hen Claire Staszak, founder of Chicago interior design firm Centered by Design, and her husband, Luke, first toured the attic space of their 1930s Tudor bungalow on the city’s northwest side, it could not have been further from the master suite and nursery they imagined it would become. Its recent inhabitants weren’t even people—it was cat territory. “We bought the house from a couple who had a legal cat rescue with 12 cats,” Claire explains. “The second floor was the kitty area. We are cat lovers, so this did not faze us, but it’s come a long way from when we first toured the house.”

The attic room before the renovation. / Photo: Courtesy of Centered by Design

The attic—a long hallway with two large rooms at either end—was pretty much uninhabitable, but not because of its animal occupants. There was no heat, no insulation, and dodgy plumbing and electrical. The Staszaks were starting from scratch. They hired pros to give the walls a fresh coat of paint and install a new bathroom, but Luke ended up taking on a lot of the remodeling work himself. He stripped away the old linoleum flooring, stained the original pine floors underneath, and replaced all of the old trim and doors with his own two hands.

“I made the space feel larger by using the minimum amount of furniture we needed, and by opting for a rocker versus a large overstuffed glider,” says Claire. “When you keep the furniture in proportion to the space, it helps create breathing room.” / Photo: Todd Crawford/Courtesy of Centered by Design

“No need for a changing table with all the cool changing pads out there these days!” says Claire. “A long, low dresser is what I needed on that wall, and a campaign style will last a long time.” / Photo: Todd Crawford/Courtesy of Centered by Design

From there, it was cosmetic upgrades galore, especially in the nursery for their baby girl. “I wanted to do something bold and unique, not the typical pastels,” says Claire. “The Jenny Lind crib was a hand-me-down and I loved the vintage feel.” She immediately knew she wanted to wallpaper the room, but the question was, how much of it? The way to go became obvious once Claire landed on a pattern, Hegemone by Farrow & Ball. The moody, dense floral would be too overwhelming if she applied it everywhere, and the steep angle of two of the walls would make the print look a little wonky anyway. On the two straight walls it went.

The couple repainted a bookshelf they already owned to match the color scheme of the nursery. / Photo: Todd Crawford/Courtesy of Centered by Design

Claire kept the angled walls white, but she was wary that they’d feel too stark next to the bold wallpaper. Enter the crib canopy. After some research on Pinterest, Claire found a style she thought would work with the slant of the wall and asked her local upholstery workroom to fabricate it for her. “I wanted something simple and pretty that would not be dangerous to baby!” she says. “It’s installed with simple metal rods and screws holding it in two places.” Now, all that’s left to do is…wait. “I wish I could say we are putting it to good use, but the baby is still not here—she is due on Saturday!”