Emily Henderson

The Reveal

Shelter Reveal: The Nursery

DAVID TSAY PHOTOGRAPHY © 2015 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED NO REPRODUCTION WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT

This room, this room is the one that really gets me. Not that the nursery is perfectly designed or because it’s going to blow your mind with its innovation, but this room means that there will be one less young, scared, single mom putting her newborn to sleep at night in the back of her car or in a tent on some sketchy street. That image is what made me want to do this ENTIRE project as I can’t imagine how that mom feels. So I’m happy to present to you the nursery in the shelter. This room is just for one family, typically a single mom, for the first couple months of her newborn’s life. When I was finishing up the job at the shelter, stuffing pillows and arranging kids books, I would overhear the phone calls and almost all of them were moms of newborns with nowhere to go. I just can’t imagine. After just having a baby, with as many resources and help from family and outside childcare as I have, I’m STILL so emotional and I still get scared, sad, and irrationally emotional. Not to be a total downer, but the point is that this room provides so much more than a place to sleep. It’s a room where a scared mom can bond with her newborn and feel safe, warm and cared for. So was I excited to design it? YOU BETCHA.

Emily_Henderson_Nursery_Before_After

Its a tiny little room, sure, but it can house a baby and her mom super comfortably. In usual EHD fashion our goal was to make it feel happy. No matter what style it is, that’s usually my MO, and Ginny who was the lead designer on this project, did such a great job.

The before pics are obviously just the new construction. We tried to stop that paint color but it had already been donated and was underway when we were brought in. It is Swiss Coffee by Behr I believe, and it should never exist on anyone’s walls in my opinion.  UPDATE: it is NOT swiss coffee by Behr. It’s Swiss Coffee by another company. So don’t blame Behr :) Meanwhile the reason its bad is that it has so much green and brown in it so in person it washes everyone out in a weird way. 

Emily_Henderson_Nursery_Crib_Before_After

The new color is Leisure Green by Benjamin Moore, and it’s extremely happy, calm and gender neutral. Since the space was small we stuck to furniture that was just white and simple, most of it donated from some VERY lovely companies that were so generous.

DAVID TSAY PHOTOGRAPHY © 2015 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED NO REPRODUCTION WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT

I love the family room and the kids play area so much (and the bedrooms), but this room is the one that makes me want to cry, and does. You walk in and you can feel the sweetness and happiness of those first few months and you get a sense that this room, that art, those curtains, that cute daybed, are all going to play a part in that.

DAVID TSAY PHOTOGRAPHY © 2015 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED NO REPRODUCTION WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT

I’m certainly extra emotional now since I just had a baby, but NO mom should have to put her baby to sleep at night in the back seat of a car. It’s just not the way a life should start and it makes me want to take a much bigger role in this particular area of need. There are multiple rooms for families in the shelter, but there is only one newborn room, and the amount of need out there is insane. The level of vulnerability you feel as a new mom, again one that has resources like myself, is insane. You just feel scared and you need help. Some friends of friends mine have started the Alliance of Moms which is a group of women that raises money and awareness to help foster teen moms with all their parenting needs, resources, education and products. If and when y’all are ready to open up a home for new moms to stay, I’m your girl.

DAVID TSAY PHOTOGRAPHY © 2015 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED NO REPRODUCTION WITHOUT PRIOR WRITTEN CONSENT

On that note, if you want a simple, happy nursery then here you go. I want to do a quick shout out to the companies involved since this is the last shelter post (I’m talking to you Serena and Lily, Target, Wayfair, Deny Design, Minted and CostPlus). Thank you so much. We raised money (over $30K) but this project was HUGE and that 30K needed to cover a lot more than just decorating. These companies were insanely generous and so easy to work for. No one was trying to push their “spring line” or control any social content, it was just ‘here’s a budget, order anything you like’ sort of thing. So thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart. xx

Nursery_Get_The_Look

1. Port Wall Shelf | 2. Floral Pillow | 3. Dresser | 4. Distant Island Pier by Julia Contacessi | 5. English Garden Curtain | 6. Floral Art by Kiana Mosley | 7. Geometric Vase | 8. The Blues by Adriana Rojas | 9. Seersucker Blue Pillow | 10. Quilt | 11. Bed | 12. Striped Duvet Cover | 13. Books

*Before photos by Jessica Isaac for EHD. After photos by David Tsay styled by Ginny MacDonald and Brady Tolbert. 

David Tsay, I love you and thank you so much for shooting the shelter. I will forever be in your debt.

See the beginning post here, the first update post here, a last little nudge to our indiegogo campaign here, an art roundup of our favorite work from the artists that have donated here, a big thank you to those who donated here, the family room reveal here, and the playroom reveal here. And check out our feature in the Los Angeles Times!

