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Coordinated Nursery Décor: Custom Canvas Artwork

Don’t you love how you can derive creative inspiration from virtually anywhere? I’m expecting my first child — a boy! — in January, and my sole goal as of late has been decorating his nursery.

I knew I wanted to build the nursery around a coastal theme in honor of my hometown Charleston, South Carolina, and I have been playing with different shades of blue, gray and green. In addition to the various colors, another aspect of the sea that I want to highlight is ocean creatures, specifically sea turtles!

When you’re decorating a room, focusing on a single item and basing other things in the space on it is a common technique to make sure that everything coordinates. Today, that’s just what I’m doing with this fantastically modern pillow that I personalized with my son’s initial.

Not only are the dots on this pillow the perfect shade of green, but they also tie in to my sea turtle theme brilliantly; the dots remind me of sea turtle shells.

And although I could have just used one aspect of the pillow to inspire my surroundings (used the same colors or made something with similar curves, etc.), I decided to go with a more literal translation and actually recreate the pillow’s design on a custom painted canvas.


  • 16”x 20” plain white canvas
  • Wine goblet
  • Paint: (I used DecoArt’s Americana acrylic craft paint in “Sour Apple” for dots and a white for the stenciling)
  • Stencils (for baby’s name)


  1. I turned a wine goblet upside down and used the rim as the template for my large dots.
  1. Following along with the pattern on the pillow, I made sure to offset the dots and have the ones on the edge actually spilling over the sides of the canvas. By doing this, you create the appearance of movement across the painting, almost as if you’ve caught the dots trying to escape!
  2. Spilling I experimented with several different shades of green and considered alternating the colors in an ombre-inspired design. Ultimately, I settled on a single shade and painted all of the dots using DecoArt’s Americana acrylic craft paint in “Sour Apple.”
  3. After the first coat dries, you’ll need to apply at least one more. For the experimental/originally darker dots, I just painted over them with an extra coat of the Sour Apple and they all ended up being uniform in the end.
  4. Drawing even more inspiration from the pillow, I knew I wanted to personalize the canvas with my son’s name. After all, since I already had his initial on the pillow, I didn’t need to replicate it exactly on the wall art. Instead, I stenciled his name “Phen” in the same bottom corner dot on the canvas as the “P” in the pillow.

When stenciling on anything, it’s important to follow these guidelines:

· Position your letters and mark the placement with a pencil before applying paint.

· Less is always more: Load up the brush and then immediately wipe off almost all of the paint. I know it seems counterintuitive, but trust me: Applying multiple light coats of paint that are crisp and bright is far easier (and less time-consuming) than having to start again and paint over blurry letters that result when you have too much paint on the brush and it seeps under the stencil.

· When stenciling individual letters, you’ll need to place at least some of the stencil over the last letter you painted. Allow each letter to dry slightly before moving on to the next. This is yet another reason why it pays to paint light coats!

After you’ve completed the stenciling, you’re ready to hang your nursery canvas.

After he’s born, I may also add his birthday under his name. Another idea could be to fill some of the other dots with his birth information like his weight, length, time of birth, etc. That’s my favorite part about DIY décor: You can make it whatever you want it to be! And because you made it yourself in the first place, you’ll know exactly how to fix it if it doesn’t turn out the way you wanted it to.

Fortunately, I’m thrilled with the end result of my canvas. And it all started with a simple throw pillow!

PHOTO: 8. Final???

What unexpected home décor items have you used as inspiration for your coordinated custom artwork creations?

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