Cool Ideas for Decorating Baby's Room

Designer Leah Steen delivers a cliché-free nursery.

Just as interior designer Leah Steen was winding up her job of freshening up Amanda Carr’s downtown condo, she got a call. “I said, ‘What’s up?’” Steen recalls. “And Amanda said: ‘Well, I have a new project for you: a nursery.’ She told me she was pregnant. It was all very surprising.”

The tricky part was finding a good spot for a nursery in Carr’s approximately 1,000-square-foot, one-bedroom condo. “I didn’t want to set up an entire nursery in the bedroom, but I am not sure how long we will be in the condo. It could be a couple more years,” Carr explains. “So we challenged Leah to turn the office nook into a nursery.” Adds Carr, “I think the downturn in the [real-estate] market has presented a lot of these sorts of design challenges. People have a change in circumstances, but end up needing to stay put and make a less-than-ideal space work.”

The linchpin to Steen’s nursery solution is some inventive drape work. The owner of the former Capitol Hill shop Revival Home & Garden (online only at designed a blackout curtain ($1,400), specially lined and fabricated by Queen Anne & Magnolia Paint & Interiors (2530 15th Ave. W; 206.283.0880;, and hung it from a ceiling track. The stain- and water-resistant curtain simultaneously separates and integrates the 6-by-10-foot nursery into the condo’s overall space. It blessedly blocks out the light from two adjacent floor-to-ceiling windows and buffers Carr’s new babe, Addy, from nap-rattling sound waves. “The curtain is really effective at separating the two spaces,” Carr says. “I can close the curtain and eat at the dining table, and it doesn’t feel like we are eating next to a nursery.”

Given its central location, avoiding cutesy kids’ design clichés was a necessity. Steen carefully connected the nursery with the condo’s design, a theme she describes as “elegant aquatic.” As an attorney specializing in marine environment issues, such as the BP oil spill in the Gulf, “Amanda really responds to things that refer to the beach or marine life,” Steen explains. So Steen painted the nursery’s walls a soft sea blue and, echoing the hue of a nearby orange velvet chair, chose a coral-reef-colored ikat fabric (Kravet, Seattle Design Center, Georgetown, Suite 126, 5710 Sixth Ave. S; 206.762.1200;, noted for its dreamy, soft patterns (a very popular look right now), for the custom curtain, which features nautical rope tiebacks from Restoration Hardware ( The room’s star (and its priciest item) is easily the enchanting nesting crane wallpaper by Katie Ridder ( Both Steen and Carr loved Ridder’s new, print-to-order line of marine-life-focused papers, but Carr initially balked at the $250-per-roll price tag. When all alternatives disappointed, though, the first-time mom allowed herself the splurge. Extravagances were otherwise avoided.

In fact, one beloved accessory was absolutely free. The quilt, now hanging over the crib was made by Carr’s mother Maggie and six of her mother’s closest friends. “They have all known me since I was a baby, and the colors in the quilt were selected to match my nursery colors,” Carr says. “I love the warm and homemade touch it adds.”

About the final result, Steen says, “It feels like Amanda. It doesn’t feel like just a baby’s [room]; it’s a positive, bright space.”

For more sweet nursery looks, visit

Furniture Details

The Compartment Department bookcase ($699), Between a Rock lamp base in gold ($69), Monarch dresser (previous page, $799) with changer top, painted by Carr’s dad in Benjamin Moore’s coral bronze shade, all from The Land of Nod (University Village, 2660 NE 49th St.; 206.527.9900; The Oeuf sparrow crib (previous page, $730) available at Tottini (South Lake Union, 259 Yale Ave. N; 206. 254.0400; Dash & Albert trimaran strip indoor/outdoor rug in slate/ivory available through Leah Steen (206.763.3886;

Birds and Boats

Katie Ridder “Crane” wallpaper (available through Leah Steen) was a special extravagance. The round, pink rouched throw pillow ($29) was a rare girly touch, while the cotton canvas Anchors Away throw pillow ($16, both from Land of Nod), connects with the condo’s overall “elegant aquatic” theme. The cotton/sateen Aqua/Melon Mosaic crib sheet ($36) by Serena & Lily ( boasts a baby-soft 300-thread-count.

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