Photography by Aimee Mazzenga

Published on August 19, 2021

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“Every day feels like Groundhog Day,” says Houston-based designer and new mom Paloma Contreras. Luckily Contreras knew before she and her husband welcomed their now 8-week-old daughter, Margot, that if you’re going to spend your days in a blur of feedings, diaper changes, and naps, it should at least be within a space that you want to visit on repeat. Enter her floral-filled, Francophile-approved nursery. 

Schumacher’s Xanadu Landscape wallpaper was a natural starting point for the whimsical room. “I wanted something that really evoked her sense of imagination,” explains Contreras. Also encouraging Margot’s dreams of faraway places: a framed photograph of the Tuileries Gardens in Paris. (Pre-pandemic, Contreras would travel to France twice a year to shop for clients.) “It’s a place that we really look forward to taking her one day,” shares the designer. 

Break Up All the Newness

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Introducing antique finds into a nursery not only gives the room a bit of soul, it teaches little ones to live with nice things. Museum-quality ceramics aren’t necessarily fitting, but not-so-precious finds are totally on the table. “It shouldn’t be scary,” says Contreras, who brought in a mini rattan chair and vintage bamboo floor lamp she scored in Paris a few years back.

Rethink Bright Whites

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The faintest hint of pink on the ceiling makes you look twice, and it also serves another purpose: The hue casts a flattering glow in the room—essential for the early days and (nearly) sleepless nights—even when all the lights aren’t turned on. According to the designer, “It feels really warm without being super-obvious.”

Tweak the Drapes

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In an effort to make the French-pleated draperies less guest room–like and more nursery-ready, the designer swapped out the old black curtain rods for acrylic ones with brass ends and added trellis-patterned tape trim to the leading edges. Dressing the fabric up a touch meant she didn’t have to buy all new curtains, too. “It made it feel fresh,” she says. Like the crisp ivory linen panels, other natural fibers (peep the laundry hamper, Harbour Cane Crib from Serena & Lily, and raffia scalloped lampshade) lend a sense of texture and whimsy.

Cue IKEA to the Rescue

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Rather than purchase a new changing table, Contreras updated an inexpensive dresser from IKEA with hexagonal unlacquered brass hardware to give it a modern touch and topped it with a woven changing basket. She then hung an eye-catching swan print in lieu of a traditional mobile. The designer used every inch as wisely as possible and stocked the drawers with dividers to hold Margot’s onesies and bloomers.

I designed this space to make our time in the nursery as stress-free and joyful as possible,” says Contreras. Besides, she adds, the star of the room is Margot herself, who is just starting to smile: “Her little personality is beginning to shine through.” 

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