Creating an Age-Neutral Nursery

Top experts answer your questions on creating a nursery that works for newborns as well as toddlers and preschoolers.
baby boy smiling in crib in Ultimate Nursery

Q. I'm planning a nursery for my soon-to-be-born daughter. I'd love to create a room that won't look babyish by the time she's 5. Any suggestions?

A. Age-neutral rooms make great sense. After all, your newborn will grow into a preschooler who will inevitably have tastes and opinions of her own. When it comes to choosing a color palette, think beyond the traditional. Bright colors like aqua blue, lime green, and tangerine are fun for babies, yet sophisticated enough to suit an older child. But if you love pastels, you don't have to forgo them -- just don't go overboard. Trista Jones Manigault, chief designer of Cincinnati-based children's store Paradigm Kids, suggests combining traditional baby colors with more mature hues, such as brown. "Color duos like pink/brown, light blue/brown, or celadon/brown are very in," she says.

For the nursery, choose inexpensive decorative pillows (not to be placed in baby's crib!), wall art, and curtains that you can easily replace with pieces reflecting your child's tastes as she grows, says Sherri Blum, interior designer and owner of Baltimore-based Jack and Jill Interiors. Also consider your nursery furniture, Blum says. It makes sense to buy pieces that can be used differently as your child grows. For example, an armoire is ideal because early on, you can open the cabinet doors and use it as a changing station; later, you can hide away a television or store clothing and books.

Sticking prepasted cutouts onto your wall to form a freestyle border is another option that provides flexibility. You just wet them and place them wherever you want. Blum likes the ones from Wallies (wallies.com). "You can stick them to many surfaces, like furniture or lamps, to give your room a cohesive design," she says. Or you can place them randomly around the room and create all kinds of fun effects, such as leaves falling from the sky or fish swimming in the ocean.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, November 2006.

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