Nursery Inspiration (and Ideas for Camouflaging those Kitchen Cabinets)

Last week I (somewhat melodramatically) walked you through the unfortunate state of our second floor bedroom/soon-to-be nursery. If you want a refresh on why I've dubbed it the Ugliest Room in Our House, read here. Or to summarize: it used to be a kitchen and comes complete with a wall of upper cabinets, thin brown wall-to-wall carpeting, an exterior door that essentially leads to nowhere, and just generally an awkward layout. 

But after almost five years of using it as a life-size junk drawer, I've decided to try my hand at some at-home redemption – turning this room into our bb girl's nursery (eta: March 27th!). 

Yes, I'm a notorious procrastinator and didn't even start thinking about doing anything to this space until around the beginning of last month. In hindsight, painting a room with 10' ceilings whilst 32 weeks pregnant (and suffering the subsequent hours-long introduction to Braxton Hicks) is not something I would advise. But the real reason I put off working on it is because nurseries aren't necessary, and I'm reticent to perpetuate the notion that they are. What I mean is it's lovely to have a dedicated sweet space for baby, but this can take on many forms: a reclaimed closet, a cute nook in the corner of a bedroom, even just a bassinet beside the bed. There's nothing that says a new baby necessitates transforming a room into a fantasy dreamland via carefully curated art direction, with the editorial photos to prove it. 

Then I was all, wait, but I actually do love all of that... It's why I write this blog and work with clients to help revamp their spaces! So, as with everything I document on this site, I offer this up as inspiration without any prescriptive intent.

I've had the above images from Aussie retailer Kip & Co. saved to my Pinterest page long before there was ever any baby on our horizon. Drawn to the punchy color, graphic art, and over-the-top styling, they're perfect inspiration for the vibrant nursery of my dreams. I even liked the walls bedecked in that moody navy and considered doing the same on my room's similarly paneled walls. Spoiler: I painted the room white (mostly because that's how 90% of our house is already painted and I wouldn't have to go through the process of choosing a new color, but also because I thought it best to minimize all the weird architectural quirks by keeping the trim and walls the same color).

I kept pinning and a colorful and pattern-filled, albeit lighter, theme began to emerge.  

But what to do about those kitchen cabinets? This was the singular design obstacle that had kept the room untouched for so long. Any hope of a makeover meant I'd need to figure out how to deal with them, but actually utilizing them didn't seem worth it for a couple of reasons. A row of upper cabinets without anything at the base just seemed off balance. Removing the doors to create open-shelving for decorative items didn't seem particularly safe (or necessary) in a nursery, plus any storage would be incredibly high and hard to access.

Camouflage was my best option, but to do this affordably and temporarily was the real challenge. 

Option 1: Glamorous Wall of Curtains

Ok, so this was my first and favorite idea. Inspired by Parisian bedchambers draped in layers of the most sumptuous velvet tucked within a darling fabric cornice... *sigh* I envisioned a luxuriously flamboyant canopy enveloping the crib. 

Oh how I wanted this to work! But pricing out fabric to fill the 10' x 11' wall, floor-to-ceiling with enough drape to feel substantial, was just too crazy. 

Option 2: Chinoiserie Style Screens

With canopy daydreams dashed my next idea was to install individually framed screens covered in beautiful chinoiserie-inspired wallpaper over the cabinets. So chic (and probably the closest I'd ever get to using wallpaper in this rental...)!

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While this seemed an attainable DIY, again, affordably securing such a wallpaper proved impossible. Even though the square footage being covered was half as big, in some cases wallpaper rolls were 4-5 times as expensive as fabric yardage. 

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If it wasn't already obvious, this is a rather austere budget makeover. The previous options really aren't beyond the scope of reality under normal circumstances – i.e. where I typically decorate slowly and wait for all the deals. But going from nothing to a completed room in a matter of weeks means this project needs to be C-H-E-A-P.

Option 3: Assorted Fabric/Wallpapered Panels    

Installing some type of panels in front of the cabinets still seemed like the way to go so I've tweaked my chinoiserie screen idea into something even more accessible. I continue finding myself drawn to the kooky mix of color and pattern present throughout so many of the inspiration images I've collected:

So the solution I’ve officially landed on is to use (my go-to) hardboard panels from Lowes, wrapped in whatever inexpensive fabrics/wallpapers I can get my hands on and go from there. It's definitely less polished than the other ideas, but here's hoping it'll have that whimsical, punchy look I'm after, not sad craft-project gone awry. At the very least, it'll cover those cabinets and help the room feel a little less like the kitchen/bedroom hybrid it currently exists as!