We reveal nine simple steps for designing and decorating the perfect children’s room
A space that is dedicated to little ones doesn’t have to be childish – you can still lend a baby or children’s room a sense of style. We share how to create the ultimate nursery with advice from the experts.
Before you start painting and decorating, first consider your interior style: is your house or apartment modern, minimalist, eclectic, bold or vintage-inspired? Creating a space that your child loves is the most important factor but it helps if it is in keeping with the rest of your residence. Also, think about how the room will evolve. Will it be used just as a nursery before your child moves to a larger space or will it be a place they will spend years to come? Once you have decided on the style and whether it needs to be a room that can be adapted as your child grows, you can then focus on the details…
Decide on a colour palette. Whether you opt for neutrals, pastels or bold brights, it will give you a framework to work within. Don’t feel that you have to conform to clichéd pale pink and blue – consider colours such as mint green, navy blue or pale grey for a contemporary approach. If you are creating a space that will eventually transform from a nursery to children’s room (or switch from a boy’s to girl’s space or vice versa) choose an understated hue for the walls, floors and ceiling to allow you to easily change the look of a room. Kate Sparks, founder of children’s interior design company Little Dwellings, and the creator of some of the most gorgeous nursery rooms you’ll see (check out her Instagram @littledwellings) says “Personally I like colours that are calming for younger ones. Monochrome tones on the walls with pops of colour in items allows for easy updating without the need for repainting later.
Furniture forms the foundation of a room. Rather than buying a matching set, mix it up and invest in different pieces that work together for an individual feel. Look to classic designs that will stand the test of time. There’s good reason that Eames chairs and rockers are found in nurseries the world over – they never date and are able to withstand considerable wear and tear. Furniture doesn’t have to be specifically designed for children either – transform a mid-century sideboard into a change station or upcycle a vintage armoire into a wardrobe for a unique and eco-friendly look. For contemporary brands with enduring appeal, Jessica Portway owner of stylish online children’s boutique Cottage Toys suggests New York-based brand Oeuf – “Simple, modern and practical, with a grown-up feel. As a children’s brand it may be a little more expensive than what you find on the high street, but Oeuf storage and dressers, for example, will never outgrow your child.” She also loves Incy Interiors “Their metal framed baby cots are so beautiful and unique. The rose-gold Ellie cot is enough to make anyone want a baby immediately (myself included and I already have two!)”
It’s an inescapable fact that children come with stuff… a lot of stuff. When designing a nursery or little one’s room make sure you include storage solutions. “Whatever you have planned, double it,” advises Portway. Keeping your children’s clothes, accessories, changing essentials and toys organised is key to keeping mess to a minimum and making a space feel uncluttered. Consider built-in wardrobes, changing stations with drawers and wall shelves. Trunks, sacks, baskets or a stack of vintage-style suitcases are also a clever and stylish way to keep chaos under control – no one will ever know that a jumble of toys is tucked away inside!
While storage is important, don’t hide your children’s loveliest pieces away, instead put special keepsakes, books or clothing on display. Hang pretty dresses, tutus or a romper on wall hooks. We love Australian company Charlie and Jae’s bunny and ice-cream hangers, as well as the natural wooden designs from Danish brand Hagelens. Shadow boxes are a fun way to show off knick-knacks. Ferm Living have sweet house-shaped styles in pink, mint green and grey. Wall mounted shelves are a chic yet inexpensive way to create an eye-catching feature. Arrange your children’s books and small toys together for a #shelfie or play to a theme and line-up a quirky collection of similar items such as toy dinosaurs or owls. Sparks says a personal touch is central to the rooms she creates. “It is important to allow for recognition. Include items specific to the child, for example, a family photo, a picture they’ve drawn or even something as simple as their name or initial, or a collection of their favourite books.”
No child’s space is complete without toys! Portway favours investing in classic wooden designs. “Wooden toys are special in so many ways. Not only are they natural and organic, so safer for your child to play with, they also stand the test of time, becoming heirlooms, to be handed down the generations. They also encourage interaction and role-play – there is nothing more heart-warming and magical than listening to your child’s imagination develop and grow.” She suggests starting your child’s collection with building blocks and a push or pull-along toy, while a play kitchen is a must-have for toddlers. “Little ones love to copy their parents and kitchen role-play is one of their favourite places to start. I don’t know any child that doesn’t adore to play chef.” When it comes to toys, Sparks sticks to the mantra of quality over quantity. “Less is more! A beautiful dolly, although maybe more expensive, will be more special than filling the space with many!
Lighting is key to any inspiring interior space and children’s rooms are no exception. Overhead and mood lighting are equally as important. A statement pendant or chandelier will lend a sense of sophistication to a room, while a lamp will softly diffuse light and create a soothing atmosphere (especially important for bedtime.) For a personal, playful touch look to miniature marquee lights and lightboxes (we like Ginger Rock Designs and Fromage La Rue). A night light is also essential for little ones who don’t like to be left in the dark (and to save you from tripping on toys if you go to check on them in the night). There are myriad designs available but our favourites include a giant fairytale-inspired toadstool from Cottage Toys and an oversized cloud nightlight by A Little Lovely Company from Smallable.
While a giant potted plant might look visually appealing in a nursery, it won’t be long until your newborn becomes a crawling baby and before long you’ll no doubt find them sampling the dirt. Being practical and thinking long-term ensures that you don’t run into any unwanted situations. Safety should always proceed style when it comes to your child’s room. Fix furniture to the walls, seal plug sockets and make sure there are no hanging strings or wires your child can grasp onto.
Lastly, don’t forget – it’s a child’s room! It has to be a space they will love as much as you, so embrace a sense of whimsy and make it as fun as it is fashionable. Easy ways to add a playful feel include colourful felt ball garlands or cotton ball lights (hung out of reach), papier mâché animal heads (try RH Baby & Child) or painting circus stripes or stars on the ceiling. Wallpaper or wall decals are also an instant trick to create a unique look. The gorgeous traditional illustrated wallpaper from Portugese company Little Hands can be personalised or look to Chasing Paper in the US for modern removable wallpaper printed with everything from painterly florals to a monochrome speckle. When it comes to wall decals you can’t miss Urban Walls – from apples to bat masks they have more designs than you can count. “A place to read and relax and a place with products that encourage creativity for example dress ups for role playing, are also extremely important says Sparks. And remember, it won’t be long before your children are voicing their own opinions about the look of their room, so make the most of your chance to go wild and mix polka dots with pom poms while you can!
Words by Amanda Woodward-Brown
Main image from @chloeuberkid