Tips and Trends in Nursery Decor

Evan or Emmett? Montana or Morgan? Forget about naming baby as the biggest challenge for new parents. Naming is a piece of teething biscuit compared to the quest to create the perfect nursery. Luckily, local designers and boutique owners have suggestions to help you create the nursery of your dreams. Pat Cashman of Today’s Interiors in Raleigh, Theresa Ferguson of TDesign, Betsy Hayes owner of Chapel Hill’s Peacock Alley, and Angela Krause owner of Oh Baby! in Cameron Village and Dilly Dally off Falls of the Neuse all weighed in with their recommendations.

Choose a theme.

Themes are very chic for nursery décor and provide inspiration for the entire room. Noah’s arc and barnyard themes provide a great springboard for creativity according to Cashman. She also recommends nautical and sport-related themes for little boys’ rooms. Recently she created a charming girl’s room of frogs dressed up as princes and princesses. Ferguson also recommends French roses (small sweetheart roses) for baby girls. Some unisex ideas include a safari theme with monkeys, lions and palm trees; traditional bugs like ladybugs and caterpillars; and colorful sail boats.

Cashman, Hayes and Krause discourage the use of “cartoon” (e.g. Snow White, Thomas the Tank Engine, etc.) themes. All three feel cartoon characters fail to create an individual environment, and they caution that cartoons do not transition well from baby nursery to toddler room. Cashman advises parents to choose a broadly-appealing theme so “you don’t have to re-do too soon.”

Look for transitional large purchases in dark stains or painted finishes.

For expensive items like furniture, Krause and Ferguson recommend classic pieces so the room won’t require extensive and expensive redecorating. With cribs and changing tables, look for items that convert to toddler beds and dressers. Krause’s clients prefer hand-made, solid wood pieces that will serve their children until college. She feels less trendy pieces are best for this purpose. “Don’t forget a comfortable chair,” reminds Ferguson.

In painted furniture, black is very popular for boys; white is timeless for either sex. These colors provide a wonderful foundation for painted accents. For example, Krause has been featuring furniture with dark stains on the body of the piece and knobs in accent colors coordinated with the room décor. According to Krause the natural wood look is out; formerly a very popular selection, the natural look isn’t “classic” enough for today’s nursery shoppers. In addition, natural woods don’t age as gracefully as dark stains and painted choices.

Go unique.

Cashman emphasizes that most decorators defer to their clients’ taste when creating any room including a nursery. Customizing your nursery to your individual taste will ensure uniqueness. Hayes confirms: “Customization is big. Our clients don’t want their nursery to look like anyone else’s.” Hand-painted furniture pieces, wall murals, and hand-embroidered linens are popular items for creating a special look.

Although these kinds of hand-made details can get pricey, blending complementary fabrics with different patterns and textures achieves a unique and tailored look to suit any budget. Ferguson recommends that, for infants, durability and wash-ability are important factors in fabric selection and with design, anything goes: toile prints, polka dots, stripes, checks, florals and so forth. Cashman recommends mixing and matching: “[We’re] doing a lot of layering of patterns with borders and trim pieces. Usually we look for three to five fabrics that will coordinate and blend together. It doesn’t look busy because they match.” Don’t worry about it looking too busy, Cashman says. She believes the variety of colors and patterns create an environment that can stimulate children as they grow.

For a custom wall look, murals are growing in popularity. “If you’re artistic,” says Ferguson, “you can create your own mural. Get a picture and a projector and trace the image and then fill it in with paint.”

Choose a color palette that suits your taste and your goals for the room.

Traditional pastels and bold colors are current nursery looks. Parents who want a soothing environment are choosing lighter colors (pale pinks, buttery yellows and soft limes) and parents who favor a more stimulating environment are going bold (deep reds, blues, greens, or hot pink). According to Krause, one popular color blend right now for a baby girl’s room is chocolate and pink.

Krause prefers traditional pastels to create a soothing, vintage look with accessories used to add punches of color. She feels that a nursery encourage restfulness with calm, classic colors.

Cashman is at the other end of the decorating spectrum. She recommends bright colors for room decoration. “This is the Baby Einstein era,” she points out. “Children benefit from stimulating colors.” She also recommends bold, printed fabrics for brightening the room.

Accent with trendy or age-specific items.

If there is a specific character you love, choose accent items around it rather than main pieces. For example, buy a Dora the Explorer throw pillow rather than bedding, wallpaper and rugs festooned with her image. If a Peter Rabbit throw blanket is part of your family tradition, you can honor that tradition while creating your unique space. Hayes mentions that if a family brought an heirloom to her, she would examine the piece, pulling out colors and patterns to provide inspiration rather than limitation for the room.

Ultimately, the perfect nursery is a space that should reflect the style of your home and feel comfortable for both parents and baby; it shouldn’t be intimidating to create or occupy. Let your own creativity and sense of style be your guides, and enjoy your decorating days.