Project Nursery contributor and designer Naomi Alon, of Little Crown Interiors, graciously offered up her expert nursery design advice during our Ask a Designer Q&A on instagram. The questions soon came pouring in and filled up all twenty slots quickly. Naomi kindly answered the few extra that came in after. In case you missed it, here are the questions and answers, which are filled with great advice that anyone designing a nursery would find helpful. Be sure to follow us on instagram for more opportunities like this.
Q: When doing a fox inspired nursery for two boys, what is the best pop color to incorporate? Already using neutrals of grey, cream, and brown
A: I think orange is a great contender, of course, for a fox themed nursery, but you could also look at olive green or even a touch of red. If you’re working with a piece of art or stuffed animal as inspiration, try pulling some colors from that as well.
Q: I’m having a third baby and do not know gender. Right now the room is gray with one cream wall. I would like to know the best way to prepare the room as much as possible before the baby comes, since I also have two other children to take care of!
A: I find that the best way to prepare for this is to choose your accent color(s) for both a boy and a girl. Get as much of the decor as possible in your neutral tones, and then shop for accent pieces that come in both your boy colors and your girl colors. Hold off on buying those last few things, and then after you have the baby, purchase those last few things to fill in the nursery. Another option would be to shop at a store that has a great return policy (like Target or Babies R Us), and just buy two of everything (boy and girl), and return the items you don’t need after you find out the gender.
Q: What is the best way to add pops of color to a mostly gray/white nursery?
A: Pops of color are best introduced by repeating them around the room. Whatever your colors are, make sure you use them in at least three places and preferably spaced out in the room—like an art piece on one wall, a throw pillow in the corner and in a fabric for the crib bedding. Also, don’t be afraid to use more than one accent color, but keep the same rules about repetition and balance.
Q: Is a crib skirt necessary?
A: A crib skirt is definitely not necessary but rather a design preference. Some of the more modern cribs are made so you don’t need a skirt, and some cribs have drawers at the bottom, also making a skirt unnecessary. If you like a more traditional look, you can go with a skirt, but if you prefer more clean and modern, you might not need one at all.
Q: What do you recommend for wall art that is earthquake safe (for above a crib)? Are there any soft wall decor pieces that look sophisticated?
A: One of the best earthquake-safe options for over a crib is canvas artwork. It’s just fabric stretched on a light wood frame, so if it were to fall, it wouldn’t be heavy. A great source for this is Oopsy Daisy. Even if you’re doing lightweight art, still make sure to secure it well to the wall. A few other options are macrame wall hangings, like those from Slow Down Productions, hanging mobiles or fabric covered wall letters. Make sure all wall hangings are out of baby’s reach.
Q: I’m trying to design a gender neutral nursery for a boy and a girl. Girl will be two, boy a newborn! I already have so much pink/tan damask stuff, and I’m lost on where to change it up or bring in a design for him!
A: Well, the good news is that you have tan in the room already! Keep the tan items if you can and a few pink items for her, and then start adding in some other colors that are more neutral, like maybe green, yellow or even lighter blues or aquas. The items they share can be more neutral, and the items that are individual can be more gender-specific.
Q: What’s the best/favorite brand for removable wallpaper?
A: Two of my favorite brands are Tempaper and Swag Paper. They both have wonderful patterns and a good quality product. If you want more options and customization, take a look at Spoonflower, but be prepared to lose several hours browsing!
Q: What type of toddler bed would you recommend for a boy that is not from a convertible crib? Colors are gray or white or navy blue.
A: I always tell my clients that toddler beds are great, but sometimes can be skipped altogether if you think your child can handle a twin or full size bed (of course, there are options for safety rails, etc.). If you decide you do want a toddler bed, I wouldn’t spend too much money since it will only last a short time. I would look for brands that are reasonable, like Babyletto. Rosenberry Rooms also has a good selection.
Q: My 1.5 year old son’s crib only works on one wall in his room. What do I do in the empty corners around his crib? It’s too small of a space for furniture to fit. I bought a tepee for one corner and the other corner is just empty. There is a changing table on the adjacent wall that blocks in that corner a bit. I would love to add some storage to that corner somehow.
A: There are a lot of options for open corners, just make sure that nothing is too close to the crib as it can be a safety hazard. You could do some stacking storage blocks or cubbies, a nice storage basket (Serena and Lily has some good ones), some corner shelves or even a round storage ottoman that fits into the corner.
Q: My baby now has a grey/olive room with pops of navy, red and mustard. What colors would you recommend for my next boy? I want it to feel very different.
A: Boy’s rooms have so many options for colors! The colors you have now sound fairly rich/dark. Maybe you can lighten up for the second one. You could try a warmer neutral with pops of more saturated colors, like royal blue, orange, lime green or yellow. Or you could go with a more muted look and choose neutrals, light or grayish blues and earth tones. A great place to get inspiration for color is Design Seeds.
Q: What do you recommend for color and wall art for a room shared by a two-year-old and a baby girl. I have no idea on how to decorate the room.