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  1. Hmmmm…. I have Swiss Coffee on all of my woodwork and it doesn’t look anything like what is on those walls. :{

    The nursery looks great! How wonderful that a new mom will get to stay there with her baby instead of the streets or a terrible place. Such a great project!

      1. Hey Tracy! I should clarify. There are a few swiss coffees – depending on the company. I used one on a wall years ago which was BEAUTIFUL so when they said ‘swiss coffee’ I was all, great! but its a different swiss coffee … i’ll find out the brand.

  2. As a mom, I am so weepy reading this. It’s just beautiful, and HOLY CRAP YOU CAN FOSTER A TEEN MOM! How has that never occurred to me before? I’m going to look into programs in my area right now! Also, I love that you included “The No Cry Sleep Solution.” That book was my bible with my first two babies, and will be again if I’m lucky enough for a third round.

  3. I have Swiss Coffee on all my walls on the main floors and love it. It doesn’t look anything like the color in the picture you have posted. A little offended by your color comment ;-) jk

    1. It’s probably not the greatest color for 1) dark space 2) fluorescent light space, like the shelter. Beige can feel very sad in a dark space, and in this case, made it look kinda industrial/hospital-y.

      I’ve seen it look pretty in real life in real spaces :)

      1. AH. Sorry guys. There are a few different swiss coffees. stay tuned, i ‘ll try to remember which brand this is. I’ve, too, used swiss coffee and loved it. Just not this one (I thought it was behr but maybe not, or maybe i’m just wrong all together!)

  4. This is the first time I’ve ever posted, I think, and I have loved so many posts, but seriously, this is a good one. Love the nursery and love what it’s for.

  5. What is inherently bad about Swiss Coffee? I love to hear your opinions (that’s why we are all here, of course) but from a learning about design perspective, is that color out of style, just not happy enough, tonally not right, etc. Where could this color work and how? When you brand something as EWww it would be great to have a little explanation as to why. Thanks!

  6. This nursery is fabulously warm, lovely, and inviting. What really strikes me Emily is the way you wrote this post from the assumption that design can be more than considered surfaces – it can create comfort, joy, and the feeling that one is respected and cared for. Thank you.

  7. Tearing up reading this because, yes, new moms and newborns deserve safety and care. I’m completely inspired to adopt a teen mom in my area – thank you for raising awareness!

  8. No change table? Or maybe it just didn’t make the photos? When I was a new mom, I found it helpful not to have to bend or kneel too much.

  9. Beautiful nursery! I’m 100% certain that the “before” is not Behr’s Swiss Coffee, which is a lovely warm white that I use all the time. Agreed that the beige is 100% awful!!

  10. This is spectacularly moving. I’ve got a 20-month-old, and those hormones are still there! :-) You hit the nail on the head here.

  11. I LOVE THIS! What a gift to be able to use your talent for good! And hey if you don’t like that brand of Swiss coffee — totally cool!! You are entitled to your opinion! what’s that quote –“You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time”

  12. It is gorgeous. I know someone’s life will be forever changed because of you.

    I am curious what made you chose this particular bed. It is amazingly beautiful, but if she co-sleeps or nurses her baby while lying down, those hard metal bars are so unforgiving – and possibly deadly for an older child due to head entrapment. Worst case scenario, I know, but we all know you have to consider every angle with a baby. You can never be too careful.

  13. Emily, you described the postpartum period perfectly (makes sense, since you are just coming out of it). I have three kids, and even with a supportive husband, family help, and financial resources, I have never in my life felt more vulnerable, both physically and emotionally than in the weeks after giving birth. The exhaustion, the intense needs of a newborn, the hormonal havoc… there is nothing else like it. Thanks for inspiring us to help other new mommies who are starting out in an even more vulnerable position.

  14. Lovely room, The new paint color is so much better. “The No Cry Sleep Solution” is the best book. Elizabeth Pantley saved my sleep.

  15. This is so lovely and feels so warm and safe. Homelessness is such a complex issue and your sensitivity to it through your work on this shelter is admirable. People experiencing homelessness deserve a place that is welcoming and you and your team have delivered. Well done!

  16. THANK YOU for not showing the pictures with a bumper in the crib!!! It drives me nuts when catalogs, HGTV, etc all have bumpers in the crib when the American Academy of Pediatrics and everyone else says not to have them in the crib. No sense in prioritizing style over safety! And its important not to encourage folks to put bumpers in their cribs.

  17. Don’t mind me, I’ll just be sitting here crying my eyes out at the thought of someone putting her baby to bed in the back of a car.

  18. What a lovely room, Emily. The thought of a new mother and baby finding such a comforting place during what must be such a tumultuous and frightening time brings tears to my eyes! Well done.