I think we all can agree that motherhood is one big “live and learn” experience. And, for most of us, that applies to the way we decorated our first nursery. I remember thinking everything had to be ready and perfect for baby to come home. It didn’t. Little did I know, babies don’t give a flip about the matching crib skirt or patterned sheets. It quickly turns into survival, function and being able to locate a t-shirt free of spit up (or worse).
If I was going to do it all over again (I’m not), I would invest in more classic, longer-lasting pieces that could later be moved around the house or passed down. I just wrote an article for BHG about PB Kids’ new Emily & Meritt collection, and thought it would be fun to dream up a (baby girl and baby boy) nursery do-over plan using some of the same pieces from the line (scroll down in post). I also asked some of my blogger friends what they would do differently now that they’ve “been there/done that.”
“Do what you want now, because at this life stage, it’s really about you enjoying being in the nursery with your baby. Soon enough, they’ll have their own opinions (oftentimes involving superheroes, transformers and/or ballerinas), so enjoy it while you can!!”
“Definitely don’t overlook the importance of a comfy place to sit in the nursery. You’ll be amazed how many miles you can clock in a rocking chair! There are too many sleepless nights and early mornings when you’ve got a baby, so pick something super comfortable that you could even sleep in. Gliders, rockers, recliners, or even a daybed all make great choices.”
“What isn’t worth investing in:
1. Crazy expensive bumpers. Most likely your style will change, the bumpers will get destroyed, or you’ll get tired of the pattern. Maybe all three. Ha ha! I always had my bedding custom made because there weren’t many ready-made options, but these days there are ample higher quality, ready-made bumpers and bedding. Plus, when you see what kind of things occasionally fly out of your child, you will need washable fabric. I could tell some stories!
2. Super expensive, trendy items. Don’t do it! Especially don’t pick out trendy items when you’re super hormonal in the last stages of pregnancy – something crazy happens to your brain during this time. Trust me on this one.”
“Those little precious babies grow so quickly and before you know it you are redesigning a room. Forget the matchy-matchy sets available and infuse your own style. Let an oversized piece of artwork guide your pops of color and keep it simple. Pretty textiles go a long way and can easily be switched out as your taste and that of your growing child changes.”
“My best advice is to plan the space for you, more so than your baby. Yes, down the road your child will care what their room looks like but that first year or two, you spend so much time in there with them, and it’s important for you to love it and feel comfortable in it…especially at 2 in the morning.”
“Find the most comfortable glider and ottoman you can. If it’s cute, even better. I do wish mine was a little more stylish, but six years and three babies in, my glider set has happily seen me through some long nights!”
wallpaper // bunny art // crib // mirror // paint // rug // cabinet // dresser // chandelier
“When it comes to something we really loved about both of our children’s nurseries, it’s probably that we gave ourselves the freedom to be a little more playful and take a little risk in those rooms. For example we hung bold floral curtains in our daughter’s room while the rest of the house rocked white breezy cotton ones, and we built floor to ceiling built-ins in our son’s room and painted them a handsome taupe color instead of defaulting to white, which we usually do.”
“One thing that I would recommend is not to purchase any furniture for the room that is too “baby specific”, except for the crib. You’re investing a chunk of change to set up your new little one’s room, so stretch your dollar as far as it will go and use pieces that will grow with them for many years to come. Instead of a changing table, use a full size dresser (there are so many great ones on Craigslist!) with a cushion on top. The drawers are great hidden storage for diapers and all of that not-so pretty baby gear, and when the child outgrows diapers there will be plenty of storage space for bigger clothes.”
“For some reason, people love to give nurseries themes. There’s no where else in the house you pay tribute to the circus or jungle or a particular animal, so I say go ahead and choose a color scheme like you would any other room in your home, but skip the theme!”
“When it comes to the nursery I always tell expecting moms the most important piece of furniture is the rocker. If you’re going to splurge on one item let it be that — you want to be as comfy as possible during those long nights! (And make sure you have a spot to put your feet up.) You’ll spend the most special times of your life in that chair. Rocking your baby in the middle of the night, just the two of you — it’s one of those memories that still brings tears to my eyes.”
