Just like shopping for kids' clothes can be way more fun and appealing than buying your own, the same goes for designing a nursery or kids' room. It's such an intimate space that both you and your child will spend a ton of time in. And you'll be putting some serious work in there too—think diaper changes, bedtime lullabies, toy cleanup, and tiny outfit organizing!
While you should absolutely enjoy the design process, it's important not to lose sight of practicality and strategic planning. "Keep in mind that some of the major nursery functionality you've created and furniture you've purchased for taking care of baby will become obsolete—the changing pad area will become unnecessary and the crib will need to be swapped out for a regular bed," says Lisa Janvrin, founder of YouthfulNest, an interior design site specializing in nursery and kids' rooms. "The same short-lived life may go for original décor and artwork, so it's important to not only think for today, but also tomorrow and next year."
If you're looking for a nursery that'll satisfy your needs as well as your little one's (and potentially even serve as your favorite spot in your entire home!), consider these creative and feasible tips from the pros.
Don't wait until the last minute
Especially when designing a nursery, you might think you have several months until Baby comes to do so. But not only is your baby's big debut sometimes unpredictable, but you also don't know how many other to-dos will pile up on your plate in the meantime, such as childbirth classes and weekly prenatal visits. For this reason, organizing expert Rachel Rosenthal recommends creating a plan and a timeline as soon as possible. "Tackle high-priority areas first, then move down your list instead of trying to finish everything all at once," says the founder of organizing firm, Rachel and Company. This will help prevent you from "feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated."
If you cannot start preparing your baby's room before his arrival (maybe you're moving or your religion does not allow you to have baby products in the home before birth), ask furniture stores about their delivery policy. Some will hold items for you until you are ready to have them delivered and set up while others offer same-day or next-day delivery for an additional fee.
Pick a theme—and stick with it
Whatever your theme of choice, deciding on it early on will help you stay focused on finding pieces that match the visual aesthetic, explains Alessandra Wood, VP of style at Modsy. Airplane and jungle themes aren't the only way to go. "Instead, you can broaden your theme to a color palette, like shades of blue or textured neutrals," she says. And there's no need to fret if the room isn't fully complete by the time the baby arrives. "Instead of rushing to purchase pieces you're not 100 percent in love with, focus on the most important parts first and fill in the details later," she adds.
Take a minimalist approach
Good news: Minimalism is trending! This simple yet purposeful approach is the perfect solution for busy parents and ones on a budget. "This design style is exactly what it implies: You create a space with the bare minimum of items and decorative pieces, which means little beyond the changing table area, glider, and crib," says Janvrin. Animal-inspired themes are hot right now, and you can easily find simple ways to spice up a room with this décor on online marketplaces. "You can find adorable bunny prints on Etsy and stunning art murals on Minted," says Janvrin.
Think safety first
Safety is the most important thing to take into consideration when designing your child's room. "Before you purchase any furniture you should not only check the safety ratings online but, if possible, you should also go and see the furniture as well to determine how sturdy it is," says Rosenthal. Take the same precautions once you bring the pieces home. "Make sure items like dressers, nightstands, bookshelves, and wall decorations are securely fastened to the wall, as you don't want little hands potentially pulling these pieces of furniture down when they start to walk."
Avoid items that won't grow with your child
As much as you're probably already dreading how fast time will fly, it's important to remember that your little one won't be so little forever. When selecting design elements and purchasing furniture, Rosenthal suggests avoiding items that'll become too '"babyish" in the years to come. "For example, an adorable animal-shaped lamp might be cute initially, but as baby reaches toddlerhood they might end up wanting something completely different that aligns with their new likes and dislikes," she says. "The same goes for any art, bedding, and furniture that can easily be seen as only being liked for a short time period."
Consider your comfort too
Once your little bundle arrives, you'll be spending the bulk of your time in the nursery—changing, feeding, rocking your baby to sleep, etc. For this reason, Rosenthal suggests making sure the nursery is not only comfortable for your baby, but also for yourself. It'll make those late-night wake-up calls all the more manageable! "For Baby, keep in mind that she will have sensitive, soft skin, so opt for fabrics like soft organic cotton for everyday bedding and muslin cloths," she says. For you, consider including a couple of cozy chenille blankets you can wrap yourself and baby in during feedings or cuddling sessions. In terms of furniture, one of the most used is the beloved rocking chair. Take time to go see and sit in various options at multiple stores and choose the chair that is most comfortable for you and your partner.
Factor in organization
Keeping things neat and tidy will sometimes be a challenge, so you might as well add a few items that can help make that process a bit easier. You can't go wrong with baskets, trunks, and toy chests. "Large floor baskets are great for loose toys and stuffed animals. And trunks or toy chests at the end of the bed are great to store loose toys and serve as a great seating spot for putting on those little shoes," says Joanna "Jo" Gick, interior designer, mom of two, and founder of Oh So Jo.
Add a fun touch to your little one's room by arranging the spine of books by color. "This instantly turns your books into a killer design element—and it's free!" says Janvrin. "I love this for any room, but in a nursery or kid's bedroom it is always nice to bring in added organization and calm—plus, young kiddos may not be reading yet, but have an amazing memory for the color of their books." Another plus: Placing books in order by their spine color will help expedite the bedtime process!
If it's within your budget, consider hiring a design service that specializes in nurseries and/or children's bedrooms. The few hundred dollars or so they charge may be well worth it in the end, considering the amount of time you'll save pinning hundreds of ideas to your Pinterest board and scouring the Internet for items that fit your theme, taste, budget, and not to mention room size. Most, like Modsy, provide 3D designs that are true to scale, so you can virtually move furniture around before doing the actual heavy lifting.