Baby nurseries are traditionally blue for a boy, pink to signify a girl or green-yellow combos when the parents are waiting until their child's birth to be surprised.
So imagine the reactions when Natalie Allen told friends she was going with a black-and-gray color scheme with fuchsia accents.
"It was not a positive one," she said, grinning.
"It got to the point I almost hated telling anyone when they asked, but once they saw it, it got a very positive reaction," said the Ooltewah mother of two.
The Allens had already done the pink decor in 4-year-old daughter Lili Kay's room. A preschooler's delight, the princess-themed room is complete with a storybook castle painted on the wall, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White look-alikes skipping across the castle's grounds and fairies painted in the playroom.
But Tim and Natalie Allen brought infant Luci Rose home last week to a room that is nursery chic. It is nontraditional in its black furnishings against a gray wall but still colorful and inviting with pink accents and hand-painted mural. An owl motif adds whimsy to the room.
The centerpiece of the room is a black iron, four-poster crib by Bratt Decor with stationary sides, which adds a nostalgic touch of Victorian elegance to the sophisticated decor. The crib's Kirby bedding set by Glenna Jean is a floral motif in orange, avocado and hot pink on black background. The bumpers are a patchwork mix of prints and weaves, all coordinated by the same black floral print.
Other furnishings in the room include a black-upholstered swivel glider, black armoire, black ceiling fan and black changing table with hutch.
"I like the boldness of the room the best," said Mrs. Allen of the look.
The new mother said she didn't plan a theme but that the couple knew they wanted Lydia Reynolds to paint a tree that would rise up one wall and spread its branches out over the crib.
A pink owl clock at the store owned by her husband, Children's Fair, became the inspiration for owl accents in the nursery. Reynolds hand-painted three owls in the branches of the tree along with stylized bluebirds and songbirds.
Luci Rose's name is hand-painted above her crib and her monogram above the closet door. Reynolds painted blooms on the floor lamp's shade and closet doorknobs that coordinated with those in the bedding.
A round, 4- by 4-foot, fuchsia area rug provides a splash of color in the center of the room. Wall-to-wall cream carpet lightens the room, counterbalancing the dark furnishings.
"I think because the Allens see a lot [of decor ideas] with their business, this struck a note with them because it was so different," said Reynolds. "This was new and modern while still being a little traditional in its furnishings."