How to Design a Nursery

Plant a Seed

Naomi Alon Coe of Little Crown Interiors, an interior designer specializing in nursery and child design, says that many clients come to her with a single item that inspires the overall design. “Sometimes it’s a wallpaper pattern they fell in love with, other times it’s just a crib or another piece of furniture.”

Don’t Go Overboard With a Theme

Interior designer Cathie Hong of Cathie Hong Interiors cautions against overdoing the modern trend of having a theme for your nursery. “I like to start with a neutral base for the furniture, then build on it with accent lighting, wallpaper, artwork, rugs, textiles, toys and books,” she says. “So even if tastes change, the accent pieces can easily be changed out while keeping the large investment pieces the same. Even if a nursery has a specific theme, I try to keep the color palette soft and minimal to create a calm and non-stimulating environment for both mom and baby.”

Map Out Your Floorplan

A successful nursery design of any size has distinct zones for sleeping, changing, nursing, and playing. Measure your space, and make practical decisions about the best and safest areas to locate the room’s essential furniture: the crib, changing table, and a comfortable rocking chair or glider for nursing. Spend on big ticket items first to keep your budget on track and allow the proper lead time for online orders and assembly.

Color Palette and Décor

While it’s perfectly fine to go old school with pink or blue, today many parents are opting for gender neutral nursery designs. Interior designer Mel Bean of Mel Bean Interiors suggests choosing calming colors such as white or pastels for the walls, then having a little fun with the ceiling.

Light, Air, and Noise Control

The main goal of the nursery is getting your child on a sleep schedule, so it’s crucial to have options for blocking out light, mitigating sound from other rooms, and controlling temperature and air flow. Use thick pile rugs and drapes to help absorb noise. Layer solar shades, black-out shades, interior or exterior shutters, and/or curtains to control and filter light.

Design a Room That Will Grow With Your Baby

While you want to create a beautiful room for your baby’s arrival, be sure to keep the design flexible enough to be easily adapted throughout childhood. Bean says that means “choosing ageless elements in draperies, wall coverings, and lighting so that with a few changes in furnishings, art, and accessories the room can still work for tweens and teens.”

All In the Family

A nursery symbolizes a fresh start but it’s also about continuity. “I’ve always been a fan of incorporating a family heirloom into a kids bedroom,” says Segal, “so there’s always a strong sense of family history present in the room. Whether that’s accomplished by hanging something on the wall that used to belong to grandpa or dad, or by framing something special that’s been passed down through the family from generation to generation, I think that incorporating a family heirloom is a personal touch that carries meaning, and will never go out of style."

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