How To Design An Ideal Nursery...For You & Your Baby!

Guest Blogger - Amanda Goodwillie,  A.DeLane Design

A. DeLane Design is a boutique interiors and surface pattern design studio in Evanston, IL. Founded in 2012 by Amanda Goodwillie, following more than 12 years of working as a senior project designer at some of Chicago's top hospitality design firms.

A. DeLane is a full service design studio focusing mainly on hospitality, retail, and residential interiors projects.


Congrats, you're having a baby! Let the Pinterest fun begin.... Suddenly, you realize that you've pinned a million different styles, themes, color schemes. How will you begin the actual room? It's okay, we have all done it. Take a deep breathe, and consider a few guidelines to help you effectively edit all the ideas you've come across to find the room that fits you and your baby. 

Before actually beginning, there are a few things that are good to keep in mind throughout the whole process.

  • Consider the function of each area of the space as you're going, especially the changing table area. You want to keep all the things you will need at close reach to you, and out of reach to the little one on the table...don't over clutter the function of that very important area.
  •   A well placed hamper is key. Close to the changing table is best, and make sure you have an organized dresser or closet that is well thought out and not over stocked. Leaving room in the drawers and closet will allow you to easily put everything away as it is washed. This is especially true for those using cloth diapers.
  • Leave space for baby to grow. If you are starting baby in a cradle or smaller crib, leave room to fit a larger crib or toddler bed as your baby grows into different furniture. Think about how and where you will place the baby monitor in relation to the crib, so that it can easily reach an outlet and be camouflaged in it's surroundings to not stick out.
  • Will your room have a ceiling fan? Babies love fans. It is also thought to help keep them comfortable and safe! (https://www.thespruce.com/sids-prevention-tip-ceiling-fans-may-reduce-the-risk-of-sids-2504908)
  • Window treatments - consider using black-out shades in some form to be able to control the light in the space to fit baby's sleeping schedule.

Like that pinterest board, the tips and notes and advice can go on and on, so I will limit this guide to beginning the design of the space by creating a solid base and layering in select pieces to create a space that is the right feel for you and your baby.

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  1. Create a neutral base, choose a color palette that isn’t overpowering. 

    It can be easy to get carried away with the idea of creating the perfect nursery and wanting to add all the cute baby/kid ideas you come across, but keeping the bones of the space neutral will allow the accents to pop out and be whimsical and the room will be able to evolve more easily into the different stages or different functions the room may serve. Neutral base doesn't necessarily mean a grey or beige paint color (especially not beige!), but it does mean to pick a color that isn't too loud, a good background for the accents, pattern, textures, art, etc  Something that you respond to as calm (you will be spending a significant amount of time in the room too), will have staying power as the accents and layout shift over time.

  2. Pick a piece of art or graphic that you love, to build the room around. 

    Art is the personality of the room. That said, you don't want to put every piece of art you come across in the room; make sure to edit and focus on a piece or pattern you really love as a starting point to layer onto selectively. 

    Wallpaper can be a great way to add an accent and/or graphic that is bold and act as the art for the room. Black and white, or high contrast shapes and patterns give babies something to focus on and the ability to concentrate intensely on a visual can allow their brains to rest. Using a wallpaper with high contrast can not only be something to design the room around, but it will help your babies brain development. 

    Don't limit yourself to overly cutesy just because it's a room for a baby. If you go the wallpaper route, be honest about how long it will be up on the walls. Make sure to pick something you love enough that will have the staying power to hold up over the years and evolution of the room. 

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          3.  Don't let the lighting be an after thought.

Lighting that is easy to access when you have your hands full, and different types of lighting for different purposes are important to keep in mind. (General lighting, indirect lighting to keep the low level, nightlight...) Touch lamps, that you can turn on and off by touching anywhere, are very handy when you have your hands full and sometimes need light quick but only have an elbow available. Have a light that can illuminate the whole room well, which may be a ceiling light or just a light that is brighter, an indirect light that you can turn on when you need to see but don't want to startle the baby with bright light, and of course a nightlight. 

The lighting can be a way to add unique art into the room too. A light fixture that is more sculptural or following a theme you've decided on are good ways to make use of the lighting as an integral part of the design, not an afterthought. Picking something that gives off interesting shadows or a pendant that can move more like a mobile are other ways to design a space to help your baby's brain develop.

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                     4.  Think about height.

Babies become mobile faster than you expect when you are a brand new parent. Keeping this in mind, design a space where the things you want out of reach stay up out of reach, as well as enough interesting, baby-safe things at a low baby level. High wall-mounted shelves or a closet or dresser that can be secured and hold all the things you want away from the baby should be considered. It is also good to keep the montessori model in mind, and adapt at least part of the room to the child's size and nature, to foster exploration and independence. (a soft reading area on the floor, low book or toy shelves, a shelf that can be used for imaginative play like a dollhouse or pretend city, magnetic wallpaper)

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                  5. Think about textures.

Tactile experiences are very important for babies. Like the importance of visual sensory experiences, thinking about adding different textures in a room for your baby to explore are important. Consider a rug as a big opportunity for a textural experience for baby as well as a way to make a big design statement to tie the room together. Furniture pieces like ottomans, poufs, bean bags, floor pillows are other safe pieces at baby's level to explore.

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There are so many possibilities for nursery themes and style, but starting with good bones, selecting the feature piece of art or pattern to design around, layering in key accents, and keeping your own personality and style in mind will help you make the right space for you and baby!