Baby Nursery Decorating Ideas


A glider and ottoman are comfortable for mother as well as baby.
A glider and ottoman are comfortable for mother as well as baby.
Designer: Claudia Adetuyi, Adeeni Associates

­From the moment you bring your precious infant home, his or her (or their!) room will become a special place for you and your child. Even if you keep your baby in your bedroom at night for the first few settling-in months, you'll probably use the baby's room for ch­anging diapers and other everyday tasks. The sooner you and your child feel comfortable in the nursery, the better. (Yes, you need to feel at home in the baby's room, too, as you'll be spending a lot of hours there!)

In addition to a crib that meets modern safety standards, you'll want a comfortable easy chair or cushioned rocking chair to coddle you while you cuddle your little one. If you are nursing or just want a little extra support for your back, be sure to include a footstool that's a comfortable height for you. While you're thinking of major furniture pieces, a twin bed or daybed is a good idea for those inevitable long nights when you're up and down with a sick or fretful little one. (Besides, your child will grow into that twin bed almost before you know it!)

­You may think that any sturdy chest, dresser, or table can be used as a changing table, but the safest solution is a conventional changing table with a built-in low rail around the perimeter of the changing pad. (The rail should be at least a few inches higher than the pad to help keep baby from rolling off.) If you use a unit that doesn't have a rail, be sure to install a securely anchored safety strap around baby's middle and use it every time. Why all the fuss about safety? Because, as any experienced parent can tell you, babies beyond the newborn stage seem able to move farther and faster than you'd think possible! Also look for a changing table with one or two open lower shelves that let you grab diapering supplies with one hand -- and fast. If you use a closed storage unit, you'll want to pick one that you can open with one hand (most wide drawers require even pressure on two pulls) or plan to take out whatever you need before starting the process.

Once you've got the crib, comfy chair, changing table, and optional extra bed in place, the rest is child's play. If your family includes older ­children who share baby's room, their needs will obviously dictate a lot of the furnishings and accessories. If the room is for the baby only, you may be tempted to go for broke with decorative treatments. There's no harm in doing this as long as you avoid items with small parts or cords, but you don't have to spend a fortune on special effects. Babies can't really see details or pick out the nuances of color until they're six months old or so. Until then, bold patterns in black and white serve much better to stimulate their eyes and brains.

If your taste tends toward the lively and modern, a baby's room in black and white with red accents may be just the ticket. If not, however, you can provide short-term toys and board books that stimulate baby just as well and decorate in a way that better suits your style.

Elaborate trompe l'oeil treatments that parade favorite characters across the walls are quite popular, as you'll see in the following pages. Do keep in mind, however, that babies and even toddlers can't appreciate the finer points of such artwork just yet. If you have your heart set on nursery rhyme or fairy-tale images and your budget can accommodate them, why not indulge? You can enjoy them now, knowing your child will be able to appreciate them when he or she reaches preschool age. Do remember that children as old as seven have trouble distinguishing what's real from what's imaginary, so make sure the images you provide aren't scary. Especially in a bedroom, you'll want the mood to be comforting, not disturbing.

Just about any color scheme can work, but it's usually best to keep colors on the clear, light side. Little ones don't usually like sophisticated gray tones, and dark shades can make the typical small bedroom feel and look even smaller. In these pages, you'll see how light, cheerful tints such as mint green, yellow, and timeless white, combined with a variety of special accents, can look fresh and delightfully personal. You can find these pages here:

On the next page, you'll get details on how pattern comes into play in an Asian-inspired nursery.

Pattern Play Baby Nursery Decorating Idea

Against bright colored walls, the effect of black furniture is quite contemporary. Designer: Karen Graham Interiors. Armoire: IMG. Crib and dresser/changing table: Vermont Precision
Against bright colored walls, the effect of black furniture is quite contemporary. Designer: Karen Graham Interiors. Armoire: IMG. Crib and dresser/changing table: Vermont Precision
© Andrew McKinney

Pattern play is important to consider when brainstorming baby nursery decorating ideas. Intricate patterns galore create a visual feast in this extraordinary room inspired by treasures of the Far East.

This exciting space boasts a unique focal point: A lacquered, gilded armoire covered in elaborate scenes is a delight for the eyes. Boldly overscaled for a conventional-size children's bedroom, the antique reproduction armoire delivers big drama that won't be outgrown.

In keeping with the Asian-inspired mood, black lacquered children's furniture is sculpturally handsome. To keep the look from being too formal or severe, a lovely aqua tint covers the walls and floor. Asian-inspired fabrics with bright clear colors on white backgrounds add a fresh lighthearted air.

Learn more about enticing color schemes on the next page.

Color Play Baby Nursery Decorating Idea

A custom rug bordered with animals underscores the Noah's ark theme. Designer: Karen Cashman, Perspectives
A custom rug bordered with animals underscores the Noah's ark theme. Designer: Karen Cashman, Perspectives
© David VanScott

Color scheme is an important decision to make when decorating your baby's nursery. Two of the most popular themes for little boys' rooms are animals and vehicles. These two themes make charming use of such tried-and-true concepts with a wealth of designer details and enticing color schemes.

