Traditionally speaking, nurseries can be one of the most prescriptive spaces in a home. But Austin-based designer Kelsey Hutchins Flores of Flores & Company threw caution to the wind and followed her intuition when designing her newborn son’s sophisticated nursery.
“We didn’t want it to feel super ‘baby,’ for better or for worse,” she tells Clare of her and husband Issac’s design vision. “We also didn’t necessarily intend on it being gender-neutral, but it just sort of ended up that way. My husband and I both prefer green over blue, which is more of a neutral color,” she notes. “I’m thrilled because if we have a girl next, I feel like we can reuse everything and it will still work.”
With an ambitious painted stripe DIY project and a treasure trove of vintage furniture under their belt, the new parents managed to create an elevated nursery that’s anything but typical. Ahead, find creative and unique ideas for a nursery, courtesy of the Flores'.
Create a Faux Wallpaper With Paint
Of course, the DIY striped “wallpaper” using our Dirty Martini shade is a design fixture of the space — especially when complemented by doors and trim in the same hue. “We loved the paint color because it’s not super in your face. To me, it’s the perfect shade of dusty beige-green,” she notes. “Honestly, I admire it everyday. I’m always thinking to myself, this color rocks!”
The painted stripes were actually a requirement rather than a preference. “I always imagined that whenever we had a baby, we’d do a fun, whimsical wallpaper in the nursery,” she explains. “But we’re renting our house, so that wasn’t an option. Instead, we went with a painted double stripe that sort of mimics wallpaper. Plus, babies are attracted to high-contrast, so we thought the stripes would be eye-catching and good for his development.”
Despite the best intentions, the DIY was admittedly “really hard,” she laughs. “I did it while I was pregnant, and I was in charge of taping, which took 12 hours alone. My husband was in charge of the painting.” To simplify things a bit, she recommends investing in a laser level to streamline the taping process, and creating a patterned template on a piece of cardboard so you can easily place it and mark the exact measurements around the entire room. “It was insane, but worth it in the end.”
Practical Ideas for a Nursery: Budget & Utilize What You Have
With the paint project complete, the design unfolded organically from there. “We already had the two yellow chairs; we got them from a thrift store ages ago and had them on hand. We fell in love with the way they looked against the green paint,” she explains. Next, they chose the fabric, which tied all the colors together and added a splash of blue. “I made the pillows, crib skirt, and ottoman cover myself — I had a lot of fun in quarantine,” she laughs.
The couple actually pulled from their extensive vintage collection many times over. “The only thing that we got specifically for the nursery was the dresser and a couple pieces of art,” she explains. “Other than that, we already had everything.”
The two actually have a storage unit full of antique gems from their years of thrifting. “During non-pandemic times, we go antiquing almost every weekend,” she explains. “As a designer, I can’t resist picking up vintage pieces whenever I find them. I think that once you put something vintage in a room, it gives it so much more life.” In addition to a local antique mall, she loves a good Salvation Army or Craigslist find.
How to Design a Nursery With Your Spouse
Despite their shared love of design, this was actually one of the first projects Kelsey and Isaac tackled together. “It was interesting designing with my husband,” she reflects. “He’s very opinionated; he was like my most challenging client ever,” she laughs.
Strong opinions aside, the process was relatively relaxed compared to Kelsey’s standard client-facing projects. “I don’t always get to design super slow, because people want things done quickly,” she notes. “But it wasn’t super thought out, and we really got to get into a creative flow, which was fun. We figured it out together, and I love the way it turned out.”
Related: Still searching for ideas for a baby's nursery? Read Two Tone Walls Helped This Woodland Nursery Bring the Outdoors In.