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Kids' Rooms
Labor of Love

Fall 2006
Atlanta-based interior decorator Gretchen Edwards decorates hundreds of homes but when it came time for a very personal job she turned to Bratt Decor to make her decisions a little easier.

When it came time to decorate her first child's nursery, interior designer Gretchen Edwards had to deal with a hard to please client herself.

Atlanta-based interior designer Gretchen Edwards spends her days creating rooms for her clients to love. Making decorating decisions is routine business for her, but she wasnt so certain when it came time to create a nursery for hr own child. When you work with so many people with so many tastes, you end up being attracted to many styles and its hard to narrow down the choices, she says. It was more difficult to make a decision because I was worried that I'd come across a new idea or a new fabric that would wow me even more. But if ever there was a deadline, it was having a child.

With Hadley Rose's arrival looming, Gretchen decided to follow the decorating advise she gives others. The first step, she says., is to find an inspiration piece to serve as the jumping-off point for a room's design. She found hers in a colorful animal-print fabric. My goal was to work with fabrics that she could grow into, Gretchen says. It was such an investment that I need to use the stuff for several years.

Although she wanted Hadley's nursery to be 110 percent girl, Gretchen was dead set against pink. I wanted to do something different, she says. She chose lavender the color of her favorite creature in the fabric a piglet. The room's one concession to little-girl pink is the pastel crib. An animal theme can easily turn a nursery into a life-size cartoon., but because Gretchen chose subtle hues and limited the busy pattern to the windows and crib, Hadley's nursery feels more like a serene watercolor painting. The space is cute enough for Baby but elegant enough to fit into the rest of the home's decor. For Gretchen, having a cartoon-theme space would be my worst nightmare. So her design plan bought out subdued but playful ideas. I feel like it still has a level of sophistication, she says.

After choosing her color palette, Gretchen began to consider her other guiding design principle function. The small nursery needed to be as practical as it is pretty. To that end, she chose an overstuffed glider and ottoman, a convertible changing table, and a large area rug for plenty of soft play space. A tall bookshelf, wicker baskets, and a wall-mounted clock rack add needed storage. One of my pet peeves is a room that doesn't work well, Gretchen says. Functionality is just as important as the design, especially with a newborn.

Always a perfectionist, Gretchen labored over every choice for Hadley's nursery. The result, she says, was worth the effort. I don't regret one decision that I made, she says. When I see Hadley enjoying the room, I know I was successful. It was worth every bit of second-guessing, overanalyzing, and missing sleep to meet my deadline.

1. designer Gretchen Edwards (with baby Hadley and her favorite rattle) believes a glider is a nursery essential, and she spared no exspense to ensure the comfiest midnight feedings. She had a matelasse-upholstered rocker and ottoman stain-protected and even paid extra for an upgrade to have a cushier down seat, she says.

2. Gretchen couldn't find a bookcase tall and narrow enough for her needs, so she had one made. I wanted it to be a focal point that could add verticality to the room, she says. She worked with her carpenter on every detail of the dollhouse design, including the shake-shingle roof, shutters, window boxes, and white picket fence.

3. OPPOSITE TOP: The nursery's animal-print fabric is prominently displayed on the window treatments. If we'd just used panels, the animals would be bunched up, so having the valance is a way to see all of them, Gretchen says. Each valance is accented by 9 yards of pink French ribbon, hand-pleated by Gretchen's mother.
OPPOSITE MIDDLE and ABOVE: A seamstress cut out animals, stitched each onto white fabric, then embroidered the designs to create a three-dimensional effect for the crib bumper and chair pillow.
OPPOSITE BOTTOM: Texas artist Louise Antoinette crafted a ceramic chandelier using animal-print fabric as her guide.

4. To get the most mileage out of her major purchases, Gretchen chose pieces that offer maximum flexibility. When Hadley finishes the diaper stage, the tray atop the changing table can be removed and the piece can function as a dresser. The front panels can be flipped over to reveal white or replaced with panels in another color.

Start with LOVE Make a design board like designer Gretchen Edwards did to help your nursery ideas take flight.
" Shapes create an idea board to help you envision a room's overall look. The classic shape of this chair was part of Gretchen's design vision, even though she knew she'd later opt for stain-protected white fabric.
" Pattern Start with a pattern you love. For Hadley's room, Gretchen began with watercolor animal print. Gluing it onto the board kept the colors and style prominent in her mind as she made other choices.
" Layout Add a sketch of your room so window positions and closet dimensions are in view as you plan. Gretchen's drawing is professionally rendered, but a pencil sketch on notepaper works just as well.
" Texture Remember that texture is as important as color. Along with photos of the furniture and fabrics she wanted, Gretchen added a swatch of the soft, nubby rug she admired for the space.
" More Pattern Layer on coordinating fabrics to see how your patterns intermingle. To balance the large-scale animal print, Gretchen chose a thin painterly stripe and sweet tiny dot in white and lilac.


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