All the Details on Willa Ford’s Boho-Chic Nursery – Plus Her Meaningful Maternity Portraits

08/19/2016 at 05:15 PM ET

Willa Ford Nursery Main
Josh Williams

Interior designer Willa Ford admits that even though she has helped bring tons of home visions to fruition, when it came time to design a nursery for her own child, she needed a good place to begin.

“When you do so many different aesthetics for so many different people, you go, ‘I love this trend and that trend’ and get it out of your system. When it comes to yours, you freeze for a minute,” the former singer, who gained fame for her 2001 hit “I Wanna Be Bad,” tells PEOPLE of the gender-neutral room she designed for her first child, a delivery surprise due at the end of August.

“It was honestly about the wallpaper [being] the starting point,” adds the mom-to-be, who married former Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Ryan Nece in October.

“With my personality, I just knew it had to look nature-y. It’s so funny — we focus so much on the baby and what the baby’s gonna love. They’re never gonna know what it looks like! I’ll pay money if you can remember what your nursery looked like,” Ford, 35, jokes. “It’s really about the mom!”

Willa Ford Nursery Main
Josh Williams

The nursery that resulted from Ford’s creative taste features a mix of florals, bamboo, industrial touches, wild animals and a variety of both modern and vintage-inspired elements.

But Ford’s favorite part of the space is actually one of its staples: the crib, which is complete with a white canopy and is part of the Campaign collection by Pottery Barn Kids, along with the dresser.

“I’m hoping the baby is a good sleeper but that’s laughable, let’s be honest,” she says. “I needed a lot of storage, so the furniture I chose had it.”

Another aspect of the room she really digs “function-wise” is the Serena & Lily hanging rattan chair.

“I’ll spend a lot of time rocking in this chair,” she says. “I decided, instead of a glider, to do a hanging chair. People don’t realize how comfortable they are.”

Willa Ford Nursery Main
Josh Williams

Ford also touches on the importance of the floral wallpaper she is “obsessed” with (“I told him guys like pink too,” she jokes of convincing Nece to get on board with her choice — even if they end up with a son).

“Babies love tummy time and staring at the print, so I wanted to incorporate some patterns so the baby has something to fixate on,” she shares, noting that the idea of considering a simpler color palette just “[isn’t] my personality at all.”

Willa Ford Nursery Main
Josh Williams

Aside from the floral touches and pops of color throughout the room, Ford admits she wanted to incorporate a bit of wildlife (“I’m obsessed with monkeys,” she says, citing the fact that her baby will be born in the Chinese Year of the Monkey) and culture — for a very important reason.

“There’s this really big piece of art from an African tribe. It’s this beautiful picture of someone in full regalia at sunset,” she says, explaining, “I bought it as a gift for my husband for his African-American culture.”

Willa Ford Nursery Main
Josh Williams

The expectant mom, who competed on Dancing with the Stars in the show’s third season, also made sure to work in pieces that hold sentimental value to both herself and her husband.

“My husband’s mom kept his receiving blanket all these years, and that’s actually on the crib. It’s so sweet!” she says. “There’s a wall of bookshelves — my mother-in-law saved some of Ryan’s books and wrote notes in the favorites.”

“It’ll be so neat to read these to my kid, eventually write a note myself and pass it on,” she continues. “It’s such a cool idea.”

Willa Ford Nursery Main
Josh Williams

As far as names are concerned, the couple have a few favorites for both sexes, but are keeping their options open.

“We don’t have one, we have a couple. I’ve been having a hard time … I need to look in this baby’s eyes before I can name it,” Ford explains. “We have favorites, but I’ve gotta meet this baby first. I hope in that moment we know, because there are people who leave the hospital and still don’t know!”

“We have some traditional family names, some biblical names, too,” she continues. “I’m also really inspired by nature, so it’s quite possible it’ll be something a little more off the average — but nothing crazy. We’re not trying to do over-the-top celebrity names.”

Willa Ford Nursery Main
Josh Williams

The 38-weeks-pregnant Ford also recently took part in a stunning maternity shoot, where she donned a Native American-inspired ensemble for a very meaningful reason.

“In Native culture, you earn a feather for acts of bravery — usually in battle. I thought it would be symbolic of carrying and birthing a child,” she explains. “The red paint across [the] eyes was used by shamans or healers”.

“I should include that I am part Native American and wanted to celebrate that in my photos,” she continues. “I know cultural appropriation is a huge topic these days, but our baby should celebrate that he/she will be part Native/African American and [part] Caucasian.”

Willa Ford Nursery Main
Josh Williams

Ford shares that while she’s planning on going the “regular” route in childbirth, she doesn’t expect it to be perfect.

“They tell women, ‘Have a birth plan.’ And then they’ll tell women [to] just throw it all out the window, because you just don’t know what’s going to happen when you get in there,” she says. “I trust the doctor has my best interests [at heart].”

