BEFORE & AFTER: Nate Berkus Transforms A 90-Square-Foot Nursery

From cramped guest room to a dream nursery.

Photography by Kelly Stuart
The designer and dad-to-be takes on a cramped guest room, turning it into a dream nursery that's poised to grow with baby
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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Nursery Makeover

“A nursery is the place to live out a little bit of fantasy,” says , who has graciously come to decorate my baby’s room—which at less than 100 square feet is hardly fantasy-sized. And yet, with his expert eye, a soothing (and cleverly-chosen) palette, and smart furniture choices, he’s turned our wholly unremarkable guest room into a calm, chic, and beloved nursery. See how he did itand take advantage of his tips for bringing whimsy and utility to every room in the house.

Product credits appear throughout the slideshow or you can shop the entire room .

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The Guest Room Before

Lest we make things too easy for him, my husband and I insisted on keeping this IKEA twin daybed with trundle () in the room so we'd still be able to host visiting family members.

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
The Completed Nursery

"I've always thought a small space needs real-sized furniture in it," says Berkus. "And keeping the palette fairly light and neutral tricks the eye a little bit, making the space seem more expansive."

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Lesson #1: Let Fabrics Lead The Way

A good part of the nursery's unique charm comes from the several projects made from fabrics from Berkus's line at . "The whole collection was designed for people who want to do things their own way," he explains, noting the roman shade, the crib canopy, the duvet, and bed shams created for the room. "For years people bought a yard of fabric and turned it into a pillow. But now with Etsy and Instagram, it's so easy to get inspired by the affordable and high-impact things people are making."

Want to make the crib canopy shown here? Our DIY with is coming soon!

SAFETY NOTE: This crib has been styled against the wall but recommends keeping your crib 3 feet away from any hanging fabric.

Here, the Alma Max Crib in Frost Grey by with a canopy fabricated by using Ondine fabric by Nate Berkus from .

The nursing chair is the Sparrow Glider by Gus Modern from , topped with the Circle Dance Daydream Blanket by and Braided Cord Decorative Pillow by Nate Berkus from .

The Thin Floor Lamp With Metal Shade in Antique Brass is by and the Wool Felt Night Sky Mobile is by . On the walls, the and the are by Nate Berkus from Target.

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Lesson #2: Keep It Playful

"Every room needs a note of playfulness," says Berkus. "And there's no room I can think of where you can lose yourself in that idea more than a nursery. I mean, you get to put a rocking elephant on the ground!"

The and are both by RH baby & child.

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
SAFETY NOTE

The crib has been styled for the shoot with pillows and toys. Now that the baby is here, it has been cleared as per .

The Harold Crib Sheet is by ; the Tornado Lumbar Pillow is from .

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Lesson #3: Don’t Underestimate An Accent Table

"An occasional table, like , is not only really good looking, it's practical, too," says Berkus. "A chair with nothing next to it looks like it's floating in space—you need to create groupings for seating to truly work, and you need that space to put something down."

Now that I'm in that glider several times a night, I can attest to the simple genius in having that table there—it hosts water bottles, tissues, and similarly less-photogenic but very-necessary items.

The Roman Shade is made of Rivington fabric by Nate Berkus from . The , , and are all by Nate Berkus from Target.

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Lesson #4: Get Furniture That Grows

"Babies are expensive. Why not be smart at this stage in the game and build a collection of pieces that will last as he grows?" In this room that means the that transitions into a toddler bed (and can fold up to a fraction of its size for storage when needed), the that will look elegant when moved into the living room, plus accessories that are more sophisticated and don't automatically read as baby, such as the frames and baskets from Berkus's . "This collection has resonated with customers more than any others," he tells me proudly. "It really hit on all the elements: design, price, and craftsmanship."

Berkus holds a Multi Banded Apex Vase by and the from his Target collection filled with Twinkle Classic Swaddles by . The Black and White Inlay Frame is also from Berkus's collection at .

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Lesson #5: Gray Is Great

What makes the elegant neutral so perfect for a nursery? "It's really soothing, and can easily go masculine or feminine by adding small accents," says Berkus.

The Overcast Wall Shelf is by , and holds Andy Warhol's So Many Stars Board Book from . The Vintage Illuminated Star in White is by .

On the bed, a duvet made from fabric, and shams made from , both by Nate Berkus from Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores. The Soft White 400 Thread Count Sheets are by , the Braided Cord Decorative Pillow is by Nate Berkus from , the gray lumbar pillow is by Gus Modern from , and the Wee Handmade Seahorse is by .

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Lesson #6: Be Smart About Lighting

While the room has overhead lighting, it's harsh for a baby, especially when looking up! Berkus layered clever pieces, such as the , which serves not only as an additional, softer light source, but decor—even when switched off. On the other side of the room, the has a step-button on/off switch, which makes it easy to turn on without ever removing a hand from the baby.

The Gold Inverse Mini Air Plant Pods are by Sea & Asters from The Jealous Curator on . The Artwork is It's A Dog's World by Sheila Sunaryo from .

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Lesson #7: Consider The Possibilities Of Every Object

"Whenever I look at something, I always think: What could this be used for that people wouldn't typically think of?" says Berkus. "I'm certainly not the first person to hang on a wall, but I love trying something modern and minimal with porcelain in an unexpected spot." He also suggests trying something similar with heirlooms—why should your grandmother's salad plates get relegated to the back of the china cabinet when they can have pride of place on the wall?

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Lesson #8: Make (Clever) Use Of Family Photos

After discovering old photos of my husband and I as kids, Berkus had them reprinted in black and white to keep with the room's calming color palette. (Plus a lovely adds to the charm.)

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Lesson #9: There Is No Such Thing As Clashing

"If you're working with a consistent palette, you just can't break the rules," says Berkus. "It's like a cute kid that dresses himself. It's not mismatched, it's charming!"

And it's safe to say that any rule that means pairing dots with seahorses, line drawings, and checks (that's actually a draped over the headboard!) is automatically my favorite.

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
Lesson #10: In A Small Space, Rethink Standard Nursery "Musts"

After looking at a wide variety of changing tables—none of which fit well in the space—Berkus and I decided to get creative and utlize a space-saving crib-top changer. (It's not pictured in this story, but we chose the Universal Change Tray by ) With the floor space reclaimed, we were able to bring in special pieces that we otherwise never would have had room for. (And who can resist this !)

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Photography by Kelly Stuart
As For Nate's Own Nursery...

I couldn't say goodbye to Berkus for the day without finding out what he and husband (and fellow designer) are dreaming up for their own nursery. "We're definitely going to create a very sophicated nursery with notes of humor, not dissimilar to what I did here," he says. "Right now, the big conversation in our house has been around wallpaper. That ends up being our fallback dinner conversation!"

EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm so grateful to Nate Berkus for generously donating his time and talent to my new son's beautiful room. The brands featured in this story were similarly generous and I wholeheartedly recommend the pieces seen throughout (you can shop them all easily on !)

As a small token of our gratitude, my husband and I have made a donation to , a wonderful charity that provides clothes, gear, and services to families in need. If you're interested in donating time, gear, or funds, you can do so .

This piece originally appeared on . PLUS! Don't Miss:

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