Double Take: Virginia-Highland Nursery

A hip guest bedroom becomes an equally cool nursery

Photograph by Jeff Herr

The days of fussy nurseries—with elaborate Peter Rabbit murals and poufed pastel valances—may be numbered. Today’s new parents often prefer more streamlined design schemes. “It’s partly a younger generation thing that nurseries are untraditional these days,” says interior designer Sherry Hart.
Such was the case for her clients Mande and Joe Gasser. Hart had helped the Gassers decorate their Virginia-Highland townhouse’s guest bedroom four years ago, and recently she worked with them to turn the room into a nursery.
“It made sense to Mande and Joe to keep the existing colors, so it wouldn’t be hard to change it back to a guest room when they might be ready for resale,” says Hart. The Gassers knew they were having a boy (son Jake was born in January, during snow week!), but they wanted to keep the look gender neutral.
Hart repurposed many of the room’s original elements. Some aged barn doors she’d found years ago at a Cheshire Bridge Road antique shop remained as a focal point. The doors had served as a headboard for the guest bed, but, Hart says, “they also make a great backdrop for the crib—which, by the way, is usually on the largest wall and can look kind of lonely all by itself.”
The yellow ceiling was also left intact, since it provides a sunny accent for the space. A light fixture made from an old basket adds to the casual ambience. The Gassers splurged on a crib, but otherwise Hart furnished the room with inexpensive, unexpected items to give it personality. Her finds included a papier-mâché gazelle head from Anthropologie, an abacus from CB2, a chalkboard she bought for one dollar at a yard sale, lighting from Target, shelves from Ikea, and a mobile from West Elm that was originally sold as holiday decor. Custom curtains were made from drop cloths picked up at Home Depot.
While many of the finds were serendipitous, Hart did have a general plan. The color palette of grays and yellows mixed with graphic patterns creates a modern look. An abstract animal print Hart used for pillows (and a shower curtain in an adjacent bathroom) adds color without being too sweet.
In fact, two items of clothing hanging in the room emphasize that this is no Mother Goose nursery: a onesie with “Camzilla” (and Cam Newton’s number) on it and a mini AC/DC T-shirt.
This article originally appeared in our April 2011 issue.