Harper is a darling little two and a half year old who walks around on her tippy toes even hours after her ballet class has ended. Her mom, Kim, and I met each other through our participation in a local Mom’s Club. So I was tickled pink to learn that she had won a donated YouthfulNest Consultation service made to the Omaha Rose Theatre auction. Kim Nolan and her husband Jimmy wanted to give their daughter Harper a very special third birthday gift – a very personal “big girl” bedroom.
I first visited the Nolans in their home to discuss initial ideas for the room. We also went over expectations for the YouthfulNest design services; confirmed the overall budget; and walked through the new bedroom space. It was determined that we would work both virtually and in person. While the Nolans lived just five minutes from my studio the convenience for the client to work through the initial design process at times that are convenient for them allowed Kim to focus on this project after little Harper’s bedtime. Of course, living in the same city had it's benefits too. It meant we could work in-person on various phases of the design including a custom mural; shopping for that perfect vintage dresser; and all final room details, preparations and final room installation.
Initially, Kim showed me two potential bedrooms that could become Harper's new room. I recommended she go with the room that had a vaulted ceiling and two full walls for better furniture placement options. This space had been a guest room that currently housed a full size bed, oversized desk, book case and dresser. It boasted a large double closet and private bathroom. I was informed that nothing needed to stay, even the wall color could be changed to best compliment the new room look. Essentially, I would be working with a blank canvas.
Well Choreographed Style
After purchasing a few addition e-design services including a Floor Plan, Color Consult and Room Guide we landed the overall desired inspiration and style of the bedroom – that being a blend of her daughter’s love of ballet and mom’s affection for all things Parisian. Kim new that she wanted a traditional style over all, nothing too edgy or modern, but at the same time was totally open to my recommendation of bringing in a few touches of non-traditional pieces to make the room feel more eclectic and not too matchy matchy. Kim wasn’t comfortable pulling together all the details herself which is why she decided to hire a designer. When she saw the Style Board she could immediately see how those non-traditional touches really worked with the more traditional ones.
“This was my first experience working with a designer and LOVED the finished product! Lisa brought my concept of a French inspired toddler ballerina room to life. I would recommend working with a designer to anyone who has an idea of what they're looking for, but not how to bring it all together.” – Kim N., client
Dressed Up With Somewhere to Go
The great news was that Kim and her husband LOVED everything on the Style Board we had picked out to put in the room. On the downside purchasing every piece meant going over their budget by several hundred dollars. The rub was they needed everything which included larger furniture items like a bed and dresser, even a new ceiling fan. They had a really specific style in mind for those pieces and had fallen in love with Restoration Hardware Baby & Child pieces. Having sourced this style before I knew it was hard to find another retailer who does what they do in a lower price point. I still scoured the internet for alternatives, but my substitutions came up short each time. Now because our timing allowed us to shop for purchases over a two month time period we were able to take more time to find “just” the right pieces at the right price. And that’s exactly what happened for the bed frame. I checked the RH site almost daily watching their sale category and finally it happened… one of our favorite bed frames on RH Baby & Child went on super sale, something like $50% off. Once I got client approval a few days later I looked to order the item through my vendor rep and was told it was sold out. My heart sunk. Now what - I had my trade representative at the retailer check every store for a floor model or alternate color, but came up empty handed. Then later that day I received a call back from my vendor rep saying there was a glitch in the system and the bed was in fact in stock. "Shoo!", that was a close call.
Yeah! We had the right bed, but all the RH Baby & Child dressers we liked for their size, detailing and functionality were still out of the budget. It was then that I introduced the idea of a one-of-a-kind dresser that we find at a thrift shop and have refinished by a local artist. I knew that I was going out on a limb even suggesting this idea because the client had already mentioned that while she liked the look of vintage, but just new pieces that were refinished to appear vintage. I quickly followed up my recommendation with an estimate price for a refurbished piece that came out to only a third of the price for a dresser. Not only would this option keep more of our budget for purchasing other room items that she wanted – it would give us an option to totally customize the dresser with any color and knobs we wanted. Kim was hesitant, but ultimately agreed that this could be a good solution – so we spent a few hours treasure hunting Omaha’s used, antique and vintage shops. As well as did a Craigs' List search and visited a couple private sellers. After looking at dozens of dressers the client made the ultimate decision that was the right price and dimension for the space. We then agreed to paint it black. Yes, this was a bold choice and one way my client surprised me with her ability to trust my vision and go for a piece that would make the space really shine, not just stay with safe pieces which might come off as just ok.
Once again I was pleasantly surprised at how positive Kim was with letting me paint all over her freshly painted ivory walls with black paint. But she and I are both thrilled she did because the hand painted script doesn’t just bring in much needed color and texture it is also dearly personal. It even provided me with a small opportunity to add a Parisian inspirited detail – where I used metallic gold art pen to write the same phrase, just in the French language.
“I wanted to really personalize the space so it was great to incorporate the hand lettered wall mural with, “I Love You Pretty Girl”, because it is something I say to Harper everyday.” Kim N., client
While Kim had knowledge of the majority of items going in the room, there were still few opportunities that I found to surprise her on the day of the final room reveal. So one week before the letting the family see Harper’s completed room I covered up these spots of fun and verbally locked them out. It’s a good thing I did cover them up because one night that week I received a text from Kim saying she was sorry, but she had to sneak into the room – only peaking looking through her fingers, to find Harper’s favorite book which I had already placed in one of her new book wall caddies.
One of the items covered up was an autographed image by Misty Copeland she dedicated to Harper. It was from an editorial photo shoot Misty Copeland did for Harper’s Bazaar where she was channeling a ballerina in famous paintings by the French artist Degas. Another surprise detail was a glass and brass box that sat on the dresser to showcase Harper’s first pair of ballet shoes.
This room's aesthetic is so much more than traditional – rising above a purely one style to a precious fusion of classic, urban and vintage.
Before & After
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