An Interior Designer’s Guide to Nursery Design, 2 Ways

With our leader Claire expecting baby No. 2 later this year, we’re abuzz with talk about nursery decorating ideas these days. While designing a nursery can feel like an opportunity to go wild with a theme and all the furniture and baby accessories, there are a few common mistakes new parents often make when getting ready for nursery decorating.

Read on for Centered by Design’s top tips for designing a nursery that’s both functional and aesthetically pleasing (because you’re going to be spending a lot of time in there!), and check out two recent nursery design boards we put together for a client.


Don’t overfurnish.

Nurseries are usually smaller rooms, so the last thing you want to do is cram them full of too much stuff — but it’s easy to do. Nursery furniture tends to be on the larger side, which means it fills up a room quickly. Instead, try to focus on just the key pieces, such as your crib, changing table, rocker or glider and maybe a lamp. Remember: Wherever you can streamline, do so. Get the essentials, then fill in around that.

Be creative with crib location.

We tend to want to place cribs in the center of a wall, but that doesn’t always work (depending on your nursery’s shape) — and it’s also not a hard-and-fast rule. When designing around an unusually shaped wall or room, you can make a crib work in other places by creating symmetry around it, through items such as window treatments and artwork.

Think outside the box.

Sure, sweet pastels and baby animals are adorable now, but if you’re looking to create a nursery that will age along with your child at least until pre-teen years, consider being more intentional with your design. For example, start with a pattern you really love and design around that — maybe it comes from a wallpaper, a fabric or even a crib sheet. And don’t forget, as an adult with a baby, you’re going to be the one spending time in the room (your baby won’t notice or care) — so be sure to make it a space you’re going to enjoy being in.

Focus on five key design elements.

When it comes to designing a nursery, try not to overthink it! The process should be exciting and fun as you eagerly anticipate your little one’s arrival. To keep it simple, the top five design elements you should consider for a nursery are: window treatments, paint, bedding, a rug (even if you already have carpet, use one!) and lighting (helps a room to feel more stylish and have more personality).

Overwhelmed by all the paint choices out there? Download the designer-tested Top 9 Colors for Kids’ Rooms for ideas.

Choose the right window treatments.

Window treatments are a big deal in nurseries for obvious reasons: Your baby needs to sleep (and so do you!). Here are a few types to consider:

  • Outside mount Roman shades
  • Inside mount Roman shades
  • Drapery
  • Cornice (an ornamental upholstered box that attaches above your curtains or shades)

No matter which type you decide on, you’re likely going to want to line your window treatments with blackout lining or fabric. If you want to really keep a room dark, outside mount Roman shades are a good option as they let in the least light leakage. Avoid lightweight fabrics for drapery, because blackout lining will add too much thickness to them and ruin the aesthetic.

To learn more about how to choose the right drapery and shades, download the Insider’s Guide to Decorating with Window Treatments.

Go for performance fabrics.

For furniture such as gliders and window seats, you want to be sure to choose a fabric that will withstand spills, messes, diaper explosions — you name it. We love performance fabrics, often pre-treated with Crypton or similar, like this collection from Schumacher, which are great for upholstering a bench seat.

Are you thinking of working with an interior designer to design your dream nursery? Contact us today to tell us more about your vision and how we can help bring it to life!