Baby Makes Three
"We didn't really have a grand plan," says Alison Brewer of the nursery she and her husband, Michael, created for their daughter, Grayson. "We just wanted it to blend in with the rest of the house." That's good thinking for anyone renovating a home they might ultimately sell, as this Charleston, South Carolina, family recently did.
A major part of the remodel of their vintage 1940s clapboard dwelling in the city's historic district focused on enhancing its curb appeal by adding a traditional Charleston piazza—an open-air front porch with a doorway to the street. This, in turn, allowed for an extension of the nursery immediately above it, giving Grayson her own windowed aerie with bird's-eye views of King Street and the steeple of the 18th-century St. Michael's Church. The new space's window trim, moldings, and glass-pane size faithfully copied those used elsewhere in the home, "so the room looks like it could be original," says Randolph F. Martz, the local architect who handled the project.
Respect for tradition also informed the decorating choices in Grayson's room. Alison included two family heirlooms: a child-size rocker and a three-drawer pine dresser that, though it originally did double duty as the girl's changing table, has the classic looks to serve her well through the teen years. Similarly, built-in shelving for toys, photos, and children's books—sited near the large closet (formerly two side-by-side ones)—will be useful for the room's next occupant, regardless of age.
Expressing an ageless sense of play, giant mesh butterflies—suspended from the ceiling by fishing line—flutter in the breeze. "And to a two-and-a-half-year-old," adds Alison, "they're magic."
For the Boys
As they planned their new home on Whidbey Island, Washington, overlooking Puget Sound, Seattleites Ethan and Helen Bell were awaiting the birth of their first child. And in envisioning the beach retreat, says Helen, "we wanted the whole house to feel clean and white and pure." Her desire for a "nice, neutral place you can add things to" found some of its most practical expression in the upstairs bedroom intended for the soon-to-arrive baby, Oliver—now nearing his fifth birthday. "I didn't want to have to redo the room as he got older," Helen says.
So architect Robert Maloney, who designed the entire house, approached the bedroom, he says, "with no specific age in mind. We just wanted it to feel uncluttered and refreshing." Like most of the downstairs spaces, everything was painted white, with the fir flooring finished in a heavy-duty garage-floor paint that cleans up easily by damp-mopping. A built-in dresser is neatly tucked beneath the eaves. "It didn't need to take up that much room," observes Helen.
Such a clean slate lends joyful punch to touches of color: books and toys, a pair of bright orange floor pillows, window views of the water and a bird sanctuary, and built-in bunk beds Helen designed with a local cabinetmaker, painted what she describes as "a purple-blue." The extra bunk, by the way, isn't for just any young visitor. Soon Oliver's brother, year-and-a-half-old Finn, will be moving there from his crib.
Our 2006 American Home of the year began as a visionary showhouse for the golf-course community of Daniel Island, South Carolina, but before it was completed, real-world buyers entered the picture. Their needs and tastes influenced the house's final creative flourishes—especially in the second-floor bedroom earmarked for their preschool-age daughter.
"With the children's area on one side of the house and the master suite on the other, everyone has an individually tailored private place," says the architect and landscape designer, Sanford Byers. In the case of the little girl, that means a room that feels like her own personal garden. "She wanted flowers and a bunny," says artist Leslie Sinclair, owner of Segreto Finishes in Houston, Texas, who painted that request to order, along with a butterfly and a hummingbird, on the sides of the room's built-in window seat. Using two shades of pink paint, Sinclair, a skilled faux finisher, also made the room's walls look as if they're covered in breezy satin sheers, gathered together at 4-foot intervals by big buttons.
Although Sinclair perfectly realized a child's vision, she executed the work with a high level of sophistication so it won't feel childish as the girl grows up. Similarly minded, interior designer Millie Powell fitted the room with antique-white furniture and a handmade needlepoint rug, upholstery, and bed linens, all in pastels she calls "feminine, but not cutesy." She adds, "We created a space that was comfortable for a little girl now and that, by changing just a few accessories, can grow up with her."
style to go: kid stuff
Create a flexibly functional space for tots with our selects of modern wood-based rockers, streamlined activity tables, and innovative storage units.
ELLIE Cherry wood with Bateman upholstery in aqua. 36½" high x 37" wide x 36½" deep. $649 as shown. La-Z-Boy; .
EDDY In walnut stain with Flamingo upholstery. 35½" high x 24½" wide x 38½" deep. $1,350. DucDuc; 877-538-2382, .
SLEEPYTIME Dark pine with mocha microsuede upholstery. 35" high x 29½" wide x 30" deep.$850 as shown. Nurseryworks; 888-508-9540, .
TABLE AND CHAIRS Plywood. Table: 20" high x 30" diameter, $149. Chairs: 20" high x 12" wide x 13" deep, $179 for four. Offi; 800-958-6334, .
TABLE AND CHAIR Plywood. Table: 18" high x 19" wide x 31" long, $125. Chair: 25" high x 13" wide x 18" long, $140. MoMA; 800-447-6662, .
GRACE Wood. Table: 18" high x 34" diameter, $299. Stools: 11" high x 11" diameter, $59 each. Jennifer DeLonge, Inc.; 760-602-9403, .
ROLL-TOP BENCH Solid birch and painted medium-density fiberboard. 22" high x 27" wide x 24" deep. $299. Offi; 800-958-6334, .
CUBITS Each cube 18¼" high x 18¼" wide x 13¼" deep. $168 for a set of four. Design Within Reach; 800-944-2233, .
BLOCK PARTY BOOKCASE Solid and veneer walnut; laminates. 64" high x 39½" wide x 14¾" deep. $3,990. Thomas Wold; 800-506-6541, .