before and afterInteriors

Before & After: A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA

by Lauren Chorpening Day

My house is quirky in a lot of ways. As we’ve gone room by room to fix up our 1900 home in Des Moines, IA, my husband Austin and I realized there are things that have to be left alone and loved as-is. One of the oddities is the small, 9×9-foot bedroom that has four doors and is the only access point into our largest bedroom. When we first toured the house, we saw its potential as a nursery someday, but could see it working well as my office for the first few years we lived there.

It was the only room in the house with wallpaper, thankfully, but that wallpaper was applied directly to the plaster walls so the process of removing it involved clothing steamers, plaster knives and getting the paper backing off bit by bit. My friend Layla and I spent a weekend in February in the humid, tiny room, prepping the space to be my office. I was traveling the next two weeks and Austin made it his goal to have the space ready for me to set up as my office once I got back.

He patched the plaster in places that needed it, sanded and primed. While I was away, Austin put up crown molding and then asked me for paint colors. Since a lot of the larger spaces in our house had gotten the white wall with white trim treatment, I wanted to be bolder with this space. I chose a terra-cotta and a creamy peach to be color-blocked on the walls. By the time I returned from my work trips in early March, I was able to get settled into my new office. A week later, I found out I was pregnant.

Since I was early in my pregnancy, I got to enjoy the space as my office for a few months but as pieces of furniture for the baby started to arrive, we began to transition the space into the nursery. Several people asked us what the theme for the nursery was going to be and really, we were just excited that the main design element would be the modern color-blocked walls. A bookshelf I already had with white metal sides and light wood shelves helped direct the furniture style but other than those elements, there’s not much of a theme. It’s a beautiful space and I think I love being in it even more than if it had a traditional nursery theme because the space was originally designed to inspire my own creativity. Our little girl is due in a week and I hope that as she gets older, she loves the fun walls as much as I do. Lauren

See more of Lauren’s fixer-upper home transformation here, here and here.

Photography by Austin Day

Image Above: Thankfully this room didn’t have much wrong with it when we moved in. The peeling corners of the textured wallpaper made me want to rip it down before turning the space into my office. It was more work than I expected since the backing was well glued. Spending the time transforming the walls last winter made for easy work when it was time to transition the space into the nursery this fall.

A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
The wallpaper backing was glued directly to the plaster walls so pulling it up in sheets wasn't possible. Instead Layla and I moved over a small area at a time with a steamer and a scraper to remove the paper.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
Austin patched and primed the walls to get them ready for painting and then installed new crown molding.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
Austin painted the top two-thirds of the walls "Nearly Peach" by Sherwin-Williams. He painted below the 42-inch mark where the darker color would meet it just to guarantee coverage.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
I chose 42-inches from the floor as the place where the color would transition since it wasn't quite half of the room but would still be height difference from my desk and other furniture in the space. The lower color is called "Coral Island" from Sherwin-Williams.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
The textured wallpaper with peeling corners became a modern paint technique that added much needed color to the house.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
The room is not very large and has a door to the stair landing, a closet door, a door to the flat roof and a door to our bedroom. Having enough space for nursery furniture was a concern but after a few tries, we figured out a way to keep things from feeling cluttered.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
I found the rug for the nursery at a friend's garage sale this summer. It was an amazing find because it was the perfect size and had the same colors as the walls in it. It also introduced a sage green into the space which helped in knowing what accent colors to use.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
The shelf that used to hold photo props and paints is now a sweet display for books, toys and storage bins.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
We've selected decor and baby gear that we're aesthetically drawn to. When we put everything together in our baby's room, things seamlessly went together. It wasn't a conscious decision but definitely helped create cohesion with open shelving.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
Most of the gliders I was finding came with ottomans. When I found this one with a smaller footprint and a recliner, it was an easy choice. Not having an ottoman take up floor space in such a little room was important.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
The peach definitely has a yellow base so bringing in bright white helps show off the color of the room more accurately instead of the lighting just appearing dim.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
Putting curtains up over the roof-side door made it feel more like a large window versus a strange, never used passage way. I'll be installing black out blinds to make this space more suitable for naps.
A Color-Blocked Nursery in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge
We're so excited for this adventure and are grateful that this space didn't have to wait long to become what we always hoped it would be.

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  • What a lovely transformation for your little one. We lived for years in a turn-of-the-century house in St. Louis, and everyone in our neighborhood referred to those rooms like yours as “trunk rooms” where large trunks and carpet bags were stored. It wasn’t unusual for owners of those big, old houses to travel by ship to Europe. Those trips across the ocean took a long time, so extended stays were not unusual. Hence the big trunks to haul the wardrobes. And remember, many more layers of clothes were worn back then!

  • Lovely! A word of advice: babies like DARK. You’ll likely want a blackout shade on that door.

  • Beautiful! My own bedroom is painted Nearly Peach; I find it very soothing. We have a similar room in our house, but the door goes to a second floor balcony that overlooks the backyard. It’s a small balcony–just large enough for two lawn chairs and a small table. As our kids got older, they fought over this room! The balcony was such a good hangout for hosting friends. Enjoy your daughter!

  • Cool, love the rug, but… why take out the picture moulding? Your crown moulding doesn’t look bad, but I kept all my picture moulding because I love the functionality of being able to hang things on it, especially if they’re too heavy for a reasonable amount of command strips.