Gender-Neutral Design Tips

Don't want to decorate your child's room in the typical pink or blue? Discover designer tips for creating a space that works for both boys and girls.
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Design by Holly Mathis

Design by Holly Mathis

By: Chelsey Bowen

Creating a gender-neutral room can be tricky, but also full of possibilities. Whether planning a nursery before you know the gender or wanting to create a shared space that works for both boys and girls, we have you covered. Check out our designer tips for creating a stunning gender-neutral kid's room.

Kids' Rooms: 8 Ways With Antiques

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Update Vintage Pieces

Stylist Stephanie McGill paints horizontal stripes in soft blue and white as a subtle yet interesting background to the bold colors of the furniture, draperies and curtains in her daughter's nursery. A hand-me-down from her grandparents, the dresser was updated with glossy white paint and decoupaged with a bird motif she designed and printed on her computer.

Photo By: Stephanie McGill

Mix and Match

A favorite decoration for a nursery is hanging a monogram or the child's name above the crib. Designers Jennifer O'Dowd and Joanna Gick of J&J Design Group create a one-of-a-kind look with vintage letters that add dimension and bold color to the wall. "Antiques give you an opportunity to make the space unique to you. Vintage items bring an interest that is different than your typical space from a catalog," says Gick. Photography by John Woodcock

Old Meets New

Blogger Caroline Wise of Wise Mama Blog gives an antique dresser an updated look with an orange chevron changing pad and simple white display shelves. A lover of the juxtaposition of old and new, she pairs antique children's chairs with a streamlined white table. "The new pieces in the room keep it bright and contemporary, while the antique pieces give it heart," says Wise.

Collected Style

A collection of the same item makes for a visually strong vignette. Designer Holly Mathis of Holly Mathis Interiors places a grouping of vintage globes on top of a child's dresser for an eclectic yet thoughtful display.

Personal Touch

Adding personality and character to the nursery, stylist Stephanie McGill mixes vintage milk glass, modern ceramic birds, and old wooden blocks spelling out her daughter's name on top of the dresser.

Smart Storage

Old drink bottle carriers make for great storage organizers in a kid's room, while also adding a vintage, lived-in element to the space. Design by Holly Mathis of Holly Mathis Interiors

Photo By: Picasa

Transform a Vintage Piece

Bold colors, graphic fabrics and an eclectic mix of accessories all combine to create a casual and fun nursery design. Stylist Stephanie McGill found an old store counter from France at an antique store and transformed it into a changing table with a little bit of opaque pink stain and a lot of restoring work from her husband.

Bring In Tradition

Using antiques in a kid's room or nursery adds character and heritage to the space, says designer Holly Mathis of Holly Mathis Interiors. In this neutral nursery, she brings in an antique Jenny Lind-style crib, tiny rocking chair and even a small coat rack for displaying favorite outfits.

Where to Start

Begin by looking at the color schemes throughout the rest of your house. Designer Holly Mathis of Holly Mathis Interiors says it's important to use colors you love and that flow with the rest of your home. For a gender-neutral space, look for a color that will work as a great background no matter the style or gender.

Another approach is to start with a favorite item. Designer Liz Carroll of Liz Carroll Interiors suggests starting with a piece of art or furniture that will be incorporated in the room. Use the piece as a jumping-off point for selecting the room's color scheme.

7 Bright White Kids' Rooms

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Contemporary Stripes

Broad gray-and-white horizontal stripes create a fun design element in this nursery, which features accents of complementary hues blue and orange. Large furnishings in the room are kept crisp white to keep the mood of the space calm and fresh, while a soft jute rug offers a neutral grounding to the space. Design by Lindsay Brier of of Anyon Interior Design

Photo By: Anyon Interior Design

Sweet Sophistication

Starting with a typical builder-beige room, blogger Megan Wade of Wades of 108 wanted to add architectural interest to the space, so she and her husband installed crown molding and board-and-batten. Bright white furniture adds to the clean look of the space, while the addition of light gray and pink brings in a layer of girly elegance.

Playful Retreat

To enhance the cottage-inspired architecture of the space, designer Holly Mathis of Holly Mathis Interiors brings in an iron rod bed, galvanized light pendant and plaid and striped fabrics in the hanging pennants. The bedrooms doubles as a playroom, so she also incorporates a reading nook, table and chairs and even a fun teepee.

Clean and Modern

Soft blues and tans mix perfectly with the white furniture and draperies to create a contemporary boy's nursery. Little details, like the navy blue piping on the chair, help to add definition to the space. Design by Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms

Mix of Styles

Blogger Caroline Wise of Wise Mama Blog designs a light and airy nursery that mixes contemporary and antique pieces. The new streamlined crib juxtaposes against the wicker rocker, an antique her mother used to rock her children. Above the crib, a unique monogram features animals and other items that begin with "H."

Touch of Lavender

Soft lavender curtains matching the bedding are used behind the headboard to create an eye-catching backdrop. A curvy table in bright yellow adds a burst of color to the space, while also reflecting the softer yellows in the pillows and bedding. Design by Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms

Girly Florals

The shared girls' room features twin beds with flowing canopies. To keep the space from looking too matchy, designer Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms selects coordinating bedding that doesn't match exactly.

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New mom Kelle created a peaceful nursery for son Xavier using a gray-and-white color scheme. Photo courtesy of Kelle Howard-Dean

New mom Kelle created a peaceful nursery for son Xavier using a gray-and-white color scheme. Photo courtesy of Kelle Howard-Dean

Neutral Always Works

A great reason to go neutral is because it'll work with any colored accessories you want to bring into the space. In addition, neutral walls have longevity to them; they'll grow easily with the kid throughout any color or theme trend. Designers Jennifer O'Dowd and Joanna Gick of J&J Design Group love neutral shades of navy, gray and green, but most importantly, they suggest mixing in textures to keep the room interesting.

When designing a gender-neutral nursery, designer Laura McCroskey of McCroskey Interiors likes to use neutrals that give nurseries a dreamy quality like creams, ivory, oatmeal or whites. "You can still have fun and create a child's environment with round shapes or stripes, as well as introduce beautiful textures with draperies, plush toys and lighting," says McCroskey. When the baby is born, gender-specific colors can be added.

But Don't Be Afraid of Color

While whites, creams and grays are perfect choices for a gender-neutral room, it doesn't mean you have to shy away from color completely. "When designing gender-neutral rooms, I like to mix in fun colors and interesting patterns to create a statement, while steering clear of distinctly masculine or feminine themes. Unlike decorating in the rest of the home, there are no rules or conventions when decorating for children, and parents should feel free to put a lot of personality into it and have fun," says designer Susie Fougerousse of Rosenberry Rooms. She particularly loves lemon yellow or lime green.

Designers Julie Frank and Alessia Corpino of My Tiny Nest love orange for gender-neutral rooms. "It's a strong and bold color that resonates energy and happiness," says the team.

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