Natalie's Sweet Owl Nursery

Nursery Tour

Name: Natalie (8 months)
Location: Elkhorn, Nebraska
Room Size: 12'x12' (144 sq. ft.)

It's a sad state of affairs when a baby's room looks more sophisticated than my own, grown-up bedroom, but what am I going to do? Share it on Apartment Therapy, of course! That's certainly simpler than trying to compete. With its bold color palette of charcoal gray, sunshine yellow, and soft pinks, Natalie's parents, Scott and Leah, managed to create a whimsical space while retaining the soothing nature of a functional nursery.

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From her mother's handmade comforts to her father's technological touches, Natalie lives in a cozy nursery with all of the modern amenities. Soft, sheer drapes hide blackout shades, while an unobtrusive video camera mounted on the corner of the crib ensures Natalie won't be up to any late-night shenanigans. The felt owl mobile is a homemade project, while the moon and owl wall prints are custom works from Leah's former college roommate. Setting the tone for the rest of the room, the stark white piping on the dark gray rocker adds the perfect amount of grown-up sophistication to an adorable space for a little girl.

How would you describe the look and feel of this room? At first, the entire room was going to be just grey and yellow. Once we found out that we were having a girl, hints of pink started to show up, and eventually, it all came together. We wanted it to be comfortable and cozy. Cute, yet elegant. It is a space that she can grow with, not grow out of. It also has many personalized and sentimental items throughout.

What is your favorite piece or element? The rocker/ottoman. We were in search for the longest time for the perfect chair - either yellow or grey - and we discovered this one while browsing the internet. It is so cute and perfectly matched the style/color we were going for. It has also been very comfortable for me - I have logged much time in it thus far!

What was the biggest challenge decorating this room? It is a smaller space, so it was a challenge to add everything that we wanted without making it look too cluttered. We knew we wanted grey walls, so it took several samples to make sure it wouldn't be too dark for the space. We then made sure the big pieces of furniture were light to add contrast and keep it fresh. Once I started adding more elements, I continued to make sure everything worked together so that it did not become too overwhelming.

What do your friends say about the room? They seem to love it! As I posted the progress photos on Facebook, we received many compliments. They were even more impressed when they saw it in person. The grey walls are the first thing people notice. It's so unexpected in a nursery, but everyone ends up loving the color.

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Do you have any advice for parents creating a room for their child? Create something that you will enjoy yourself since you will be spending a lot of time in there as well. Don't be afraid to bring your decorating style from the rest of your house into the room - There is no law that says it has to look super cutesy with generic baby decorations (unless you really like that look). You want it to look nice, but function is top priority. And to save money, pick furnishings your child can grow with. For example, turning a dresser into a changing table makes much more sense than buying a stand-alone changing table that's only useful when your baby's in diapers. Or buy a rocker that matches the rest of your decor, since you may not always want it in the nursery! Finally, soft lighting is a must for those late night feedings and diaper changes.

If money were no object, what's your dream source? I would love to incorporate more from Pottery Barn Kids. Right now, her cozy chamois fitted sheet is from there, but I would like to get more bedding from there eventually. The quality is always very good, and I love their overall style.

It's unusual to see such a dark wall color in a nursery. Were you nervous about using gray? How did you choose the color scheme? We wanted to get a jump start on decorating the room prior to knowing the sex, so keeping it neutral was key. Yellow and gray was decided upon, and as I was looking at a lighter gray, my husband convinced me to do a dark gray. It made a lot of sense since our furniture was white. There is a perfect contrast with the furniture and walls, plus, it makes the trim work throughout the room pop. I was a little nervous about it being a small room, but overall, it did not make it look any smaller. One we found out we were having a girl, hints of pink were added as well.

The subtle owl theme is adorable. Is there a reason you went with owls? The very FIRST thing I bought for the nursery, and for baby in general, was the gray owl from Pier 1 Imports. I could not resist how adorable it was, and it didn't take much thought to know that I'd like to incorporate owls elsewhere within the room. I want to believe that I liked them before they became really popular -- now they seem to be EVERYWHERE! I didn't want it to be overbearing by having too many, so, owls, flowers and birds in general started to blend together throughout the room.

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Source List:
Wall Color: Valspar - Mark Twain House Ombra grey
Light fixture: Menard's
Rug: Babies "R" Us
Chair & ottoman: Babies "R" Us
Crib: Bassett Furniture
Crib bedding: Pottery Barn Kids
Changing table/Dresser: Nebraska Furniture Mart
Night stand: Nebraska Furniture Mart
Wall shelf: Target
Black out curtains: Target
Curtain rods: Ikea
Picture frames: Kohl's/ Target
Artwork above crib: DIY project
Owl artwork above nightstand: Designed/illustrated by Katie Moon.
Cross above nightstand: DYI project done by sister-in-law
Tree decal: Lulukuku on Etsy
Grey stuffed owl: Pier 1 Imports
Baskets in closet: Walmart
Shelf in closet: Target
Polka dot lamp: Walmart
"Love" vase with flowers: DIY project
Owl mobile: DIY project

Thanks, Leah!

(Images: Katie Gard)

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