A: Are both children girls? If so, your options are pretty much endless. I would start by deciding on the feel you want—girly, princessy, modern, calming, etc. Then you can choose your neutrals and wood tones, and then add in pops of the colors you think will help you achieve the feeling you want. Once you decide on your colors, you can start shopping for wall art. A great place for color inspiration is Design Seeds. Some great places for art are Oopsy Daisy and Rosenberry Rooms. Use your imagination!
Q: I have textured walls, but I love the look and design of wallpaper. I’d really hate to have to sand down a whole wall. What could be some alternatives?
A: There are definitely a few things you can do here. 1. Choose a heavyweight wallpaper that won’t show your texture, like something with flocking or velvet. 2. Work with the texture and choose a paper in which a texture will add to the design. 3. Omit wallpaper altogether and go with a wall stencil. Check out Cutting Edge Stencils
Q: What is the best way to maximize your small space without using bunk beds for two boys sharing a room? Thanks!
A: This is a question I get a lot! Depending on how much space you have, you might try just arranging two twin beds in a creative way. Go to Pottery Barn Kids and look at the Belden Bed—there are many arrangements, including a corner idea that could work. If you can figure out where to put the beds, then there are lots of ways to squeeze in storage, like a shared tall boy dresser, wall shelves, organized closets, etc.
Q: Any suggestions on where to look for large scale artwork for a nursery? I’d rather it not be nursery themed but instead maybe an abstract (maybe watercolor) piece that will work for years to come. Nursery is black/white/natural wood, but I would like some pops of color. Looking on etsy is overwhelming. I need specific artists/websites to browse through! I’m looking for something to go above the crib for now. Need to find something before I finish the rest of the room’s accents.
A: I have a lot of clients who request the nursery to not be “too babyish.” I would take a look at Green Box Art + Culture, The Oliver Gal and Deny Designs. I know that Green Box Art + Culture does custom sizes too if you email them. One Kings Lane is also worth checking. Keep in mind that artwork is often the most personal part of a nursery, so take the time to find a piece you really love.
Q: I have a traditional yet somewhat eclectic style and am contemplating whether or not a plum (or other shade of purple) dresser/changing table will coordinate well with a gray crib. I’m refinishing the crib with Annie Sloan’s Paris Grey and considered maybe doing the dresser in Emile (or maybe a more bold shade of plum). We are going with a lavender, mint/aqua and gold color scheme.
A: Sounds lovely! My only suggestion about painting a piece of furniture in a bold color is to really think about the longevity of it. If you’re likely to get bored of it fairly quickly, maybe add your plum in other areas of the design. If you know you’ll love it, then go for it! Since it’s a nursery, I would also make sure to use a paint safe for baby, especially on the crib since some babies will chew the railing. In general, gray and purple tones do go well together.
Q: I still haven’t found a glider chair that i like. Can I just use an accent chair? Two walls are gray. White curtains would make more sense, but i’m afraid it will allow too much luminosity. Should I use gray curtains?
A: The most important thing for a nursery chair is that it’s comfortable to you. You can get any chair that you like, so long as it feels comfortable since you will be in it for long hours during the night. I would also look for a fabric that can be wiped clean, like microsuede. As for the curtains, I’m always a fan of white curtains, especially if you have white doors and moulding. If you’re worried about too much light coming through, you can get blackout lined curtains or do a double-layer with white curtains on the outside and blackout on the inside.
Q: What size should the art work be that I hang on the wall the crib sits against? I’m looking at a canvas. Also curious about rug size. Thanks!
A: As a general rule, the artwork that hangs above the crib should not be wider than the crib itself. If you want a large statement piece, you could go with something larger, say around 42” wide, or even as wide as the crib if you’re daring! If you want something more subtle, a piece that’s about 24-30” wide would work. I wouldn’t go too small either, but if you stay within around 24-42”, you should be good. Keep in mind that if you’re hanging more than one piece, they can be smaller (like 3 pieces that are 14” wide each). As for rug size, Emily Henderson wrote a great article about this.
Q: I often see beautiful nurseries that I fear won’t hold up well when baby becomes mobile. What tips do you have for creating a space that is beautiful, functional and actually baby proof?
A: You can definitely have a beautiful nursery that is safe for baby! Play up the items that you know are safe, like the crib, dresser, crib sheets, glider, wallpaper, paint, rug, etc. Make your design statement with those items, so if you decide to omit a bumper or hanging panels near the crib, you will still have plenty of areas that will really showcase your design. A beautiful wallpaper or wall treatment with quality furniture will make a huge difference, and it’s safe. As for functionality, the baby industry has really stepped up in the last 4-5 years. There are so many things out there that are beautiful and functional!
Q: I am creating a nursery from a blank slate. Where do I start!? Find a piece of artwork that I love? Or a blanket? I am lost.
A: This is definitely a question my clients ask me a lot! I always recommend starting with the floor plan—that way you will at least know what size furniture to look for, as well as how many pieces you can accommodate. Then I would choose a “seed” item—an item of inspiration from which everything else grows. This can be anything that gives you an idea of color, pattern, etc. And don’t forget to set a budget right from the start—it can add up!