When you're preparing for a newborn's arrival there is so much excitement mixed with trepidation. You can't wait to meet this new little human being but you're nervous about the delivery and how you'll manage everything when you get home. So, in a world of unknowns, it helps to have a few constants that keep you grounded and calm. For us, that place is the nursery. You'll be spending a lot of time here so it pays to make it a space that you both want to be in.
For Kimberly Lapides or Eat Sleep Wear that meant creating a nursery that didn't actually feel like a nursery. So she worked with interior designer Anne Sage to create a space that felt warm and inviting—the perfect room to welcome baby Otis to the world—but one that also "met Kim’s standards for style and design." Plus, it was important that the nursery has room to grow and evolve with Otis, rather than feeling baby-ish in a year or two.
Step inside to see how this creative duo created a stunning gender-neutral nursery in Huntington Beach, California, then shop the look.
Otis’ nursery isn't big on the square footage, so there really wasn't room for anything but the basics—a dresser, a crib, and a glider—and finding multiple uses for things. Rather than purchase a changing table, Kim just pops a changing pad onto the top of the dresser.
Lapides didn’t want a themed nursery either. Just a timeless space that felt modern with a design that felt like a continuation of the rest of the house—her (bedroom and living/dining room are #goals. "I also wanted the room to have a sophisticated feel even though the room was for a baby," she adds. "This way he could really grow into the space."
While they didn’t do any intensive renovations, they did add new hardwired lighting. "This is one of my favorite low-effort/high-impact tweaks to make to any room, as it’s a really cost-effective way to customize a space," says Sage. "I even suggest it for clients who rent their home." In Kim’s case, I had a Mitzi pendant lamp leftover from a previous project, and I knew the warm brass finish and appealing egg shape would be a charming update to the lackluster fixture that had been there before."
It's clear that Sage's signature 'livable luxe' design style was infused into this nursery space. "I aim to create spaces that feel richly layered and well thought-out, but at the same time inviting and not too precious," she says. "I think that’s why Kim and I jive so well. She’s got a killer eye for fashion and design, yet she’s so down-to-earth and approachable as well." All of the spaces they have collaborated on for Lapides home are sumptuous and modern, with some beautiful investment pieces, but they also have an airy, beachy vibe that reflects her love of SoCal sunshine and shores.
There is definitely a modern vibe in this room but with a laid back twist. "I live by the beach and love to infuse modern elements into my space that is liveable," says Lapides. "Nothing is worse than a stark modern space so having functionable modern design is something that is very important to me."
While most of the room was updated with new pieces, they decided to leave the white window treatments. "Kim and her husband Blake had invested in simple yet high-quality white window treatments throughout the house and didn’t want to swap them out in the nursery, so we left them as is," says Sage. "If it’s not broke, then don’t fix it, right?!"
Sage knew without a doubt that this would be a gender-neutral nursery, simply because they both prefer neutrals over any particular color scheme. Moreover, Lapides is drawn to the light, bright, breezy neutrals of modern Scandinavian design, so it was a no-brainer to favor tons of earthy texture over color. "We mixed woods, incorporating ash, beech, and warm teak, then added in tactile linen and suede, burnished brass, and plush sheepskin and wool," she says. "Although the space is very tonal, it feels really rich and layered."
One fun moment Sage adores is the wall-mounted shelves just inside the door to the room. They’re actually IKEA spice racks, which can be used to display books and artwork when mounted right-side-up or to hang tiny clothes when mounted upside down. "We anchored the shelves with a duo of dip-dyed stools on the floor beneath," she says. "The whole vignette offers an opportunity to swap out the styling with different books and toys—a great way to keep an otherwise basic layout feeling fresh."
Lapides says the original closet in the room was "horrible" with old carpet and was in total need of a redesign. She worked with California Closets to create a new space for all of Otis’ clothes and toys and it blends seamlessly into the design of the rest of the space."
Having a clean space is a priority for Lapides and the neutral palette helped to create a really zen and calm space. "Moving into the nursery I wanted to bring the color palette from the rest of my home into this room so it was just an extension of that design," she says.
The biggest challenge for Lapides was finding both form and function in the pieces they selected. "To me, the design is important but usability is key," she says. "Both those things need to go hand in hand." In that vein, everything used in the nursery has a job. The dresser for storage, the chair adds warmth and texture (while also being a rocker for the baby), and the storage shelves also double as a display area for books and toys.
This project was one of the easier ones that Sage and Lapides have worked on together so thankfully they didn’t run into many obstacles. "Really, the only challenge I found as a designer was early on, in the concepting phase," she recalls. "There simply wasn’t a ton of visual inspiration out there for what I was picturing in my head. So many nurseries are over-the-top cute, super boho, or very gender-driven. So when communicating with Kim my ideas for the space, I actually used mostly images of other types of rooms to convey the palette, materials, and finishes I was envisioning.
The project didn’t really start to look like a nursery until we started selecting specific furnishings."
Ultimately, Lapides is happy that the space feels warm and inviting. After a battle with infertility, creating the perfect room for her little boy has been a dream come true and Sage helped to realize this vision. "The glider chair is one of my favorite places to sit with Otis and either feed him or sit and rock together with that late afternoon sun pouring through the windows," she says. "When you create your perfectly styled space, it has the ability to shape your mood when you enter it and when I enter this room, my mood is calm and happy."