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Oh Joy’s Nursery/Office makeover plan

Five years ago I wrote this email to my now good friend, Joy:

Hi Joy,

long time reader, first time emailer.  big fan.  you have good taste, and you aren’t cheesy, which is like finding gold in the lifestyle blogging world.

i’m a prop stylist and I would love for you to take a look at my new blog. i’m sure you get many-a ‘look at my blog’  requests, but I would love to get your opinion. 


Emily Henderson

Photo by Zeke Ruelas

Man, those five years feel like 10 years in a lot of ways – both of us have changed/grown up so much. She responded to that email and I think even gave me a shout out on her blog (which was only 2 years old then – so crazy!!). The next year she moved to LA, auditioned to be ‘made over’ on my show at the time (Secrets From A Stylist) and I designed their living room. We totally hit it off. We talked shop, kids and the bachelor constantly (and yet not enough). Since then I’ve RE-designed their living room (to be more kid-friendly), designed her studio and now her new nursery.

Oh Joy Living Room_before after

And then her studio:

Oh Joy Studio_before after

Some collaborations work and some don’t. This one WORKS.  I don’t want to gush, because that can be annoying, but in case you are wondering if Joy is a secret weird sociopath, the answer is ‘NO’. Sure, she edits herself more than I do (as does everyone on the interweb), but she is the very lovely and wonderful person she portrays herself to be – even funnier. Our chemistry is so good, and when it comes to designer/client relationship trust me that good chemistry is very important.

So when Joy was pregnant with her second baby, Coco, she needed her office redesigned to be an office/nursery. We both work with Target  – she has a wonderful line there and I’m their spokesperson, and they brought the idea to us. Honestly I would have done it regardless. The pitch was that I would design their office/nursery and in exchange I would get 44, 320 hugs from Coco and Ruby – each. It was a tricky contractual situation, but my agent was tough and made that number happen – he’s pretty much Arie Gold. He tried to secure ‘Emily’ as Coco’s first word but Joy felt that she couldn’t guarantee that so she didn’t want to be contractually obligated.

In actuality it was a partnership with Target, and it just totally made sense.

So here was the room when they were cleaning it out to make room for Coco. It’s not a true ‘before’ because it wasn’t really how they used the space, but you get the idea; they worked in there, and it was an extra storage room.

oh joy nursery_before

It needed to still function as a home office for both Bob and Joy, so it needed to be gender neutral. I actually think that gender specific nurseries are only necessary if the parents really want them, but the babies are happy no matter what. I think our association with colors as ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ is totally societal and often doesn’t really make sense. For instance did you know that centuries ago hot pink was the color that men wore because it was bold and displayed wealth because the vegetable dye was so expensive? Yeah, things have changed and my thinking is to not give a flying fish about it. Charlie wears every color – blue, pink, white, black, green, yellow, red, etc. Sure we still associate certain colors as ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ and that’s fine to keep in the cultural vernacular so that we can communicate about colors and themes, but we should make sure that ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ don’t really mean ‘girl’ and ‘boy’. Yes, ‘charcoal’ can be described as a more ‘masculine’ color because that’s how we associate it, and we need a vocabulary in order to describe it, but women love and relate to charcoal as much as men do.

Lecture finished.

So here was our inspiration board for the new office/nursery:



It actually is way more colorful than that now, but that was the inspiration. We wanted neutrals with big pops of yellow, pink and blue.

Then we created a rough product board – which were mostly ideas, but helped us curate the room:


Not all of that ended up happening, but I love reliving the process.

Then Ginny did some renderings of the floor plan. This first one is how it was used before:


We knew that the corner desk situation was wasting a ton of space, so we wanted to move all the desks to the opposite side of the room. All the existing books in the bookcase were either relocated or donated.

nursery layout

We showed them this floor plan below just to give them another option even though we knew it wasn’t ideal or even good. We’ve found that just presenting options, good or bad, progresses decisions and helps them feel good about the choices they made. Its sounds manipulative, but its successful. It shows that we exhausted all options and that our expertise recommends another alternative. We try to be in their brains and to answer all their questions before they have them. So we show a lot of options to really open up the debate and negate all the bad options.  This floorplan below gave them more storage for books, but clearly the desks took up a lot of the space in the middle.

nursery layout

Meanwhile on the desk side we drew this up to show them how we were going to use the space:


While I hate teasing you with the process without showing you the’ afters’ there was simply WAYYY too much info to do in one post. So come back tomorrow to see the DIY of the mountainscape on the nursery walls and Wednesday for the full reveal; Oh  Joy’s nursery 2.0; naked and uncut.

But here are a few sneak peeks anyway:

Emily Henderson_Oh Joy Nursery Charlie

That’s Charlie, not Coco. He’s warming up her crib for her. He’s a really good person.

Emily Henderson_Oh Joy Nursery Emily Joy

That’s me, trying to make Joy feel better about the fact that she has a HUGE disgusting gut, so I put a pouf in front of my belly. She was literally 8 1/2 months pregnant here and I was approximately 0 months pregnant. (although I feel like i’ve had a first trimester belly for 13 months now).

Come back tomorrow for the mountain-scape wall DIY and the full reveal on Wednesday. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr day. xx

*Pretty ‘after’ Photos by David Tsay, hair and makeup by Danielle Walch. 

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9 years ago

I love when you do early morning postings. It makes the entire day SO much better! Love this. Love Joy. But especially love your humor. 🙂

9 years ago
Reply to  Anna


Michelle H.
9 years ago

Me too – love the morning posts, especially when I have the day off (today)!

