5 Easy Ways to Design a Nursery: So it Stays Loved For Years!
Ahhh, the perfect nursery. We have watched movies, scrolled through Instagram shots, read picture books with children playing in the quintessential bedroom. Pregnant with abundant hormones, nothing seems too much for the baby, from an elephant grass bassinet to the adorable designer crib to the perfect change mat.
We moved house the week that my youngest son was born … I know, that was sensible … But he was early, so he came along for the ride amongst the packing boxes. However, his new bedroom needed to be redecorated anyway, so I had a blank canvas.
The world was my baby oyster and yet it was so overwhelming. A quick digressive disclaimer, I run PomPom, a plastic-free shop for unusual designs for kids; toys, gifts and importantly for this story, homewares! However, this seemed to make it worse, the options were now endless, was it disloyal to choose something we didn’t stock?! Should it be themed? Circus, Jungle, Nautical stripes …
Pause and breathe!
The answer seemed increasingly obvious to me; make it sustainable. Of course, in materials but also crucially in longevity. The baby needs to love this room for a long time, ideally into teenage hood. In less than a year, I won’t be able to persuade him to lie still on the change mat. Hell, I am decorating a room that may be plastered with Justin (Bieber / Timberlake?!) posters.
Don’t think nursery, think bedroom.
So, how to make long-term choices that don’t cost the earth? When in doubt, always go straight to the top.
Here are 5 Top Tips from the Design Experts!
Don’t Go Potty with Paint!
Edward Bulmer Natural Paint is a particular favourite of mine. This lovely plastic-free British Brand have created a range of nursery paints, which are crucially toxic-free, with no nasties for babies to inhale. We caught up with Edward to see what advice he had for new parents,
“Muted tones create a fresher, softer and more comfortable environment for children. Parents can bring vivid colours into their kids’ rooms if they like, and of course the kids will change their room as they grow up. But starting with a muted palette avoids having to re-decorate very few years: accessories can just be changed, which is much easier and cheaper.
I am not a fan of highly pigmented paints as it leaves me wondering what has been used to create such colours.”
There are some fabulous colours in these muted tones, you can be bold with the characterful paints – just look at this gorgeous “Evie” green below or yellow above. When choosing any brand, just be aware of the ingredients that are being used – do your research!
Image courtesy of Naomi @MamaSparrowBlog (IG)
2) Avoid baby-centric furniture.
Planning early is key, explains Georgina Fitzherbert, an interiors consultant in Shropshire. Fitzherbert advises parents to think longer term and avoid the pitfalls of baby furniture.
"When planning a children's bedroom, try to look at the longevity of designs, so they're readily adaptable and grow with children's differing needs," she says. "For example, changing tables have zero use after a certain point in a child's life. Why not put the mat on a lovely chest of drawers? It’s often a cheaper option than an official change mat and usually looks twice as nice.
Ugly plastic toy boxes can be replaced with statement raffia chests, and wooden furniture can look great when restyled or repainted.”
As Georgina mentions, as children grow and their taste change, furniture can easily be painted or upcycled, as the trendy word goes! Indeed, if it is not “baby-fied” – it can also be used in other rooms as well.
3) Go long on the soft furnishings, rug addicts!
Think colourful, stylish and removable; cushions, artworks, bunting, bed spreads, toy boxes. All are much easier to change and update than Barbar curtains!
Rugs are a wonderful way to add a pop of colour to a child’s room. It is much easier to move than a new carpet! Keep carpet tones neutral and explore the world of rugs, these can be as playful or as sophisticated as you like.
Above is my youngest son, Claude’s room, I love his organic felt Panda rug and butterfly wall decorations from PomPom – I can’t wait for him to grow out of them, I will gladly have both in my room! The Molly Brett prints can be removed and kept for grandchildren or moved to the kids’ bathroom. I had the Colefax & Fowler roman blinds I had made (Me? With a sewing machine?! Forget it!) from my mother’s vintage curtains. And oh yes, I painted that bookshelf myself and he is welcome to sand it and re-paint – just give him 10 years!
Image courtesy of Nicole Salvesen.
4) Child-Proof those fabrics
If anyone knows about style, it’s the award-winning interior design duo, Salvesen-Graham based in London. Mary and Nicole are both parents and know all too well, the clash between designer and sticky fingers!
“We would always suggest veering away from overly childish fabrics and furniture as your child will soon grow out of them and you will find yourself redecorating the room in no time! Also, in the early days, it is the parents who will be spending time in the room and appreciating the decoration – your baby won’t be admiring the curtain fabric!
The best solution when it comes to withstanding stains and spills is to go for colour and pattern – so much more forgiving then a pale neutral. Liberty prints are great for this as they tend to be small dense patterns that can hide a multitude of sins. It’s worth remembering that they don’t just do florals so you’ll be able to find something that will suit your child’s personality/interests.”
Above is Nicole’s daughter’s bedroom (aged 6), “Pretty twin beds, perfect for sleepovers but also fantastically convenient when there is an accident in the middle of the night, with gathered valances and upholstered headboards. My daughter wanted a pink bedroom and I wanted something that would last and not feel to babysish. Amongst all the chic paint colours and charming fabrics we’ve still got glow in the dark planets stuck on the ceiling and medals and rosettes hanging of doorknobs.”
5) Wallpaper vs Removable decals
Do you go with a bold statement wallpaper or removable stickers? The expert advice is absolutely to go with removable stickers, as it can infantilise a room instantly. As the child grows, you can easily decide together when they have grown out that design choice.
Nicole Salvesen reflects back to when her daughter was younger, as they were in a rented house at the time, “we used sweet Liberty print wall stickers to decorate the room giving it a lovely old-fashioned feeling, whilst being able to turn it back to a spare room at a moment’s notice.”
My all-time favourite removable decals are the very fun, charming and often sophisticated, Swedish brand, “Made of Sundays.” They are also plastic-free! No, we sadly don’t stock them but I admire them hugely! Have a scroll through, as not all are my cup of tea but the parrots, the hot air balloons, the monkey and the sloth are fabulous and change the feeling of a room instantly.
Now, I will let you into a secret … above is my eldest son, Laurence’s room (now 3, so the cot has gone!) This was long before I received all the advice above and I went for full blown statement wallpaper on one wall. Of course, if you squint slightly, you can already see crayon and tiny tears … but the truth is, I have no buyers regret! And for now, he and I just love it … long may it last. I will let you know how I get on with those pop star posters!