Nine Months to the Perfect Nursery

From ordering furniture to painting, learn how to plan a nursery remodel during pregnancy.



Photo courtesy of Laurie March

Photo courtesy of Laurie March

By: Amanda Lecky

Outfitting your baby's room can be one of the most enjoyable parts of pregnancy. "At a time when your life is about to change radically, and you’re not really sure how, the baby’s room is one thing you can control," says Pam Ginocchio, co-founder of Project Nursery. "So take the time to really have fun with the process, and to get all the details right."

Whether you're transforming a spare bedroom into a baby haven or carving a corner from a sibling’s room, you’ll need to plan ahead to ensure the work is finished in time for the big arrival. A good finish goal date is week 36 (make that week 33 if you’re expecting twins or triplets, who often come early). That gets the work done before you’re too uncomfortable to move around much, and leaves you a month to relax and enjoy your work. Follow this timeline to keep the project on track.

Nursery Design Ideas

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First Trimester

Congratulations, you're expecting. Right now you're probably feeling excited, nervous, and most likely nauseous. No need to jump right into a renovation project, but it's not to early to think about your needs, evaluate the available space in your house, determine a budget, and gather ideas.

Second Trimester

Now's the time to dig into your nursery project. With any luck, you’re in the golden days of your pregnancy: feeling energetic and strong, and beginning to believe that your growing bump will actually be a baby someday. If you're planning a major renovation in the baby's room—replacing flooring, repairing walls, rewiring—you’ll want to start it right away, around month four. This is also a good point to finalize your furniture plan and decorating theme.

By month five, you should be ready to order any new furniture you may need. It may take as many as 14 weeks to come in. It may seem early, but it’s smart to choose your crib bedding and any fabric for window treatments or upholstery now.

"Most people pick their wall paint color first, then try to find fabric and bedding that coordinates with the paint," says designer Barbara Tabak, CID, of Harrisburg, PA. "But it’s actually easier to do it the other way around: There are endless paint colors available, so you’ll always be able to find a shade that works with your fabrics, but it can be much more difficult to find fabric that matches the paint."

Once you’ve chosen the fabrics, pick your wall color; then, spend month six painting the room, hanging wallpaper if applicable, and installing any new light fixtures or built-in closet systems you’ve purchased.

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

Third Trimester

You’re in the home stretch. Soon, you won’t feel like bending, reaching, rearranging furniture, or doing much of anything. Month seven is when you should have someone else move in the furniture, hang window treatments, lay an area rug, and add artwork.

In month eight, wash all those adorable new baby clothes and put them away, arrange shower gifts in the room, and take a deep breath. You’re done. Relax in the cozy armchair you chose, put your swollen ankles up, and appreciate the peace and quiet of the beautiful space you’ve created for your newborn. It may be the last chance you get for a long, long time.

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