“I think it’s really smart to create a space that will grow with them. Buy furniture that can be used for other things like a changing table topper on a dresser.”
“Keep it simple. The less to tidy up when you have a tiny baby, the better. I kept my girls’ nurseries white because it felt crisp, clean and bright, and I also wanted to be able to change up the rooms bedding and accessories as my babies got older without having to repaint.”
sailboat art // lighting // crib // paint // chest // rocker // table // rug
“Don’t wait until your third trimester to start! Once ordered, nursery furniture can often take many weeks to come in, so get a head start on your design to avoid added stress as your due date approaches. I also had quite a few friends try and talk me out of a glider, and I am so happy I didn’t listen because our glider was one of my favorite (and most used!) pieces in the nursery.”
“Small touches – like ensuring your curtains have blackout lining to help baby stay asleep, putting lights on dimmers, or having a side table beside your rocking chair to put down a drink or smartphone – make a big difference and help to make those late-night feedings more enjoyable.”
“Looking back, after using our nursery for three kids, the smartest thing I did was choose a neutral foundation. I stuck with white furniture and grey or white walls and that saved me a lot on redecorating. . . As for what I would have done differently – never ever waste money on one of those diaper trash cans. The smell is never concealed and they are not pretty! Go with the pretty basket for trash and take all dirty diapers outside immediately!”
“My advice for decorating a nursery is to have fun with it! I stuck with a style (coastal neutrals) that is carried throughout my house because it makes me happy! The room is also a mix of splurges, secondhand steals, and DIY projects which helped make his room feel more one-of-a-kind and special.”
“I made the mistake of going the cheap route on the rocker, thinking it was such a short-term piece it wasn’t worth the investment. But in actuality, it was the hardest working piece of furniture in our house for almost 10 years, through the newborn all-night feedings and all the bedtime books & snuggling!”
Read my latest BH&G article—and see the new PBKids nursery collection—here.
What’s your best piece of nursery do-over decorating advice for new moms-to-be?
Barbara Mawdsley says
I am a completely different generation. Babies came home to sleep in a dresser drawer for the first month or two . Rooms were decorated once and only once so you picked out furniture that would be appropriate for when they were full grown and threw in a crib and maybe a toy box for when they were smaller. I fed them in my living room, snuggled up on one end of the sofa.
Times, they have changed.
This is great advice! I’ll make sure to put it to use.
I love love love that rocker! We don’t have a little one just yet but I think I’d love that rocker for just me :)
Jen @ RamblingRenovators says
All great advice! Thanks for including me. I have to agree on keeping it classic. The only baby specific furniture item we had (a glider covered in a pretty floral fabric) was the only item we had to get rid of as it didn’t work in other rooms of the house. I’d definitely splurge on the tufted rocker from PB Kids – it’s gorgeous!
Janette @ The 2 Seasons says
Your timing is perfect. My blog partner/daughter (who moved to Charlotte last fall) just finished decorating the room for their adopted daughter who will come from Thailand in April or May. Although she is now a toddler (18 months) as opposed to an infant, a lot of this information works for her, too. We had great fun preparing a little girl’s room complete with chandelier, but I’m thinking she needs to add a rocker. Thanks to all of you!
Gah! Emily! your mood boards are amazing! I love both takes on the nurserys! From my perspective the things that I love about our nursery (going into kid two after 2.5 years) getting a really comfortable rocker was so key (I have slept in it), and making it a room that I love (babies don’t care about where they sleep!). I put an osborne and little wallpaper inspired ceiling treatment up two years ago it is my favorite thing in the whole house. Now to figure out how to get the rest of the house to a place where I love it as much. This actually is a question I have been thinking about: I LOVE my kids rooms, but am struggling with the rest of the house currently. Do you have any advice on how to either fit kids rooms into an overall house flow, (or in my situation) be able to create/determine an overall house flow from one or two rooms that I love?