About her instinct on her baby’s sex, Ford says, “I think I’m having a girl! I have felt like that since three and a half months into pregnancy. My husband also thinks it’s a girl, but my mom thought I was a boy. In some weird psyche way, I’m prepared for a girl, so if it’s a boy, it’s going to be really funny. I’m excited either way, but it’ll be entertaining.”

Willa Ford Nursery Main
Josh Williams

Ford confesses that even though she and Nece both think they’re having a little girl, the temptation to discover the baby’s sex was never present.

“Before we got married — even before we got pregnant — we never talked about the fact that both of us always wanted this to be a surprise,” she explains. “I always knew I would hold out and wait to find out what the baby was. And he was the same way. Not for one minute have I wished I knew.”

“I think it’s a really great light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in labor,” she continues. “You’re going to find out what this baby is, [and it] just gives you a little extra motivation.”

Like most women about to go through childbirth for the first time, Ford isn’t exempt from jitters.

“I’m so nervous. There’s this thing that happens during pregnancy: Your body starts to get so over it that when it’s time, your body’s like, ‘This is so horrible, but let’s get this thing out,'” she says. “You’re just so tired and you can’t sleep, your ribs hurt — it’s the silly stuff you hear, but it’s true.”

Willa Ford Nursery Main
Josh Williams

And although Nece and Ford might share the same opinion about the sex of their baby, they differ vastly in terms of how they’re handling the upcoming stress associated with childbirth.

“I’m nervous, but my husband used to play in the NFL, [so he has a] coaching mentality. I’m like, ‘Do I need to buy you a whistle for this?'” she jokes. “He’s so cool, calm and collected about it. It’s almost creepy how calm he is. He runs the play in his head. He’s just not worried at all.”

— Jen Juneau with reporting by Melody Chiu

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Showing 25 comments

Just Sayin' on

Such a jumble. Let’s just say it’s not my taste.

Cee on

I loooove this room. I think she did an excellent job and would love to see more of her work. It’s the most unique one I’ve seen this site show yet.

Anna on

Seriously how can that wallpaper in that DISQUSTING room be gender neutral??!?!?!?! Seriously hope it wasn’t professionally done otherwise they should give up their day job.

megan on

I am cringing at Willa fibbing she’s Native American. Being 1/128th or whatever Native American does not make you one. There’s no such thing as a general “Native culture.” An actual tribal member would not say generalize all Native American tribes like that. Nor would they drag out ceremonial clothing for a Coachella looking maternity shoot.

I’m sure her mother in law is appalled that Willa just found a random picture of an African man & said “this is for your black culture. you’re welcome. and I hope I get points for being a woke white girl”

DarkEmpress on

I think its ridiculous when people use their modicum of Native American ancestry, to somehow claim belonging to Native American culture. No lady. You clearly do not have any understanding of Native American culture and you are just using the headdress as a costume. It is a religious headpiece. It is not earned for whatever reason you tell yourself you deserve it for. It is bestowed to you by your tribe. Which is an important part of Native culture, not claiming things for yourself through hubris, but humbling yourself and accepting an honor that is conferred on you.

A majority of African American people have white ancestry but do not go about stating that due to their white ancestry they are white. Belonging to a culture means that you have learned about it and you have understood it and you RESPECT it. If you want to teach your child about Native American lineage, then actually meet some Native American people, learn the culture and stop perpetuating stereotypes based on misconceptions and misinformation you have.

I think its ridiculous that people who do not deal with the burdens of racism associated with being a racialized person, due to clearly being visibly white want to take on the privileges of the race.

blessedwithboys on

beautiful room with gorgeous wallpaper. Yes, boys can like pink. But that is not a gender-neutral room. It is a girly room.

Also, while Willa is busy trusting her doctor has her best interests at heart, he will be laughing maniacally on the way to the bank to deposit the huge check he earned for the c-section that he planned on doing all along and she wasn’t told about until her baby’s health was “suddenly” at risk at 4pm on a Friday.

jlduke55 on

I like the room, it’s unique and not over the top in my opinion. I also felt like she was respectful and explained herself with the Native American outfit, I don’t understand why people are so rude these days.

Best of luck to her and can’t wait to hear the details on baby!

megan on

Really, jlduke55, you think the actual Native American who posted above you is rude ? And not Willa, who is co-opting a culture she doesn’t even belong to & can’t name specifically ?

Marky on

I am Muskogee Creek, made the effort to learn the language, and know traditions, though like many, I am mixed. I know few NA from the area I was raised in who would say those who are mixed, but raised in the traditions and customs, aren’t native american (there are multiple tribes in that area, and more that one in many areas, though we have tribal lands everywhere in that state). We do identify by tribe, and feathers are sacred and personal. If I am dancing and dressed in traditional clothing with feathers in my hair, she isn’t allowed to pick them up and hand them to me, let alone wear them for a picture along with items from other tribes, and even male items as well.

However, I am older, and no Creek, Chickasaw, or Cherokee I was raised around would be rude about someone having pride in identifying with that part of their family history, any more than they would think it ridiculous that someone was saying they were part German because their GGGF was from Germany. Identity comes from the Rolls, from how you were raised, language, customs, clothing, and things like our dancing and singing. Her intentions for her child are good, it seems, and we have no clue for instance, if she identifies with a certain tribe, or vaguely thinks there is “Native American” in her family history. She didn’t choose to share that information, either way.

