A neutral palette and plenty of storage may seem unlikely choices for a nursery, but in a few years you’ll be glad you took this approach. Rather than sinking money into brightly colored walls, carpets and baby-themed items you’ll soon be replacing, consider investing in built-in storage, comfortable furniture and accessories. Some of these items can transition to other parts of the house as baby grows. You can add as much color and whimsy as you like with stuffed animals and toys.
Start by choosing a soft high-quality carpet in a neutral shade. Invest in a quality pad to extend its life for years. Or go with solid floors and throw rugs if you’re concerned about allergies. Before laying carpet, paint walls a harmonizing neutral shade with a low-odor, low-VOC paint to protect mom and baby from harmful chemicals.
You can never have too much storage in a child’s room. New babies come with lots of needs—everything from dozens of diapers to baskets of stuffed animals from doting family members. As children grow, their collections grow with them.
Built-in storage provides a place for all that stuff from day one, making it easy to teach little ones good habits. Creating it is easier and less expensive than you might imagine. Measure your space and check out big box stores and cabinet suppliers for sturdy, heavy-duty book cases and cabinets. Or look at a Habitat for Humanity Restore for items that can be repurposed, avoiding those that might contain lead paint. Once units are securely attached to wall studs for safety, give them a finished look by trimming tops and bottoms with molding.
A window seat with plenty of cushions located between two wall units will soon become a favorite spot for parents and little ones. You may find something suitable at a store like IKEA. If not and you lack carpentry skills, enlist the help of a talented friend or relative to build a sturdy box. Add pull-out drawers for supplies. Later, they’ll hold toys and sports equipment.
A comfortable rocker/recliner is a welcome luxury for new moms and dads. Soft throws are beneficial to use while nursing, pillows and a convenient side table create a cozy, quiet haven.
Tips for Outfitting a Healthy Baby’s First Room
Baby’s impending arrival means you need to prepare a safe and healthy home and bedroom. Not all babies get a room by themselves so don’t stress if your newborn will be sharing. Adjust ideas to suit your circumstances. If buying new is out, friends and family may have items you can borrow, or shop at secondhand stores and yard sales. Always research items you plan to use, being sure they meet or exceed minimum safety standards and have not been recalled.
- Allow no more than 2⁄8 inches between crib bars so your baby can’t fit through.
- Avoid cribs with missing or cracked slats.
- Avoid cribs with cutouts on headboard and footboard that could trap your baby’s head.
- Be sure corner posts are flush with sides so clothing cannot catch.
- Check to see that mesh is less than ¼ inch, with no tears, holes or loose threads in mesh cribs.
- Make sure parts are tight and secure.
- Avoid used mattresses. Some studies show links to SIDS.
- Make sure mattress fits tightly.
- Avoid pillow tops and air mattresses. Firm is safer than soft.
- Consider organic cotton or wool. Your baby’s face will come in contact with this surface.
Chemicals & toxins
- Watch out for lead, found in homes built before 1978. It is highly toxic to children. Go to hud.gov for information.
- Limit exposure to chemicals.
- Use low-VOC paints and paint rooms at least 2 months before baby arrives.
- Avoid painting or inhaling fumes while pregnant.
- Install new carpets, which outgas, months before your baby arrives.
- Purchase formaldehyde-free mattresses, crib sheets, blankets, comforters and toys.
- Avoid plastics containing BPA.
- Avoid room deodorizers and disinfectant sprays.
Get the Look
Create your own neutral nursery with these great staples, inspired from this story.
- Your baby will be content in the all-wood Modo Crib in two-tone from babyletto.com. Price is $379. This sleek and safe crib converts to a toddler bed (rail included) and a day bed, so it adapts as your child grows.
- Liven up a nursery with herds of stylish animals, such as the white Earthenware Elephant from zgallerie.com. Price is $24.95.
- Or get the giraffe. It’s sold as part of Planimal Africa Series from Kangarooboo. Price is $32.99 for three animals and a habitat.
- Nap time without a rocker would be no nap time at all. We chose the Nurseryworks Sleepytime Rocker from newarrivalsinc.com. Price is $700 for a soft, comfortable seat.
- Give your child a pleasant view. Mount a Sheep Mobile from blablakids.com above his or her bed. Price is $130 for this 13-inch mobile, which comes with six twirling little wool companions that promise a good night’s sleep.
- When it’s time to put away the rattles, the stuffed animals and the soft-cloth balls, they’ll be at home in the Small Havana Bin in grey from containerstore.com. Price for this storage container is $12.99.