Isabella Camberlango’s room is modern, stylish and completely in vogue. And she’s only 8 months old. As Isabella toddles happily across the oversized shag rug in the center of her mostly green and white room in the family’s Scottsdale home, her contented gurgles give no indication she misses the usual baby decor found in traditional nurseries — an overload of teddy bears, cartoon character wallpaper or pastel walls.
Isabella’s room is all mod thanks to her stylish mom, who’s one of a growing number of parents choosing to go the contemporary route when it comes to their baby rooms.
“I knew I definitely wanted a modern nursery,” says Teri Camberlango. The home she shares with husband Chris, Isabella and Ava, 3, is modern throughout. The couple, formerly of San Francisco, say they’ve never been into the “primary colors thing,” preferring, instead, the urban look. But as Camberlango found out when she started designing the nursery, Winnie-the-Pooh-less baby furniture is hard to come by.
“Modern fits our style, but it’s really hard to find modern nursery furniture,” she says.
She found what she was looking for in the Scottsdale boutique Haus, which specializes in modern decor.
Gregory Gordon, one of Haus’ owners who helped design the Camberlango’s nursery, says he’s seeing an influx of gender neutrality and unexpected colors in modern nursery design.
“We didn’t want to be traditional. It was a modern home, and we wanted to be unexpected and different,” says Gordon. Painting the walls of Isabella’s nursery a bright chartreuse was a daring move, but Camberlango says she was won over by the way it complemented the pink and white furniture. Haus designers had a graffiti artist paint small groupings of white elephants on two opposite walls and put white Jonathan Adler elephant sculptures on floating wall shelves to add a sense of whimsy to the room, says Gordon.
“We did something clean, simple and streamlined, not frilly,” he says. “And we played off the elephants. The room doesn’t have to be seriously modern, and that’s what I think is successful about that nursery.”
Jane Lockhart knows about the trend in nurseries going more mod. The Toronto interior designer has transformed several nurseries from cutesy to contemporary as the host of HGTV’s “Get Color!” Forgoing the blue/pink motif based on the baby’s sex, Lockhart says parents are now inclined to go for a genderneutral palette that includes unusual colors like purples and oranges.
“Parents today grew up in a time where there was a lot of gender bias, but they’re not doing stereotypes so much any longer,” she says, adding that cultural shifts are articulated through design and color. In a less gender-rigid society, design allows a more flexible color scheme.
“In the larger context, there’s been a degenderizing of space,” says Lockhart.
Modern parents also want to see the nursery make the transition into child’s bedroom as the child grows. In Isabella’s nursery, the crib can be converted to a toddler bed by simply removing the slatted sides. The front of the changing table can be removed to transform the piece into a grown-up dresser.
“I wanted something that would last more than a year,” says Camberlango.
Lockhart warns that parents who choose a “theme nursery,” no matter how cute, might be making a mistake from a budget point of view.
“You’re really hemmed in with a theme,” she says. “Once they grow out of it, you have to change everything. Versatility is important.”
So then what do parents-to-be choose for a versatile color? While black and white might seem like the ultimate ode to modern, Lockhart warns that high-contrast colors can actually be cause for a more awake — and often more tearful — baby.
“Babies don’t really see color, they see contrast,” says Lockhart. “So you want to minimize the amount of contrast.” That doesn’t mean always choosing muted colors, though. “You can have all bright colors, just make sure they’re all bright. Like red and a lighter red, or brown, but not red and white.
Keeping this in mind, says Lockhart, nursery design really boils down to what makes mom and dad feel good.
“If you feel good,” she says, “chances are your baby will feel OK.”
4821 N. Scottsdale Road, Suite 109, Scottsdale (480) 423-5444 or www.hausmodernliving.com
Hosted by Jane Lockhart 8 p.m. Fridays; repeated at midnight Friday and 2 p.m. Saturday on HGTV
2110 W. Ikea Way, Tempe (480) 496-5658 or www.ikea.com DO-IT-YOURSELF
You can create your own modern baby room by shopping for baby-friendly pieces and integrating them into your child’s room.