In one room, a Noah's ark theme starts with fresh apple green and medium blue then punches it up with shots of red and other warm hues.

Another decorating idea includes sunny yellow stripes and checks that make a cheerful background for planes, cars, and other vehicles in green and red. A multicolor crib ensemble and deftly upholstered mini wing chairs add even more charm. Rambunctious or studious, a little boy's imagination can still be sparked by a clever, kid-friendly design. Start with a motif you think he'll love, and take off from there!

On the next page, learn how a green motif can freshen up your baby's room.

Minty Fresh Baby Nursery Decorating Idea

Each piece of furniture in this baby's room is simple, but the look is special thanks to a vision realized in fresh green paint. Stylist: Amy Leonard. Manufacturer: The Glidden Company.
Each piece of furniture in this baby's room is simple, but the look is special thanks to a vision realized in fresh green paint. Stylist: Amy Leonard. Manufacturer: The Glidden Company.

Green, the color of growing things, is a perennial favorite in rooms for little ones and a great decorating idea for your baby's nursery. Paired with pink and white for girls, it makes a garden statement without half trying. Grouped with blue and white, as it is here, green makes a refreshing preserve for a little boy.

Hand-painted stylized waves and bubbly circles, together with playful contemporary furniture, create a simple setting that's sure to please. Just about any pastel tint you like could be used for similar results. Just be sure to use it with analogous, or closely allied, tints for a flowing not choppy effect.

In a south- or west-facing room, cool tints of green, blue, and periwinkle (blue-violet) work best; in a space that faces north or east, try warm tints of peach, coral, pink, or sunshine yellow.

On the next page, you'll get decorating ideas that burst with sunny blue skies.

Forecast: Sunshine Baby Nursery Decorating Idea

A trio of flying geese, one garbed as Mother Goose, adds an imaginative touch to this sunny, sky blue nursery. Designer: Pamela DiCapo. Retailer: Lauren Alexandra
A trio of flying geese, one garbed as Mother Goose, adds an imaginative touch to this sunny, sky blue nursery. Designer: Pamela DiCapo. Retailer: Lauren Alexandra
© Bill Matthews

A confident eye for color and a sure hand with fabrics are both apparent in this whimsical room, which turns a sunny forecast into a precious baby nursery decorating idea. Avoiding the usual clichés, the space is wonderfully clever as well as pretty and soothing. A cute room might use a faux finish to suggest a blue sky with white clouds; this room goes beyond cute to captivating by adding a trio of flying geese, one of them garbed as Mother Goose.

A nicely shaped easy chair and ottoman are always a comfort, but here they reach the realm of art furniture thanks to various cheery fabrics and contrasting piping. Even a simple white lamp shade gets a perky outlook with glued-on pink pompons. The hand-painted golden motif on floor and pillows says it all: This room was born with a sunny disposition that brings warmth to your baby's nursery.

On the next page, you'll learn more about decorating your baby's room with warm colors.

A Warm Welcome Baby Nursery Decorating Idea

Deep barn red delivers all the warmth of scarlet but without the bite. Retailer: The Magic Moon.
Deep barn red delivers all the warmth of scarlet but without the bite. Retailer: The Magic Moon.
© Henry Biber

The use of warm colors is a welcoming baby nursery decorating idea. Kids love warm colors, and even a young baby can recognize red. If you've been reluctant to use conventional fire engine red in large doses, consider one of the rich, interesting alternative reds shown here. Coral, cranberry, barn red, and other ruby hues inject a feeling that's both exciting and cozy.

The trick to keeping red manageable is balance. If you opt for red walls, keep the ceiling, floor, furniture, and accessories cool and light. White, cream, pale blue, and light green add serenity to offset red's stimulation. If you choose red furniture that covers a smaller area of the room, you can easily use warm tints on the walls and floor. Yellow, pink, peach, or melon gently continues the warming trend.

The next page focuses a litte less on color schemes and more on integrating your home's unique architecture into the theme of your baby's nursery.

Engaging Enchantment Baby Nursery Decorating Idea

Pumpkins and cabbages appear in a room inspired by Mother Goose's garden. Designer: Jennifer Norris, Jennifer Norris Interiors
Pumpkins and cabbages appear in a room inspired by Mother Goose's garden. Designer: Jennifer Norris, Jennifer Norris Interiors

Amusingly leaded vintage windows inspired this charming nursery in a venerable house and offer enchanting baby nursery decorating ideas.

The goal was to create a child-friendly nest while honoring the dramatic architecture. One window depicting a leaping bunny worked fine for a nursery, but a new idea was needed to keep the other window's imagery of cats and a pumpkin from looking like Halloween.

The designer chose a theme of Mother Goose's garden to tie in these and other animals and plants. Eventually, the room included cows jumping over the moon, cabbages, a rocking horse, and the fluffy old storytelling fowl herself.

Lots of white and pastel tints are balanced by rich dark wood tones and antique artworks. The effect is a lightened-up Victorian-style nursery that looks historically rich yet delicate, fresh, and fun.

The next page offers even more fun decorating ideas for your baby's nursery.