9 years ago

excited to see the afters!

p.s. your spot-on critique of labeling colors masculine or feminine reminded me of this great essay from max at design*sponge:

everything for everyone, indeed.

9 years ago

So this question is not design related, but more function. My experience has been to work while children are sleeping naps etc. So a nursery/office seems tricky. How does one actually have the ability to work whenever from home and still have the nursery be the baby’s place as well?

9 years ago
Reply to  Paula

hi paula-
i am an interior design student, and am working my way through school as a nanny. one of the many families that i work for have an office/nursery. and i have to say, it does NOT work. unless you have a laptop and the ability to relocate during all of babies naps, the typing and light from computer screens wakes up said baby. this has been my experience anyway.

9 years ago
Reply to  Paula

My friends have an ice cream parlour and are raising their kids there during work (cannot afford a nanny etc), they have the crib there and the kids (a boy first and a girl now) learnt to sleep with lights on, people chatting etc. They are very sociable and cute, everybody who comes in is doting on them 🙂

9 years ago

I loved reading this. I read both of your blogs daily. So great to know that putting yourself out there made a lasting friendship and now we reap the benefits. Fun!

9 years ago
Reply to  Kerry

I second this; one of my favorite episodes of “Secrets of a Stylist” was when you revamped Bob and Joy’s house. And now you have a lasting friendship to boot. Fabulous! Thx to you all for the continued smiles and inspiration.

9 years ago

Great inspiration board and great rant on what’s boy vs. girl. I took a multicultural counseling class and you’re spot on. Can’ wait to see the final product!

9 years ago

This was so fun to read, you are crazy in a really good way. Target is so lucky. I’ve loved that tie on Charlie every time I see it. He’s such a gentleman to help break things in. I hope he’s feeling loads better while still giving you cuddles and hugs.

9 years ago

Please share the source for those swing arm sconces?

9 years ago

lovely post! And I totally agree with the other readers on how nice it is that you post early. IT HELPS a lot with my work mornings, especially on Mondays! 🙂

9 years ago

And I loved the story! You and Joy are seriously my favorite bloggers!

9 years ago

As an architecture student applying for jobs in interior design for after I graduate in May [!], I really, really appreciate seeing floor plans and renderings in this post! A lot of design and style blogs only like to show finished, well-lit, glossy products, and not enough of the drawing and idea-generating stages that inform the whole process.

9 years ago

love the inspiration! I’m about to use some prettypegs myself, can’t wait to see them in Joy’s home!

Debbie C
9 years ago

I LOVED Joy’s office space makeover so I can’t wait to see the reveal on Wednesday! On a side note, where is Charlie’s tie from? I’d love to get it for my little man!

9 years ago

You and Joy are the two most talented bloggers out there and it only makes sense that you would become fast friends. Your style, taste and tips are invaluable for us design-challenged readers. Thank you!

9 years ago

I love seeing the floor plans and visuals in this post, it really shows the process behind the design. Can’t wait for the reveal.

9 years ago

Love this look of this. My only comment would be that I would not want to work on my computer in front of a window. Too much light in the face. OK at night, tho.

I adore seeing your collaborations! I’ve followed Joy since year 1 of her blog and absolutely dig the rooms you have designed for her. Thank you for sharing a bit of background on your process!! I’m in the middle of a massive DIY remodel and am finally to a point where I can put together the decor plan. This behind-the-scenes was exactly what I needed to help the process along. Thanks!!

BTW – Charlie’s tie… No words. Adorbs!

9 years ago

So I have to say….love Charlie in the shot! And the name Coco…Love.

Cant wait to see the reveal tomorrow!

9 years ago

1. Yes of course, I can’t wait to see the nursery!
2. Oh my God tell me about the first semester gut that doesn’t go away. Even as I get close to my prepregnancy workout routine, I still look like I’m 13 weeks pregnant, 13 months later!

9 years ago

This is too fun! How amazing that one email started it all and now you’re so close! Cannot wait to see the reveal! XO, D

9 years ago


9 years ago

Can’t wait to see the whole thing! Looks like a fun and awesome project. Mind if I ask what program Ginny uses for floor plans/renderings? It doesn’t necessarily look like auto cad, but I could be wrong?

9 years ago
Reply to  Brittany

I’d also like to know what programs you’ve used to produce the floor plans! Thanks in advance!

9 years ago
Reply to  Brittany

I would love to know your programs as well. THANK YOU!!!

9 years ago

I’m glad to know that I’m not the only one with an office/nursery! We keep a desk and computer in the baby’s room. I’m eager to see what you’ve come up with – the corner with the desk is always a mess, while the rest of the room is so cute!

9 years ago

Really rad transformation! Bravo as usual but with more flare!!

9 years ago

Heyyyy, “huge disgusting gut”? I think she looks FABULOUS!

And so does the room. I agree about trying to move people away from “pink = girl, blue = boy” nurseries, and many years before I have a child I’m already planning some ideas that I like 🙂 Can’t wait to see the reveal!

9 years ago

Love this collaboration, and love both of your blogs. Kudos!

Lindsey M
9 years ago

Great post! Can you provide a link to the Target Floor Lamp?


9 years ago

I love how you mixed water colors with the photographs! In the midst of getting ideas for my home office. Thank u for sharing!

9 years ago

Please tell me where the actual dresser is from? I’m designing my baby room and really want that one! Love everything about this!

9 years ago

LOVE this! You ladies are amazing!