Nursery design for enthusiasts of modern style used to be a challenge — they were lost in a sea of pink frills and baby duckies.

(Not that there's anything wrong with pink frills and baby duckies — such things simply aren't their jam.) ?

Today's designers know how to use clean lines, bold color palettes, large-scale patterns and big graphic punches in playful and age-appropriate ways. Children's books, travel, the solar system and the circus are just a few of the things parents are looking to for nursery inspiration.

Ombré mountains majesty

A photo taken on an Alaskan “babymoon" inspired this mural-covered room. At eight months pregnant, designer Rebecca Zajac and her husband, David, were ready to get as far away from the summer heat of Las Vegas as possible. On their subsequent trip to Alaska, she snapped a photo of the Denali mountain range that inspired this ombré mountain range wall mural. She painted it herself soon after they returned, and it was ready in time for their son's arrival.

The top of the mural matches the ceiling, painted in Swiss Coffee OC-45, and the next row of mountains down is Nimbus 1465; both are by Benjamin Moore. She found all of the blues on one Behr paint swatch. From darkest to lightest, the paint colors are Smokey Blue 540F-5, Hale Gray 540F-4, Blue Box 540E-3 and Cloudy Day 540E-02. A mix of soft organic touches and warm woods completes the look.

Designed for a little bookworm

Books and letters inspired the design of the nursery that interior designer Elena Del Bucchia created for her baby. Reading is very important to her and her husband, Andrew, and both of their parents passed along the books they had read to them as children for the grandchild they were expecting. They display their favorites on picture rails, bringing bright colors and bold graphics into the room.

Like a newspaper, the room is black and white and re[a]d all over. One main exemption is the colorful chair, which stands out even more with this backdrop. A vintage dresser painted black and an Eames Hang-It-All add midcentury modern touches, while a black-and-white rug adds a large-scale pattern underfoot.

Midcentury crib in Natural: DwellStudio; alphabet print: Olunda series, Ikea; mobile: Vancouver Special

Inspired by the Milky Way

Interior designer SuzAnn Kletzien helped these parents incorporate the solar system theme they wanted into this nursery in a way that would grow up with their son. By using dot decals instead of stars, she gave the room a playful yet sophisticated aesthetic.

To tie in with the theme, she created a gallery wall of vintage starry sky prints. Wood frames that match the dresser drawer panels below give the vignette a clean, cohesive look.
Dresser: Patchwork, West Elm; crib: Sparrow, Oeuf; decals: Lottie Dots, Land of Nod; rug: Jonathan Adler; rocker: Empire, Masins; ottoman: Target; table: Martini, West Elm

Full of felt

Architect Chris Grimley and designer Kelly Smith had already designed their Boston condo to be a crisp modern space, with bright color punctuating a backdrop of white walls, floors and ceilings, when they found out they were expecting.

Smith is a cofounder of FilzFelt, a company that specializes in felt wall coverings and floor products, and she used the material to create an impactful design on the wall. Each triangle is attached to the wall with an adhesive that allows for repositioning, so they can change up the look. Another bonus is that the felt helps to absorb sound so they don't have to worry about waking up their daughter while talking and scuttling about the apartment.

Table and chairs: Jens Risom for Knoll

A playful, offbeat mix

This couple have rarely met bright colors and graphic patterns they haven't loved, and they needed interior designer Karen B. Wolf to help them pull everything together in a cohesive way. She advised them to create a focal point, ground the room with a neutral color, mix patterns with varying scales and repeat accent colors at least three times around the room. Most important, she advised them to have fun with it.

On the walls she combined a black-and-white half-moon-patterned wallpaper and a textured wallcovering inspired by old jeans. Overhead, stripes pick up on the colors of the Roman shade fabric, which are repeated around the room as well. For example, the bold yellow on the lampshade trim and throw blanket punch up the black-and-white dresser vignette.

Paint: Blue Spa, Laguna Yellow and Gray Owl, all by Benjamin Moore; wallcoverings: Half Moon by Ferm Living and Jean Jeannie by Jim Thompson Fabrics; Roman shade fabric: Brushed Dot Peacock, DwellStudio for Robert Allen; Harlow crib: Babyletto, AllModern; rug: Heaven, Surya; sheepskin: Ikea; Possini chrome ceiling light: Euro Style Lighting; prints over crib: West Elm; dresser: custom by The Papaya Tree, Etsy, painted in Peppercorn by Sherwin-Williams; lamps: Target; mirror: Lazy Susan; Marley Lemon throw: Crate & Barrel

Elephants under the sun

Sunny stripes were a part of this Brooklyn, New York, nursery as well, and for interior designers Jessica Geller and Virginia Toledo, that bold ceiling was a must-have. Their clients had already selected the animal-print wallpaper, and the ceiling is just the right complement.

A brightly colored tree trunk lamp and yellow-and-gray twig-print window treatments work in whimsical harmony, while the gray piping on the glider keeps things streamlined and graphic.

Wallpaper: Minakani; ceiling paint: Super White and Sunny Afternoon, both by Benjamin Moore; crib: Regency, ducduc; lamp: Stray Dog Designs; drapery fabric: 21043-268 in Canary, Duralee; glider: Oilo; elephant rug: FilzFelt

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Original story by Becky Harris for Houzz

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