Jenny B. says
Allison, I loved my kids’ rooms so much that I have slowly converted the rest of our house to the same muted primary color scheme. I love schoolhouse style, and we homeschool part-time, so it works perfectly for us. I have lots of globes and colorful accessories. I’ve kept the walls a light neutral, so all the colorful stuff doesn’t seem overwhelming. I think it has made our home feel fun and welcoming, and it makes me happy to look around my house. Before, I had decorated our house with the stuff I thought I was supposed to use — stuff that made it look like grown-ups live here. But, it was never ME. I’ve had to embrace the idea that it’s OK to shop for home accessories from kids’ stores/sections. I buy what I love, and it doesn’t matter to me if it was originally intended for a formal living room or a daycare. Use the colors and decor items YOU like, and don’t worry if they follow “the rules.” :) I would start by making a Pinterest board of rooms with things you love, and don’t pay any attention to what purpose the rooms have. You could have dining rooms and bathrooms all together. Then, look for common themes. Do they all have wallpaper? The same color combos? Make a list of things you love that you’d like to incorporate into your home, and then just start working on the rooms one by one. For creating an overall house flow, a great tip I learned (possibly from one of the bloggers above!) is the throw pillow test. The throw pillows from your living room sofa should also look good in your master bedroom, or in your dining room, and so on… Hope that helps. You will love your home so much more once you make it your own. :)
I was in the middle of a lot of changes when both of my children were born, so neither had a traditional “nursery”. Especially when I was living in super small housing on the west coast, and there just wasn’t space! It always makes me a little wistful when I see other people’s nurseries. Their big kid rooms are making up for it, though! One thing we did that I was appreciative of, was reselling a lot of the gear that was still in great shape to consignment stores; we really made up some of the money we had spent on splurges, so if someone is hesitating to splurge on an item, they may want to look into the resale value!
This was a fun read. My baby days are so far in my rear view that I can barely remember how my daughter’s nursery was done. I do recall her having pink gingham curtains & crib sheets. I was thrilled they matched. My….things have changed!
Pink Camellias says
I agree with Seleta on the bumper. I paid way to much for one, and it was such a waste. I think you are not even supposed to use them now, right?
I like the idea of keeping it neutral – you can make it “kid” with the artwork and fabrics. They grow so fast – my first baby is about to turn 16!
Jill Myers says
I say don’t be afraid of bold colors for a nursery! I did a red accent wall for my son’s nursery with a madras crib skirt in primary colors and I loved it so much I kept the wall color and bought the “big boy bedding” and other than that, made no changes to his room when he transitioned out of the crib-saved me a lot of time and money! Such a fun post today, Emily!
Jenny B. says
I agree! We haven’t changed the paint in our nursery in 11 years (which has tone-on-tone muted green wide vertical stripes above a chair rail, and solid sky blue below), and it has looked great with all three different PBK quilts we’ve had in there. :) I’m a fan of madras, plaid, and patchwork bedding because it’s colorful, but not theme-specific.
I wish I could have a do over too! Love all the advice and inspiration. Maybe I’ll get to help future clients with a nursery someday. Fantastic post!!
Loved reading through these and I’m glad to see I”m not alone on a good rocking chair / glider situation…so clutch! Thanks for including me, sweet friend! xo
Jenny B. says
I loved reading all the advice! I agree with 99% of it. I rejuvenated our nursery last year for surprise baby boy #3 (our oldest son is 11, and I just turned 40)! :) I was able to re-use several things we still had, and got to splurge on a few new things. I love that so many moms said the rocking chair is the most important. We bought a wonderful upholstered glider rocker when our oldest was born, and it is still going strong. I’m so glad I picked one that looked like a “real chair” and was in a color I loved (bright red!). I second the advice to pick furniture YOU like, and not what you think SHOULD go in a baby’s room. Our first nursery dresser is now holding craft supplies in our living room, and I still love it. On the other hand, I think a traditional changing table with open shelves is SO worth it. They are inexpensive and easy to donate when the diapering days are through. If you’re planning on using a dresser as a changing table, make sure it’s high enough and has toe-kick space underneath (to save your back!). :)
Emily Clark says
Great advice. I remember well the days of leaning over to change babies on our bed and having back spasms those first few weeks…
Megan Jenson says
Thank you for the tips! very helpful :)