Design by Room Kids' Rooms

Why Mary Lawless Lee of Happily Grey Changed Her Nursery Palette at the Last Minute

You won't find any pastels or primary colors here.
Lydia Geisel Avatar
baby laying on a changing table

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When Mary Lawless Lee learned she and her husband, Madison, were expecting their first child, she began to picture a nursery in black and white. “Sharp contrast,” was her direction for the 12-by-22-foot bedroom. But when it came time to bring her ideas to life, her vision softened. “I realized this was a space that should feel warm and bright,” she says. “I love color, but it can sometimes be intense.” 

Switching up the palette was no problem for Lee—style comes second nature to the Nashville-based shop owner and fashion blogger, best known as the influencer behind the popular Instagram account, Happily Grey. When her daughter, Navy James, arrived in late June, she was welcomed by a warm array of tans, whites, and terra-cottas. “Since she’s arrived, the nursery has a new meaning,” says Lee. “It feels whole with her here.” 

Here, the new mom takes us inside the design and shares three takeaways for creating a similar calm retreat. 

Make Room for Future Family Members

wide shot of zen, white nursery with a crib and bed
photography by Paige Rumore

Lee admits she’s already thinking of what life will be like with two little ones. It sounds a little early, but planning for the long run will help you make wiser layout choices, she says. The room is equipped with Oeuf’s Sparrow crib, Nursery Works’ rose gold bassinet, both from The Tot, and a rattan toddler bed from Anthropologie, so years from now Navy James can share the space with a younger sibling (and Mom and Dad won’t have to move a thing). With these larger pieces pushed to the periphery, there’s plenty of room for playtime.

Buy Things That Will Grow with Them 

Unless you want to rotate your kids’ furniture every other year, versatility is key. Lee turned a nine-drawer Anthropologie dresser into a bonafide changing station. “I really wanted something Navy James can use when she gets older,” Lee explains. For now, the chest of drawers can be stocked with seasonal clothing and Wet Wipes. When Navy James is beyond the diaper stage, the secured pad on top can be removed and replaced with books and family mementos. 

Leave Your Mark 

wood mobile hanging over a crib with terracotta colored sheets
photography by paige rumore

While Lee could have purchased any ordinary mobile to hang over the crib, she decided to give Navy James something more personal to admire as she nods off to sleep. She gave local woodworker Andy Gray a rough sketch. “I wanted it to have an old-school vibe,” she says. The design is sweet and simple: basic shapes attached to the end of dowels. Made of cedar, the piece is super lightweight, so it moves easily. “The nursery definitely has more of an organic and earthy feel than what I had originally planned,” Lee says. But there’s no arguing the room is filled with life—literally. 

See more nursery tours:  Christene Barberich’s New Baby’s Nursery is a Technicolor Dream Jenna Kutcher Talks Nursery Design and Finding Empowerment in Motherhood There’s Nothing Cliché About This Cool, Celestial Nursery

Lydia Geisel Avatar

Lydia Geisel

Home Editor

Lydia Geisel has been on the editorial team at Domino since 2017. Today, she writes and edits home and renovation stories, including house tours, before and afters, and DIYs, and leads our design news coverage. She lives in New York City.

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