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In the Toddler Room with Katerina Buscemi

Today the lovely Katerina Buscemi of Lex&Liv is graciously sharing a peek inside her daughter Olivia’s modern and feminine toddler room. She has masterfully combined hand-me-down furniture from her son’s nursery with gorgeous new pieces and toys and decor from some really unique independent shops to create a truly special space for her little lady.

When she’s not curating children’s products to create beautiful spaces for her own kids (Olivia is two and a half and Alex is five and a half), Katerina spends her time running Lex&Liv, an online shop specializing in stylish, handmade children’s footwear. She’s passionate not only about beautiful design, but also about ensuring that these shoes are 100% safe for little feet. Each pair is made by hand in upstate New York from premium vegetable tanned, toxin-free leather. Look out for the adorable little moccasins in a few of the photos below!

Modern and Feminine Toddler RoomWall Color | Star Wall Decals | Caravan Divan | Sheet | Coverlet and Pillow | Half Shell Rug | Doll Pram

Tell us about your design process. Did you start with one central item or idea that served as your inspiration?
The dresser, glider and wall color all carried over from my son’s nursery. I really wanted to keep the main furniture components gender neutral. The first thing I did to bring a bit of girliness into the decor was to add the silver star decals. I decided to stick with gray and silvery tones but stopped the color palette from being too serious by incorporating soft pink accessories, dolls and knitted toys. Since the dresser is so dark and the bedroom is quite small, it made sense to go with the light-colored, unfinished maple divan for Olivia’s bed to brighten the space up a bit. The awful beige carpeting remains, but the beautiful scalloped rug from The Land of Nod draws attention away from it and pulls the room together.

Modern and Feminine Toddler RoomDresser | Bookends | Cherry Blossom Moccasins | Swan Print | Print Hanger

What was the most important thing you wanted to achieve when creating this space?
I wanted a space that was beautiful and included feminine touches without being sickly sweet. But more importantly, I wanted Olivia’s room to be safe and free of harmful adhesives and chemicals that are often present in children’s furnishings and toys. We had a bit of a scare at her one year checkup when she had a false positive on her lead screen. It’s what set everything in motion, really. It sparked my interest in creating chemical-free baby shoes, and it got me thinking more seriously about the toxins in our everyday lives.

Play CanopyMonkey Print | Lamb Print | Play Canopy

Toddler Reading NookGlider | Knit Bunny

Modern and Feminine Toddler RoomDress | Penny’s Loafer

Now that the accent walls have dried and the bedding is neatly tucked, what is your favorite thing about the room?
I adore Olivia’s Kalon divan bed. It’s a handmade work of art, made from the purest sustainable materials. It’s so rare for a toddler bed to convert so stylishly. Once she outgrows it, we’ll pass it on to my sister to convert it back to a crib.

Modern and Feminine Toddler RoomMirror | DIY Cloud Mobile

Feminine Toddler BeddingCoral Blanket (similar) | Pointelle Blanket | Mermaid Doll

Did you have any unexpected obstacles when creating this room? How did you overcome them or spin them to your advantage?
The room is too small for even a twin size bed. There’s one corner we could have used, but it would have meant covering up the air register. Every other wall is either too short or has a door opening. So I had to think really hard about purchasing a toddler bed when we didn’t know if we were having more children. But it’s my favorite part of her room, and it will get more use again after Olivia outgrows it (let’s hope we’ve moved by then).

What did you enjoy most about the design process?
I loved supporting other handmade and independent shops. I got to incorporate elements in Olivia’s bedroom from brands I’ve long admired from afar. And I really loved designing for a little girl—it’s so much more fun!

Quirky Necklace HangerGirl HangerBeaded Necklace

Modern and Feminine Toddler Room DecorSheepskin Rug | Bunny | Laundress Doll

If you had to remove one key item from the room, what would you part with? If you could add another item to the room, what would be your first choice?
The dresser, for sure. I think the need for a changing station in the nursery is overemphasized. I always changed my children on a changing mat on the floor. I’d much rather have room for a shelf now that we have such an extensive book collection. If you do go with a dresser, I’d look for one with drawers only (at least 10” deep) and not bother with one that has cabinet doors.

Toddler Room BookshelvesDreamer | Imaginary Fred | Flora and the Flamingo | Flower Pillow

Do you have any words of advice for other designers and parents?
Buy it once. Try to purchase furniture that will grow with your child. Every time I compromised on quality, I regretted it. My advice is, if you can buy something that is practical and solidly built but more expensive, it might be better than purchasing furniture of questionable quality for each stage of growth. I’d also avoid falling into the trap of buying every piece of matching furniture from one design line—don’t be afraid to mix and match.

Photography by Katerina Buscemi

Carrie Tomaschko

Friday 8th of April 2016

love this space! It is a bit modern, a bit scandinavian, and a bit whimsical. Love all the unique details.


Wednesday 3rd of February 2016

Katerina, I love the room you made for Olivia! I totally agree with your advice about buying quality furniture that will grow with your child. Thanks for sharing :)