Doing it, San Francisco Style: Bright Contemporary Nursery

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Mindy is a graphic designer and photographer living in San Francisco, CA. When the stork came a knockin’, Mindy put those design skills to work to create a modern and bright nursery and the results are breathtaking!

Child’s Name: “Baby Boy P” for now.
Child’s Age: Due March 17, 2010
Location: San Francisco, CA

What was your inspiration for the room?
The Amy Ruppel small bird artwork on wood (on the frame wall below) had been sitting on the desk in my home office for years. I have always loved it, but have never had the perfect place to hang it. When we found out we were expecting a baby, I took the piece into the future nursery and leaned it against a bookshelf. A lot of the colors in the room are pulled from this painting and more importantly the overall mood of the room was inspired by Amy’s art. I wanted something modern, but still warm, fun for a baby without being too cutesy and neutral enough to work for a boy or a girl.

Describe your decorating style.
I am an anti-hoarder in all areas of my life and my decorating style tends to reflect my love of all things orderly. I embrace minimalism, but also like being surrounded by a few special pieces of art and accessories that make me happy. I try to keep all furniture neutral and accent with my favorite colors.  I love greens, yellows and oranges and tried to create a space that will both grow with our son and fit into the style of the rest of the house.

Give us all the details about your room! Don’t forget to share with us any money saving tips you might have learned along the way.

Paint Color: Benjamin Moore “Gray Horse”. It was hard to find a gray that didn’t seem cold or clash with our already grayish carpet. We went with the low VOC Aura line of paint and it went on so easily, it almost made painting fun!

Crib: Oeuf Sparrow, purchased on (free shipping/delivery and no sales tax!) This was our one splurge, but I made sure to shop around for a good deal online.

Crib Bedding: The crib skirt is from Target‘s DwellStudio which is very reasonably priced. The fitted sheet was purchased on sale at a local baby store.

Lighting: IKEA. The green lamp on the dresser has a beautiful soft glow when it’s lit and the gray and white glass front wall light is bright enough to light most of the room without being too harsh.

Pillows: Gray and orange pillows are from IKEA, Bird pillow from Urban Outfitters, kelly green pillow from Target’s DwellStudio (on sale from a few seasons ago).

Rug: Coqo Floral Rug from Anthropologie. This would have been another splurge, but I have a very nice boss who gave us each $200 gift cards as bonuses this year and I used mine for the rug.

Shelving on window seat: IKEA Expedit. I love the versatility, price and durability of the Expedit. Our windows have a really deep “seat” area that is too high for actually sitting but makes a great area to store all of the frequently used baby supplies (diapers, burp clothes, blankets, toys) as well as being the perfect height for diaper changes.

Dresser: Also IKEA Expedit shelving. This is the 2×2 Expedit and drawer inserts with IKEA Capita legs,  and drawer knobs from Anthropologie. The yellow dairy crates on the bottom (to be used as hampers) are from The Container Store. I was looking for a small modern dresser and couldn’t find anything that was both the right size and a decent price. The total cost of “making” this dresser was $150 and I love the final result.

Wall Decal: From Blik. There are hundreds of wall decals out there ( is a good resource) but the quality of the Blik decals is top notch and almost everyone thinks that the design was painted onto the gray wall which is great!

Artwork: Small bird piece inside of blank frame is Animal collage is Decorative papers in other frames from Paper Source. Large collage on canvas was inspired by the petitcollage piece and I created it for $25. A lot of art stores have canvas sales so I waited for the sale at Pearl Art and picked up this large canvas for a great price. I already had the paints and used an old Anthropologie catalog for the collage “bits”. I try to save my favorite catalogs for projects like this. The print on the dresser was downloaded (for free) and printed on thick card stock then mounted using photo corners.

Accessories: Vases, bowls and other accessories are all pieces I’ve had for years. I frequently walk around my house and move accessories from one room to another both to just freshen up the look and to keep me constantly thinking about new ways to arrange things. It’s a fun exercise and ends up saving me money when I’m having moments of feeling bored with any given room.

Favorite Items:

Aluminum Elephant. When we first found out we were going to be parents this summer, we were on an East Coast trip and while in DC we visited the Eastern Market and I saw a family selling animals made from recycled aluminum cans. My husband and I both love elephants and when I see this in the room I remember how exciting those first weeks of pregnancy were when it was just our little secret.

Ganesha Print: A Christmas gift from my sister-in-law. My husband is Indian and I love that we have something that both represents his culture and is fun and appropriate for a baby’s room. Print from

Design Advice.

Before you start shopping, look around your house for furniture, art, accessories you aren’t really using or might want to try in a new space. If your decorating style is consistent for each room it’s usually easy to find at least a few things to re-purpose. I saved a lot of money by doing this and created more open space in the common areas which I’m sure will be useful once our baby is mobile.

Spray paint is your friend! Try to look at the shape of an item and not the color. The frames on my frame wall were all purchased very cheaply at Ross and then disassembled and spray painted. I’ve “saved” many an item with a few coats of spray paint.

It’s important that a nursery be functional for the baby, but that doesn’t mean the design needs to be overly childish. We will be spending a lot of time in the room also and I want to love it as much as the rest of the house.

Don’t get mentally trapped into using only blues for boys and pinks for girls unless you already love those colors. There are so many other options out there and try to stick to colors you really like and that will grow with your child.

A big thank you to Mindy for sharing all of her nursery design secrets with us! You can find Mindy online at and

wall decals, nursery decor, wall stickers


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About Nicole @ Chic & Cheap Nursery

Nicole is the founder/editor of and mom of a 6-year-old princess. She has a B.A. in Architecture and a passion for design—nursery design to be precise!


  1. I love the colors in this room. It also has lots of great storage! The design has lots of room to grow and change as the baby grows too. Very nice.

  2. Great work, Mindy! I totally agree with your philosophy on kids rooms as well – I still don’t understand the ‘juvenile’ kids decor industry and am glad to see its slowly changing in favor of pure design that works for kids too. I’ve written a similar post on my blog, Room For Young Ones here – Also, to anyone reading, the nursery tours on are fantastic and in a similar vein (Baby Daley’s tour is my son Fionn’s room).
    .-= jaime’s last blog of the week (slightly OT) =-.

  3. Kibibi Ganz says:

    I love the futon, where can I get one? Looking for something for my mother who is staying with us for 2 months but it can’t take too much space and it has to be comfortable.



  4. where is the great futon from?

  5. I have been looking for a small side table for storage near my changing table. I really like your white one with the four drawers and two bins. Can you please share where you found/purchased it? Many thanks in advance as your room is adorable!

  6. Nicole, Thanks for the update! My apologies for not reading that information correctly at the top of the posting. Clearly baby brain has successfully taken over. Many thanks again!

  7. Love that gray!! My friend is looking for a gray for her nursery, and I think this will be perfect for her, and surprisingly her bedding is that one from Target too!!

  8. Fraidycat says:

    Would love to know the coordinating white paint color that goes with the “Gray Horse”. I”m painting a few rooms in my house in Gray Horse and need a good coordinating neutral.


    • @Fraidycat, The white was here when we moved in, so I don’t even have the info. I would describe it as a soft white though. Very much neutral, but not a super bright white. Love love love Gray Horse still nearly 2 years later. It’s the perfect Gray!

      • Fraidycat says:

        Thanks, based on your pics alone, I painted my Master Bedroom / Bath and TV Room in Gray Horse and i absolutely LOVE it. I used “Swiss Coffee” as the trim. In fact, I love it so much I wish I had painted a second bedroom that color instead of BM’s “Quiet Moments.” Gray Horse is a big WINNER! Thanks!


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