“I wanted to keep it tailored and clean,” she said. “We knew we were having a boy, but we wanted something gender-neutral, so we could change out the accent colors and themes as he got older and we figured out his personality and what fit him.”
Baby Grand (with stores in St. Paul and Hopkins) was the first place she shopped for furniture. Engen also sourced a quirky side table from Francis King Ltd., whose showroom is in International Market Square.
An unlikely addition to the nursery — a rhinocerous head, also from Francis King — came as a shower gift from Engen’s designer friends. The show-stopping piece is made out of industrial metal scraps in shades of green, and is mounted on a distressed wood plaque.
“It wasn’t theme-y like airplanes or marines,” Engen said of her design. “It was kind of fun and playful, but it still has a mature feel about it.”
Engen added in artistic DIY details, like a bark lamp that she spray-painted silver and topped with a white shade. Though all of the elements weren’t in place when baby George arrived in May, Engen wasn’t worried; she’ll continue adding on at her own pace, she said.
“It’s important to find a balance,” she said. “You want to do something fun and playful for your kids, but at the same time, you’re really doing it for you. I like the nursery to be an extension of the rest of the house, not a departure.”
2. Ever-changing canvas
Kate Smith, a St. Paul-based copywriter, took her time decorating her nursery. “We were hesitant to start purchasing things before our son even got here,” she said. “The big thing was not going out and buying a ton of stuff right away, but about thoughtfully curating what would be included.”
That curation has included a rocking chair from Baby Grand, an Oeuf crib made from sustainable woods, and a custom changing table built by a friend. Simplicity was paramount for Smith, who adhered to a soft gray-and-blue color palette, which flowed from the rest of the home’s hues.
“The foundation is minimal and clean,” she said, although she and her husband added a few nods to their favorite things. An “E.T.”-themed poster from Artcrank, purchased before the couple knew they were expecting, decks one wall. The music-loving parents also hung a poster of the comedic New Zealand band Flight of the Conchords.
A floor-to-ceiling chalkboard, painted onto one wall of the nursery after baby Sam’s birth in February, was another fun addition. “It’s definitely not a new idea,” Smith said of the chalkboard. “We saw it on a few other nurseries and really liked the idea of being able to change something up.” Smith’s sister, an artist, did the first chalk drawing.
As Sam grows, “We’re learning to sacrifice a little bit of what we find aesthetically pleasing,” Smith said. She’s incorporated more “crazy patterns” and bright colors to the room as her son’s tastes develop.
3. Delegating the decorating.
At one point during Sarah Longacre’s pregnancy in 2013, one of her yoga students started talking about about her nursery in class.
“I had this overwhelming feeling of, ‘Omigod, I have to do a nursery, too?’ ” Longacre said. The owner and founder of Blooma, a yoga studio for women and families, didn’t have room on her to-do list for one more chore.
So Longacre approached her mother, Cheryl Hauser, and sister, Wendy Brown, “who have amazing style,” Longacre said. She gave the duo a budget and let them do as they pleased designing the baby’s room in her southwest Minneapolis home.
“All she asked for was something that was more sophisticated and definitely not a ‘theme,’ ” Hauser said.
“It was a huge risk,” Longacre said, “but it gave my husband and I so much more time as a couple.”