Design Plan Rejects: A New Nursery For An Old Friend

Ian Brennans House Living Room Emily Henderson


Design plans get presented, accepted, and edited, but rarely outright rejected. But, it happens. So instead of throwing away a perfectly good design, I figured we’d blog about it so maybe one of you could use it. You all know this house above, right? It belongs to my friend Ian who now shares it with his fiance (a good friend), and soon to be son. Six years ago I designed it for the pilot episode of Secrets From a Stylist, and it is still one of my favorites. And since I feel style ownership over my/their house I hijacked the nursery and am designing it for them as their baby present.


Emily Henderson Ian Brennans House Family Room


The whole house is a blend of antique comfort mixed with a mid-century cool guy vibe. His fiance has since made it more feminine, adding her touch but it’s mostly the same as you see here.


Emily Henderson Ian Brennans House Living Room


So, when it came time to do the nursery I decided to started on the design plan without consulting them on what they actually wanted. Again, it’s practically my house, after all.


Emily Henderson Ian Brennans House Dining Room


Here is the room in question. It was the old guest room and needs to be turned into a baby room in the next couple months.


Ian Brennan Guest Room


That certainly is the worst photograph ever. But it hasn’t really changed much since I styled it 6 years ago. The room is challenging because it is really small, doesn’t get a lot of light and has gray carpet – which is fine but means that we need to make sure the walls contrast enough, so it’s not a gray cave (how it is now). We can’t go dark on the walls because it would turn into a cave, and we can’t bring in too much pattern or it will feel really busy and small. So there are the challenges – we need to lighten it up, without being busy or boring.


So, on Sunday mornings I would spend an hour or two sourcing and putting together a design plan. Trilby (Ian’s fiance) told me she wanted blue, white, and gold, and maybe some big pops of color. Here is what she pinned to help guide me:


Client Inspiration Muted Colors




It was muted but happy. Then she also pinned these more poppy images: Client Inspirations Bright Colors


I liked it, but it wasn’t what I was picturing, so I pretty much just ignored it and went with what I wanted to do.


This is the plan I put together:




1. Wallpaper in Walnut | 2. Crib | 3. Solar System Mobile | 4. Lamp | 5. Zebra Head | 6. Gold Basket | 7. Dresser | 8. Wall Pockets | 9. Window Shades | 10. Cubbies | 11. Bear Pillow | 12. Camp Fire Nightlight | 13. Nightstand | 14. Whale Pillow | 15. Storage Bench | 16. Glider + Ottoman | 17. Ride On Elephant | 18. Side Table | 19. Laundry Hamper


They were like “Uh . . . that’s cool but not anything that we were picturing.”


Fine. But back to me for a sec . . .


I went for gender neutral, vintage-inspired, and modern, with a bit of rustic nursery. I love that Moby Dick themed wallpaper (called Melville), and thought it would be great for them as they are both big readers. I liked the idea of keeping the walls warm, cozy and neutral, while adding olives and navys to keep it feeling happy and just “boy” enough. It’s very adventuresome and explorer-esque, which I think fits their personalities, and most likely their little munchkin.


We all wanted a pattern but it couldn’t be too high contrast as the space is so small and she really wanted something that made the room look brighter – which admittedly the Melville paper didn’t do. So we went through hundreds of papers which you can see on this pin board. She wanted regency, bright, and feminine, and Ian wanted more antique, and masculine. And I wanted it to be cool, collected, unexpected but work with the style of the house.


We ordered 40 samples of wallpaper, which they narrowed it down to a few that we all really liked, and I pulled together a couple plans. Ultimately they both said that regardless of the style they want it to feel really magical, soothing, happy (and bigger). I can certainly get behind that. Stay tuned for one more rejected design before we settled on the real plan that we are currently installing.


The post Design Plan Rejects: A New Nursery For An Old Friend appeared first on Emily Henderson.


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