How to Design a Nursery: Dos and Don'ts

When you’re pregnant, you’re told a long list of things you CAN'T do. Don’t eat soft cheese, don’t go in a hot tub, don’t overdo the caffeine... However, decorating your baby’s nursery is one of the things you CAN do in the run-up and I loved every minute of it. Take a moment to arm yourself with these helpful nursery design dos and don'ts, and you'll be ready to hit the stores in no time.

Tip 1: Versatility

Create a room that grows with your baby. It really pays to plan for a decorating scheme, and the furniture that goes in it, that will last for – or at least need rethinking – five years. This level of planning will help your budget go further and should help you avoid costly mistakes.


When it comes to colour, don't be lured into the boys = blue, girls = pink, not sure = yellow debate. Instead, choose a colour that will suit the room's orientation (north or east facing rooms will look more inviting with warmer shades; south and west facing rooms can take cooler tones); that will flatter its proportions (light colours being more space-enhancing than dark; dark colours being cosier at night than light ones); and that you actually like – your baby's not going to have a strong opinion for a good couple of years (hopefully). I love grey walls as they always look fresh in the daytime but cosy at night – just what you want in a nursery. This is a particularly useful approach if you want to prepare your nursery but aren’t finding out whether you’re having a boy or girl. Grey makes fun things POP.


Choose storage that fits your needs today and tomorrow. Though it seems like it, your baby won’t be in diapers forever, so be sure that basket you buy for diapers can hold something else when you’re done with that phase.

Open bin storage is great for blankets and gear when your baby is small, and can easily transition into a toy box as he gets bigger. Keep a few larger floor bins on hand for quick cleanup when unexpected grandparents arrive at your door. Bins with a lower profile can easily be tucked away under the crib.

Consider wall shelves near your changing table for supplies that need to stay out of baby’s reach like lotions, thermometers, nail clippers, and so on. Add bins and baskets to bookshelves to separate and organize various supplies.

Hanging closet storage is perfect for babies. Hangers aren’t super useful to maximize space with such tiny clothes. A few hanging organizers can store a ton of gear now and be re-purposed for toys, art supplies and games later.

I’d also recommend investing in a changing table that has a detachable changing area – so once your baby has outgrown it, it becomes a regular chest of drawers.


Tip 2: Kid's Perspective

According to the Montessori method, a child’s room should be designed from a child’s perspective. It is based on two main principles: functionality and minimalism. This means that every piece of furniture and all the items in the room ought to be accessible to kids at every moment, helping them accelerate their path to independence. It is also not in the Montessori spirit to overwhelm the space with unnecessary things, as they will only act as distractions. This method requires you to understand your child’s needs and opportunities and create an environment according to them. Its creator, Dr Maria Montessori believed that children are their own best teachers, and in that spirit, she developed her principles.

It’s very common to see children’s rooms that adapt to the needs of parents. However, decorating a nursery with inspiration from the Montessori method implies the following:

  • Space. The concept focuses on a large, clean and well-lit room with good ventilation. 
  • Bed. It is recommended to avoid the common bars and enclosed cribs after the age of 18 months. The Montessori method for decorating a nursery encourages having a bed at ground level. This way, you protect your child’s safety and he can explore without getting stuck on or off the bed.
  • Walls. Choose colours that generate tranquillity, such as warm tones. Remember this will be your child’s personal space. Warm colours invite relaxation and pleasant rest.
  • Furniture. Furniture such as drawers, chairs, pictures and shelves should be at the height of the child, not at the height of an adult. This way, your child will feel comfortable in the environment because everything will be within reach.
  • Floor. The floor should be free of obstacles so the child can easily move around the room. If possible, choose carpets that allow the child to explore different textures.
  • Toys. Toys should be made of natural materials such as cloth or wood instead of plastic. Keep in mind that very elaborate toys with lights and sounds limit creativity.
  • Accessories. Mirrors allow children to observe and discover their bodies. You can also put up posters of nature, animals or landscapes. Coat racks should be placed so children can hang their clothes up by themselves.
  • Order. The order should be respected and encouraged, and space should be available for everything. There should never be too many things in the room to make it impossible to keep it tidy.

To sum it up: Keep Decor Simple. High-contrast patterns and bold, primary colours may be good for development, but when it comes to the nursery, these elements are best left outside. Ditch the Crib. Adjust the Scale. Encourage Free Play.

Tip 3: Use Instagram, Pinterest & Etsy for Inspiration

Interiors are huge on these photo-sharing apps – simply search keywords or follow stylish parents for real-life inspiration. They put a spotlight on individual designers. If you spot something you like on Instagram or Pinterest, you can comment on the photo and ask where they purchased their items (if they haven’t tagged the shop in their photo already). Alternatively, if you’re unable to find out where the item is from you can send the image to someone who can recreate it for you (I did this with my star curtains). Etsy is also a great marketplace where you can find tons of inspirations.

Have Fun!