Kelly Christakos Stivers


5 tips for designing a smart nursery

Ever since posting pics of Lydia's nursery back in November, I've gotten a ton of emails asking about storage ideas, how I keep clutter at bay, decorating tips, my nursery must-haves, etc.  I thought I'd try to cover all of them here in one post and revisit one of my favorite nurseries I designed two years ago as an example.  Hard to believe it's been that long since I worked on this space and that the little man it was designed for is already transitioning to a big boy room, but just another reason why smart design is helpful for nurseries!

Forgo the themes.  Instead of a theme, I prefer to create a feel or mood: light and bright, whimsical, fun and fresh, super girly, etc.  The thing with themes is that, when you buy everything pertaining to said theme, you end up spending a small fortune a few short years down the road when your little has outgrown his/her nursery and is in need of a big girl/boy space.  By sticking to classics for your basics (think neutral paint colors, linen curtain panels and bamboo Roman blinds) you can then add color, pattern and whimsy with stuffed toys, throw pillows, bedding, books and art!

(A longhorn is a dramatic focal point, eliminating the need for any other art on this side of the room)

Keep clutter to a minimum. It's so easy to overdo it on the decorative accessories in a nursery, which can make the room look like a hot cluttered mess.  Since this is the one room where a calm, cozy feel is a must, I like to advise clients to instead spend a little more on a soft, cozy sheepskin rug or beautiful, lined linen curtain panels.  The result is so much more dramatic and sophisticated!

(Ben Moore Revere Petwer on the walls, blue/gray linen curtains and a soft rug lend a cozy, luxurious feel)

Invest in smart pieces that will stand the test of time. When we had Lydia, I used an antique oak buffet as a changing table - for one thing, it's a gorgeous piece that she will have forever and also, it's higher than normal changing tables which was super helpful for us (I'm 5'10 and Daddy is 6'4).  I tend to think of changing tables as a waste of money because babies grow out of them so quickly and then you need to shell out more money for another piece.  A beautiful dresser can accomplish the same feat with a changing pad on top.  Same thing goes for gliders.  Those things are expensive!  A comfy chair and ottoman work, too!

(A buffet became a beautiful makeshift changing table with a fresh coat of paint and some new hardware)

Smart storage is a MUST. Baskets, trays and decorative boxes are beautiful ways to corral everyday necessities and keep your sanity in tact when you're searching for diaper cream or a lovey in the middle of the night! 

(We maximized vertical space by hanging painted wire baskets on the walls and using a reclaimed barn wood ladder for receiving blankets)

Add a gallery wall.  A gallery wall is one of my favorite ways to add personality, color and interest to any space and that goes for nurseries, too!  The best part is everything is grouped together in one place, as opposed to a cluttered feel of having art splattered throughout the room AND it's super easy to swap pictures and art out for new finds as your littles get older.

(Handpicked art, hand sewn ornaments from Mexico and baby pics of Mom and Dad add color, personality and a ton of interest)

Happy Thursday!


oversized ocean photographic prints by tricia mckellar

Last weekend as I was thumbing through Instagram, I stumbled upon an oversize framed photograph of the sea by a designer/blogger I follow and stopped dead in my tracks; it was absolutely beautiful! A little sleuthing after I couldn't get it out of my head and I discovered that it cost a pretty penny (I'm talking well, WELL into the thousands of dollars).  Now, I'm all about investing in a piece of art or photography that you absolutely LOVE and that not only reflects your taste, style and personality, but also if it's something you just can't stop thinking about, HOWEVER, if you can save a little dough in the process (and have more to spend on lighting, accessories and window treatments), I'm all for it!  I got to thinking of Raleigh-based photographer Tricia McKellar; I had done a post on her oversize ocean prints a few years ago and so I checked to see if she was still selling and she was!  The best part is that her work is not only beautiful, but she is super affordable - I'm talking 40x60 inch prints for $425!  Considering how much it costs to frame a print of that size (which is ridiculous in and of itself), it's nice to get a break on the actual art, don't you think?  Here are a few of my favorites:

To see more of Tricia's work, check out her website and to see what she has available for sale, check out her Etsy shop.  Happy Hump Day, friends!


