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Design Board: Nursery Culture – China

Welcome to the first post for our brand new series: Nursery Culture – because a nursery is so much more than just bedding and artwork!

A child’s room is the perfect place to teach: about family, values, heritage, culture… – all the things that gain importance, as we become parents. Today, here are some ideas for designing your child’s room using cultural (and stylish) influences from around the world. Our first stop: China. (Hey! Don’t stop reading if China is not in your cultural background – you can use these same basic concepts for any culture!)

For starters: what would a Chinese-inspired nursery be without a little Feng Shui? Here are a few pointers:
– Keep a ceiling or floor fan on low for constant energy flow.
– Don’t hang a mirror directly opposite a sharp edge or corner.
– Do not place flowers or plants in the space that are wilting.
– Appease the elements – try to make use of the five elements: wood, earth, metal, water, fire (but please, no real fires in the nursery!)
– Keep the nursery clean and clutter free to allow for positive “chi”.
– If possible, place the crib on a wall with no other doors (bathroom or closet) and ideally directly across from the entry door.

The Culture of Color: Chinese design is known for bold, saturated colors. However, painting your nursery cherry red probably isn’t the best idea. Stick with a bold color in a lighter shade with a touch of gray (think jewel tones) like plum, emerald green, cobalt blue or amber.

“Feather” Rug by Thomas Paul

Playing With Patterns: Typical Chinoiserie styles include whimsical patterns, noticeable brush strokes (like calligraphy) and nature representation. Printed fabrics have themes like paper fans, dragons, and dragonflies. A more simplified version of these themes can be used in the nursery, like the cherry blossom wall decal shown below.

“Cherry Blossom” Decal from Etsy

Thinking About Shape: The sloping shape of the Pagoda is probably the most recognizable shape in Chinese culture. Ornate carving is also common as well as an emphasis on horizontality. If using a stripe, use it horizontally and at a lower visual point in the room. This helps relax the eye and makes for a more peaceful atmosphere.

“Take the Bench” Bench from Land of Nod

Getting a Grip on Texture: Wouldn’t we all love to have every fabric in our nursery made of 100% buttery silk with impeccable embroidery? Well, it would be beautiful, but not so practical. To achieve a similar style, look for fabrics that are cotton or polyester that have a sheen or satin finish. Faux silks are almost as good as the real thing these days. If you’re using anything with embroidery, make sure the thread is cotton or poly as well.

“Imperial Fish” Crib Bedding by Petunia Picklebottom

Every Culture has Tradition: The Chinese calendar plays a very important role in a new birth. Celebrate the year your child was born by showcasing some artwork with the appropriate year (the ones shown below are Year of the Monkey and Year of the Rabbit). In case you were wondering, 2010 is Year of the Tiger.

“Year of the Monkey” and “Year of the Rabbit” Artwork from Sino Paper Art

Use Your Words: The Chinese written language is beautiful and rich with culture. Use it in the nursery as art – have a calligraphy name plate made or hang a picture with the Chinese characters for “Love” or “Life”.

As always, let us know what you think & give us your ideas of your own “nursery culture” by posting your comments. And, remember we will be here to give you a regular dose of inspiration – because a nursery is so much more than just bedding and artwork!

Lana Mars

Thursday 15th of April 2010

I have always been fond of anything with an oriental design or twist. I think the cherry blossoms wall paper is a very charming element for the China-inspired room. Now I'm actually thinking of doing something Japanese for my soon-to-be-born little one. I'd love to give it a Zen feel, with warm wooden furniture and earth tones. And I also adore kokeshi dolls, so they shouldn't be absent.


Monday 12th of April 2010

I've always heard that with Feng-Shui you don't want the bed or crib placed directly in front of a bedroom door. It's negative energy directly straight towards you as you are sleeping...?

Love the rug!

Nursery Culture: China « Little Crown Interiors Blog

Monday 12th of April 2010

[...] Read the full post here:  Project Nursery [...]


Monday 12th of April 2010

I love this new cultural idea for room inspirations!

Grace Hester Designs

Wednesday 7th of April 2010

Yay! A theme that is based on the child or family's heritage and culture. I often receive requests from parents who want to add a modern touch to their child's room that incorporates details of their cultures and have had the fortune to view how some of their rooms have turned out but it is not without some amount of research and looking for the right items.

I know I myself was inspired to design my language-based prints from my own need for my girls' rooms. For example, this Little White Rabbit print in Mandarin Chinese was designed to help my daughter learn the poem and visually connect with the Chinese characters but the silhouette style made it easy for me to incorporate it into her white-pink-brown color scheme.

Thanks for the practical tips provided here to do so without making the room kitschy.

Grace Hester Designs Silhouette- and typography- based artwork and prints Experience my blog at Shop my designs at Twitter at