Michelle’s Top 5 Nursery Decorating Tips

I was invited to speak to a group of fabulous expecting moms in NYC at a Big City Moms dinner last week. There were wonderful experts talking about everything from cord blood banking to sleep training, and I was asked to give some of my favorite nursery design tips. In my ten plus years of experience designing nurseries, these are some of my favorite reminders that I give to all my clients when shopping for their nursery.

1. Know your space. I know this may sound silly, but make sure to measure your room before you shop. It is painful to fall in love with a crib, glider or changer that simply won’t fit. A great measuring trick is to lay out newspaper in the space where you want your furniture to be so you get a good feel for depth. Make sure to bring your measurements with you to the store so the salesperson/designer can help you achieve the proper room layout.

2. Plan ahead. Nursery shopping can be so overwhelming for some expecting parents, especially if you don’t know the sex of your child, so it’s very important to think everything through before you begin to shop. Ask yourselves a couple of crucial questions: Is this furniture going to be used for multiple children or will this child be keeping this furniture for the long haul? Will we be moving soon? Do we want gender-specific furniture/decor? Are we combining this furniture with other furniture that already exists in the room? Answering these simple questions will allow you to stay the course and think long-term so you can narrow down your choices.

3. Get inspired but not too inspired. There are many wonderful design blogs, like Project Nursery, that give you access to so many pictures of nurseries and ideas you may not have thought of yourself. Spend time on these blogs to get a good range of what you are looking for and make a Pinterest pinboard or Olioboard that you can bring with you when you are shopping. However, you want to stay original, so make sure not to get too tied in to any one concept or design.

4. Have a great starting off point. Sometimes it’s really helpful to have one element that you center the room around—for example, a wallpaper you fell in love with or a fabric that you want to use on the window treatments. Having that starting point makes planning the rest of the room more targeted. It keeps you on track with a color scheme and overall tone of the design.

5. Paint it for a statement. It is much harder to find a fabric or a rug to match a paint than it is to find a paint to match a fabric, so remember to always pick paint colors last. Getting creative with paint—broad stripes, stencils or even painting the ceiling another tone—can be an inexpensive way to get a great custom look without investing in wallpaper.


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    I second tip no. 3! When I was pregnant I spent weeks and weeks looking through pictures of other people’s babies nurseries and got totally lost amongst all the pastels and woodland animals and chevrons. In the end I designed some prints of my own for the walls and the rest of the room just fell into place around them.

    AlphaBino – http://www.etsy.com/shop/alphabino

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    This is great, Michelle! I have been meeting with several “new moms” it would seem all of a sudden in the last few weeks. So, I will forward this list to them. It helps me too. Thanks. — Suzanne Whitaker, “Passion 4 Murals LLC”

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    Thanks for sharing these tips. I’m sure a first-time mom-to-be who doesn’t know just where to start with the nursery would find this really helpful.

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    Yes, I’d be interested to hear about this, too. Come to think of it, this would indeed make a good blog entry. Anyone here who specializes in this topic? Or maybe a mom who has tried this? It would be interesting to hear some stories about how cord blood banking saved the day.

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