I love looking at beautifully designed nurseries. There’s nothing more inspiring to visions of perfect motherhood than a teak rocking chair next to a decorative end table in bright colors (see: anything from Land of Nod).
That kind of nursery was never in the cards for me. First, the budget for all that teak furniture is way out of my reach. I knew that I didn’t have the time to agonize over each item that would populate the room. Not to mention all the gifts we received (and appreciated!) that didn’t fit in my narrow vision for the room. But looking at beautifully designed nurseries does get me wondering what other people do in their baby’s room.
A few people have shared their rooms with us (yay!), so we’re showing their perspectives about decorating a real, live baby’s room with real-people budgets.
- Stay-at-home mom
- Lives in Massachusetts
- Mother to a rambunctious little girl (3 years old) and bouncing baby boy (8 months)
I never had a theme in mind for either nursery, though one kind of happened in both. If anthropomorphising animals can be considered a theme, then that was Fiona’s. Ian’s sort of turned into a wilderness theme (so typical). I don’t even believe in themes, I just decorate with items that we love. But sure enough, there seems to be a theme in each.
Fiona’s started with two prints we picked up when I was pregnant with her, of two monkeys dressed up and playing instruments. It kind of snowballed from there. Every piece of artwork had an animal dressed in clothes. Ian’s began with a simplistic mural of a mountain range. By the time his room was done, there were bears and lumberjacks to be found all around.The one thing I wish I did differently for Fiona, that I began doing with Ian, is not only designing the room to be aesthetically pleasing but functional for the child to use. Making the space work for them: room to crawl, a space that’s safe to learn to pull up on furniture, and every milestone afterward.
- Clinical neuropsychologist
- Lives in Long Island
- Mother to an unstoppably adorable boy (17 months)
For inspiration, we were mostly keeping it simple and re-using stuff from our childhood (mostly mine). Everything in a toy net is from when I was a child, the dolls and bears my mom had kept. We also have sets of sheets from when my husband was a kid. The dresser was my husband’s bedroom set when he lived at home, and the bookcase was from my room. We only bought the bed and changing table new. The watch on the wall was also mine and the rocking chair was my parents and the rug was my husband’s. (Interestingly we weren’t trying not to buy stuff but just found uses for stuff we had).We choose two blues to paint his room; the wall behind crib is a bit darker. I had hoped to do an underwater theme, but in the end his toys were more owl-themed by accident or other people’s choices, so that didn’t really work out. I had wanted to get a friend to come and paint a mural on the walls but just didn’t get around to it as we didn’t move into the house until our son was already about 3 months old. He didn’t move into he room for another few months because he didn’t have furniture and it acted as storage for awhile, before we got stuff up to the attic.
Something I’d do different would be to plan ahead! When we first set up the room, I put a picture above the changing table and put it pretty low. Soon enough, my son was standing on the table during changes and trying to knock it down. Initially, the crib was against the dark wall, and the changing table was by the dresser, but my son pulled out the outlet covers (not so child-proof), so we had to move the crib. We have now mounted the furniture, but I realized all outlets are exposed, so even after we change them to ones that slid shut when you pull out the cord, it may be unsafe to have the humidifier and baby monitor plugged in. We haven’t solved this problem yet, as he (keeping fingers crossed) hasn’t yet climbed out of the crib. We also need to trade out the books on the bookcase for ones he can’t destroy once he roams around the room. For now, the board books are in the living room where he plays and the bookshelf in the bedroom was paper books, but that will change.
- Human resources executive
- Lives in Ohio
- Mother to a cheery-eyed girl (4 years old)
We decided on a “farm-girl chic” theme for the room. I found a really cute pig decal for the wall that formed my inspiration for the room. The nursery should be fun and be someplace the mom feels comfy; you will spend a lot of time in there.
- Volunteer manager at a nonprofit (currently on maternity leave)
- Lives in New Hampshire
- Mother to an energetic little girl (2 years old) and a squishy newborn girl (1 month)
For Talia, she got her own mural, an uncomfortable wooden rocker that I promptly replaced with a glider, and an adorable owl theme.
The theme for Mira’s nursery is: You are my second child. She gets a co-sleeper next to my bed and two drawers of clothes. But you’ll notice the co-sleeper is empty because so far she has only slept in my bed. My inspiration is not having to get out of bed in the middle of the night (my husband handles diaper changes), still having a guest room, and preserving precious toddler sleep.
- Project manager in telcommunications
- Lives in New York
- Mother to a chubby-cheeked girl (8 months)
I remember reading somewhere to create a nursery that you would enjoy spending time in. I didn’t want us to get held down by a hard theme; I really wanted the design process to be flexible and fluid. Her little, red dresser was the first piece in the the nursery, and the rest of it evolved effortlessly around it.
I channeled memories of my bedroom when I was a kid, images from my favorite children’s books, nursery rhymes, and movies, and what about them that made them my favorite. I wanted to give her a space that was completely different from the rest of our apartment.
When you’re a child, you believe ordinary doors lead to extraordinary worlds. I wanted to give her that: a whimsical place full of color and creativity, a room that would let her baby imagination grow and where she could dream sweetly, a fun corner to read her “Goodnight, Moon” over and over again. A space the three of us could escape to together. I can’t speak for Eva, but it’s really my favorite room in our home.
Here’s what Ada’s nursery ended up looking like:
We decided on a ocean/nautical theme because we live near the shore. The baby’s room needed some work, so we refinished the windows, scraped the old paint off, and repaired some places on the wall. We got a dresser from Ikea and put Anthropologie knobs on it. We found a white crib and a blue rug on Amazon, and a few bins from Home Goods for toys. We already owned the chairs, and the banners were a gift from my baby shower.
I was extremely happy with the way the room came out. It was bright and cheerful, just the place I wanted to be with baby. However, as Ada starts to crawl, I’ve realized that the bookshelf has to be removed because she can pull it down on herself, and everything needs to be reassessed to make sure it is safe for her.