There was only one time in my career where during a consultation, my pregnant client told me she would defer to her husband because he’s loaded with design vision and style. This is the story of that time.
Alexa and Carlos PenaVega are child and teenage stars that grew up, stayed in the entertainment industry, and found their way to each other – now living in what I would describe as adorable, perfect for each other, marital bliss. When I first met them they were wrapping up a longtime home renovation and were both equally as excited about the arrival of their little man and his nursery. Alexa’s number one priority was to have a comfortable chair to nurse the baby. She didn’t want too much color in the room and wanted to make sure I understood that Carlos’ input was very important to her because of how much she respects his ideas and eye for things. I won’t lie…I got a little nervous. Sometimes there’s a dad-to-be that’s over the top with spreadsheets and is a little intense forcing his thoughts about the nursery on everyone, forgetting the designer and mom-to-be in the process. I learned quickly, THAT wasn’t Carlos. The way Alexa described him was completely accurate. He has a great eye for style and he dotes on Alexa in the sweetest way possible.
Carlos wanted a little bit of an industrial element in the space and both of them loved the idea of incorporating the beach, but not too much beach. They had already decided that the baby’s name would be Ocean and going too deep on that theme would be too much.
I walked Alexa and Carlos through the ABC Kids Expo, showing them the different strollers, car seats, gear and furniture that would be a great fit for their lifestyle and personal style. As soon as Alexa sat in the Monte Luca glider and ottoman, she told me, “This is the one”. The room started to take shape around the modern clean lines of the chair.
The tall ceilings in their home are absolutely incredible and I wanted to highlight that by choosing a treatment that would utilize the entire wall, as opposed to breaking it up. So I chose Stikwood reclaimed weathered wood wall planks. It is heavy on the white, which is exactly what I was looking for to give it a light, airy and beach feel that contrasted strongly with their walnut floors, moldings and showstopping doors.
Then I added in two XL custom canvases from Murals Your Way. One is a palm tree, which is a nod to both Ocean’s birthplace of California and Hawaii, Carlos and Alexa’s favorite place. The 2nd is …What else, The ocean. These were placed starting close to the ceiling, also to embrace the height. Twos a trend, three’s a theme. Placing them high is exactly what I did with the blackout drapes from The Shade Store as well. I need to add that the fabric I chose for the drapes is one of my all time favorites. Two years ago when I had my own daughter I loved this fabric so much and wanted to use it in her own room, but it didn’t coordinate with some of the other fabrics I had chosen. I am SO happy I finally found the perfect space for it and highly recommend this print in all of the colors it is offered in.
Next we needed some storage for Ocean’s books, shoes and toys. This is where I had my first opportunity to give Carlos the industrial look he was going for – custom shelves by Mintage Designs were made for the space using wood and pipes. Their quality is amazing and the overall look is exactly what we were going for! I also love the fact that when you purchase from Mintage Designs, you are supporting a talented artist who makes their own products in the United States.
The same can be said for their super cool light fixture. Barn Light Electric has been one of my go-tos for years. They were way ahead of the time with their designs and I’m a big fan of trendsetters! The Ellis light fixture in black can be bent in a variety of directions to create different looks. We played with it for a really long time before collectively deciding that we liked each arm horizontal best. The metal is black to tie it together with the pipe shelves curtain rod and lamp by Crate and Barrel.
Then it was time to pick something that would allow the wood wall to shine, but essentially be the centerpiece of the space. I got this idea that I wanted something that has words on it, but words that could be changed like an old movie theater marquee. Then I discovered Metal and Lights and BINGO. It’s the coolest item ever. Made in the US by an incredibly talented artist who can customize it to your exact needs. Carlos and Alexa can easily and regularly change the letters to customize sweet messages to their boy.
However, let me tell you – IT. IS. HEAVY. There was no way in the world that Carlos was putting it up on his son’s wall on his own. It was a two man job. Once it was complete, the dad-to-be actually did pull ups on it. I’m serious. He was hanging from it to make sure it was solid, sturdy and not going anywhere.
In keeping with matching the wood to the existing wood in the room, the Vaxco side table by France and Son was the perfect choice.
Alexa wanted something plush and soft for Ocean to play on and I thought it was important to soften up some of the hard lines of the space with a little plush warmth and texture. The Jaipur Living area rug did the trick!
Then it was time to accessorize the space. When it comes to toys and cool accessories, I love to scour Land of Nod. We found a great wire basket there, a zebra pull toy and the coolest sloth stuffed animal that Carlos had a great time putting little glasses on.
The crib skirt and matching pillows are by Oilo Studio and the mattress, changing pad, playmat and nursing pillow are all by Nook Sleep. These two brands both make grays that coordinate really well with each other (in case you are planning your own space and aren’t sure if they will match – they will!).
The end result is a style I am pretty sure I made up: Industrial Beach. Even if it does sound a bit strange, it looks awesome and meets every one of their needs. So if you too want an industrial beach nursery, now you know it's an actual thing.
If you’re wondering what other items the PenaVega’s chose when I was working with them at the ABC Expo, then you’ve come to the right place.
For all of the traveling they do and quick ins and outs of their cars, they picked the Doona infant car seat.
For long walks, as their daily stroller and for their other car, they picked the UPPAbaby Vista stroller and Mesa car seat.
My personal favorite diaper bag, was also on their must-have list. I could make you guess and come back next week with the answer, but I’m not that mean. It’s a 7AM Enfant Voyage Diaper bag.
They wanted a safe bassinet for Ocean to sleep in, in their room. I introduced them to the Halo Bassinest and they used it in the early months.
If you read my blogs, then you know I often have wonderful things to say about my clients. I am not the kind of person that is very good at being phony. So if I say it, I mean it. I am also extremely lucky to be an actively working designer in the juvenile world. So I have the luxury of hand picking the projects I want to work on. If I didn't have warm and fuzzy feelings about someone after meeting, I would and have passed on projects. So when I say these two are totally amazing people, you can trust that I mean it. A total pleasure to work with!
As always, all photos are taken by the extremely talented, Christine Farah. I’m fairly certain that she has magic eyes and a magic lens.