knock, knock

I'm on the hunt for an antiqued brass knocker for our front door, which is proving to be no easy task, given the bevy of beautiful options there are!  With Spring right around the corner, a door knocker is a great way to freshen up your front porch or entry for warmer weather!  By now you know that I'm all about making a fabulous first impression to your home and that usually starts outside, so a door knocker is a great way to add personality and charm!   I've always loved the idea of a pineapple, as it's the traditional symbol of hospitality, but there are SO many unique and interesting options out there, from nautical to beachy to DOGS (!) and more that I had to round up a few of my favorites.  I'm obsessed with the labrador retriever (it comes in many different breeds!) and even though all of my picks are in brass, many of them are also available in different finishes:

Oyster / Labrador retriever / Pineapple / Monogram / Sea scallop / Lobster

Large brass ring / Anchor / Whale tail / Pinecone / Fox

I hope you're all off to a great start this Monday!


chic in cape cod

As much as I love pops of bright, bold color, for me nothing can compare to a soft, neutral space with muted colors and lots of texture.  It's not only my favorite way to decorate, but it also lends itself particularly well to the aesthetic I've tried to create in my own home.  And if you've been reading my blog for a while, chances are it's your favorite, too!  This Cape Cod stunner is right up my alley with its sandy walls, crisp white millwork and trim, lots of blue and white, natural fiber rugs, linen furniture, grass cloth wallcoverings and bamboo Roman blinds.  I love how all the more modern pieces (those fabulous iron chandeliers!) blend effortlessly with traditional elements like the coffered ceilings and beautifully detailed mouldings. 

Talk about making a good first impression - this entryway is absolute perfection from the iron chandelier and white leather Barcelona chairs to the blue silk grass cloth covered walls and those fabulous blue and white curtain panels! 

Every inch of space is put to good use in the living room and I love how the same fabric used on the curtains in the entry are carried through here in the throw pillows on the window seat:

Pops of coral are a breath of fresh air in the sitting room:

A sleek stainless steel and polished nickel vent hood, black window casings and a Lacanche range are showstopping focal points in the all-white kitchen:

The detailed woodwork on the banquette in the kitchen makes me swoon....again, the same blue and white floral fabric is a beautiful choice here, too:

Textured walls, chic pendant lighting and mirrors made from reclaimed wood pullies in the powder room:

Grass cloth walls and a simple white palette with pops of black in the master are so soothing:


Blue grass cloth from the entry below extends up the stairwell and is a beautiful compliment to another statement iron chandelier:

To read more about this Cape Cod stunner, check out the article here.

Have a wonderful weekend!


champagne + oysters

So much for a snow day; the 5-8 inches we were expecting and which caused mass hysteria at the grocery stores yesterday turned out to be gray skies and rain, instead.  And not even a whole lot, at that!  Scrolling through my blog feed this morning, rather grumpily,  I was stopped dead in my tracks when I saw Chassity's post on Charleston-based even designer Calder Clark's fabulous oysters and champagne party and which was also featured in Flower magazine.  My spirits were instantly lifted.  I guess if we aren't going to get snow, I might as well pine for a beautiful outdoor dinner party, especially when hosted in Calder's incredible backyard!  I make it a habit NOT to re-post, but these images just made me so happy, it was too good not to share!  A blue, white and gold color palette, mix and match plates, lovely gold rimmed glassware and pale green blooms are easy elegance at its finest:

Aside from the table setting, how amazing is her back porch??

Blue, white and gold is the perfect color palette for spring:

Small bud vases, when arranged en mass groopings, are so dramatic:

That fabulous gold bar cart gives me heart palpitations!

I DIE over those gold rimmed quatro foil glasses:

And let's not forget about the guests of honor, just chillin' in a bathtub.  Genius.

Here are my picks for getting the look:

Start with Tolix-style chairs like these, in white.  They are super affordable and work both indoors and out:

Blue seersucker napkins are a nod to the Southern locale and these adorable cocktail napkins add a touch of whimsy:

Gorgeous gold flatware is a must-have:

Mix your glassware for a vintage feel.  I love these French wine glasses from Crate and Barrel and these beautiful gold leaf tumblers:

Add a fabulous gold bar cart. LOVE this one from Target, of all places:

Stick a flower arrangement in an oversize gold ice bucket like this one I'm currently coveting for a showstopping focal point:

How are you beating the winter blah's this week?

All photographs by Chassity and Julia Lynn Photography.