At 23, I had no desire to get married or to have children. But life has a mind of its own and at 25, I found myself with a husband, two young chubby babies in tow and a life on the move, dragging suitcases from country to country every year or so. Needless to say, arranging a child’s nursery was not on the top of my list! When I reached 36 and found myself pregnant again with twin girls (and a whole host of interior design work experience now under my belt!), I realised this was my chance to finally create the nursery of my dreams. Here are a few tips I picked up along the way that will hopefully help you outfit the perfect little room for your new baby too!
Mix and match: Interior design is like fashion. Avoid trying to create an “over-the-top look” such as a princess theme if it’s a girl, or a sports or jungle safari theme if it’s a boy.
Make it your own and not a magazine advert: Make it homey by adding family handmade accessories or heirloom furniture, such as grandmother’s hand-knitted blanket or an old family commode.
Be innovative with your fabrics: Mix and match colours and prints to inject a bit of zest into the space. Don’t get stuck on pink for girls and blue for boys. Lilac polka dots, saffron stripes and almond green linens for girls and dark orange with denim cottons or grey accents for boys are all alternative choices that work perfectly well. Cath Kidston or Quadrille fabrics are some of my favourites!
Think about soft lighting: Ambient lighting is always a better alternative in a nursery; avoid spot lights and go for lampshades in soft tones. Some fun choices are this Mathieu de Challieres bird cage (pictured above), Tse-tse paper light guirlande or a laser-cut grey lampshade from Make Room.
Don’t forget blackout blinds to make sure your baby gets a good night’s sleep!
Wallpaper is always a good option for the whole room or for an accent wall with Wall Affairs or wall decals from Art Decal, or Winkplay. Small space trick: Go for a pattern of horizontal stripes in fun colors – it will expand even the smallest of spaces.
Wood paneling will always add warmth to a nursery room and also adds a classical touch to the space.
Save a place with a comfortable armchair with a footrest and a small side table where you can bottle feed or read a bedtime story with your little one on your lap.
Think of storage: You can’t expect to keep a nursery spotless, but there are ways to lessen the mess: opt for a mix of closed cupboards and open storage if you don’t want the space to look too clinical. I like nice wicker baskets such as these from Shiva Designs Bespoke.
Go for carefully designed accessories handcrafted with love and care such as the vintage fabric bird houses by Tamar Mogendorff.
Pick coloured patterned rugs (Ruby Slipper is a great choice) to jazz up a neutral nursery.
Opt for a touch of retro with revisited vintage furniture; I personally love the one-of-a-kind pieces from Art From Junk. (pictured below).
Children do grow you know! Think about transformative furniture – from crib to bed and from changing commode to chest of drawers. Local brand Cuckoo has a fabulous selection of transformative pieces.
Innovate with colours. A gender-neutral room does not have to be green or yellow: creams, taupes and beiges offer a soothing nursery atmosphere. If you like to experiment, try painting one of the walls or the back of a bookshelf with a bright colour or if you want a more subtle look, go for an almond green or subdued grey shade. Pick two or three colors and repeat them throughout the room.
Go green! Invest in non-toxic materials such as VOC-free paint, a wise choice that will keep nasty chemicals out of your baby’s room.
Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting if you can. Carpeting, as well as the glue and backing used on it, tends to contain high levels of chemicals and often traps dust, dirt and allergens. Natural wood floors finished with non-toxic oils are one of the smartest choices you can make in a nursery. If you still want carpet, opt for an untreated 100 percent wool carpet and have it installed using a tack-down method rather than glue.
When you choose your crib, go for a natural one made out of solid wood with a non-toxic, water-based finish. A nice option is the baby to toddler bed from Ni-night.
Traditional mattresses are filled with fire retardants and other chemicals that give off harmful fumes, so consider splurging on a natural mattress. European Bedding is a wonderful company that sells organic mattresses completely free of chemicals.
And now get back to designing, mamas!
If you’re interested in gaining more interior design tips and tricks, Insight School of Interior Design offers full-time or part-time courses (1-day courses, 3-month certificates or 1-year diplomas). Find out more information here.