When Jessica Simpson and fiancé Eric Johnson asked Rachel Ashwell of Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture to design their daughter’s nursery a few months before Maxwell Drew arrived, the couple had a very clear vision in mind.
“Jessica is very pretty and feminine, but she didn’t want this to be over-the-top frilly,” Ashwell tells PEOPLE. “The words she used were ‘gypsy’ and ‘bohemian,’ so we brought in lavenders and mauves with a bit of pink and aqua.”
On one wall, Ashwell hung vintage butterfly wallpaper that “definitely set the tone,” and filled the room with luxe furniture from her boutiques. As a complement, the designer scoured flea markets to find vintage pieces that she converted into shelving units — and even a custom changing table, which she made by screwing a changing table top to a dresser.
|Jessica and Eric chose this Finn Rocker in a different fabric for Maxwell – Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture; Inset: Jamie M|
One reason the experience was so satisfying was because Simpson, 31, and Johnson, 32, completely shared her vision, and loved nearly every idea she proposed — so much so that they asked her to design the rest of their home for them as well.
“They were probably the most un-neurotic people I’ve ever known,” says Ashwell. “Jessica wanted [the nursery] be cozy and cute, and she was very respectful of Eric, asking, ‘Do you like this?’ And he was nicely opinionated.”
“I found being around them very inspiring to think, ‘Wow, [this is] a real collaborative vision,'” continues Ashwell. “I even wrote them a little note saying, ‘It’s been such a privilege to be part of making your home for you, because I know it’s going to be a house of substance.'”
For photos of what’s inside Maxwell’s nursery — and an update on how Simpson and Johnson are handling parenthood — check out this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
– Lesley Messer