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Client Project: Aloha Little Lady


I have a pretty project that I’m working on that I am excited to share with you: a new nursery design for a client and friend based in Hawaii who is expecting her first baby, a girl. It’s been an interesting process due to a number of factors and I’m going to take you through it. Sit back and relax, folks, because this is a lengthy post with a lot of detail. With that, ready to see Project Aloha Little Lady?



It all started when the mother-to-be sent me an image of what will be the baby’s nursery and asked my thoughts on mixing patterns, as she had turquoise and white chevron curtains up and wanted to keep them, but also was trying to figure out what kind of rug she should have in the room. As it was, the room was full of furniture, some that they were keeping and some that they were getting rid of. Between what was already there and a few hand-me-downs that they were getting elsewhere, she already had the following for the room:

  • queen bed with a pine wood frame
  • Koa wood dresser
  • dark wood end table
  • table lamp with gray base and white shade
  • turquoise and white curtains

She told me she needed a crib to go in the right corner, a changing table because the Koa wood dresser was too tall for that purpose, and later mentioned that she also wanted some kind of rocker/glider, but nothing ornate or too heavy looking.

She shared with me her Pinterest board and mentioned that she would like to stay in the natural wood color and feel, with a slight Scandinavian look, with some pastels or other light touches of color. Speaking of color, she loves turquoise and, months ago, had enlisted me to help out with another area of her home and also wanted to know how better to incorporate turquoise there. (That project is on hold for now; I simply mention it so you understand she loves turquoise as that helped me make some design decisions for this nursery project.)

One of several inspiration images. This nursery is in the home of Serena Mitnik-Miller as seen in Domino. Photo credit: Jason Frank Rothenberg

We had some back and forth, sending each other links of items and design images we liked and I originally provided this suggestion for the overall design direction: keep all furniture neutral, even bedding. Get a patterned rug with some color. Use minimal decor pieces in colors that both kind of match the curtain color and also complement it (pastel oranges and pinks, light coral). With curtains, rug and a few decor pieces (think table lamp, tray, vase), in patterns and colors, your eye will bounce around the room but you’ll still feel like it’s a serene space because all of the furniture will be of natural wood.

She liked this design direction so, between our ongoing conversation as well as her inspiration images from Pinterest and others I found, I moved forward. I put together a shopping list:

  • crib
  • changing table
  • nightstand
  • rugs
  • lamps
  • curtain tie-backs
  • rocker
  • other decor

Then I created a layout of the room. Based on my initial layout and reviewing the pieces of furniture she already had in the room and originally said she was interested in, I convinced her to not keep the Koa wood dresser in the nursery. While the wood looks beautiful, it would overcrowd the space since she needed a second dresser to act as a changing table. And, between the pine of the bed and originally wanting a pine dresser and the wood end table, it was too many different tones of wood in the room, the majority of which did not flow with the Scandinavian vibe that she wanted.

Here is the layout design of the room with the items she already had (or similar images) included:

Layout for Aloha Little Lady nursery

And then I went shopping (like, one of my favorite things to do). And here is where things get complicated. Because she lives in Hawaii, everything that I was sourcing for her had to be available online so that I could share it with her. Hawaii doesn’t have every major furniture or design chain store that the mainland does and shipping costs are astronomical, which means that there was a strong change that what I sent her may be something she couldn’t buy but at least could serve as inspiration. Even IKEA, which is a great starting ground for affordable Scandinavian design with lots of options for a nursery, isn’t on Oahu, where she lives. In order to make an online IKEA shopping trip worth it, she would have to buy several large items to be placed on a shipping container together. Like I said, kinda complicated.

In our conversations, she sent me links to a few things she liked that I thought were great. She also decided that she wanted to purchase or DIY agate curtain tie-backs. We thought both turquoise and white ones could work, so we’ll see how that goes. Also, even though she likes turquoise and knows it, she is shy about incorporating color in her home.

With all of these elements in mind, I wanted to create three options for her, one that leaned more neutral, one that leaned a little bolder, and one that I think is more in-between. The first option includes several IKEA items so that, if she decided to buy from there, it will be worth it.

The way I like to work color and create layers in each room is to have a layer of several neutrals and a layer of several colors. In this case, the main neutrals are white/off-white, pine/wood, and gray. The colors are turquoise/bluish-green and pink. There is some ability for mix-and-match here but I tried to balance it out for cohesiveness in patterns, textures, shapes and overall feel. For example, the legs of the nightstand and changing table in option 2 are the same design so they look good together, and option 3 features a lot of circles and curves in the decor. (If you’ve read this blog before, you know how much I love a curve and a circle!)

Here are the three options:

Option 1 with many items from IKEA for shipping cost purposes.

Links for Option 1 resources: dresser/changing tablerocker /cribrug / sheepskinnightstand / curtain tiebacktable lampfloor lamp / pillow 1 / pillow 2

Option 2 for Aloha Little Lady nursery

Links for Option 2 resources: changing tablerug in light green/ivory / glider /  cribfloor lampnightstandmobile / pillow 1 / pillow 2

The third option for the nursery.

Links for Option 3 resources: gliderrug / crib / mobile / pillow 1 / pillow 2 / mirror / nightstand, changing table and floor lamp, same as option 2

Stay tuned to see which option she chose!

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