I have been doing a lot of thinking about nursery design over the last couple of months. Colours, fabrics, space, storage and so on have been flittering in and out of my nesting mind. I turn to magazines and books for inspiration and have since come up with my top 10 tips based on the input from a lot of these publications and from our experiences working on the room for number two. These points are pretty basic but if you are feeling your way through this for the first time they might be useful.
1. Keep it basic – choose things which can be added to as time goes by.
Your essential needs in a nursery are:
Changing mat (either on a dresser or a table) with storage for wipes, nappies (diapers) and lotions
Rocking chair / arm chair
Bedding including a waterproof mattress protector
Storage for clothes
2. Keep function firmly in mind. In the longer term, will this room be the room when they need to put in a desk for homework or a computer? Will your child also have use of a playroom or family room or will this be where all their toys are kept and most of their playing is done? Will they be sharing with older or younger siblings? Plan built-in fixtures (bunk beds, storage etc.) accordingly.
3. Choose a unisex colour scheme if you don’t know whether you are having a girl or a boy — or a boysie-girl or a girlsie-boy. The most suggested colour seems to be white which you can then accessorise with colour, but other suggestions are apple green (we love and recommend this one – we have one wall painted this colour in AJs room and glows), tangerine, cherry, duck-egg blue or turquoise. These colours are all pretty overpowering so you might want to paint most of the room white and then paint one feature wall a vivid colour.
4. The best way to add personality to a room is with soft furnishings and textiles which are comparatively cheap and can change with your child’s interests and age. Crib quilts, blankets, cushions for the reading chair, lamp-shades and curtains are all good places to add little colour and personal expression into a room.
Instead of pasting up an almost impossible to remove wall frieze, why not try a string of fabric bunting in pretty colours or a string of flags or fairy lights.
5. When looking for a theme, focus on one particular element which appeals to you for inspiration – it could be a vintage toy, a particular fabric, a certain style (contemporary, country, eclectic, vintage etc) or a favourite family pastime (hot air ballooning was my nephew’s nursery theme).
6. Keep a scrap-book of clippings from magazines of ideas which appeal to you. Refer to it often for inspiration and to keep you focused.
7. Consider heating, cooling, natural light and ventilation. Do you need to install some safe heating? Does a lot of cold air come in through the window and should you place the crib well away from it? Will you need block out blinds for day time napping?
8. Attempt to use non-toxic materials which are kind to the environment as well as the baby such as low VOC paints and natural fibres.
9. Electrical tips: As with every other room in the house, lighting adds so much mood and personality to a nursery. Fit a dimmer switch for the overhead light. Have enough electrical outlets so you have one for a baby monitor, CD player, a fan for summer, a lamp and a night-light. Have your electrical outlets tested and buy baby-proof socket covers.
10. Don’t choose expensive baby furniture which looks cute but will be outgrown quickly. Choose a full-sized wardrobe, and consider using a change mat on top of a dresser rather than splashing out on a baby change table.
Choose a good arm chair for breast feeding and later story telling and even later still lounging on in a teenage kind of way. It doesn’t need to be a special breast-feeding chair, just make sure that it is comfortable, has good back support and low arms.
My sources of inspiration:
Rooms to Grow In : Little Folk Art’s great rooms for babies, kids, and teens by Susan Salzman and Daryn Eller. Cute, country, folk-art chic. Lots of inspiring pictures if you like flea-market goodies and vintage styles. Leans on the “more is more” philosophy of interior design.
Children’s Spaces: From zero to ten by Judith Wilson. There are lots of great rooms for kids in this book in a variety of styles. It’s one of my favourites but the nursery images are limited.
Babies’ Rooms: From zero to three is another Judith Wilson book and it’s quite beautiful. She is definitely of the “less is more” cool, uncluttered design school. Big on white interiors but lots of good ideas.
Childhood Treasures: Handmade Gifts for Babies and Children by Caroline Zoob. While this is not really an interior design book it is loaded with photos of cute corners of nurseries and packed full of good ways (and tutorials for projects) to inject a little personality into a child’s space. Definitely in the folk-shabby-chic-vintage school of design.