The baby nursery has really grown up in the home. Featuring transitional furniture that grows with baby, today’s nursery can be smartly sophisticated for the smaller set, while still appealing to a parental aesthetic.
You don’t have to sacrifice style for small ones, says Danielle Kurtz, creative director for The Land of Nod, a catalog, Internet and retail store company, based in Morton Grove, Ill., which specializes in children’s furniture, bedding and accessories. “The design of a baby’s nursery should be an extension of your home’s overall design,” Kurtz says. “Gone are the days when parents might feel they have to check their style at the nursery door and usher in licensed character merchandise for children’s rooms.”
When it comes to the design of the nursery room itself, the handwriting’s on the wall for cutesy “duck-in-bonnet” wallpaper with matching border or pastel pink- or blue-painted walls. Instead, neutrals are the new nursery color.
“Shades of white in a room make for a clean space, and serve as a backdrop for accessories with pops of color,” Kurtz says. “Graphic wallpaper makes a statement and creates a focal point when hung on a single wall.”
To keep walls as fresh as the day they were painted or papered, consider covering the lower part of the wall with durable and decorative wainscoting. But no matter how you break down the design of the nursery walls, make sure to start any project well in advance of baby’s arrival, so the room is fume-free.
Building a baby’s bedroom starts underfoot. Whether you roll out wall-to-wall carpeting or have an area rug over tile or hardwoods, a soft surface will visually warm the space and absorb sound, especially if you’re checking on a sleeping baby.
A design starting at the ground level with a colorful or graphically dynamic rug can unify a color scheme for the diminutive dwelling. But for safety’s sake, make sure any area rug is secured to the floor to prevent falls, especially when carrying a baby.
When it comes to furniture, a nursery requires only a few pieces for parents and baby to bunk-out: a crib; comfortable seating; a place to change diapers; and storage for wee items, including toys, books, clothing and blankets.
“The nursery revolves around the crib,” Kurtz says, “It is often the largest purchase in a nursery, but also the most important, since a baby will spend a lot of time in it.”
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission’s requirements for selling a safer generation of cribs changed on June 28, 2011, to help ensure baby’s sleep is not only sound, but also safe. A crib manufactured before that date may not meet federal safety standards, with unsafe features including drop-side cribs and ones in which the distance between slats measures greater 2 3/8inches.
Mini-modern furniture with clean lines is the style many parents are choosing for their nursery. The Land of Nod’s cribs meet safety guidelines, with prices that start at $649. Conversion kits are available for some models, so the crib can grow as baby’s need for sleep is best met in a toddler or, eventually, a full-sized bed.
The International Association for Child Safety recommends that the placement of the crib not be directly beneath a window with corded blinds, or adjacent to other pieces of furniture, such as a dresser, which may encourage toddlers to climb. Also, parents should buy a firm mattress that fits snugly inside the crib.
Parents are investing in nursery pieces in the same style found in furniture throughout the rest of the home. A chair, lamp or streamlined storage unit can easily transition into the family room as baby becomes more active, without looking out of place. Also, nursery dressers can be modified to easily become a changing station, using The Land of Nod’s “changer” top and pad ($149), for a piece that pulls double duty.
Kurtz advises parents to anchor pieces of furniture — such as dressers — to the wall, to prevent tipping when a curious child begins to climb. “Tip-restraint kits are included with our dressers to anchor them to the wall,” she says. “You can also buy these anchors at your local hardware store; but the important thing is to install them into the wall studs.”
After the furniture is in place, accessorize a neutral-colored nursery with colorful accessories that are gender-neutral. Blankets, pillows and artwork in atomic oranges, sea-glass blues, sunny yellows and sherbet-inspired greens enliven a space. Artwork can be both sophisticated and playful to reflect a personal style, but keep the space above and inside the crib clear of hard-framed pictures and soft throws.
Removable and repositionable decals, starting around $25, are a great way to be creative without fully committing to a design. Decals are as simple as 1-2-3, and range from A-B-C to animal motifs.
“You can be bold and adventurous in a nursery, using color and patterns, such as chevrons, stripes and polka dots. People who might be more conservative in the rest of their home can play in a nursery,” Kurtz says. “There’s enough to worry about when you’re expecting and raising children, putting the nursery together isn’t meant to be intimidating, it should be fun.”