Vintage-Inspired Baby Boy's Room

Expecting parents flip a spare room into a sophisticated red and blue nursery for their new baby boy.


In 2010 Jon and Erin Malone feverishly outfitted the 12 x 10-foot first-floor bonus room in their 1960s ranch house into a traditional, merlot-toned guest bedroom in time for the holidays. Just a few months later, they found out they were expecting their first child, a baby boy they planned on naming Owen.

Both busy executives, the couple found themselves short on the amounts of time and energy needed to rework the room into a sophisticated, masculine nursery. To make things even more challenging, the duo had just completed a pricey and laborious basement remodel, and the last thing either of them was in the mood for was another design project.

Blue and Red Nursery Makeover

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Mature Style

Jon and Erin’s guest room was transformed into a designer-grade nursery complete with walls covered with beadboard and soundproofing upholstery as well as high-end lighting, custom draperies, a thick shag rug, vintage furniture and custom window coverings.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Before the Makeover

Just a few months prior to finding out they were expecting a baby, Jon and Erin had finished turning their bonus room into a full-fledged guest room.

Color Control

From the start, the couple was certain they wanted to use the same shade of red on the walls in a different capacity in the new design.

Upholstered Walls

The Malones loved the idea of having the nursery walls professionally upholstered in a fun pattern to help soundproof the room from the noisy street outside.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Under Wraps

To conceal staples or pins which hold the fabric of the wall upholstery in place, the upholsterer created a welt cord from the same fabric, then hot-glued it directly over the staples and pins along the top of the beadboard as well as in corners and along the ceiling.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

All-Purpose Crib

Determined to make design choices that added versatility should Owen one day have a baby sister, Jon and Erin chose a modern white crib that could work well with any color combination.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Stylish Rocker

The Malones opted for a white wire-frame midcentury rocker with brown aged-leather upholstery.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Window Treatments

To add layers of steel blue throughout the nursery, Jon and Erin had custom window treatments made from slubby cotton basket weave a few shades darker than the color used on the wainscoting and ceiling.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Lights Out

When having their custom window coverings made, the Malones spent extra to have them lined with blackout liner which would help darken the room for Owen’s many naps.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Flooring Worth Adoring

Although Jon and Erin love their recently refinished wood floors, they wanted to ensure Owen would have a soft surface on which to crawl. To carry the steel blue down onto the floor, they picked up an extra-thick shag rug from a big-box retailer for $169.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Mood Lighting

To add ambiance to the room for long nights during which Erin or Jon would rock Owen to sleep, the couple had a ceiling fan replaced by a corrugated-paper pendant which emits diffused light.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Repurposed Lamps

To add task lighting atop Owen’s 1950s dresser, Jon and Erin’s decorator picked up a pair of vintage argyle lamps from a flea market for $50, then updated them with fire-engine-red silk drum shades which cost $35 a piece.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Toy Story

Whenever possible, the Malones tried to stay away from current trends when designing the nursery. This not only included their furniture and fabric selection but also accessories and toys. By sticking with hand-knit Persian dolls from a company called Blabla, they were able to add youthful touches which were classic and organic.

Photo By: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Despite liking the room's red wall color, original windows and newly refinished hardwood floors, Jon and Erin knew the furnishings would have to go. “All of the newer pieces in the room were geared toward adult guests, from the dresser to the queen mattress and the artwork to the bedding.” To personalize the space for their new addition, the couple decided on a budget of $4,500 and a quick timeline of only three days.

Scope of Project

  • Replace bulky ceiling fan with diffused pendant lighting
  • Add architecture to the walls with wainscoting
  • Soften and protect the hardwood floors with a thick shag area rug
  • Use a similar shade of red as the existing wall color
  • Add pattern and color to the walls with noise-reductive fabric wall upholstery
  • Soften the windows with custom drapery panels and woven wood blinds
  • Furnish the space with transitional modern and vintage pieces

Going Vintage

From the start, Jon’s decorator friend recommended splurging on transitional vintage pieces that could work in different rooms once the nursery is outgrown.

"At first, we thought it seemed odd, but then it made much more sense since vintage never goes out of style; kids can appreciate retro stuff just as much as parents," says Erin, who was pleasantly surprised to learn that vintage items aren't necessarily more than ready-made pieces.

To keep all pieces in check with the overall direction of the room, the Malones opted for a white wire-frame midcentury rocker with brown aged-leather upholstery, a dark walnut 1950s dresser, a steel-blue shag rug and a brand-new, modern, glossy white crib. “Steel blue was the color of my bridesmaids' dresses," says Erin. "It seemed like the perfect choice from the start since it’s a color unique to Jon and I.”



Wall upholstery is a great way to help soundproof while adding high-end, tailored style. When choosing fabric, stick with prints that are gender neutral and offer options to draw new color schemes.

Photo by: Photographer: Christina Wedge

Photographer: Christina Wedge

Wall upholstery is a great way to help soundproof while adding high-end, tailored style. When choosing fabric, stick with prints that are gender neutral and offer options to draw new color schemes.

Upholstering the Walls

Jon and Erin were most excited about the wall upholstery, which would help soundproof the nursery. The process involved having the upholsterer pre-measure the room so the fabric could be seamed together appropriately back at his workroom, attaching precut batting to the walls with spray adhesive, stapling the fabric along the top of the walls, corners of the walls, and along the top of the wainscoting, then hiding the staples with welt cord and hot glue.

While the actual upholstery of the space was a quick, clean process, choosing the proper fabric was an entirely different story. Erin explains, “We fell in love with five different fabrics, and we loved them all equally. The ultimate choice came down to whatever would hold up the best and not lock us into one specific color scheme.” Thinking ahead, they opted for a gender-neutral linen print sporting partridges and leaves in orange, red, sage green, slate blue, charcoal, brown and white.

Finishing Touches

The final tasks for the nursery design involved replacing a ceiling fan with a drum pendant and installing window coverings. While the window coverings went up easily, thanks to heavy-duty drywall anchors for the drapery hardware and simple inside-mount brackets for the shades, the pendant ended up being a bit more difficult than anticipated.

"We had a contractor install the pendant for us based on what height looked best for the space," says Jon. "Unfortunately, we forgot to add the extra inch of the ceiling canopy into the mix, and since I’m 6'3" and the bottom of the pendant sat at 6'1", I found myself walking right smack into it." The solution involved Jon removing the canopy from the ceiling, then shortening the cord an extra two inches.

As Owen’s due date drew closer and closer, the Malones were ecstatic to have his nursery complete with more than two months to spare until the big day. Erin says, “Since I couldn’t be around paint fumes while pregnant, Jon and I took a three-day-weekend vacation during the buildout of Owen’s nursery. I think it’s pretty safe to say that coming back from a great vacation to a completely redesigned room is one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced.”

With the room ready for Owen, down to having his socks neatly folded and prewashed in his new dresser, the first-time parents couldn’t possibly have been more prepared. And with a nursery this well done, perhaps little Owen will grow up to study interior design — on a football scholarship.

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