All in Fun Baby Nursery Decorating Idea

White wicker and gauzy white shades set off the sherbet colors of the room. Designer: Diane Holdren, Holdren's Interiors, Inc. Faux finisher/artist: Whitney Brock, Brockworks, Inc.
White wicker and gauzy white shades set off the sherbet colors of the room. Designer: Diane Holdren, Holdren's Interiors, Inc. Faux finisher/artist: Whitney Brock, Brockworks, Inc.
© Travis Manning

Color is the most emotionally compelling element in any design, so there's no quicker way to create a happy mood than to use cheerful hues like the ones shown here. Sounds simple, but simple decorating ideas may be exactly what you want in a little one's room.

This smart space uses extra wide bold stripes in sherbet tints to create a feeling that's as much fun as a circus but as pretty as a spring garden. To keep the look from becoming too sweet, no conventional floral prints were used. Instead, whimsical farm animals and checks lend a fun and frisky air.

White wicker furniture has its own woven pattern that contributes subtle interest. What's more, these wicker furniture pieces will retain their charm long after she's outgrown the crib.

On the next page, you'll get more charming decorating ideas that will make your baby's nursery sweet and sentimental.

Sweet Sentiments Baby Nursery Decorating Idea

A built-in hutch with upper storage is a charming old house fixture that comes to life with a fresh coat of white paint.
A built-in hutch with upper storage is a charming old house fixture that comes to life with a fresh coat of white paint.
© Bill Matthews

Sentimental charm is a sweet decorating idea for your baby's nursery. Like a cherished photo from a bygone age, this delicately tinted room re-creates a more sentimental time for a baby girl of today. For all its old-fashioned charm, this room is no museum piece. Washable cotton fabrics, vintage furniture, and unfussy accessories make it easy to live with.

To create this feminine feeling, start with vintage white furniture and add softly faded, gently ruffled fabrics. Delicate tea roses, those most traditional of flowers, take a starring role, appearing on print fabrics and appliqués as well as in simply framed wall art.

Roses are a natural choice for a pink-and-white room, but you could create an equally appealing look with white violets, tiny blue forget-me-nots, or pansies in soft yellow, white, purple, and blue. Lots of options allow for a baby's room to be unique.

The next page goes into detail on how to achieve a one-of-a-kind space for your baby's nursery.

One of a Kind Baby Nursery Decorating Idea

Vintage pink and orchid fabrics, layered and pieced together, make this room pretty and expressive. Designer: Pamela DiCapo. Retailer: Lauren Alexandra.
Vintage pink and orchid fabrics, layered and pieced together, make this room pretty and expressive. Designer: Pamela DiCapo. Retailer: Lauren Alexandra.
© Bill Matthews

Once upon a time, there were three baby girls whose parents had three very different ideas about decorating. These ideas got a great workout when it came time to create rooms for their daughters.

Different as the rooms may be, they share some appealing elements. Each features the color pink -- that timeless girlhood favorite. Each also includes a distinctive, pretty crib and a comfortable chair with gentle roll arms for cuddly times together. That's where the resemblances end.

One room is filled with exuberant romantic flair; another is soothing, sweet, and timelessly traditional; and the third combines nostalgic charm with a funky vintage feeling.

Whatever your style, you don't need to buy a complete ready-made furniture set. Furnish your little one's room with unique finds, and your decorating story can end happily, too.

On the next page, learn how to center your decorating ideas around childhood stories.

Curiouser and Curiouser Baby Nursery Decorating Idea

A large-scale wall mural of the Mad Hatter, along with other hand-painted motifs throughout the room, offer lots of visual stimulation.
A large-scale wall mural of the Mad Hatter, along with other hand-painted motifs throughout the room, offer lots of visual stimulation.

Classic children's stories offer wonderful baby nursery decorating ideas. A nursery designed around the slightly edgy, whimsical world of Alice in Wonderland shows a lively imagination at work -- and at play.

Hand-painted scenes and characters pay homage to the original spirit of the famous Victorian storybook by Lewis Carroll. The Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, Mad Hatter, Alice, and other timeless characters adorn the walls, furniture, and ceiling.

Even without the hand-painted characters, however, this room is a brilliant play of colors and patterns. Crayon-box stripes, zippy checkerboard and gingham checks, pin dots, and a pretty floral on an ethereal blue ground are just some of the cheerful prints that work charmingly together. The black-and-white accents appeal to even the youngest baby, while the sophisticated mix of prints is one parents will love.

A nursery is more than baby's first room. It's a place of comfort and security for you and your newborn. With these decorating ideas, you'll be able to create a space that welcomes and nurtures the new member of your family.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Mary Wynn Ryan is the author of numerous interior design books including The Ultimate Kitchen, The Ultimate Bath, Cottage Style, Fresh Country Style, and Garden Style. She has written about home furnishings and interior design for various magazines and served as Midwest editor of Design Times magazine.

Heidi Tyline King is an accomplished writer and editor. She has written extensively about America's arts, culture, history, nature-based attractions, and decorating projects, including All About Paint and Wallpaper, Beautiful Wedding Crafts, Pelican Guide to the Florida Panhandle, The Unofficial Guide to the Southeast with Kids, and others.