Expert: Interior designer Libby Langdon
1. Going nuts with the pastels.
When you’re really baby-baby pink or baby-baby blue, you’re kind of stuck with that and it’s hard for [the baby] to grow with it. What you want to do is think in terms of using three colors. Sometimes people say, “Oh the nursery, it’s blue and white, or it’s pink and white.” Do blue, green and white, or do pink, yellow and white, or pink, lavender and white. Sometimes by doing three different colors, it can keep the nursery from looking so babyish. A trend in nurseries is definitely people are spending more time in the nursery, whereas years ago you used to just decorate the baby’s room, and the baby would sleep there, and that was sort of it. Have fun with your nursery, and look at it as an opportunity to create a whole new, beautiful space in your home.
Painting is the fastest and most inexpensive way to transform a room.You can do a bright orange stripe that goes horizontally around the wall, or on the wall that just the crib is on, paint that a really bright color and leave the other walls a soft white or a tan. Although you never want to paint a child’s room red. It’s not good for them, it’s not peaceful, they don’t feel rested. If you are gonna do pink, just be sure it’s a soft, muted pink. You don’t want anything too hot or too red in a child’s room. Red is just a very stimulating color. Red is a great color for a dining room. It inspires conversation. But it’s just not great for a place where they need to really rest.
2. Furnishing only the floor.
What you don’t want to do is crowd up your nursery with tons of little shelving units and tons of things can make it feel cluttered. There’s a thing Pottery Barn does – they call it the “Schoolhouse Bookrack” – and it hangs on the wall. It’s only about four or five inches deep, and you set the books in it and they face outwards. A great thing about these books are the covers and the artwork, you know? So [you're] using the Schoolhouse Bookrack not only as storage but as art.
You can just hang some floating shelves all the way up to the ceiling, and toys and stuffed animals, and things like that that the kids don’t play with all the time, or special mementos from grandparents and stuff like that – don’t clutter dressers or changing tables up with those kinds of things, get them up on the shelves and get them up on the wall.
If you have multiple toy chests, think of them as storage units. I would stack them on top of each other and put items you use less in the lower ones, and take them out, so the child can get in there and play and put things away.
And I would say one of the big mistakes is [parents] don’t put enough light in a nursery, and I’m not sure why that is. You really want to think in terms of lighting all four corners of the room. And sometimes people say, “I just need a little something on the dresser, a little something on the table next to a chair,” but if you light all four corners of the room with a combination of floor lamps and table lamps, it’s going to make it much more inviting and much more comfortable. And it will make the space look larger.
3. Choosing personal taste over baby’s comfort.
One thing I would say, and this is a good idea for kids’ rooms no matter what, is to use round tables rather than square tables. The other thing I would say is consider using outdoor fabric on your furniture indoors. A lot of times people think of outdoor fabric as Sunbrella stuff with green and white stripe, but there is a lot of really luxurious, beautiful outdoor fabric, all kinds of great colors and great patterns, and that is a good solution for keeping things clean – you’re not worried about it, it’s performance fabric and it’s designed for the wear and tear of the outdoors.
Parents usually put just one swivel chair or a rocker or something like that, but I tend to encourage people: put a small sofa in there, a little love seat or a chair and a half where two people could share it and read to the baby. I think it helps you use the space more effectively.
I don’t think it’s a good idea when people just do a little cotton throw rug. I don’t think that’s good for kids; it’s not comfortable for them to crawl on, and wall-to-wall carpeting, it muffles the sound, it makes it more peaceful in there. Sometimes people are like, “But we have beautiful hardwood floors!” Leave the hardwood floors for your hallways.
Interview by Meghan Pleticha