Create a Classic Neutral Nursery

Organic wall covering, a taupe and black color scheme and a comfy window seat create a serene boy's nursery that's sure to stand the test of time.

A tiny 9x7 second-floor bonus room was transformed into a little boy’s nursery with careful space planning, a smart use of mirrors to reflect light, a mix of patterns and classic color choices.

Although the space was specifically designed for a 2-year-old boy, its color scheme works well for either gender. The use of taupe and black together can easily become masculine with the addition of dark green or brown, but accents of coral or tangerine keep the overall palette cheerful and gender neutral.

Rooms where little ones crawl around on the floor definitely require soft underfoot surfaces. A flat weave rug was used to introduce the color black into the room design, and since the large-scale geometric lattice pattern is not specific to children, it can be used later in any room of the house. Flat weave rugs get their name from being woven (resulting in a flat appearance) rather than knotted (resulting in a more plush, piled effect), and therefore they tend to be thin and lightweight.

Interior designers often use mirrors in small rooms to help reflect natural light and create the illusion of more space. A round mirror featuring letters of the alphabet was secured to the wall with safety anchors and a child-proof latch. The mirror helps keep the nursery bright and airy as it reflects natural sunlight streaming in through the window.

Plantation shutters are the ideal choice for window coverings in a child’s room. Their lack of cords makes them preferable over blinds or drapes, plus their easy-to-clean wood construction stands up to sticky fingers much more practically than window coverings made from fabric. Additionally, plantation shutters are timeless in style, making them an excellent investment for the home.

With plantation shutters covering the lower half of each window, custom Roman shades were installed along the tops, just out of child’s reach. In addition to helping keep the room cool, the black and taupe striped linen ties the classic color scheme together.

When Roman shades or blinds are used in rooms occupied by children, it’s a must to install protective hardware that keeps cords safely bound and out of reach. By simply installing a cleat hook along the trim or the inset of a window, then wrapping the cord around it, there is no danger of a child becoming tangled.

During the initial conceptualization of the nursery design, black metallic grasscloth was considered for covering the walls. The idea was discarded, though, due to concerns over the room being too dark. Instead a natural-toned grasscloth featuring a chevron pattern was chosen. Upon entry to the space, the chevron strictly reads as a faint texture; when seen up close, however, the graphic pattern adds the perfect amount of movement to the room. When using grasscloth wall covering in kids’ rooms, it’s best to stay away from anything with loose fibers. In fact, there are many styles of vinyl wall covering available that have the look and feel of grasscloth but with commercial-strength durability.

The homeowner decided to have the small corner nook of the nursery outfitted with a window seat made from basic lumber and tongue-and-groove beadboard. To make the window seat, the space was properly measured, then a frame structure was cut to size and assembled. The bottom was kept open to allow for storage baskets, and the exterior and interior of the frame was clad with beadboard before being painted ultra-white with an HVLP (high-volume low-pressure) paint sprayer.

The window seat is used daily and is certain to receive its share of wear and tear. To ensure it holds up, a three-inch cushion upholstered in stain-resistant indoor-outdoor fabric was custom-sewn to fit the top. Food and juice spills can easily be wiped clean with a damp cloth.

In addition to sleeping and story time, the nursery is used for plenty of play. Since the space can’t accommodate additional furniture, open storage was integrated into the bottom of the window seat. Mesh baskets help keep everything -- stuffed animals, books and Matchbox cars -- organized and within arm’s reach.

A wooden crib in an espresso finish was chosen for its timeless appeal. The lack of ornate detail gives the crib a design style referred to as transitional or updated traditional, implying the use of classic lines with a fresh, up-to-date spin.

When choosing cribs for a nursery, keep in mind that many options are available which incorporate storage into the crib’s construction. The transitional espresso crib has an extra deep drawer integrated along its bottom that keeps both play clothes and PJs easily accessible.

Believe it or not, safety is the most important factor in choosing and displaying art in a child’s room. From the proper hardware used to secure art to the wall to the choice of framing and glass, every detail should be kid-friendly. A trio of vintage blueprints were framed with lightweight lacquered wood, and a shatterproof acrylic insert was chosen to protect the print rather than glass.

Classic toys and pieces were selected for this nursery, including a plush rocking horse that is not only fun to ride but soft to the touch.

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