As to the picture she gave her husband…he is the one who is AA, and if he likes the picture, it doesn’t matter whether you think it’s okay or not…their circus, their monkeys, as the saying goes. Maybe people should try not to be so “judgey” about their personal relationship and what works for them and how they want to share that with their child. Sheesh! Why all the rage and name-calling?

Blessedwithboys, it would be so nice if anyone could choose their own birth plan and you weren’t at the ready with accusations galore about how every doctor chooses to do a C-section for convenience all the time. I’ve been an OB nurse, and I’ve seen one doctor who chose to induce a group of patients before she left for vacation, and guess what?! She lost her license to practice medicine within weeks of that being reported. No one thought that was okay, other than a few patients who were tired of being pregnant, and scared their doctor wouldn’t be there.

Most doctors do NOT want to do C-sections because they know it’s better all around to have a vaginal delivery. My friend begged for a c-section and her doctor was adamant that there was absolutely no reason to even think about it, so “get busy and do what your body is made to do”; spent time encouraging her, and letting my friend know she could do it and her body would be fine when delivery was over. I have seen many doctors do that, but almost never seen them do a c-section for convenience “because it’s Friday afternoon”! Not everyone wants to have their baby in the backyard in a toddler pool, so give it a break in your judgement….

Mourning Autumn on

I can not even begin to explain the utter confusion I have here.

I honestly tried to read the article but, even the wording of her ways didn’t make any sense…

This is the oddest thing I have seen in a long time.

KL on

That looks like a girls room not a gender neutral room or a really bad gender neutral room, it is lovely though.

heather on

Does she only marry former professional athletes?

K.W. on

Like the wallpaper.. Canopy over the bed is a baby hazard and the white monkey looks like he’s holding a light up dildo.

Ree on

It may be years later, but I’m sorry I still find nothing this woman does believable, interesting or noteworthy. Her music was horrible, she rode the coattails of her boy band boyfriend and had a horrible condescending attitude that clearly hasn’t changed. The room is cute but I’m sure there are dozens better that have been designed by everyday people that will never be featured on a website… sorry Amanda.

DaisyMoon on

She looks like Kesha…

sally on

Why do people obsess so much about where they came from? I was born here- in the USA. That’s all I care about. I doubt she has very much N. American in her! How about just celebrate the new life and stop focusing on his/her heritage. Neither one of these two ever lived the life of the heritage she speaks about. They are rich Americans! Room should be red, white and blue!

Copper on

When we speak about others in such a negative light, it truly is just what we see in ourselves. Embracing the fact that a new life is being brought into this world with so much love and consideration of their well being is really the story behind it all. Shalom ‘

Me Mi Mimi on

You are not native. Stahhhhp.

KL on

the room looks very cluttered! so much stuff everywhere, make it nice and simple! and why would you need that canopy thing over the crib?? Are they going to be exposed to the bugs and need protection??? kind of dumb….

shawn on

I think her pregnant figure looks great for 38 weeks. The nursery is creative and cute. The miserable people commenting on this forum need to get a life. Their judginess comes off as jealously and is ridiculous. They obviously have nothing better to do than tear another woman down who is probably a good person and is just excited to have her baby. She is sharing a beautiful moment in her life and it should be respected. She has enough going on in her mind with all the hormones and shame on ya’ll for saying nasty, negative comments about another human being that I doubt you’d ever say to her face. This cattiness shows you are indeed uglier on the inside than the room/pictures you complain about. Obviously, you awful people do not have fulfilling lives or much of a purpose. You should work on yourselves and radiate positivity and it will come back to you. It’s time to make a change in this world, and it start with you!

Stacey on

This is ridiculously culturally appropriative and it’s disgusting. No one Native is “part Native American”. Tribes have actual names. I’m 1/16 Cherokee (Red Stick), not some catchall group. No one says they’re “part European” because European countries have actual names. No one says that they’re “part Mediterranean”, either. This “part Native” bs is just that. BS.

Jaqueline on

Seriously? I am in interior designer, and what she did is totally horrible. She tried very hard to mix different styles and patterns and it totally backfired. The wallpaper would be nice for a country house kitchen, but her total mismatch and disregard of the whole concept, is hideous. I wouldn’t pay her five cent, if I had to, lol

Mrs. B on

I don’t like her nursery, but it’s not my baby. And she looks like a hot mess.

Guest4520 on

The nursery isn’t my thing. In my opinion it doesn’t give off a “baby vibe”…but that’s just my take on it. Will and is a beautiful lady but the maternity photos looked staged and “costumey”…

My2Cents on

That wallpaper and room design is HORRIBLE!! Only good idea is the old baby books. Here rambling commentary is laughable. Why don’t you frame a pic of your husband’s actual grandparents and post that above the bed, instead of trying to have an odd pic of some random african to show sensitivity. DUMB as her!