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Designers bring chic styles to the nursery with modern cribs

The Nursery Works Gradient crib has undulating 3-D forms that create an asymmetrical silhouette.

Noah Webb/Associated Press

Once upon a time, baby's room had a style all its own. But today's parents want the nursery to blend with other rooms, reflecting a modern aesthetic.

Furniture designers and retailers have responded with lots of interesting options.

Jonathan Adler recently launched a collection of nursery furnishings for Fisher-Price. The New York-based designer's line includes a chic sleep-and-play rocker with a high-contrast, black and white graphic textile, and walnut and steel legs with a mid-century modern vibe. A convertible crib features Adler's signature honeycomb motif and Ming-inspired feet capped in polished nickel.

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"I wanted to incorporate some of my favourite motifs and materials, to elevate the Fisher-Price design aesthetic," Adler says. "The collection has a whisper of Italian Modernism and a twinkle of design panache."

Walmart's Baby Mod Olivia crib, offered in an on-trend white and amber combo, is also a convertible model, which can be reconfigured into a daybed and toddler bed as your child grows.

Convertibles are a trend, according to Jill Fehrenbacher, founder of the design site Inhabitat.com and its offspring, Inhabitots.

"We're seeing a growing interest in multifunctional furniture," she says, "and this is especially true of new parents who are anxious about buying a storeful of baby gear. The idea that a crib could convert to a changing table or toddler bed is one with inherent appeal because it extends the value of what's typically a large purchase."

Fehrenbacher is a fan of the Oeuf, created by New Yorkers Michael Ryan and Sophie Demenge. "Awesome functionality, safety and clean modern looks," she says. "I bought this crib for my son and we're still using it now as a toddler bed for my 4-year-old. It's moved through two different homes, from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific, and has weathered it all beautifully."

Other affordable cribs can be found at Ikea, where the trim, contemporary Sniglar, Sundvik, Gulliver and Hensvik models sell for around $100 (U.S.). For just less than $200, the Stuva includes under-crib storage drawers in several colours.

Babyletto's Hudson crib has mid-century lines, sustainable New Zealand pinewood construction and a range of colours – several neutrals, as well as two-toned versions. The company's new Bingo crib incorporates handy storage cubbies and comes in a right-this-minute white/ash/cool mint colour scheme.

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P'kolino's Belle crib has a lattice-patterned headboard that contrasts nicely with a deep grey, shell pink or pale blue base. The Geo version puts a gender-neutral geometric layer on backgrounds of coral, grey or navy. P'kolino's website offers customizing, too; you can design your own headboard from an array of images, colours and fonts.

If budget's not an issue, consider Ubabub's futuristic Pod crib. Curved plywood forms the front and back of the crib, while clear acrylic, laser-cut with tiny stars, makes up the side panels. Choose a kiwi, honeysuckle, tangerine or aqua translucent end panel for Spot on Square's Alto crib.

Nursery Works is always pushing the proverbial envelope on baby furnishings. One of their signature pieces, the solid acrylic Vetro crib, seems to float in space, letting other nursery elements provide colour and pattern. Another crib – the Gradient, designed by Matthew Grayson and Eric Lin – has undulating 3-D forms that create an asymmetrical silhouette.

"The goal, and challenge to ourselves, is to create something that doesn't conform to the standard perception of what a crib is supposed to look like," Lin says.

Grayson's Highlight crib can be turned into an adult-size desk once baby's done with it; the mattress support becomes a shelf and the waterfall slats stow power cords.

A burnished, 24-karat-gold square base holds the Lydian's solid black walnut frame; the drama of mixed materials turns a simple crib into a modernist, sculptural piece of art.

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And finally, for the high-tech parent, Swiss designer Yves Béhar has introduced the charmingly named SNOO. Produced in collaboration with its inventor, pediatrician Dr. Harvey Karp, the SNOO sleeper's smart-technology mattress responds to a baby's fussiness with soothing motion and white noise. Parents can also control things remotely. A swaddling outfit secures baby inside the bed, which features sturdy white mesh sides in a walnut frame, with white hairpin-style steel legs.

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