Vintage-Inspired Baby Boy's Room

Expecting parents flip a spare room into a sophisticated red and blue nursery for their new baby boy.

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In 2010 Jon and Erin Malone feverishly outfitted the 12 x 10-foot first-floor bonus room in their 1960s ranch house into a traditional, merlot-toned guest bedroom in time for the holidays. Just a few months later, they found out they were expecting their first child, a baby boy they planned on naming Owen.

Both busy executives, the couple found themselves short on the amounts of time and energy needed to rework the room into a sophisticated, masculine nursery. To make things even more challenging, the duo had just completed a pricey and laborious basement remodel, and the last thing either of them was in the mood for was another design project.


Browse Pictures of this Red and Blue Nursery

Despite liking the room's red wall color, original windows and newly refinished hardwood floors, Jon and Erin knew the furnishings would have to go. “All of the newer pieces in the room were geared toward adult guests, from the dresser to the queen mattress and the artwork to the bedding.” To personalize the space for their new addition, the couple decided on a budget of $4,500 and a quick timeline of only three days.

Scope of Project

  • Replace bulky ceiling fan with diffused pendant lighting
  • Add architecture to the walls with wainscoting
  • Soften and protect the hardwood floors with a thick shag area rug
  • Use a similar shade of red as the existing wall color
  • Add pattern and color to the walls with noise-reductive fabric wall upholstery
  • Soften the windows with custom drapery panels and woven wood blinds
  • Furnish the space with transitional modern and vintage pieces

Going Vintage

From the start, Jon’s decorator friend recommended splurging on transitional vintage pieces that could work in different rooms once the nursery is outgrown.

"At first, we thought it seemed odd, but then it made much more sense since vintage never goes out of style; kids can appreciate retro stuff just as much as parents," says Erin, who was pleasantly surprised to learn that vintage items aren't necessarily more than ready-made pieces.

To keep all pieces in check with the overall direction of the room, the Malones opted for a white wire-frame midcentury rocker with brown aged-leather upholstery, a dark walnut 1950s dresser, a steel-blue shag rug and a brand-new, modern, glossy white crib. “Steel blue was the color of my bridesmaids' dresses," says Erin. "It seemed like the perfect choice from the start since it’s a color unique to Jon and I.”

Upholstering the Walls

Jon and Erin were most excited about the wall upholstery, which would help soundproof the nursery. The process involved having the upholsterer pre-measure the room so the fabric could be seamed together appropriately back at his workroom, attaching precut batting to the walls with spray adhesive, stapling the fabric along the top of the walls, corners of the walls, and along the top of the wainscoting, then hiding the staples with welt cord and hot glue.

While the actual upholstery of the space was a quick, clean process, choosing the proper fabric was an entirely different story. Erin explains, “We fell in love with five different fabrics, and we loved them all equally. The ultimate choice came down to whatever would hold up the best and not lock us into one specific color scheme.” Thinking ahead, they opted for a gender-neutral linen print sporting partridges and leaves in orange, red, sage green, slate blue, charcoal, brown and white.

Finishing Touches

The final tasks for the nursery design involved replacing a ceiling fan with a drum pendant and installing window coverings. While the window coverings went up easily, thanks to heavy-duty drywall anchors for the drapery hardware and simple inside-mount brackets for the shades, the pendant ended up being a bit more difficult than anticipated.

"We had a contractor install the pendant for us based on what height looked best for the space," says Jon. "Unfortunately, we forgot to add the extra inch of the ceiling canopy into the mix, and since I’m 6'3" and the bottom of the pendant sat at 6'1", I found myself walking right smack into it." The solution involved Jon removing the canopy from the ceiling, then shortening the cord an extra two inches.

As Owen’s due date drew closer and closer, the Malones were ecstatic to have his nursery complete with more than two months to spare until the big day. Erin says, “Since I couldn’t be around paint fumes while pregnant, Jon and I took a three-day-weekend vacation during the buildout of Owen’s nursery. I think it’s pretty safe to say that coming back from a great vacation to a completely redesigned room is one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced.”

With the room ready for Owen, down to having his socks neatly folded and prewashed in his new dresser, the first-time parents couldn’t possibly have been more prepared. And with a nursery this well done, perhaps little Owen will grow up to study interior design — on a football scholarship.

Next Up

Girls' Bedroom Mixes Playful with Practical

Carpenter David Cloak flips an unused attic space to surprise his two daughters with a fun, colorful bedroom and play area full of storage.


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