Determine Your Child's Needs

Before you begin planning your child's room, think about what they will need to sleep, play and grow.
Modern Blue, Orange And Green Nursery

Modern Blue, Orange And Green Nursery

Design by Susie Fougerousse

Design by Susie Fougerousse

By: Amanda Lecky

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.

12 Can't-Miss Nursery Ideas

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Serene Colors

New mom, Kelle, created a peaceful nursery for son Xavier, using a gray-and-white color scheme. She carried a butterfly theme throughout with white butterflies in a wall decal and in a light-as-air mobile over the crib. Photo courtesy of Kelle Howard-Dean

Relaxing Sitting Area

A white-washed chair makes a comfortable place to snuggle. Kelle used a budget-friendly replica of a Marcel Wanders stool as a side table, perfect for an extra baby bottle or a mug of tea. Photo courtesy of Kelle Howard-Dean

Include Unexpected Elements

The driftwood rod Kelle used for Xavier's wardrobe acts as a rustic focal point. Hung by fishing line, it floats under a crisp white shelf. Photo courtesy of Kelle Howard-Dean

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

Go for Vintage Furniture

Annie chose a vintage dresser as a changing table, adding to the room's midcentury flavor. The chalkboard wall anchors the corner and offers a spot for love notes from mom and dad. Photo courtesy of Annie Wise

Color Harmony

When choosing colors, consult the color wheel. Complementary colors, those opposite on the color wheel, like green and orange, make for natural partners. Annie and Eric made the adorable alien pillows. Photo courtesy of Annie Wise

Layer Patterns

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

Mind the Scale

Fulton suggested framing the wallpaper to create a focal point and balance the room's large proportions. Shirry Dolgin Fulton

Charming Accents

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

All Natural

It took Lauren and Miranda's parents 12 tries to settle on this crisp apple green for their twins' modern-safari nursery. Without the white and brown accents, the green might have been overwhelming; instead, it's charming. Photo courtesy of John Burton Brown

Creative Lighting

The most magical element in this nursery is the starry ceiling, created by fiber-optic LED lights installed in the crawl space. Miranda and Lauren fall asleep to their soft glow. Photo courtesy of John Burton Brown

Display What You Love

A simple bookcase holds the girls' toys, books and memorabilia. Picture frames and larger books are stored out of reach. Photo courtesy of John Burton Brown

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.

Creative Themes for Boys' Rooms

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Rustic Modern

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.

Photo By: Alessia Corpino

Sail Away

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.

Photo By: Miriam Bradford

Classic Cars

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.

Gone Fishing

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.

Jungle Animals

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.

Kids' Room Design Ideas

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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."

Pretty in Pink Girls' Rooms

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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

Girly Grandeur

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

Pink Glamour

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.

Playful Hangout

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.

Cottage-Inspired Nursery

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.

Photo By: Liz Carroll

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.

Mod Pink

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

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