Photography by Jacqueline Marque

Styling by Suzonne Stirling

Published on August 12, 2021

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Swathi Narra never thought she’d be the kind of mom to go over the top with her nursery decor. “I didn’t want to get caught up in the notion that everything needed to be perfect for this perfect pregnancy,” says the hospitality and fashion entrepreneur. “And I tried to avoid falling into the trap of decorating a room that would have to change again in a few years.” 

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Recliner, Olio Studio; Paper Maché Hot Air Balloon by GlitterVille Studios, Mignon; Curtains, Target

That was before the country shut down last March and her husband, Jay Miller, an ICU pulmonary physician, convinced Narra (who was four months pregnant at the time) to temporarily leave their home in New Orleans to live with her mother in Baton Rouge while he was treating COVID patients—a few weeks later, he was himself was hospitalized. “It really led me to think about the safety of what was going to happen and what I could do that was in my control to create stability,” she says. So she poured herself into creating a serene space for their daughter, Devi (now 9 months old), and decorated it remotely until it was safe for her to return home a few months later. Here’s how the room came together.

An Idea Sourced From Home

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Crib, Million Dollar Baby Classic; Rug by Lorena Canals, The Tot; Wicker Basket, Crate & Kids.

“The nursery was a garbage room before, essentially, where we would just store things like a Peloton that served as a very expensive coatrack,” says Narra, laughing. All the clutter had to go. Working with a blank slate, the mom-to-be turned to her homeland of India for inspiration. She and Miller had traveled to Jaipur a few years earlier and they were blown away by the leafy murals at Bar Palladio. “I just was really taken with the design, and I knew I wanted to incorporate something similar,” she adds.

A DIY Solution Unearthed Online

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Book Shelves, Crate & Barrel.  

De Gournay hand-painted wallpaper wasn’t in the budget, but an Anthropologie mural was. A reviewer for the piece had shared a photo of the wall covering in her own home, which led Narra to track her down to learn the exact seafoam shade she had used: It turned out to be a custom Sherwin-Williams match, for which Narra got the exact color code (she ended up also painting the baseboards, trim, and ceiling for an allover soothing effect). The mural was smaller than the wall, so she decided to frame it and picked a blush hue from the garden scene to match.

A Palette That Plays Nice

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Vintage Peacock Shell Art, Circa 1857 Market; Tassel, Smith Honig; Paper Maché Crane by Cody Foster, Petite Peony; Floral Art Work, Sonal Nathwani

To create a jewel-box effect, Narra searched everywhere for blackout curtains in a shade as close to the wall color as possible, without going the custom route—and she ended up finding them at Target. “They’re not an exact match, but they trick your eye into believing it’s all the same color,” she says. Blue hues in the rug also play off the window coverings, tying everything together.

A High-Low Mix of Family Treasures

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Narra chose where to splurge carefully: The Olio Studio recliner was a piece that came recommended by multiple moms (it even has a USB port). “I really like the company because it only makes recliners and does it really well,” she says. The rest of the room was peppered with pieces the couple already owned (an IKEA dresser that Narra bought while living in Chicago), estate sale finds (a triangular side table with an Indian Colonial vibe), and hand-me-downs (a Lucite trunk where Narra keeps her large collection of baby blankets). 

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Painting, Hot Pink. 

The art—a vintage peacock found at a local flea market, a photo of the couple visiting Jaipur, and a framed textile—was inspired by a gallery wall in fashion designer Sabyasachi’s Hyderabad store and links back to Narra’s deep-rooted connection to India—one that she hopes Devi will carry with her. Plus the room is a reminder of always finding a silver lining. “This project became a bright spot during a stressful time,” says Narra. “It was like my primitive instinct kicked in all at once and gave me something to look forward to.”

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