Photos by Allison Hilyer.
When Melissa Lester’s daughter Emma outgrew her nursery, she needed a bedroom that matched her energetic personality. This creative mom (the assistant editor of our sister mag Victoria) set about combining modern floral and graphic prints, and accenting Emma’s favorite fuchsia with more subtle pinks and greens. Melissa and her husband, Joe, made it a special family project by reusing furniture from their own childhoods, giving the bed and dresser fresh paint and turning a broken drawer into a shelf. In our Q&A with Melissa, she describes the inspiration behind the decor, some helpful how-to’s for doing it yourself, and advice for implementing a kid-friendly interior that still complements the rest of the home.
fs: What inspired the room’s design and how did the idea develop?
Melissa: Emma inherited her older sister’s nursery, a feminine space with pale pink walls, lush floral fabrics, and delicate toile bedding. This was fine during Emma’s infancy, but as her personality began to emerge, the room didn’t seem to match her vivacity. Her tastes are girly, but playful and bright. I wanted to celebrate Emma’s vibrant spirit by giving her a bedroom where she could be the fullness of herself.
fs: How did you work with Emma on her room?
Melissa: Bright colors and a lighthearted, vivid mix of patterns suit Emma. She wanted plenty of space to play and lots of surprises. She gravitates to florals that are more graphic than frilly, so shifting away from the chintzes that I favor to more modern prints was key. She loves comfort, so I incorporated some soft textures and lots of plush pillows.
fs: Do you have suggestions for how to decorate a room so that it matches the rest of the house, but still incorporates the passion and personality of a child?
Melissa: When Emma and I began planning the makeover, fuchsia was her favorite color. She was adamant that she wanted every surface swathed in the vivid hue. But knowing how quickly children’s favorite colors can change, I broadened our palette to include pale pink, green, and white. Her eye was drawn to the bright-pink accents throughout, but the room offered more visual interest than a monochromatic scheme. (And soon after the room was complete, she declared her favorite color was green!)
I tried to design a room that can grow with Emma. The palette includes a fun mix of colors, but the patterns and finishes are not too juvenile.
fs: How did you select the different elements (wall decor, colors, furniture, fun details like the hanging balls and frames)?
Melissa: We achieved a dramatic change in the overall feel of the room without replacing the original wall color, carpet, or furniture. Painting a graphic stencil design on two of the walls instantly infused the room with Emma’s lively personality. We chose a whimsical mix of patterns and incorporated them into projects around the room. (See Melissa’s blog for the fabric inspiration.)
Making over furniture pieces my husband Joe and I had when we were children allowed us to share a bit of our heritage with Emma, and family photos remind her of the gift her own siblings are to her. The paper lanterns over the bed and the bubblegum-blowing silhouette (designed by Katy Larson) were leftover birthday-party decorations, which I love for the look as well as the memories they evoke.
fs: What is Emma’s favorite part of the design? What is yours?
Melissa: Emma’s favorite part of the room is the secret nook we created by angling the bed in the corner. Equipped with a monogrammed backrest, basket of books, and magnetic dry-erase board hung from the back of the bed, she has a little haven of solitude perfect for whiling away the afternoon with her favorite teddy bear and blanket.
Emma has a certain sparkle about her, and I love how her new room reflects her joyful exuberance. You just can’t help but smile and want to linger in that space—it’s a lot like being around her.
When the room was all finished, they celebrated with a sleepover for Emma and her friends, complete with a tea in her new room.
Here are some quick and easy how-to’s for recreating the DIY elements of Emma’s sweet room:
Stenciled accent walls: Melissa used the Ribbon Lattice Stencil from Royal Design Studio Stencils for the pattern. To ensure consistency, she started painting with the stencil centered under window and worked out from there. The stencil also has registration marks to keep the design even.
Paint: Brilliant Pink FolkArt Acrylic
Tools: Sponge brushes, blue painter’s tape, and a level.
Repurposed childhood dresser and bulletin board trio:
Melissa painted the dresser green to match the table and chairs nearby and gave the drawers new handles. She replaced a broken drawer by placing a board, cut to fit by a local hardware store, on top of the original framing. She placed cardboard photo-storage boxes from a craft store on the shelf and re-covered them in the room’s signature prints using fabric adhesive spray.
Melissa repurposed old frames by making them into bulletin boards. She re-covered the top and bottom frames in batting and fabric and then crisscrossed them with rickrack or ribbon to give Emma room to tuck in mementos. The middle frame has a layer of corkboard (available by the roll at the craft store) covered with fabric and adorned with thumbtacks. She glued a few jewel ornaments to the thumbtacks using E-6000® Permanent Craft Adhesive.
Painted table and chairs:
Melissa found an inexpensive table at HomeGoods and purchased the chairs at an unfinished furniture store. By custom-matching the paint for the wooden chairs to the legs of the table, the group looked more like a matched set.
Melissa had long admired a line of personalized lampshades at a local children’s shop, but at more than $100 each, she couldn’t justify the expense. To recreate the boutique look for less, she purchased a pale-pink lampshade from a discount store for less than $6. Then she painted polka dots and a monogram. After letting them dry, she used a hole punch to cut holes around the top and bottom of the shade. Wrapped in ribbon and finished with a bow, her inexpensive lampshade looked custom-made for a fraction of the cost!
For more creative ideas from Melissa, check out her blog, A Little Loveliness.