Styling a baby's room

No pregnancy news, friends! Today is all about decorating my nephew's nursery. When my sister & brother-in-law learned they were pregnant, they decided not to find out the sex of the baby. It's a challenge to style a baby's room without knowing whether it's for a boy or a girl, but I love it! A room doesn't have to be gendered for an adult – so why do we feel like it does for a baby or a kid? When you take "feminine" and "masculine" out of the equation you start thinking more about the feeling in the room and less about the wall color.

The mood board I pulled together is based around elements Candace had already decided on before having the baby... a blue rocker, a white crib, seafoam walls (Crystal Clear by Sherwin Williams). It was never intended to be a "boy's room" – it's just a coincidence that a little boy moved in. I'm convinced that if he were a she, "she" would still love it because of the feeling it evokes.

In my sister's words, she wanted this room to feel "a little bit cool, a little bit natural, and a little bit whimsical. Very happy, very playful, and not generic." Sounds great, eh? She got a good start without me – painting the walls and picking out furniture – but then a little baby arrived and distracted her with more important kissing tiny toes and cuddling for hours on end. Y'know, the usual. Now she's starting to spend more time in the room & feels like the design has stalled out – something I can wholly relate to. Me being me, I pounced on the opportunity to become the favorite aunt lend my decorating advice.

Before I detail my master plan, let's see where the room stands right now. These are iPhone shots Candace sent me to jog my memory... long-distance decorating is not without its challenges:


It's precious already, right? Candace has great taste, so my job is easy. Her main concerns that I need to address are that it feels too serious and that the blue chair sticks out too much. There's no denying that the accent wall and chair are the stars here. The challenge is getting them to gel with the rest of the room, but I've got some ideas for how we do just that.

1. Bridge the blues

Candace's fear of the blue chair not fitting in is valid – it's dark and everything else is light. They're both pretty, but they don't really relate to each other. Sure, they're both blue, but they're so far apart on the spectrum that they don't have all that much in common. We can bridge that gap by carrying the darker color over to the walls and by introducing a third (intermediary) blue. Here's an illustration of how this might play out on the wall: 


Suddenly the chair feels intentional and at home. On the left, we've got 4 distinct colors: white, gold, seafoam and dark blue (actually called "ocean"!) Four is generally the max for a harmonious room, so it's counterintuitive to suggest adding yet another shade of blue. BUT in doing so (I hope) I've related the dark blue to the light blue so we can group them together in our minds as different shades of the same color. Yes? No? Maybe? Just go with it.

Then I suggest we take it a step further by bringing those darker blues into other elements around the room. And that brings me to suggestion numero dos...

2. Rug switcharoo

I love the current rug because it's really fun & bold & it echoes the triangles on the wall. However, I don't love how it competes with the wall for a starring role. We already determined the wall is the star, so the rug should be content as supporting actor. I'd swap it for something with a subtle pattern that ties in the darker blue from the chair. Here are a few that could work well:

These obviously aren't plain blue rugs. You could go that route, but these patterns work too because their scale is much smaller than the wall triangles. I personally love mixing patterns at every opportunity... I think it's a little more fun and exciting than committing to just one. Plus it's more of a challenge, so it looks cooler when you can pull it off :)

The second (more important) issue with the rug is that it's one size too small – this is a super common problem because big rugs = big $$ (usually). It's even harder to justify the expense of a big rug when you already have carpet. BUT, if you can swing the cost or find a good sale, I do think it's worth it. Rugs bring in color, texture and coziness that a typical carpet just doesn't have. Plus they make a room feel collected and layered. This current rug looks to be about 6' x 9', but the room, which is about 11.5' x 12.75', really calls for an 8' x 10'. 

2. Lighten up

Candace's house, like mine, has lots of boob lights hanging around. You know the ones... a ceiling flush mount that comes standard in lots of homes and just happens to look like a giant boob. While a nursery is probably the only place where such a light might be appropriate (boob jokes, anyone?), I'd swap it out for something a little more ...err... whimsical. Light fixtures can get 'spency in a hurry, but Ikea and Urban Outfitters have nice affordable options. This Maskros pendant from Ikea (left) is definitely playful... it throws fun patterns around the room. That could be fun for a nursery. The Boja basket (right) is another good Ikea option – this one brings in the natural element Candace wanted. Both of them have a nice texture and both offer a soft, diffused light. 

Maskros  IKEA |  Boja  IKEA

Maskros IKEA | Boja IKEA

I'd also add lamps beside the rocker and the changing table for nighttime cozy vibes. Nothing kills the mood (or wakes up a sleeping baby) like flicking on the overhead light. Floor lamps are good for bringing in some vertical height, but in a carpeted kid's room I'd worry about it tipping over. Table lamps are a better option, but we don't have a lot of table real estate to work with. Instead, I'd hang a sconce or two. Here are some cute options that tie in the metallic triangles from the wall [confession: the middle light is not A) a wall lamp or B) gold, but it is C) a chime & light in one. And that's pretty cool):

3. Window treatments

Lights are great, but blackout curtains are the real saving grace in a nursery. I really like the ivory ones on the right from Urban Outfitters – the pompoms are playful without being busy, and the arrow curtain rod is cute too. The curtains on the left (from Anthropologie) are even more fun, but they're sheer... Womp womp. No matter though because we can always make our own by sewing some blue pompoms and tassels on regular blackout curtains. The window in the nursery butts up to the adjoining wall, so I'd stick to one wide side panel that ties to the right during awake time and covers the window during the sleepy time. 

4. Stylish storage

The only piece of furniture this room still needs is storage for books & toys. There are a few possible routes we could go: toy bins, wall shelves, or bookcases. Personally I prefer the latter two because they utilize vertical wall space. Right now, all the furniture is the same height, so the room's "skyline" is really flat. I'd like to add a tall bookshelf or a wall shelf hung high to break it up a bit. Let's call it encouragement for baby boy to start standing up :) The books & toys stored on them will almost certainly be colorful, so I'd stick to white shelves to keep it from looking busy. Here are a handful of options. (Sidenote: you can really see here how not white Ikea's white is with #2!)

5. Add the art

The triangle wall is already boosting our cool, artsy factor, but the other walls need some love too. Candace painted a cute chevron diptych that needs to be framed and hung, and a friend gave them a lovely hand-painted sign with baby boy's name on it. Other than that, I'm on the hunt for some prints that play nice with the color palette. One place I look for this kind of thing is Help Ink. It's a cool organization that features lots of different artists, and for every $5 you pay $1 goes to a good cause of your choosing. I first heard about them through Young House Love, and I like a lot of their smile-inducing posters and typography. Here are some that might work in this room:

Lastly, I want to bring in lighthearted, party vibes with garland and geometric paper hangings... I have a feeling one of these DIYs will come in handy!

That about wraps up my plans for now. You can see what else has caught my eye here on my nursery pinboard. I don't know about you, but I'm getting excited to see this room come together! I'll be sure to post pictures of the finished product before baby boy grows into a toddler ;)

Have you seen any nurseries lately that give you twinges of baby-mania?