before & after: modern, graphic nursery

I’m not a parent yet, but I’ve spent enough time around babies to know that even at an extremely young age, they love to look at patterns — particularly high-contrast, big patterns. Honestly, with all that exciting repetition and play between positive and negative space, who can blame them? This gorgeous nursery makeover from Summer Bellessa is chock-full of gorgeous high-contrast pattern, but I like that she’s limited the color palette to keep things calm and soothing.

She’s made a clever choice in her foundation colors; the right teal looks awesome, but should she want to change it up, she has a wide range of options for what will look good against the sophisticated black, white, gray and silver combination. While some nurseries trend toward rainbow hues, I think this punchy, pattern-filled room is every bit as joyous and entertaining to a little one and with an added sophistication that adults can appreciate. Great job, Summer! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Time: The renovation started when I was 6 months pregnant and was finished when Rockwell turned 4 months. Within those 7 months, progress was off and on. Being pregnant and then having a newborn made it a bit of a challenge.

Cost: $1500

Basic Steps: I wanted a baby boy room that was unique and modern with classic elements. I took color inspiration from Oscar de la Renta’s pre-Fall 2011 collection and imagined they were going on a safari. I painted the walls a dolphin grey and found a bold wallpaper from Sherwin Williams. I hunted down individual pieces and reimagined others. The glider for example, was found at a garage sale for $20. The hubby sprayed a coat of high gloss white spray paint over the yellow, and I bought sheets from Target to use as fabric and recovered the pillows. I also used the pillow case that came with the sheet set as my changing pad’s cover. My Girls With Glasses partner and best friend, Brooke White, created the circle garland for my baby shower. I draped it above the window and used the rest for the mobile. The mobile is made from a spray-painted cross-stitch inner hoop and ribbon. When I ran out of art budget money, I used personal black and white images of my husband and I when we were babies and our photo booth baby announcement.

My advice: Finding resale items or having them made gives you the ability to have a very specific look without added store and shipping costs. Search online for local artisans. I commissioned the Zebra painting from an artist who lives on my block (Sariah Clonts). The dresser/changing table was repurposed by Natalie Cox. The “R” was made by a metalsmith who usually makes cowboys and horses. Check out Craigslist and garage sales. I found the crib on Craigslist, which is good for your budget and the environment. I found the baby rocker at a garage sale. With a little paint and fabric, it was transformed. Put art on your baby registration. The baby giraffe is from 20×200 by Sharon Montrose, butterfly from Ben the Butterfly Guy and Angela Kohler created the monster watercolor, to name a few. — Summer


  1. Molly says:

    I love this! Everything about it. You did such a great job. And that crib is absolutely beautiful!!

  2. Wengi says:

    oh my garsh that is gorgeous! and that crib is out of this world. Love it.

  3. VisualJill says:

    What a happy, vibrant and unique color scheme. Love the safari them reinterpreted in a modern way. You have inspired me to redo my 5-year-old son’s room! Thanks!

  4. Sing says:

    So beautiful!

  5. Suz says:

    Love the glider redo! Those things are hideous otherwise. I’m also in love with that dresser.

  6. This is soooooo fun, fresh and lovely. I’m crazy about the crib!

  7. Kelly says:

    What a transformation. I love it! Love the colour combination.

  8. Wow, what a change! There’s a lot happening, but it’s really fun too. Great little space- love the wallpaper.

  9. This is a great nursery done on a budget! I love the teal and zebra with the wallpaper – definitely gives her lots of options in the future.

  10. jennifer says:

    fantastic! where did you find the zebra rug? we’re scouring the web for something just like that but haven’t found it in a fabric appropriate for babies’ knees…

  11. lara says:

    gorgeous… love that is isn’t typical in its’ baby colour palette but still completely adorable! what a lucky kid!

  12. lua says:

    coolest nursery I’ve seen.

  13. SL says:

    The crib is awesome!! Where did you find it? I’m in love!!

  14. Summer says:

    Jennifer, the rug is actually from Wal-Mart, go figure! Thanks for everyones comments! It’s great to have your hard work validated! x

  15. Isa says:

    This looks really beautiful! But as far as I know primary colors will help the child to develop the visual sense. So even if it is not so stylish, many different bright colors are maybe better for a nursery.

  16. Emily says:

    If you have seen Summer in all of her glory and color, you would know her son won’t have a problem developing his visual sense. ;) beautiful nursery.

  17. Brittany says:

    How awesome! What a fun space for the baby. Thanks for sharing all the little details, too!

  18. jennifer says:

    Thanks, Summer! Again, beautiful and fun nursery:)

  19. Kirsten says:

    What a great makeover! The colors are wonderful, especially black and white since babies tend to see these colors more than others. I have to agree with everyone else here that this crib is just fantastic! And the change of curtains really brightened up the room, and allows for a lot of natural light to come in, as well.

  20. dnatassia says:

    I love this!! This is definitely awesome!! Great design with low cost?? Wow!!

  21. Jennifer says:

    Where did you get that elephant that is sitting on the dresser??!! My Grandmother use to have 3 of those sitting on her tv! Would love to know where you got them!

  22. Summer says:

    Jennifer, how funny! Yes, that elephant was my grandparents. I’m not sure where they got it, maybe from Okinawa when my uncle was in the Marines?!

  23. What a beautiful room! I love zebras, and it’s brilliant how you were able to combine an element without the room becoming a Zebra Room.


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