Nursery Décor

By Karen Parr-Moody


Sprinkling a nursery with childhood whimsy is made easy with fabulous vintage finds. A quick tour through GasLamp reveals shabby chic items for girls, and retro classic looks for boys.


Stan Williams, a New York City lifestyle expert and author of the book The Find: The Housing Works Book of Decorating with Thrift Shop Treasures, spoke with GasLamp about this décor proposition.


“For a child, the room should be a place for inspiration,” he says. “That's why I like the idea of having decorative items around the room that spark imagination and encourage story telling.”


Williams, who features vintage finds on his blog,, went through photos of GasLamp’s whimsical wares, noting ideas for usage.


He suggests creating special vignettes around items (while keeping them out of the baby’s reach). This well-loved teddy bear, in the photo at right, would be the heart of such a vignette ($65; at JPC Designs, Booth B-309).


“It’s a lovely little heirloom,” Williams says. “I'd put him in a decorative vignette … he would be a great story telling piece. You could make up a children's tale about each and every one of these pieces.”










Another such piece is this vintage music box topped by a tafetta-swathed doll (photo, left; $165; Booth B-315). Williams suggests setting a theme around this piece; in particular, he likes the idea of pairing it with the frilly lamp in the photo at right ($65; Wall W-403).













Little boys and girls both love wild animals, hence the popularity of the elephant. This grown-up elephant lamp in the photo, left, is a fabulous way to bring in some sophistication to the overall theme ($129; Booth B-315).





“I just imagine making up a story about the elephant, or creating an elephant vignette in a high space that a child couldn't reach,” Williams says.





Another idea for an elephant vignette would be to incorporate images of Babar, the French children's fictional character who was born in 1931. Reproductions of vintage 1930s posters, such as “Babar and Family in Car” or “Babar and Celeste in Bedroom,” are easy to find.










One hot trend in nursery décor is to add a touch of elegance with a smaller scale version of a classic chandelier. Not only does it lend glamour to a nursery, it gives the new baby some added twinkle on which to focus.  While chandeliers for nursery rooms can be expensive, at GasLamp, deals are always found. The one in the photo, at right, is only $68 (Booth B-113).


“I love the idea of putting a pretty chandelier in the middle of a child's room,” says Williams. “Anything that is unexpected makes a room pop.”


Williams says he would make sure the chandelier is on a dimmer switch so that it can be turned down low while still emitting a subtle sparkle.








A refreshing décor idea is to adorn walls with modern art. J. Todd Greene, a Nashville artist who also has a booth at GasLamp, created this fabulous acrylic painting at left ($975; Booth B-311).


“I love colorful and simple shapes in a baby's room,” Greene says. “Even if, and maybe especially if, it's an abstract piece."


This painting, called “The Paw Paw Sermons,” is based on an index card sketch drawn by Greene’s great-grandfather, Herbert Morgan, a Southern Baptist minister. Never properly learning to read, Morgan used these index cards to conduct his weekly sermons.






Adding an antique car or two to a boy’s nursery evokes an era of simpler days gone by. This wonderful cast iron Mack C cab delivery truck, right, is the perfect start for such a vignette ($105; Booth B-315). On the side it says "New York-Philadelphia Junior Supply Company," which is one of those early 20th century details that iron casting made more accurate than sheet steel. Other cars could be added to this vignette, as could sailboats, trains and bi-planes. 


Decorating for a baby’s nursery is a unique experience. As Williams says, “Remember, when a child is very young, the décor is really for the parents. Very small children don't recognize or appreciate the décor of a room unless they are specifically pointed out.” This only adds to the fun – since the baby is too young to point out likes or dislikes, the expression is left to the proud parents. And a veritable decorating playground is available to them at GasLamp.

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