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In the Nursery with Alice Berman

This is our interview series in which we bring you the nurseries and kid rooms of successful designers, entrepreneurs and moms. Through this series, our featured guests will divulge some of their design secrets and share stories of how their nurseries came to be.

Alice Berman is the creative visionary behind Mermapillar Organics, an Etsy shop featuring organic cotton animal pillows with lots of personality. Modern, yet slightly off-beat, these nervous animal and little critter pillows are made by hand in Minneapolis, with all materials sourced from the USA. The animal images are printed on the front and back of the pillow—the back, naturally, showing the rear of the critter—with eco-friendly soy inks. They make the perfect playful, eco-friendly baby gift.

Alice and her husband Brian are welcoming their first baby, and they generously shared their eclectic and fun, gender-neutral nursery with us.

Alice Berman and Family

How did your work as a designer and crafter impact the design of your nursery?

Besides wanting the space to turn out playful and simple, it was really important to me that the room has a lot of unique and handmade items in it. I was able to make some of the pieces myself, including crib sheets, the abacus-inspired art above the crib, and I was excited to strip and refinish a mid-century dresser for a fun bright changing table.

I want our child to grow up surrounded with things that have a story and love from friends and family behind them. I know that physical objects shouldn’t carry the same importance as our relationships, but there is something really beautiful about holding something your grandmother or friend made just for you.

DIY Abacus Inspired Art Piece

My favorite thing in the room would have to be the abacus piece. It was my first project for the nursery, and it came out great. I had seen something like it using wood beads and dowels from CB2. I really love the tactile quality of felted wool and used about 100 dyed 1” balls instead. I strung them onto embroidery thread and attached the strings to a simple wooden frame with some pretty brass tacks.

The gallery wall is all prints and pieces my husband and I really love, including work from friends, a Calvin and Hobbes print (hubby’s favorite), a large Jay Ryan print, an awesome needlepoint of a frog and flowers my mom did in the ’70s and some others we have collected over the years on trips.

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Tell us about your design process.

I knew I wanted the room to have a mid-century modern, yet eclectic feel with a lot of childish, whimsical elements. Since we didn’t want to find out the gender, I thought light gray walls with bold pops of color would work well, boy or girl.

With this in mind, picking out the crib and other furniture came pretty easily. A mix of old and new with silly Mermapillows and toy robots, and other handmade items, like the quilt and matching bunny doll from Beedot, give the room a lot of personality.

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The nursery is an easy transition from the rest of the house. We live in a mid-century rambler and have tried to keep with that era in our furniture and overall style. Simple lines, lots of light, natural wood and bits of color are all around our house.

Of course, we do have some quirky decorations too, like a “Dog Head Wall” in our family room, featuring nothing but different breeds of dog head plaques my husband and I have collected. I’m pretty lucky to have married a man with similar taste and sense of humor!

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Do you have any words of advice for other designers and parents?

I always like to start a room project by getting inspiration from looking online for ideas. Sometimes, however, I get caught up in making sure everything fits the right colors or theme, etc. My advice is to try to keep in mind what a baby might like to look at or what would capture the imagination of a toddler.

Regardless of style, remembering what your favorite toys, pictures and books were when you were a kid and putting similar elements into the room will not only make for a great space for your child, it will be really fun for you to create.

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Photography by Alice Berman and Romeny Chan

Do you know of a fantastic nursery or big kid’s room designed by a successful designer or business owner? Please send a photo of the room to for consideration.


Thursday 24th of March 2016

I am looking at this exact crib, but no stores near me carry it in house. Is it built well? Sturdy? What other company would you compare it too?