Inside Our Co-Founder's Gender-Neutral Nursery (It's Anything But Childish)
For MyDomaine's co-founder Hillary Kerr, the perfect nursery is somewhat of a contradiction. When it came time to decorate a space for her son, Clark, she wanted to create a nursery that was child-friendly but not overly childish. "We bought our first home shortly after Clark was born and wanted to make something really special for him without it feeling too gendered or babyish," she explains.
Kerr and her husband, Jonathan Leahy, tapped interior designer and vintage specialist Deborah Rhein-Gleiberman of D.L Rhein to turn their dream nursery into a reality. "We were so excited to work with Deborah to design a space that's serene and slightly whimsical and filled with our favourite thing—books!"
Kerr's love of books creates a subtle literary theme throughout the nursery. Stacks of children's books adorn shelves, covers are framed as artwork, and even the wallpaper evokes a sense of adventure from a childhood classic. "We are quite fond of the wallpaper mural, which is by Rebel Walls. It feels like something from Where The Wild Things Are, and Clark loves looking at it," she says.
Take a peek inside Clark's gorgeous green nursery, a personality-packed space that's anything but childish.
While Kerr and Leahy wanted the nursery to have its own distinct personality, they were also mindful that it works seamlessly with their existing interior style. "It's a little more whimsical than the rest of the house, but I think it's in keeping with our style, as a whole," says Kerr. "That was important to us. I always think it's odd when you see a home that is completely styled one way, and then the kids’ rooms are wildly different. That feels like an older way of thinking about children's decor, and something I wanted to avoid."
In keeping with their home's aesthetic, Kerr chose furniture in cosy fabrics with clean, midcentury modern–inspired lines. That way hero pieces can be kept and restyled as Clark grows. "The Pottery Barn glider chair is definitely the most used and loved piece in the room, and we love the fact that it is striped," she says. "We always laugh that stripes are our family’s favourite colour, and this chair is definitely evidence of that sentiment."
Another aspect that prevents this nursery from looking overly childish is the use of vintage furniture and decor from their previous home. In fact, two of the key pieces in the room were purchased well before Kerr was pregnant. "The dresser is a vintage piece and we've had the rug for years; both actually used to be in our bedroom and now they're repurposed for Clark," she says.
The emerald rug was actually the starting point of the design process. "Jonathan and I both love the colour green, and since we hadn't used it much in the rest of our house, it seemed like a good idea for Clark's room. Especially since the rug, which was in our previous home, happened to be the perfect size for the room," she says. "Deborah suggested it, and then building the room from there, and we thought that was a great plan."
While their existing rug made it quick and easy to choose a colour palette, other aspects of the design process were much more tedious. "We spent quite a long time looking for the right wallpaper," says Kerr. They wanted a pattern that would add personality to the otherwise white-and–pale gray room without being overly gendered. Eventually, they found this whimsical forest wallpaper by Rebel Walls and knew it was the perfect fit. "[We] loved that it allowed us to bring more colour into the space, too."
The nursery is much more than a beautifully designed space—it's also filled with décor that speaks to Kerr and Leahy's relationship and personalities. A mini guitar references Leahy's career as a music supervisor, plush dinosaurs provide a subtle nod to a personal joke about T-Rex, and a miniature children's kitchen speaks to the couple’s love of cooking. "I'm really excited about Clark's play kitchen; my husband and I love to cook, and hopefully Clark will, too!"
The toy giraffe is another playful addition and one of Kerr’s greatest finds for the space. "The giraffe was something I was really excited about; I'd seen it in the Pottery Barn offices in San Francisco years ago and always thought that it would be an amazing piece to include in a kid's room," she says. "So when we started thinking about décor and I realised the giraffe was still in production and available, I was super excited." The plush animal just happens to be the perfect height for the wallpaper tree line—it peeps over the canopy and watches over baby Clark's cot below.
Now that the wallpaper has been installed, the artwork framed, and the décor details styled comes the real test. It has nothing to do with aesthetic yet is one of the most important aspects of any space: How does the nursery feel? "It has such a great energy," says Kerr of the finished room. "It's peaceful but still quite spirited, which is a great combination for a kid's room, or any room, really." It's serene, nurturing, and encourages Clark to play and become the person he's meant to be—no doubt the true sign of a well-designed nursery.