Melisa Fluhr & Her Office
After wrapping up the design of her son's nursery and uploading one photo to a popular home improvement website, Melisa Fluhr realized she had a hidden talent for designing children's spaces. Thankfully, that enviable knack of hers isn't quite so hidden anymore, what with the launch of her site Project Nursery, which covers all things "aww"!
Almost eight years later, the Project Nursery team has grown to encompass 12 design-savvy moms across the country, and together they've built a massive social media following that has inspired thousands of chic nurseries around the world. We recently toured Melisa's bold, colorful office to see the place that nurtures her creativity and gives birth to design genius. Read on to find out more about her space and Melisa's journey from motherhood to Project Nursery, and beyond!
Where did you get the idea for Project Nursery?
I simply pressed the “Upload” button, and here I am today! With a passion for design back in 2008 as my motivation, I posted a photo of my son’s nursery on an established home improvement website, and his room was quickly voted the top nursery. Overwhelmed with emails from strangers asking me about the room’s paint color and where I purchased his crib, I turned to my long-time, most style-savvy friend, Pam Ginocchio, to talk about what was actually happening here. Clearly there was a void in the marketplace for modern, sophisticated—yet accessible—kid-friendly design. Soon after, we launch a blog to share our design ideas and opinions online, hoping other parents could relate. As new moms ourselves, we knew that the nursery was just the first project of many to come—hence the name, Project Nursery!
Can you share your top five favorite nurseries that you've ever featured on PN?
I have literally viewed tens of thousands of nurseries on PN over the years—no joke. Here are a few that have made a lasting impression for one reason or another.
- Graham’s Bright and Modern Nursery: Graham is in second grade by now, but his first room is our most-viewed nursery ever in our Project Gallery, with more than 1 million views and 350,000 shares. And, you know what? Aqua is still hot!
- Landry Kate’s Vintage Glam Nursery: We loved this room so much that we hired the project owner to come work for us, and she’s a friend today.
- Ariella’s Coral and Aqua Nursery: This mama wowed us with all three of her children’s rooms over the years, so just this year, we asked her to join our team as a contributor!
- Little Man Sophistication: The talented duo behind J&J Design Group immediately caught our attention, and helped fuel the pallet wall trend in the nursery.
- Emmy’s Gold and Girly Nursery: Of course, my own (and last) nursery makes the list. After having two boys, I was finally able to create this ultra-feminine, dreamy space for my daughter, Emerson Grace.
I needed my surroundings to be bold and bright like our brand. I wanted my space to motivate me and spawn creativity, but, of course, I also needed to be practical and incorporate plenty of storage.
Tell us about how you went about designing your office!
We purchased our current home two years ago and the home office could not have been more traditional. Dark blue walls and cherry-stained molding had amazing potential, but it just wasn’t true to Project Nursery! I needed my surroundings to be bold and bright like our brand. I wanted my space to motivate me and spawn creativity, but, of course, I also needed to be practical and incorporate plenty of storage. After all, this room houses hundreds of samples and shop supplies.
And so I began with a very neutral, black-and-white color palette working in pops of gold. Let’s just say, my painter asked me three times, “Are you sure you want to paint all your molding high-gloss, black?”
How has technology strengthened your business? What do you rely on for productivity?
We are a team of 12 moms that span the country and time zones! We all work from home with little ones often nearby, and none of this would have been possible without the technology we have today. We rely heavily on Asana to help us manage our workflow, web development and special projects. We also enjoy room.co, which is the easiest and simplest way to jump into a video chat. Working from home and sending emails all day long can get lonely, which is why face-to-face conversations are a must in my book!
What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever gotten?
This one is easy. “Stay true to who you are." This can mean so many things, but in the parenting space, it is so easy to want to become all things to all people because parenting is so very broad. Staying niche-oriented and dedicated to children’s design for so many years has enabled us to establish credibility as a trusted resource on the web.
How did you build such a massive social media following for Project Nursery?
We’ve succeeded in social media over the years by trying anything and everything at least once. Like us, our readers are very visual, so we simply focused on what we enjoy doing most, which is sharing beautiful designs and celebrating the talent of our Project Nursery community. We owe so much to our readers who inspire us multiple times a day by sharing their own nurseries and party projects with us.
Which app could you never live without?
Amazon. When I think of something I need for the home or the kids, I order it on the spot with one touch so I don’t forget. I know—it’s not wildly exciting but I am a busy mom of three and this is my reality.
Tell us about your shop and how the concept evolved.
We have been telling people for years what to buy for their nurseries so we thought, why not make it a whole lot easier and sell it to them! It was important, however, that we differentiated ourselves by keeping our selection both highly curated and on trend. We won’t carry just anything—we either own it or have worked on a design using the product.
What are your favorite products?
- Rambler Satchel Diaper Bag in Denim
- Gender Reveal Push-Pop Confetti
- Lemonade Playset
- Gold Baby Ballet Slippers
- Kind Heart Fierce Mind Art Print
What’s next for you and Project Nursery?
Glad you asked! 2016 is going to be a really big year for us and our brand. Project Nursery just introduced a very special baby monitor in partnership with VOXX International, a leader in consumer electronics. To read more about our exciting launch last week at CES, check our Project Nursery's coverage here.
Like us, our readers are very visual, so we simply focused on what we enjoy doing most, which is sharing beautiful designs and celebrating the talent of our Project Nursery community. We owe so much to our readers who inspire us multiple times a day.
What does a typical day look like for you?
- 6 a.m.: Wake up and pray the baby didn’t leak through her diaper. Change the baby and make a bottle. Make an almond milk latte for myself.
- 7 a.m.: Madness sets in as our morning routine is in full swing. Everyone is dressed, fed and sent off to school on the bus!
- 8:30 a.m.: Reheat the lovely latte that I didn’t get to drink earlier and sit down to tackle emails. My west coast colleagues are just thrilled by this.
- 9:30 a.m.: Process, pack and ship orders from the Project Nursery Shop. USPS can spot our PN pink gift boxes from a mile away!
- 11 a.m.: Connect with our shop and sales teams.
- 12 p.m.: Squeeze in a healthy lunch with Baby Emmy or run off to music class together.
- 12:30 p.m.: Say, "Hi there, Pam!" Here’s when the fun starts as Pam begins her work day in San Fran. Together we power through three-to-five scheduled calls each day with various vendors and potential partners.
- 4:30 p.m.: Take a break because the kids are all home from school and it’s really the beginning of the end. Homework and after-school activities are a juggle.
- 5 p.m.: Secretly freak out that I didn’t plan for dinner sooner. Visually survey a meal I can throw together quickly thanks to Pinterest.
- 6 p.m.: Wrap up a call or project with the west coast team and then make time for family dinner and our bath/bed routine.
- 9 p.m.: All is calm and by now a glass of red is usually in-hand. This is where I find time to catch up with the husband or missed episodes of “Homeland.” Dabbling in Photoshop on my latest design project is my version of reading a book in bed.