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How to Design a Nursery: Nursery Decor Ideas

With a little one on the way, the design and decoration of their nursery will often get relegated further and further down your to-do list as the rest of the prep mounts up. But it’s still important to create a safe and soothing environment for your baby’s first years, and hopefully plan out a room with the potential to grow with them, too. 

To that end, we’ve put together this guide on how to design a nursery, jam-packed with expert interior design advice to help you make a special space for your child. We’ll explore everything from essential safety preparations through to unique nursery decor ideas along the way.

There are lots of points to go over. If you’re looking for top tips on one particular aspect of the nursery design, click the links below to navigate to it:

  1. Location, location, location
  2. Start with safety
  3. Choose the perfect colour palette
  4. Think carefully about storage
  5. Control the level of light
  6. Make it cosy
  7. Stimulate the senses
  8. Pique their curiosity
  9. Leave space to grow
  10. Get designing!

1. Location, location, location

Before you whip out the mood board and start sketching out your nursery room ideas, let’s take care of the practical stuff. Picking the location of the nursery is a vital first step for soon-to-be mums and dads. Of course, your baby’s new room needs to be near your own: even with baby monitors to help out, you’ll be thankful that you chose an adjacent or nearby room for the nursery during nights of interrupted sleep with your little one.

Beyond this, think about factors like how easy it is to keep the room warm and how much natural light that will enter the nursery at different times of day. With short infant sleep cycles guaranteed to begin with, it may not be ideal to choose a room with an east-facing window for your baby, as this could interrupt their daytime naps without proper lighting control (more on this below).

A cot in a nursery with blue lighting

2. Start with safety

When designing your baby's nursery, safety will of course always be the main priority. Much of this is second nature to expecting parents, but it can’t hurt to review the ideas you already have in light of official guidance with something as important as this. 

Thankfully, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) offers some top tips to help you create a safe and secure environment for the newest member of your family to thrive in:

  • Make sure your baby's sleeping space is fStarree from any potential hazards, with furniture securely attached to the walls and books and toys stored on shelves out of reach.
  • Choose the cot carefully – all beds and cots newly purchased in the UK should conform to British Safety Standards BS EN 716:2008, but if you buy second-hand, take a look at these standards first.
  • Buy cordless blinds and keep baby monitor cables secured out of reach.
  • Test any electrical items routinely, and ensure that they’re fitted with appropriate fuses.
  • Install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the nursery.

Once you’ve ticked off all of the essential safety considerations, it’s time to move onto the fun part – picking out the decor for your baby’s room.

A light coloured nursery with cot and bookshelf

3. Choose the perfect colour palette

Soothing tones are a natural choice for nursery decor. Muted colours like pale blues, greys, and creams help to create a calming and peaceful atmosphere. Prospective parents can also achieve the same effect with pastel shades, which have the added benefit of introducing a splash of colour into the room and setting the tone for your chosen theme.

Looking to make a more stimulating environment? Chromatic, primary colours are great for a newborn’s development, particularly as they begin to distinguish between different colours. Recent research has shown that infants spend more time looking at bold, bright shades of red and blue than other colours on the spectrum, so these could be the ideal choice.

A nursery and playroom with a bright blue colour scheme

4. Think carefully about storage

We’ve already touched on the importance of storing playthings out of reach, but there’s plenty more to consider storage-wise as you design the rest of the nursery. 

A chest of drawers is a staple piece of nursery room furniture that’ll serve you well as your young one grows, with tons of room for everything from clothing and blankets to toys. Make sure to pick one with deep drawers, and don’t forget safety stops to prevent them from being pulled out. You can then complement this with a changing table, many of which come with adjustable or removable shelves for fully customisable storage.

Then there’s the perennial question of how to store toys in a nursery. Lining a wall with shelving units gives you the option of putting games, books, and other trinkets on display, but still keeping them away from the cot to ensure your baby’s sleep isn’t disturbed. Underbed boxes work well if you’d prefer somewhere to store things completely out of sight and out of mind until playtime.

