A Gorgeous Traditional English-Style Nursery Mixes Antiques and IKEA — and Has a Wallpaper Hack We Can’t Get Over

published Apr 25, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Leather armchair, dark wood crib next to wardrobe in room with floral wallpaper and blue-green ceilings
Credit: Tessa Cooper

Name: Brooks, 1 year old
Room type: Nursery
Size: 170 square feet
DIY or professional project: DIY
As told by: Mom, Shelby Vanhoy from Pretty in the Pines

When Shelby Vanhoy and her family (which includes husband, TJ Roebock; son, Brooks; and a Newfoundland named Pearl) moved into an Upper West Side rental apartment, her goal was to make the space feel “serene in the midst of a bustling city.” To do this, she carefully cultivated a calm atmosphere through a mix of deep paint colors, relaxed furnishings, and smart storage solutions.

Hailing from North Carolina, Vanhoy admits that her design style changed when she moved to New York City. She became influenced by the surrounding architecture and wanted to fill the space with items reminiscent of the past. Scouring secondhand retailers, Vanhoy thoughtfully sourced several pieces, like vintage and antique furniture, gilded frames, and fabulous flea-market finds, and let them take center stage throughout the home. 

Here’s how she created such a warm, relaxing English-style nursery — and with extra storage for the grownups, too!

1. She paired a neutral pattern wallpaper with smoky green painted trim.

In their 1-year-old’s 170-square-foot nursery, Vanhoy painted Farrow & Ball’s “Green Smoke” on the ceiling, baseboards, and doors, which contrasts beautifully against the light, patterned Sandberg wallpaper. The calming color palette also draws your eye to the furniture, especially the vintage, dark wooden cabinet (Vanhoy’s favorite piece in the room!) which houses Brooks’ linens, toys, and books. 

Credit: Tessa Cooper

2. She made traditional wallpaper removable (!) for the space.

When choosing wallpaper for the space, Vanhoy initially looked for rental-friendly peel-and-stick options but couldn’t find a pattern that fit. So, she set out to find a way to use traditional wallpaper while ensuring that it could be easily removed if they left the apartment.

Vanhoy discovered a method that only required a couple of items: liquid starch, a paint roller, a paint tray, a roll, a towel, and something to help smooth out the wallpaper once it was applied. She generously applied the liquid starch to the wall, hung the wallpaper, smoothed it out, and realized she could easily remove it without leaving any residue. Ingenious!

Credit: Tessa Cooper

3. She customized an IKEA PAX wardrobe so you’d never know it was IKEA!

Believe it or not, Brooks’ nursery is more than just a fun kids’ room — it’s also a storage area for Vanhoy and Roebock. “We wanted this room to be our son’s nursery, but we knew that it also had to have other purposes as well,” Vanhoy writes. “For example, it stores all of my clothing in a wardrobe unit that we personalized to make it fit seamlessly into the room. You would never know that it also stores a lot of non-baby-related items because of how we designed the IKEA wardrobe.”

Vanhoy elevated the IKEA Pax Wardrobe System, which she says originally cost around $600, by adding decorative molding, priming, and painting it Farrow & Ball’s “French Gray.” All in all, the updates added around $250 to the total cost, but she admits that it was worth it for the extra storage space. You can read more about how she did it on her website.

Credit: Tessa Cooper

You can’t blame Brooks and his parents for spending a lot of time in his nursery — it’s a quiet place to reflect and there are so many things to do. Even though their kid is only 1, Brooks enjoys grabbing books from the basket in his room and requesting that his parents read to him. 

“I love this room because it feels colorful and fun, yet serene and calm while incorporating a lot of vintage items to give it a very timeless feel,” Vanhoy says. 

Credit: Tessa Cooper
Credit: Tessa Cooper

Product List

Cubby: Eat. Live. Play. Families Together at Home.

Want more great home ideas for families? Sign up for Cubby’s weekly newsletter featuring our best editor-approved product recommendations, meal ideas, and all the kid’s room decor ideas you need.