Local Designers Share Advice From Their Own Nurseries

By Terri Sapienza
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 15, 2009

When family and friends found out I was pregnant, one of the first things they said after offering hearty congratulations was, "You must be so excited to do the nursery."

Given my job as a reporter who covers home design, and the fact that I love decorating projects, it's a perfectly sensible statement. But to be honest, designing a nursery didn't appeal to me. My house is a sea of soothing neutrals, and the thought of injecting lots of color made me nervous. Plus, I didn't want to spend time and money on a room that I would probably redo in a few years.

Then I found out we were having a girl.

I have nothing against boys and would have been thrilled to have one, but do you know how much cute stuff there is for little girls? A lot. And most of it's incredibly sweet and pink.

Within days of finding out the sex of our child, I had created a design plan for the now-former guest room. But before I started spending money, I decided to seek out some expert advice. I contacted three area designers who have recently designed nurseries for their own homes to find out what they chose and why.

Going Traditional

Samantha Friedman had definite goals when she designed the nursery for her first child, Eric, born in July.

"I wanted a traditional crib and furniture, but I also wanted something fun and funky," says the Gaithersburg designer. "I also didn't want to spend a lot of money on this room, and I wanted a room that could grow with him."

Today, the room is a cozy and fun space that combines traditional elements (dark wood furniture) with a modern look (a color scheme that includes orange and turquoise and a stenciled animal wallpaper). "I really wanted to take an adult room and make it suitable for a child. Kids' rooms don't have to match the rest of the house, but for me, that's more soothing."

Friedman saved money on the crib bedding and splurged on things that would have staying power, such as custom shelving and window treatments. "As we were putting the stuffed animals up there, I was imagining as he got older there would be soccer trophies or algebra books," she says.

Custom window treatments, which are usually pricey, were important to Friedman. She lowered the cost a bit by using a cotton fabric that was $12 a yard. "The window is really big in the room, and I needed something that would go with the bedding," she says. "The drapery made all the difference in the world."

Being Green

McLean designer Shanon Munn thought long-term and eco-friendly when she designed a nursery for her daughter, Silvy, now 2 1/2 . "Doing a room is a significant investment, and I wanted something that would be as appropriate now as it would be when she's a teenager," she says.

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