glider in a baby’s room, where the chance of it coming into contact with drool and spit-up was a given. Yet I couldn’t get it out of my mind: From that single fabric, I was able to envision an orange-and-blue color scheme, find two corresponding wallpapers, a baby-blue crib, an antique-white dresser and bookshelf, even a funky gold-leaf ceiling fixture to play off the tiny gold detailing in the wallpaper. From that single fabric, the entire room fell into place.

I’m not alone in my taste for a sophisticated look for my baby’s boudoir. Parents are spending more money on nurseries (“They especially tend to go all out for the first baby’s room,” says Haddonfield interior designer Dana Falcione), and an increasing number of furniture companies and designers, including Design Within Reach and David Netto, are creating kids’ lines in colors, materials and styles more commonly associated with adults. Which makes sense—these rooms are as much for parents as for babies. The three nurseries featured here all started with a personal element—a designer crib, a chandelier, a wallpaper sample—that sparked the design process of a room carefully envisioned for bringing up baby.

Cool Cribs
Kristina Ferrari is hooked on modern design the way some people are hooked on reality TV. So when it came to decorating her second son Milan’s (“Lani’s”) nursery (pictured above), she was immediately drawn to the NettoCollection. She carries the clean-lined, red oak and white lacquer furniture at Genes, the urban baby boutique she opened in Wayne last fall. “It has a life beyond its functionality,” she says. “Modern designers understand that. When I’m finished with the changing table, I’m going to use it in my dining room as a bar. It looks that cool.”

Lani’s nursery is a showcase for other lines Ferrari carries at Genes, including a Nurseryworks rocker in mocha microsuede, the Jennifer Delonge Ava Chair and Ottoman in chocolate microsuede, the DWRjax Bunny Junior Table and Chairs, and Dwell Robin Motif bedding in sky blue and white, with a touch of olive and chocolate. “I love the rocker because it’s so wide,” she says. “I can get in it with both of my kids.”

It was important to Ferrari that the nursery function for everyone, not just the baby. “We’re a fashion family, and we didn’t want to put our kids in stuff that didn’t reflect our aesthetic,” she says. “I didn’t pick anything for Lani’s room that wouldn’t work well in, say, my living room.”

With Ferrari’s pared-down aesthetic, she had to be selective. “You have to be particular about what you put in the nursery because when you have kids, you get so many things,” she says. “If you put too much in there, then the items that are fabulous get lost in the sea of stuff.”

She also recommends changing the room as baby—and his needs—change. “The nursery doesn’t have to be a shrine, and I don’t think enough people realize this,” she says. “We did different things for different stages. When Lani was crawling, we put a series of mirrors low on the wall so he could see himself.”

Traces of the nursery can be seen throughout Genes, down to the robin’s-egg blue on the wall behind the counter—the same shade that covers Lani’s walls. “I wanted the store to look and feel like Lani’s nursery,” Ferrari says. “After all, it was the inspiration for Genes.”

Design on the Double
Jennifer Trachtenberg decorated her twin daughters’ nursery from her couch. On bed-rest for the last few months of her pregnancy, she enlisted the help of Bala Cynwyd designer Maria Lucoff to transform a dormer attic into a suite of French country-style rooms for Ava Lilly and Olivia Leigh, now 15 months. Main Line designer-builder Jim Easter, who owns a custom-building company of the same name, raised the roof on her Georgian colonial to create two spacious bedrooms (one of which is currently being used as a playroom while the twins share the other), a full bath and a laundry room.

The suite’s look grew from a 1920s Spanish chandelier that Trachtenberg’s husband, Mark, a real estate developer, salvaged from one of his projects. “When he brought it home two years ago, I didn’t know what to do with it, so I stored it in the garage,” says Trachtenberg, who also has an eight-year-old son, Jake, and a five-year-old daughter, Isabella. “When I found out I was pregnant, I pulled it out again and showed it to Maria.” Lucoff brought it to Rollin Wilber at the Antique Lighthouse in Manayunk, who rewired the fixture and revived it with beads and crystals to Lucoff’s specifications; it became the main attraction in the twins’ bedroom. “Everything is centered around that chandelier, and the room means more to me because of it,” says Trachtenberg.

For the walls, Lucoff mixed a custom color, “Twin Pink,” which she describes as “a blush shade, just a hint of lavender.” She and Trachtenberg chose custom Jenny Lind-style cribs in antique white, a hand-painted armoire and dresser by Art for Kids from Karl’s Baby, Teen and Home Furnishings in Center City, and an overstuffed glider by Little Castle Furniture Company from Hey Little Diddle Child & Home in Narberth, which Lucoff started with her sister, Claudia Clobes. Lucoff upholstered the rocker in custom fabrics, a mix of Shabby Chic, Bella Notte Linens and some vintage fabric from her own collection that she’d had for 15 years. Lucoff chose a pink checked silk for the soft Roman shades, and Shabby Chic bedding from Hey Little Diddle Child & Home for the twin cribs. Accessories like the framed floral prints from Smith & Childs Fine Custom Framing in Broomall and the gilded mirror from the Antique Lighthouse complete the airy French cottage look. “I like it sweet, but I don’t like it too baby,” says Trachtenberg. “I love spending time up here with the girls.”

Where Frogs Are King
Michele Seidman had been leaning toward a shabby chic decorating scheme when she thought she was having a girl. “When I found out it was a boy, I changed my mind,” says the Main Line mom. But she still didn’t have a clear idea of how she wanted to decorate her son, Jared’s, nursery.

Enter interior designer Dana Falcione from Dana Falcione Interiors, whom Seidman hired through the Children’s Boutique on Walnut Street. “The first thing I did was show Michele a million different wallpapers,” says Falcione. “She fell in love with the Scalamandré frog print, and the room fell into place from there.”

But the room posed some challenges from the start. It didn’t have a lot of architectural detail, so Falcione added wainscoting, which Seidman painted a soft celadon green—to complement the periwinkle-blue background of the wallpaper—that reminded her of the spa at the Delano hotel in Miami. To warm up the small space even more, Falcione wallpapered the ceiling, too, creating an overarching sense of coziness. “When Jared’s lying in his crib, he has something interesting to look up at,” says Seidman. “It really completes the room.”

Bouncing Baby Boy
To disguise the long, skinny windows, Falcione added big cornices she designed with playful pom-poms in striped, plaid and checked fabrics that coordinate nicely with the wallpaper. And to top it off, Falcione installed one of her fun, signature drum lampshade fixtures made of matching fabric. “They add a lot of presence without costing a lot of money,” she says.

Seidman and Falcione finished the room with furniture and accessories: a hand-painted changing table and crib by Sweet Beginnings in Florida (“I sent them swatches of the fabrics we were using so they could see colors,” says Falcione); a rocker and ottoman upholstered in an off-white cotton piqué by Little Castle Furniture Company; custom waffle piqué and seersucker bedding from Oh, Baby! Maternity + Nursery in West Chester; floating shelves from West Elm; lamps from Pottery Barn Kids; a throw blanket by Simply Shabby Chic for Target.

“I love to blend custom and mainstream stuff,” says Falcione. Adds Seidman: “It’s the special touches, like the wooden Pinocchio I hung over the changing table to entertain Jared, or the three illustrations from Aesop’s Fables that I had framed and hung on the wall near his crib, that make his nursery feel lived in. It’s a room he’ll be able to grow with.”