Above: A view into a nursery by Marea Clark in Diablo, California, with scalloped valances and taupe curtains over gold oak cribs.
At the risk of offending a flotilla of momfluencers, I’ll say it: Having an aesthetically flawless nursery does not matter. Not to the baby, at least. “We have to remember when we design these rooms that we’re human animals,” says New York designer and mother of three Celerie Kemble. “And the less perfect an environment, the more tolerant and flexible the child. Probably.”
To be clear, Kemble nurseries are fantastical visions that could have been dreamed up by Ludwig Bemelmans himself. But she tries to pare them back as much as possible. “The people who spent four months of their pregnancy buying everything they’re supposed to buy and getting lists from friends, I think they just end up with a wretched child,” she says. “It can’t sleep in daylight. A cold baby wipe on its butt and the night’s over!”
Not that there isn’t plenty to aspire to. A nursery is part of your child’s entrée into the wider world, so a whiff of fabulousness is to be encouraged. One key, designers say, is to splurge on the things that will last. New York designer Rodney Lawrence recently sheathed the room of an Upper East Side firstborn in a silver-leaf de Gournay wallcovering bursting with mauve, pale lavender, and plum cherry blossoms. Once the crib—in this case, a brushed brass and shagreen piece from Kifu Paris—and other accoutrements are gone, you have “a beautiful wallcovering in a room that you can convert back