Blue Belle

Story: Rosemary Hallmark  |   Styling: Mandy Keener  |  

At Home in Arkansas: Blue is an unexpected color in a baby girl’s room. What inspired the color palette in 9-month-old Catherine Riley’s nursery?

Homeowner Sarah Brantley: I’ve always loved blue bedrooms and knew that was the direction I wanted to go here. It’s my favorite color and it’s soothing. I found all of the fabric at Cynthia East, and the print for the crib skirt helped determine the palette and pull it all together. 

Not knowing the gender can be challenging when designing a nursery. Which aspects were ready ahead of time and which were added once Catherine Riley was born?

The crib, bedding, glider, changing table and curtains were put into place before she was born. I had planned to bring out the pink in the crib skirt with accessories if we had a girl and the blue and green if we had a boy. Our goal was to keep the room soft and sweet either way. 

Where did you find the great art covering the walls? 

The watercolors are by our dear friend and local artist, Ashley Saer. My husband has called Catherine Riley “Sweet Pea” since her second day home, when she was wearing a gown with pea pods on it, so I gave Ashley the gown and asked her to paint something involving the nickname. Ashley also painted a birth announcement watercolor for us with Catherine Riley’s name and birth stats. I love how it turned out. The two nursery rhyme watercolors above her bed were purchased before she was born. Peter Cottontail is a childhood favorite of mine, and it was the theme of -my own nursery.

Of course, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room.

The rocking elephant was a surprise from my husband. I came home from work one day to find a package on the porch addressed to Baby Brantley and me. I was so surprised and excited to find the elephant inside. Catherine Riley loves it. She isn’t old enough to ride unassisted, but she loves to pat it and pull on the trunk.

What advice would you give to parents who are designing a nursery before finding out their baby’s gender?

Gender neutral doesn’t mean it has to be yellow or green. Pick what you love and you can always add to it to make it more gender appropriate later. I wouldn’t change anything. We love it!


Design Resources

Chair Kid’s Furniture, Little Rock, (501) 978-5439,

Fabrics, ottoman Cynthia East Fabrics, Little Rock, (501) 663-0460,

Lamp base Fabulous Finds, Little Rock, (501) 614-8181

Mirror, mirrored lamp Tuck & Cover, Little Rock, (501) 225-8825,


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