New England Nursery

Designer Beth Bourque’s use of modern nautical décor transformed a child’s bedroom in Hingham

 By Maria Allen | Photography by Jessica Delaney

When Hingham residents Pat and Michelle Maddigan set out to create a nursery for their young son, Finn, they knew they wanted a space that would be stylish and safe for their growing boy. After interviewing several local designers, they hired Milton-based Beth Bourque Design Studio to take on the project. Inspired by family trips to Cape Cod, the Maddigans knew they wanted the nursery to have a nautical feel. Being busy parents who worked full time, they appreciated having the guidance of an experienced interior designer to turn their dreams into a reality.

img68o“A nursery is a very personal space,” says Bourque. “I make sure to sit down with clients to go over their vision for the room.” Upon meeting with the family, Beth Bourque began with a basic home safety assessment.

“We had a few safety concerns, such as furniture falling over and sharp edges on the radiator,” explains Michelle Maddigan. Bourque addressed these issues by securing furniture to the walls and designing a sleek radiator cover that would protect tiny hands and give the room another flat surface. By making use of the existing crib, changing table and chair, Bourque was able to save money, which allowed her to splurge on some extra special decorative elements.

To give the room a real “wow” factor, Bourque installed a rustic wood wall. To accomplish this design element, she approached her friends at the fine furniture company Masterpiece Woodworks, out of Avon Massachusetts, and asked them to fabricate interlocking boards finished with a multi-tone wash that would have the look of old barn board. The wood wall created a feeling of warmth without any of the potential safety issues that might have arisen had they used actual reclaimed wood. The rest of the walls in the room were painted with a cool, neutral paint from Sherwin Williams called Repose Grey and a bold Naval blue for the ceiling. Bourque wanted the décor of the space to be attractive but also functional. For example, she chose an outdoor marine-type lighting fixture from Barn Light Electric, for the ceiling. Bourque was able to customize the color (in this case red) as well as the shade and cage size. For the floor of the bedroom, Bourque purchased two colors of 19-inch square Flor carpet tiles. She then cut the tiles and rearranged them into a chevron pattern.

“I think that whole rug cost less than $200,” says Bourque, who made a point to order a few extra carpet tiles so they could be swapped out if a section of the floor got dirty.

When it comes to decorating a child’s bedroom, Bourque recommends designing the space for an older child and working backwards. “People don’t think about how quickly kids grow up,” says Bourque. “You want the space to be able to easily transition to fit an older child.”

imagesOne of the things that Bourque highly recommends spending a little extra money on is the window treatments. Curtains should be cord-free, for safety reasons, and should block out the sunlight as this creates a better sleeping environment for the baby. For the curtains in Finn’s room, Bourque chose a plaid Henry Calvin fabric edged with a solid Pindler & Pindler fabric, which she had made at Finely Done in Avon. Since the radiator was located just below the window, Bourque designed the draperies so they would hit just above the windowsill.

Rather than fill the space with lots of decorations, Bourque recommends choosing a few statement pieces and then letting the child’s toys speak for themselves. Above the crib she hung a driftwood mobile made with delicate white paper whales, which was custom crafted to her specifications by an artist on the website Bourque recommends the website to anyone looking for handmade decorative elements. An existing white bench was outfitted with a custom cushion and narrow shelves from Ikea were hung on the wall to display colorful picture books like artwork.

Lastly, a wooden ship’s wheel that came from Finn’s grandfather was mounted on the wall of the nursery. Bourque had Masterpiece Woodworks fabricate a special collar and bolt assembly for the wheel so it could be mounted securely in a way that would also allow the wheel to spin. Knowing that the room would need to accommodate Finn as he grew, she had the wheel mounted at a height that was appropriate for a slightly older child. More than just a design piece, the wheel offered a personal touch and an element of fun to the room. “A child’s bedroom should encourage imagination and play,” says Bourque.

The culmination of design elements created a bright and cheerful space, with clean lines and a nautical flair that was accomplished without an overabundance of sailboats and whales. Adding the ship’s wheel was the perfect way to add a personal touch and pay tribute to the Maddigan family’s love of the sea.

A Room With A View

IMG_6400Decorative painter Reneé MacMurray has the ability to turn a blank wall into a canvas. Over the years she has painted a wide variety of decorative murals in children’s bedrooms, from princess castles and jungle scenes to New England sports imagery. The owner of MacMurray Designs Fine Art Gallery & Art Studios in Hanover, she begins each project by discussing the overall theme of feeling the client is looking to create.

“When designing a mural for a children’s room, the art often becomes the focal point,” says MacMurray, who recommends locating the mural on a wall that is most suitable for viewing when people enter the room. She has created large scenes that encompass entire rooms, as well as small images used as subtle accents of whimsical color. No matter the size of the image, MacMurray’s murals help create a sense of place.


  • When choosing a design you must consider the length of time you would like to keep the mural. “I have always suggested that my clients choose a more sophisticated design and character,” says MacMurray. “This way the child will not grow out of the room as quickly.”
  • Color choice is essential in longer lasting mural designs. Keep your mural colors neutral and interchangeable as your fabrics change overtime.
  • Cold, strong, one-dimensional tones such a red, bright blue and yellow, like those in characters like “Winnie the Pooh” or “Spiderman” tend to be outgrown quickly. Choose softer more muted tones with shades of light and dark for dimension and the mural will appear more pleasing to the eye and will last for many years.
  • When preparing your walls for a mural, I have found it best to paint on an eggshell base finish. After sketching out the mural, the pencil mark will erase perfectly off an eggshell finish and provides a good base for the mural paint.
  • If you are not painting a new finish, then wash your walls well with a damp cloth of soap and water to get a clean surface prior to painting.
    Before painting the mural, arrange the furniture in the place you would like to be and then lightly sketch the design on the wall. If you do not have the furniture yet, get the measurements and place a non-adhesive painters “yellow frog tape” on the floors and walls to match the height and length of the furniture, then lightly sketch out the design on the wall. Do not draw too dark as you will need to erase the pencil after you paint.
  • When you are ready to paint, you will need: drop cloths, painters tape, a ladder, a pencil and kneaded eraser, acrylic paints and brushes, a palette (a Styrofoam plate will work), small jar of water (for cleaning your brushes) , a cloth and Music!

Having good brushes is essential in creating a clean and crisp mural design. Synthetic acrylic brushes are the best to use and they come in a variety of sizes.

When purchasing paints, it’s best to use acrylic latex paints. They are a water-based paint that is easy for cleanup, and they dry extremely fast. The best paints to use are the traditional craft paint brands, such as Folk Art & Americana, as they are extremely durable. Acrylic tubes found in the Arts & Craft stores—brands like Liquitex, Artist Loft or Grumbacher—have a slightly more glossy sheen and do not apply well to the surface of a wall.

It is not always necessary to seal every mural that is created. If something is spilled or finger prints are found on the mural, a little soap and water on a damp cloth should clean it off without harming the surface of the paint.

If the mural is in a high traffic area and you are worried about it getting damaged and very dirty, wait until the mural is completely dry (at least 2 days) and then coat with a satin water base sealer. Minwax is a good brand. Brush it on lightly with a sponge brush, so that you will not leave unwanted brush strokes, and let it dry. Reapply for extra durability.

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