What does beloved ’90s flick Father of the Bride Part II have to do with design historian Amy Azzarito’s dreamy baby nursery? Only everything, it turns out. “I loved the magic of the space,” Amy says. The charming nursery depicted in the film was the guiding inspiration behind Amy and her husband’s plan to transform a former office space in their northern California 1960s home into a modern version of the “baby suite” from the movie. To help manifest her vision, Amy reached out to longtime pal Anne Sage and her work partner Caroline Lee, the design duo behind Light Lab, a creative event and design studio in Los Angeles.
“Amy came to us with a super clear vision,” Caroline says, “which made it easy to bring the Light Lab spin to what she was dreaming up.” Together, they agreed on a plan for recreating the nostalgic feel of the nursery from the film, while modernizing the look with clean-lined furnishings, striped roman shades, and personal touches.
First steps involved making a few core changes to the former home office, including replacing the drafty window, adding wiring for a ceiling fixture, and skim-coating the walls followed by repainting the entire room in a soft green color, creating a serene backdrop.
From there, the enchantingly chic Chinoiserie wallpaper was chosen to set the mood, over which all other pieces were layered. “Anne and I are big advocates of choosing one to two major touchstones of a design project, and then going from there,” Caroline says. Here, after following cinematic inspiration, the distinctive Chinoiserie wallpaper “was the grounding element that we fell in love with, and everything else was added on top of that.”
What’s more, the wallpaper is actually removable, which helps preserve options in the future. “The first wallpapers were removable scrolls because people traveled from castle to castle,” Amy noted, referencing her newest book, The Elements of a Home, which takes a deep dive into the historical influence behind all our favorite home goods. “Even though we don’t plan on traveling to any castles any time soon, we went with removable paper to give us flexibility should we want to sell the house or should my daughter outgrow it.”
When it came to final touches, they bucked the idea of a traditional rocking horse, deciding to go “as extra as possible” with an adorable rocking giraffe instead—a truly fitting homage to the oversize plush version seen in the movie nursery.
Read on for all the details on how the transformation came together:
The before: Formerly used as an office for Amy’s husband, “cleaning it out was a job.” Working with her design team remotely required sharing “really horrible photos of the space just filled with junk,” Amy recalled.
The inspiration: “My husband and I watched Father of the Bride Part II, and I loved the old-world Los Angeles vibe of the baby nursery.”
Budget: “We started with a vague budget,” Amy explained. “However, I had to do a lot of construction work in the room.”
Wallpaper: Tempaper Canopy
Dresser (similar): Modernist Extra-Wide Dresser and Topper Set
Rocking giraffe: Happy Trails Plush Rocking Giraffe
Biggest splurge: “The wallpaper was the biggest splurge, but it just makes the room,” Amy says, remarking that her daughter “likes to be lifted up to touch the birds.”
Sneakiest save: Leaving the existing carpet in place and covering it with an area rug instead of replacing it with a wood floor, as they had considered, saved so much, Amy explains. Plus, the soft play space was ultimately super functional for her daughter’s early years.
The best part: “The best part is having an oasis,” Amy says. “It’s for her, but it was also for me—a place of calm and quiet in those early days.”
What I’d never do again: Leave major aspects of the process until the third trimester. “The wallpaper was installed the day before I went to the hospital to deliver,” which was “horribly stressful,” Amy recalls.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest