Planning A Nursery For Two: An Interview With Kristin Challacombe

Planning A Nursery For Two

Even for the most decor-savvy among us, planning a nursery can be a daunting task.  But when Interior designer Kristin Challacombe found out she was having not only twins, but both a boy and a girl, that task became even more tricky.  Here's how she turned a decorating challenge into a gorgeous-yet-functional room for two.

Photos courtesy of Kristin Challacombe.  Visit her blog, Contented Me, for lovely bits of inspiration for home and living.

What was your strategy when planning a nursery for 2?

When we found out we were having boy/girl twins, we knew it was going to take careful planning to design a nursery that had everything we needed but still had a contemporary-cozy vibe to match the rest of our small townhome in downtown Chicago. Every choice I made always came back to my three goals: keep the room from feeling crowded, find functional, flexible pieces with clean lines and stay on budget. I started the design of this room the way I do with every other room, by looking for inspiration online and in magazines. Once I put together my inspiration board, I went to work finding all the right pieces for the space. I knew I wanted all of the furniture to be white, and it took some time to find things that matched my criteria, but I'm glad I took the time to consider each piece and how it would work with everything else before rushing into anything. I really love the feeling I get when I'm in the nursery, and my husband has said it's his favourite room in the house.

Planning A Nursery For Two

How did you decide on colours and decor for a room that was going to be shared by both a girl and a boy?

I stuck with my plan of buying simple, fuss-free furniture, and I think because of that, each piece works just as nicely for a boy or a girl. When we first moved in, we had the second bedroom painted a soft green because we liked the colour and knew it would someday be a nursery. We never could have imagined it would be for a boy and a girl, but it has ended up being a really great colour for the two of them. The only area that got a little tricky for me was bedding. Everything out there is pink for girls, blue for boys, and so I was a bit stumped at first for how I was going to have a room that was for both of them. I solved this by buying several different mix-and-match sheets from the Dwell Studio for Target line. We have a few sets that are green & brown and work for both cribs, but we also have a couple pink sets for her and some blue for him. Though the colours differ, the patterns coordinate nicely so I can use whatever set I want at any time.

Planning A Nursery For Two   

I put the cribs lengthwise on two of the walls. With each crib in place, I designated the respective walls as his and hers. His wall has a small, white shelf that my Dad made with a great poster that was a gift from a friend. I spelled his name in vintage blocks on the shelf. Her wall has two prints I purchased from Studio Mela on Etsy, and I decoupaged her initial in an array of decorative papers I had on hand. Their "sides" are both very much boy and very much girl, and yet, it all still works together because it has the same modern feel. In the corner between the two cribs, I hung white Martha Stewart tissue pom-poms from the ceiling. On the wall above the changing table, I arranged number cards from Children Inspire Design.

Planning A Nursery For Two

Describe the details of the nursery.

It was hardest to find cribs that matched my criteria, but we eventually did find them at Walmart. I loved the look and the huge lower drawer with all its extra storage space was a big draw. They convert to toddler beds, so it's nice to not have to worry about beds for a while. We bought two dressers from Ikea. One is in the bedroom, and we use the top as our changing table. The other dresser is in the closet — a big walk-in that we consider an extension of the room, with the door always open. I knew I wanted a big cosy chair and, after a lot of searching, my husband finally found an unfinished option at Walmart (again!). The chair came to us covered in only a muslin cover, and I had a white cotton slipcover made to fit. The window treatments, from Pottery Barn, are simple linen panels with strap ties in a soft off-white.

Planning A Nursery For Two


What are your tips on keeping a nursery efficient yet baby-friendly?

Keep it tidy! Every toy, book, piece of clothing should have its place. And at the end of each day, no matter how tired you may be, take a few minutes to put all the stuff that was taken out over the course of the day away. Also, I cannot stress the importance of editing enough. It's way too easy to amass a lot of baby toys and gear, but if you take inventory on a regular basis, you can be sure to have only what you need – and what your babies love – in the room.