Toys and playthings on a bookshelf in a nursery

5. Control the level of light

Lighting is key when designing a nursery for your baby. Naps throughout the day are definitely par for the course during the early stages of development, so as a new parent you’ll want to ensure that you can block out sunlight from your little one's sleeping area. Black out blinds are a fantastic option in this regard. Just make sure to buy cordless ones, or keep any cords well out of reach of the bed.

There are plenty of other bright nursery room ideas to consider vis-à-vis lighting. Being prepared with a nightlight is a good place to start: Made for Mums points out that, even if your child doesn’t develop a fear of the dark, a nightlight is still a practical addition because it’ll help you with nighttime feedings and checking on your baby without needing to switch on the main light.

Closely connected to this point, we’d always recommend that you avoid harsh lighting and install dimmer switches if possible. Bright lights can be overstimulating whatever your baby’s stage of development, and having the opportunity to control the lighting level will help them to get much-needed rest during their early years.

Black out blinds in a nursery

6. Make it cosy

We all know that cosiness is king for any baby nursery design. And at GreatBeanBags, this is undoubtedly our area of expertise. 

There’s so much you can do to make a soft and comfy space for your young one to thrive in, from layering up touchable textures with blankets and cushions to designing a cosy kids’ reading corner for use as they grow and develop. Whatever furnishings you shop around for, be sure to look into the materials closely and favour the softest fabrics.

We may of course be biassed, but our bean bags for toddlers make the perfect addition for upping the comfort factor in your child’s new nursery. The best-selling indoor / outdoors kids armchair bean bag is the ideal choice in terms of cosiness and versatility, with an adorable shower-proof design made of soft woven polyester which is just as much at home outdoors as in the nursery!

7. Stimulate the senses

Cot toys and baby mobiles have long been a mainstay of the classic nursery setup for good reason: they’re a tried and tested way of keeping your young one occupied, stimulating their senses and encouraging them to develop from an early age.

There are plenty of options to get your baby's mind and senses ticking. Hang a bright multi-coloured mobile above their cot and watch them reach out for a dynamic tactile experience – or simply lie there and be captivated by shapes, patterns and music. Rattles are also amazing for introducing vibrant colours and keeping those little hands busy!

A mobile in a baby's nursery

8. Pique their curiosity

As well as offering a safe and comfortable space for your newborn at home, the best nurseries will also serve to pique their curiosity as they grow older. 

To some, it might seem ahead of schedule to include a small bookshelf and seating area in a baby’s room. But doing so might just encourage them to pick up their first picture book at an early age, igniting their imagination and opening up a new world of possibilities. Head over to our guide on how to make a kids’ reading nook if you’d like to learn more.

Thinking beyond books, the unique features of a nursery can also help to inspire your little one. Children are naturally curious about their surroundings, and the decor and design of your baby’s room can feed into this. If you have one available, choosing a more unusual room with nooks and crannies is a good place to start in this regard. You can then enhance this with intriguing wall art and hanging displays.

A boy reading a book in his nursery with a bookshelf in the background

9. Leave space to grow

Amidst all of the excitement leading up to your family’s new arrival, the temptation to fill the space up altogether can be strong. And yet a more minimalist nursery design will often bear fruit in the longer term as your child grows (along with the requirement for toy storage space!)

Your little one won’t have much need for a playing area right away, but you’ll thank yourself later if you cordon off a placeholder zone for this purpose and leave it relatively untouched right from the start. As with many aspects of designing your baby’s nursery, all this comes down to in the end is future-proofing.

An expecting mother arranging items in her baby's new nursery

10. Get designing!

Kids’ interior designers are often asked when is the best time to start designing a nursery – as with many aspects of preparing for the arrival of a new baby, the short answer is that there’s no time like the present! Pick out some of your favourite baby nursery ideas from this guide and take to the drawing board.

Next steps

Hopefully the nursery decor ideas in this article have given you some food for thought when it comes to the design of your baby’s new room. If you’ve enjoyed reading, take a look at our kids interior design blog for more fun and inspiration.

In search of the perfect item to complete the nursery design? Look no further than our eclectic range of kids’ bean bags.

14 February 2023
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