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Most designers will start a project by asking their client a series of questions (What colors do you gravitate toward? Have you traveled anywhere lately that inspired you?) that lets them get to know their personal style a bit better. So what do you do when the person you’re working for can’t actually communicate what they want? As Tan France, British style expert on Queer Eye and Next in Fashion, recently uncovered while designing his son Ismail’s nursery, you just have to sit back and watch.

“Whenever you’re creating a space for a child, especially a very young child who can’t fully express themself, it can be challenging to know exactly what they’ll respond to,” he admits. But France honed in on his toddler’s love for animals, which served as the guiding light for the bedroom as well as France’s just-launched collaboration with Nestig, which spans sheets, wallpaper, mobiles, and more.

Creating a space that was comfortable for both Ismail and France and his husband, Rob, was a top priority. The designer shares, “When I feel good, whether it’s in my clothes or in my space, it really makes me a better person and better parent.” This meant finding a middle ground between the whimsical elements and “grown-up” pieces.

Layer Up

To ground the room visually while also making it safe for crawling (and lately, walking), France layered his ombré Forest rug on top of already plush carpeting, and on top of that, a mat sporting a monkey’s smiling face. “Coming from fashion, I always love to play with elements like colors and textures. I pay attention to how certain tones make you feel or how a kind of fabric might bring a warmth or a coolness to a space that you particularly love,” he explains. With a toddler around, practicality also becomes an important factor; his durable cotton Nestig rugs can be tossed in the washing machine.

Pick a Crib That Grows With Them

The designer’s first choice for the room was the Candy Cloud crib, which features rounded corners, three adjustable mattress heights, and, in true France style, a pop of mint green on the vertical bars and legs. While Ismail might appreciate the cozy naps it provides, his parents can rest easy at night knowing they don’t have to worry about picking another bed frame anytime soon: The design easily turns into a toddler bed with the included conversion kit.

Dream of Faraway Places

Ismail’s fascination with wildlife, particularly his love of the monkeys he sees onscreen watching David Attenborough documentaries, was the starting point of the detailed mural France designed with Nestig. Showcased front and center on the main wall of the nursery, the chinoiserie-like treatment suddenly makes the awkward ceiling angles less noticeable and lends a classic English touch to the room—something that was particularly important to France. “At the end of the day, the spaces you create for your child are part of how they get to know you,” he says. “It’s so nice to have it feel like an extension of yourself and your style.”

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