Before & After: This Nursery Went from Cluttered Storage Area to Palm Springs Glam

published Oct 9, 2021
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When Ginger Curtis started Urbanology Designs six years ago, she knew it would be the start of something new for her life and her family. After 18 months of grueling chemo to treat breast cancer, Curtis wanted to realign her career to focus on her biggest passion: designing relaxed, stylish, and livable spaces for families. Within months of starting her company, her design of a Scandinavian-inspired room became the #1 children’s room on Houzz worldwide, soaring the company to brilliant new heights. 

Soon, Curtis began regularly working on kids’ rooms in addition to the larger home designs — a fitting transition for this mom of five. She understands all too well the demands of busy families and has perfected an aesthetic that’s built around liveability, without sacrificing an ounce of style. Of her work, Curtis says, “Furniture and pieces can’t be overly precious; they have to be functional. But I’m never, ever willing to sacrifice style for comfort. I’m determined to have both. We don’t want to be bored in our interiors!”

Curtis was delighted to meet with blogger Dani Austin who wanted to create a dazzling nursery for her new daughter, Stella. As a business owner, Austin didn’t have the time to create the vision for what was in her heart for baby Stella’s room, but she knew the spare room had potential with its bright windows and limitless design possibilities. It just needed some vision and a healthy dose of playfulness, both of which Curtis and Austin were happy to provide. “We wanted some creativity that was unique to the home — instead of plug-and-play design,” Curtis says. “And kids rooms are wildly, magically fun. You get to use a new level of imagination.”

Curtis has seen many of the standard ideas for nurseries, and though they’re all well and good, she wanted to find a theme that could easily transition Stella past the first few years of her life. For this Art-Deco-meets-Palm-Springs look, Curtis focused on a muted pink, gold, and green color theme with some natural touches. There’s a daintiness in the design without being overly precious. Curtis advises, “You want to edit down your color palette. Choose wisely and embrace it! But be aggressive in choosing exactly where that color goes.” Even the pink color choice is deliberate. It’s a deeper, duskier pink, rather than a Barbie-doll tone you usually associate with nurseries. (Though the little hint of day-glo pink from the neon name sign is a great touch.) 

In order to open up the room (which looks, honestly, five times bigger in the “after” photos!), Curtis focused on the layout. She says, “I really want the flow to be unobstructed. Whether it’s a mom and dad moving around or a child playing, I want it to be usable — freely, and without obstacles. We err on ‘less is more’ if a room feels too tight.” By paying attention to symmetry and balance, the room looks serene and spacious, rather than overstuffed. 

One of the standout features of the room? That plush headboard display, of course! Curtis designed it herself, wanting something custom and special, with fluted details and soft velvet fabric. “When the light hits it, it just bounces off the velvet. It’s a whole other experience. You pick up all the tonalities of the pink,” she says. Like all of Curtis’s ideas, the headboard is designed to grow with Stella. So rather than a one-time statement piece, it becomes a part of Stella’s very memories of growing up. “You can pull the crib away and add a bed, and it still works. I like to get a lot of longevity out of my designs! We don’t want to be wasteful, so we have to be intentional,” Curtis says. 

Even with all these special details, Curtis maintains a level of restraint. She uses the wallpaper in the ceiling, taking care to follow the same color scheme as the headboard. By placing the wallpaper up, slightly out of eyeline, she maintains that sense of balance and focus on the headboard. She carefully layers in details, from the gold lighting to the rugs and the feathered chandelier, never losing sight of the room as a whole. For Curtis, the details need to be supporting characters; never dominating the “wow” moment in the room. 

Lightning is crucial in any space, but in Stella’s nursery, the asymmetrical pendant lighting presented a particular challenge. Because the lighting is meant to act as a sort of mobile, and hangs at different heights, placement was essential. Curtis laughs, remembering how she stood right in the room, directing its installation precisely. “I like that it’s a kind of dangling charm!” she says. 

About themes, Curtis says, “I’m opposed to anything that feels too kitschy and themey. If someone wants dinosaurs, I’ll give you dinosaurs all day long — but they’ll be the coolest, most unique dinosaurs. I may pore through archeological sketches from the 1930s or something to reinvent something from a past era into something modern.” She wants to elevate kids’ imaginations past things they are usually exposed to, and sometimes that means bringing her own inspirations into the mix, such as field journals, observations from nature, modern art, and even fashion. “I can’t help but daydream about Stella getting older and getting a big-girl bed in front of the headboard. It’s a whole stunning situation all over again, but a complete recreation.” If any space is daydream-worthy, it’s Stella’s light-filled and endlessly glamorous little nursery. 

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Want more inspiration from Ginger and Urbanology? Check out their book, “Beauty by Design,” which is full of great ideas and drool-worthy photos.