Thursday, January 24, 2013

The No-Theme Nursery

As my little baby is quickly transitioning into toddlerhood, I thought I'd share my approach to designing her No-Theme Nursery before she's a full-blown kid and the remnants of a baby are gone.

When I set about designing Francie's room over a year-and-a-half ago I bounced around the idea of going with a theme. Farm Animals, Birds, and Trees were just a few ideas I considered but I quickly came to the conclusion that selecting a particular theme for her nursery would mean that the effort I put into the design before her birth would quickly be phased out as she advanced the various stages of childhood and as her own interests came into play.

Great design should last, so while her room is sure to evolve as she does, the proper decisions early on ensure the investments I made in her space before she was born will still have a home in her room as she grows.

I found this bedding from Pottery Barn Kids and had my starting point.
The large floral pattern is graphic and girly but not too girly just like its color scheme. I liked the fact that it consisted of a variety of colors, of course the stand-by pink, but also a deep red, orange and a light blue. The variety ensured that as her own color preferences came into play the room could evolve with it.

To ensure a cohesive design despite the lack of your typical nursery theme I had two major design elements consistently expressed in the space: bold colored accents and furniture and fun and educational art. The foundation for a room that can grow as baby grows.

Bold Colored Accessories and Furniture.
I have an aversion to painting walls sure, I'll paint just about everything else in my home including toys, lamps, and even my fireplace but after almost three years I have only painted one wall  in our house (what's with that!?). I prefer to bring color through furniture and accessories. So when it came to Francie's room I wasn't about to change my m.o. Nope, instead I left the walls their neutral creamy beige color and made sure everything I brought into her space was a bold and vibrant color all pulling from the color scheme established by that bedding.

In all my pregnancy google-ing about babies I kept reading that infants primarily see the contrast between light and dark colors and vibrant primary colors are stimulating to young kids so my neutral wall with bold furniture and accessory approach held up to science (because everything you read on the internet is TRUE)!

As I outlined Tuesday, when deciding what to do with Francie's dresser/changing table I wanted to accentuate the piece's form so that its simple yet beautiful details would stand out. I accomplished this by painting it a deep rosy red.
I then found an old wood shelf at an antique shop that offered lots of book and toy storage and I painted it a burnt orange to match the orange found in the bedding. I topped it off with a red tear drop shaped lamp from Target, together the two items came in under $40.
The other major bold colored accent in Francie's space was her curtains. The red floor-to-ceiling window treatments with ribbon detailing pulled from her bedding and the deep red provided a large shot of color to the space without a drop of paint.
Fun & Educational Art.
Art was the other essential component to Francie's No-Theme Nursery. I looked for pieces that of course brought more bold colors to the space but more importantly they were educational and fun.  I figured this approach to selecting art would ensure that its subject matter wouldn't be outgrown once she was out of diapers.

This hot pink world map decal from Wall Star Graphics  offered just what I was looking for. Visually stimulating for my infant and educational for my kid. Who knew geography could be so fun!
Since every nursery needs to have the child's name on the wall I cut the letters out of a stiff felt and hung them with a orange and white polka dot ribbon. No excuse for forgetting her name now!
The last bit of brain-building art I added was an 'ABC I Love You' print I found at Target.
Simple, fun, and educational.
We recently made the first big change to my baby's nursery, by replacing the Ikea Poang chair that I had spent so many hours snuggling her to sleep in (so many it finally broke) and swapped it for her pallet sofa. The black and white zig-zag fabric adds more variety and depth to the design and opens up another direction which we can take the decor as she grows.
The challenge in designing Francie's nursery (and all nurseries for that matter) was that I didn't know my client when I designed her space. But by keeping my focus on a color scheme and art that could grow as she grows it left room for her personality to fill in the gaps.

And as you can see the room's decor will have to try and keep up!



  1. Another great one Griff! So enjoy reading these, keep it up!

    Auntie Barb

  2. Hey! Why not do a post on mine and Dan's, do-it-yourself pull up bar in the garage??!!! is it because it's like 10 feet off the ground and most normal human beings can't even reach it??!!

  3. Haha yeah, it lacks some functionality (for normal human beings) but the craftsmanship is truly impressive.

  4. Nicely done and congrats on the Apartment Therapy article.

  5. Looking so impressive theme and furniture collection. thanks for this collection.

  6. It's pretty colorful. I like all the bright colors. The only thing i would change is the use of red. I think that' your personal preference. However, for me, although I like red, I would use a little less because it's such a high energy color and that's a sleeping area as well.

  7. Interesting room and it would be perfect for two children to play with each other.

  8. Cool picture collection. Lovely and awesome

  9. it is looking like a fun world.

  10. It is looking like a fun world.

  11. Amazing post with wonderful idea..Thanks for the wonderful share

  12. Fun ideas for a little one's personal space

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