Determine Your Child's Needs
When parents think about designing their baby's or child’s room, many skip straight to style, envisioning bright colors and whimsical themes without stopping first to consider the many roles the room must play. If you’re looking forward to creating the paradise of your little one’s dreams, you’re in luck, but remember these spaces are expected to accommodate so many different functions and users at once.
Personalize a Wall Mural
Interior decorator, Annie Wise, and her husband Eric, welcomed new baby, Victor, to their Portland home. They celebrated their city's unique history and their love of midcentury architecture when designing Victor's nursery. They painted the 1950's alien-invasion mural, complete with Portland's most iconic buildings. Photo courtesy of Annie Wise
Designer Shirry Dolgin Fulton had a great starting point for this feminine nursery: the Graham and Brown wallpaper requested by the mom-to-be, who wanted a timeless, feminine look for baby Ella. Design by Shirry Dolgin Fulton
The chocolate-colored glider and paper lanterns create a cozy corner for reading books and rocking Ella to sleep. The round lamps soften the nursery's traditional style. Shirry Dolgin Fulton
Unlike most adults’ bedrooms, a child’s room is more than a place to sleep — it's a place to play, work, create and dress. And a nursery must fit not only the needs of its tiny inhabitant, which change quickly, but be a welcoming place for grownups. How to create a fun, functional haven for your child? Begin by asking yourself a few important questions.
For her son's nursery, designer Joanna Gick of J&J Design Group mixes rustic accents with modern elements. Since barn wood wasn't readily available, she stained pine wood boards to give them a weathered look. For the "D" above the crib, she punched one-inch-squares out of paint chips and glue them to the letter to create a pixilated effect.
Mod Paper Airplanes
Designer Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms infuses this boy's nursery with a bold, modern color scheme. For a playful theme, she incorporates paper airplanes onto the wall behind the crib.
Around the World
An oversized map of the world creates a cool focal wall behind the headboard in this boy's bedroom. Continuing the theme, map-inspired pillows are added to the bed. Design by Julie Frank and Alessia Corpino of My Tiny Nest.
For her son's bedroom, blogger Miriam Bradford of Other Pieces of Me reverse stencils a ship on the dresser by using a custom decal. A mobile of ships hangs from the ceiling and collection of globes adds to the nautical theme of the space.
Transportation is a classic boy's theme. Using a color palette of red, white and blue, designer Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms brings in the theme through the mural of vintage race cars, emergency vehicle bedding and even a riding toy car.
A theme doesn't have to overwhelm the room. Designer Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms uses small accessories in bright colors, such as storage tins and bookends, to add hints of the sea-inspired theme in this boy's room.
Playful and fun, a jungle theme is great option for boys' rooms. Designer Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms uses a gallery of animal artwork above the crib to reflect the theme of the nursery.
Who will use the space, and how?
"You really need to think about your child's needs and habits and yours, if this is a baby’s room,” says Susanna Salk, designer and author of Room for Children. Then, answer these questions:
- Is this a room for one child or two or three?
- Are they twins, or different-aged siblings?
- Are they girls or boys?
- How old are the children?
- What activities will take place in the room?
- Will adults use the room?
- Will the adults mainly be in the room to play with or care for the children, or will the space double as a guest room?
The answers to these questions should determine the elements you'll need to include in your plan.
For example, If you’re expecting twins, or if the room will be shared by siblings, you'll need to determine a plan with adequate floor space for two cribs or beds, and figure out how and if you’ll fit double dressers and desks. A room for a baby may need seating for a parent’s nighttime nursing and rocking vigils, while a preschooler’s space is better devoted to an art or building-project table. Including a desk and supply storage in a school-aged child’s room is a wise idea, and if guests will occasionally share the space, you’ll want an adult-sized bed and extra clothing storage.
And what about the future?
News flash: Kids grow up. The 6 lb. infant sleeping peacefully in her bassinette today will be a rough-and-tumble toddler tomorrow and a book-report-writing middle-schooler the day after. So as you create your child's room, look ahead a few years. Imagine, as you plan your nursery, where you'll put a toddler bed once your baby outgrows the crib. Think about where you might fit a desk when it's time.
When it comes to style, choose furnishings that will look as good in a tween’s room as they do in your 5-year-old’s. You can always inject age-appropriate personality with details and accessories. "Other than the crib for a nursery, you're really better off staying away from juvenile furniture lines," says Cortney Novogratz, designer, mother of seven, and co-host with husband Robert of HGTV’s Home by Novogratz. "Some quirky knobs on a regular adult's dresser can make it look really fun and they’re easy to switch out later as your child’s tastes change."
Charming Woodland Nursery
Inspired by the bumper fabric, designer Joanna Gick of J&J Design Group uses bold pinks and greens to create her daughter's whimsical nursery. Below the chair rail, she painted the wall pearl white and applied a dark pink glaze in a faux bois pattern. Photography by John Woodcock
Modern and Sophisticated
One of designers Julie Frank's and Alessia Corpino's favorite color palettes for girls rooms is crisp white and hot pink. "It's a modern take on the traditional pink and white. It feels vibrant and young," says the team. Wallpaper featuring a bird motif is used on the wall behind the bed to create a focal point, while a deep pink is used in the window seat area to visually separate it from the rest of the room, creating a cozy reading nook. Design by My Tiny Nest
Just because a nursery is for a little one doesn't mean it can't be grand. In this space, designer Laura McCroskey of McCroskey Interiors brings luxury into the room with traditional moldings and wainscoting, cascading draperies hung at the ceiling and an elaborate chandelier. Even the salmon shade she chose for the walls adds richness and depth to the room. Photo by Chad Jackson Photography
Starting with light pink walls and bedding in this girl's bedroom, designer Liz Carroll of Liz Carroll Interiors brings contrast into the space with black-and-pink floral curtains, deep pink-and-white stripes across the ceiling and touches of turquoise in the chandelier and knobs on the nightstands.
Create a retreat for children in their bedrooms by incorporating an imaginative spot that is all their own. Designer Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms brings a pink teepee into this girl's room to be used for playing and reading.
To add drama and height to the room, designer Liz Carroll of Liz Carroll Interiors creates a floral-printed canopy over the iron crib. So that the room isn't overwhelmed in pink, she uses white fabrics on the curtains and chair and trims them with hot pink.
Light and Airy
An easy way to personalize a kid's room is with the baby's monogram. Designer Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms uses simple letters on a damask-inspired canvas to create a monogram above the crib in this girl's nursery.
Graphic patterns, from the wallpaper to the pillows, play a big role in bringing a modern vibe to this girl's room. A vibrant, saturated pink contrasts against the crisp white furniture and bedding. Design by Liz Carroll of Liz Carroll Interiors
Subtle, Soft Palette
Designer Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms uses light, muted shades of pink and blue to create a sweet girl's nursery. To ground the space and add soft texture, she brings in a light pink shag area rug.
Pretty and Functional
A daybed with trundle is a smart option for a small space girl's room since it takes up less room, but also provides an extra bed for sleepovers. A trio of artwork above the bed adds a punch of color to the light pink room. Design by Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms