We've rounded up six of the best timeless, elegant nursery themes that your kiddo can live in from birth to prom and beyond—and which will save you a ton of redecorating money.

By Lily Burns
March 26, 2021
Each product we feature has been independently selected and reviewed by our editorial team. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Advertisement
An image of a neutral baby nursery.
Credit: Getty Images. Art: Jillian Sellers.

Creating a baby nursery is one of the cherished rites of parenthood, and as with planning a wedding, different types of people will have different approaches to perfecting their bundle of joy's new room. When I, for example, was bombarded with mid-pregnancy nursery-decor questions like "What are your colors?!" my response tended to be "Uh...I think there should be a chair." Other parents, on the other hand, have had Pinterest boards and folders of color swatches on their desktops since pre-pregnancy. Whichever kind of parent you are, the last thing you want to do is curate the perfect themed nursery—that you'll have to completely redecorate in five minutes as your little one grows up and develops their own tastes. 

There is a way to ditch the time, effort, and major money it takes to redecorate over and over, and that's to find a nursery theme that will grow with your child well into their high school—and/or even college—years. Sure, the Peter Rabbit nursery is cute for the first couple of years, but just imagine how many themed throw pillows / furniture items / papered walls they're going to insist you replace before they hit middle school.

Are you at a loss when it comes to nursery decor themes beyond the cutesy? We've rounded up six of the best timeless, elegant nursery themes that your kiddo can live in from birth to prom and beyond—and which will save you a ton of redecorating money.

Related Items

Boho

A fan favorite, a boho nursery is usually heavy on rattan and other natural materials like hemp and macrame. Natural materials keep the room feeling airy and light, but also grounded, organic and earthy. This cotton macrame canopy from World Market can hang over the crib, then become a cozy reading nook as your child gets older. And if you think boho and imagine wicker everywhere, and that’s just not your vibe, good news—boho is meant to be eclectic, effortless, and different for each person. From purposely clashing patterns to layering different textures, the boho feel can mean hippie rainbows and mushrooms, or it can mean vintage details and earthy colors. Whatever it feels like to you, don’t stress about it being Instagram-worthy; instead, focus on finding pieces with longevity, like a changing table that can also be your kiddo's dresser until they move out.

Neutrals

Keeping things neutral can seem boring, but it allows for so much more flexibility within the nursery, and really makes that patterned pillow or colorful mobile pop. Neutral colors work for any gender, any age, and keeps the focus on your child and their likes and style. Neutrals make for an excellent base to build off of, and finding items that pull double duty and also grow with your child means less clutter to clean up. And let’s be real, who doesn’t want less mess?

Home organization guru Jen Rowe of NEAT Method Toronto acknowledges that toys will change over time, but advises, “Use neutral tones that aren’t age-specific. Patterns and characters are more age-based, and kids’ styles and tastes change over time. What might be ‘right’ for what you have in mind for your kids’ room could be not what they like in a year. But neutral colors and patterns are things that have style longevity.” 

The Tonie Box is a neutral colored, screen-free sound machine that doubles as a no-parent-required bedtime story factory as your baby turns into a toddler, with more advanced stories for older kiddos.

Modern

Pops of color and playful textures make your nursery bright and modern. Unnecessary items that are purely decorative? Get rid of them. That stuffed animal taxidermy head on a plaque may seem bizarrely adorable now, but will it still be adorable when your baby is taking their SATs? I think not. Try to keep things uncluttered and functional—stick to abstract art prints over baby animal headshots, or a woven rug instead of one with the ABCs around the edge.

These shelves that hang in leather straps are the perfect combination of form and function, and are impossible to outgrow, no matter your child’s age. Plus, they'll help keep clutter to a minimum. But don’t feel like you need to get too micro in your quest to stay clutter-free: “If I had a bin each for cars, trucks, trains, and planes, I’d go crazy if a plane ended up in the train bin,” Rowe laughs. “Using broader categories, like one basket for vehicles, puts less pressure on the kids to put things away exactly right.” You can also use erasable or chalk labels like these so you can use those bins again and again—well beyond the train stage.

Geometric

Geometric shapes and patterns create clean lines and give your nursery a visually pleasing contrast with the (inevitable) softness of child-friendly materials. You can choose to paint a triangle pattern on an accent wall, focus on a striped rug, go for color-blocked crib sheets, or all of the above.

But remember: Just because your nursery has a geometric theme doesn’t mean it needs everything to look like Beetlejuice’s pants. A theme merely creates a palette from which you can draw ideas and looks, and a geometric nursery can be so many things! This gorgeous honeycomb shelving offers geometric shape in a unique way, and can hold treasures for your baby, as well as things like plants or keepsakes as they transition all the way into adolescence.

Hygge

Why not have your theme be a feeling? Hygge is a Danish concept that means "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being." Basically, being comfy and feelin’ good. Babies, kids, tweens and teens alike love getting cozy, so layer up with chunky oversized knit throws to add texture, keep the curtains sheer to let in as much natural light as possible, and double up on the pillows to keep things plush and relaxed.

Your tiny baby will all too quickly become your independent toddler, and then your angsty middle schooler, then your dramatic high schooler. In all stages of their life, your kiddo’s room should be a safe place that makes them feel happy and comfortable, so the nursery is the perfect place to start. This Nappling Weighted Blanket by Bearby is an earth-minded weighted blanket for kids that is made with nothing but layer upon layer of soft, organic cotton. Highly breathable, wonderfully cozy and utterly calming, it’s perfect as a throw in the nursery, for cuddling as a tiny tot and for helping your kiddo as they get older with getting enough of that oh-so-elusive sleep. 

Plants!

Are you hopeful your own plant obsession will extend to the next generation? Instead of going garden-, jungle-, or cactus-themed, broaden your theme to simply—plants. This keeps things from getting too flowery if you focus more on greens and less on florals. This is great as a "grow with you" theme because you can go as over-the-top or as minimalist as you or your kid wants—and as they get older, they can choose what plants they’d like and learn about how to care for them.

Choose a few simple botanical accents and some beautiful plants, and let those green beauties be the focus of the room. Utility carts also make great plant stands/mobile diaper stations, and since it’s on wheels, you can move it from room to room as needed and don’t need to dash to the changing table every time you need wipes. As your kiddo gets older, the cart can hold art supplies, toys, and more plants. Plus, it’s small enough to bring with them all the way to their future dorm room for some organizational help there as well.