Out of all the rooms in your home, chances are, the one you’re most excited to create — and decorate — is your baby’s nursery. After all, this is the room where you’ll spend the majority of your time during those first years of your child’s life — and it sets the tone for how they will come to know and see the world.
In addition to making your child’s nursery unique, special, and bursting with personality, it’s also important to make sure it’s functional — that you can easily move around in it and access everything you need, that it’s durable enough to last daily wear and tear, that it’s safe, and, most importantly, that it’s comfortable and is a place that you want to spend your time in.
If you have the space, Alessandra Wood, Ph.D., Design Historian and the VP of Style at Modsy, points out that an abundance of storage will also make life easier as a parent. “If you focus only on how the space looks and forget to incorporate these functional needs, the nursery will not be as helpful for you,” she says. “If you don’t have a good layout with baby-friendly needs in mind, you might find that your nursery isn’t as usable as you’d hoped.”
If you’re a first-time parent, the prospect of creating a nursery can seem a bit overwhelming. To help inspire you to design a nursery that you’ll love and that will serve you well in your parenting endeavors, check out these expert tips for creating a functional nursery.
Start with a Theme and a Color Palette
A great starting point is deciding on an overall theme and a color palette. “You may find this in a rug, a piece of art, a fabric, or a collection of toys/collectibles you wish to display and can circle the theme around that,” suggests Tama Heinrichs of Tama Heinrichs Design in Boulder, Colorado. “If you start with something simple like a wall color, you limit your options for art and textiles, but art and accessories may be more challenging.” In all, she suggests finding the special pieces first, so you don’t limit your options too soon.
Use Books as Artwork
Something Michelle Pulman, interior designer, home decor expert and owner of Girl on the Hudson, always tries to create in a nursery is a reading nook and her favorite way to display books is by using acrylic wall shelves. “You can hang 2-3 shelves stacked in a corner and layer books to create a really fun space,” she says. “I swap books in and out based on season and as the kids grow up, they love to be able to choose what to read by looking at the covers hanging on the wall.”
Invest in Convertible Furniture
Before you get tempted by that frilly crib with a floral veil wrapped around it, consider how long you’ll really be using it (probably about two years max). There are so many convertible options that transition to a toddler bed, daybed, and a full-size bed, so it can literally serve as your child’s bed until they go to college! Another type of convertible furniture worth having in your nursery is a dresser that comes with a removable changing topper. Once your baby is potty trained, you simply remove the top, and there you have a dresser your child can use for years to come.
Add in Bold Colors
You might initially be tempted to go with soft colors, like baby pink, baby blue and light yellow, but Denise Davies, CEO and founder of D2 Interieurs, encourages parents to opt for statement-making bold hues instead. “Bold colors can be sophisticated and elegant, and every room deserves good design, including the nursery,” she says. “Minimal and clean lines work very well in a nursery as does the smart storage solutions so that toys can be tucked away neatly.” Another perk about bold colors is that they tend to be more appropriate for older kids, so you don’t have to repaint through the years.
Choose a Comfortable Chair
Whether you go the rocking chair or glider route, it’s important to make sure that the seat you choose for your nursery is one that you will be comfortable sitting in for hours at a time. Feeding sessions are often around the clock during those first few months, so you want to make sure you’re sitting in a chair that supports you and allows you to comfortably feed and soothe your baby. Heinrichs suggests trying a chair before you purchase it so you don’t have to guess just how comfortable it will be. “An upholstered chair tends to provide a refreshing contrast to the strong lines of cribs, dressers and shelving,” she adds.
Factor in Safety
As the mother of five and the wife of a pediatrician, Heinrichs always considers safety when designing nursery spaces. “Babies become curious toddlers at a rapid pace, so it’s important to baby-proof early — before you are busy chasing a toddler from one activity to the next,” she says. She urges parents to anchor furniture to the walls, avoid chokable items and invest in safe window treatments.
Don’t Be Afraid to Have Some Fun
If you’ve been wanting to try a fun wallpaper print or bold color, Sara Adam Slywka, one of the founders of Nestig, says the nursery is the perfect place for it. If you go this route, however, she suggests using a light or neutral palette for the furniture, which can better balance the playful prints and patterns on the wall and the floor (or even the ceiling!).
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