Gone are the days when nursery design meant pink and frilly, blue and sporty, or something covered in bright, Disney characters. Instead, parents-to-be are opting to create a more sophisticated space that goes beyond cartoons and primary colors.
Naomi Alon of Irvine is the founder of Little Crown Interiors, a boutique design firm that focuses on nurseries and children’s rooms. She has been designing interiors for babies and kids for over ten years and thinks this shift towards high design may come from the popularity of digital inspiration boards like Pinterest and Instagram that expose people to interior design on a more frequent basis.
“It used to be that people only got ideas from catalogs and there weren’t many of those when it came to nurseries,” said Alon who trained in institutional design because children’s design is a newer (and growing) sector of the design industry. “These days, interior design is everywhere. It’s this massive thing that people are spending more time thinking about.”
When Alon begins working with a client, she first asks them about the styles they like and what they want to feel when they are in the new baby’s room. She shops at design stores like West Elm, Anthropology and Restoration Hardware for stylish furniture options that are marketed for other parts of the home, but may fit into the nursery’s décor scheme.
“Rather than designing around blatant themes, I consider many nurseries to be more of an adult space with juvenile accents to sort of sweeten it up,” said Alon. “I think it makes new parents feel good to sit in a place that reflects their own personal style.”
After all, the new addition to the family isn’t going to voice many opinions about paint color or window treatments just yet. And it is important to remember that babies aren’t babies for long, so the more neutral the décor, the more versatile it will be as the child grows into their own personality.
“If parents have a particular theme in mind for their nursery, I try to add subtle notes of that theme that can be taken down later. Things like artwork or maybe a table lamp,” said Alon. “I try to stay away from themed-wallpaper, for instance, because I had that as a kid and you’re bound to get sick of it over time and then it’s not an easy thing to change.”
One thing to remember with nurseries in particular is that babies aren’t babies for long. Choose design elements that are versatile and can transition as the child does.
This goes for furniture too. Most cribs are built to transition into toddler beds and some into full size beds, which saves money and hassle in the long run. Dressers also serve two purposes when a removable change top is added above the drawers. It is best to consider these larger furniture items from the get-go, and then add novelty, décor items where space permits.
During any interior design project, but especially when preparing for a new baby, the most important thing should be to have fun and choose items that make the space comfortable for you. And since the overly fussy nursery designs are being replaced by minimal, detail-oriented décor, you can spend more time choosing a few key pieces, or “seed” items as Alon calls them, and more time enjoying the emotional time in your life.
“The part that I appreciate most about designing nurseries is that I get to develop a relationship with people who are going through a time that is somewhat terrifying but also really exciting,” said Alon. “All of these emotions go into creating a special place full of feeling and memories.”