Baby Steps: Decor Demon’s budget-friendly take on designing for an infant
Produced, designed, written and styled by Brian Patrick Flynn with photography by Sarah Dorio
Jungle mural? No. Truck theme? No. Baby blue walls? Now you’re pissing me off. Decorators and horticulturalists have a lot in common when dealing with nursery-based clients. We both weed-whack our way through poorly planted ideas before our designer polished seeds can grow roots to become something spectacular.
I’ve often wondered why so many young parents engage in cliche-fests when putting together their baby rooms. Designers are focused on the baby’s walls, windows and furniture; parents-to-be are consumed by redistribution of income, raging hormones and their impending special delivery. The Decor Demon team showed our discerning three-month-old client, Ethan, and babbydaddy Michael, that creating an enviable nursery is a stroll in the park compared to a scheduled C-section.
Color me happy
Michael and wife Alisa were adamant I keep their walls white; my color-me-happy splash of color tactic still won them over — well, kinda. Two dominant hues of pea green and dark brown came into play via the bookshelf and ceiling treatment. While the built-in and paint tricks were cost-savers, custom floor cushions in Trina Turk indoor/outdoor fabric were a splurge.
Meet BILLY: a popular line of Ikea shelving that’s easy to assemble and a cinch to customize. First, we dressed up back panels with a jolt of pea green paint. Next, my carpenter, Brian Bell, put together three side-by-side units before securing them to the studs. Brian then attached a facia of 1 X 2 MDF to BILLY’s facade with a nailgun. For the perfect finish, Brian spackled then sanded the nail holes and added a color-matched coat of semi-gloss to the front. Our faux built-in project cost a total of $235 in materials and roughly 4 hours of labor.
Let’s face it: babies get a lot of $@#& from their showers. How can Mommy and Daddy put Uncle Bobo’s bunny on display but let Aunt Ruthie’s pint-sized books bite the dust? Baskets and boxes: the key to cute versus clutter. In Ethan’s case, we proudly displayed his most graphic items: chunky piggy banks, a chrome sculpture, a pewter bird and tone-on-tone plush toys. Smaller keepsakes are just as accessible nestled inside aesthetically correct containers.
Ethan’s windows and upholstery are up to snuff with those of a classy bachelor 25 years his senior. The 1970′s swivel rocker was a $75 flea market find updated in David Hicks-esque velvet. While Michael and Alisa were set on dressing up their windows, they didn’t want to incur major expense. For $29.99 per pair, I picked up RITVA panels from IKEA, then dropped them off to my seamstress, Kim, who tailored them up with blackout liner and a fan pleat. West Elm was our medium price-point source for the polished nickel hardware. The classic modern Saarinen tulip table is from Design Within Reach Atlanta.
Organic textures were key to adding layers of visual interest in Ethan’s pad. IKEA’s LERAN pendant shed light on our little guy while also adding a hand woven element.
On your mark, get set….go
Rooms on tight budgets call for the most creative art ideas. In Ethan’s case, our subject was Daddy’s 1980′s-centric Matchbox car collection. After my photographer snapped her fantastic four, the blue quartet was printed on vinyl, adhered to a plywood box then hung above Ethan’s changing table. To assure a fit both safe and straight, Brian used a level to secure the piece directly to the studs with long screws. Did I include a photo of Brian to show readers how to use a level? Yes? Perhaps the photo of Brian was added because he is easy-on-the-eyes. I don’t know.
Our final color infusion entered the space by way of a vintage topography map. In order to make it a bit different, we cut the map into six pieces, then framed it with metallic RIBBA frames from IKEA. Although Mommy and Daddy are sure to read him many bedtime stories over the next few years, I personally think the tale of Brian, Brian and the One Day Baby Room Installation will be his favorite.