Every mum wants the best for their children. This often starts with the desire to create a home that’s full of love and dreams. As a mother of two, well before my girls arrived I dreamt about designing their nurseries, I wanted it to be a space that made them feel safe & secure, one that was practical, had character and personality but also provided for a nurturing and cosy environment for our whole family.
Drawing on my own experience & 20 other stylish mum’s within our community we discuss 5 top tips important to every mum, in designing, building & creating your dream nursery. With some helpful tips on how to create a relaxing space, one that’s welcoming and comfortable for your new bundle of joy and that will form the foundations for them to easily explore, play, learn and grow as they become wee toddlers.
1 – VISUALISE YOUR IDEAS BEFORE MAKING ANY PURCHASES
In those early stages of pregnancy, a true “dreamer” I was! I spent many hours surfing the net, screen shotting, tagging, pinning & saving things that jumped out of me. I searched for nursery themes, colour palettes, furniture, current trends, wall paper verse decals, trendy décor, stylish Australian inspired nurseries, everything and anything to get ideas. Pinterest was a great tool to offer inspiration, as was Instagram. I soon found I gravitated & liked similar styled images with a particular vibe. With this in mind I created a ‘moodboard’ by dropping images I liked into a simple document to see how they fit together. My first ever Moodboard included a cot, chest of drawers, nursing chair, side table, bookshelf & rug – my “essential items”. It was a great way to accomplish a clear vision of the space, to determine what worked well together, to narrow my focus and create a more cohesive design. It enabled me to ensure I best utilised and furnished the awkward nooks in the room, arranged furniture in a clever way to avoid the bright morning lighting & avoided the problem of buying pieces you think are super sweet at the time until you later realise that they really don’t work at all. It also enabled me to plan, which stores had furniture pieces I adored and couldn’t live without, which size prints would best fit in which spaces and based on all of this, how much of a budget I was up for! But importantly it meant I could wait for my favourite pieces to come on sale.
2 – EMBRACE STORAGE
I’m sure you’ve already noticed, but the minute you excitedly confirm your pregnancy is the moment your home starts to instantly be filled with so many more items! Friends & family would often come over with bundles of cute outfits they found whilst window shopping “and just couldn’t resist”, girlfriends brought round hand me down toys & books. I needed an entire wardrobe of space and I hadn’t even had the baby yet! It was at this early stage that my obsessive tidy behaviour set in. Ever since we’ve been in our home, we’ve lived by the mantra that if “everything has a home, you’ll never lose an item again”! The nappy cream lives in the super stylish pink crochet storage basket on the dresser easily accessible when in need. The baby book on the top floating shelf, provided they are always returned to their “home”, it’s a way to preserve order in your home and makes tidying each day a breeze! Some other trendy storage options to help make life easier, include floating shelves, wall hooks, rattan baskets, suitcases which double as a way to both store and display toys, trinkets and clothes.
3 – CONSIDER CREATING A SPACE THAT YOUR CHILD CAN GROW WITH
Having a background in finance, when designing our little ones nursery I had “value” in mind. I knew I could get so caught up in all the “adorable” baby stuff, that in a few years it would be redundant & living in a townhouse, space & storage was limited. So I decided to design a space with at minimum the next 3-5 years in mind. I chose a bassinet that converted into cot & further into toddler bed. Rather than buying a rocking chair, I invested in a comfy lounge chair with a high back & raised arms (that was a must for resting my tired nursing arms) & this adored piece will eventually make it’s way into our lounge one day. I chose a modern white wooden bookshelf, it’s there for life whilst the books in it will change over the years. I chose neutral coloured furniture and found ways to add a splash of colour through my soft furnishings, accessories, wall art and soft toys choices. I found other ways to add character within the space, through my handmade lampshade which bears a pastel pinstripe pattern and a pom pom trim, some personalised name items, I also introduced colour through coordinated bedding that can be changed over time without too much effort or cost. I found through my versatile furniture pieces & neutral bases I was able to achieve an element of sophistication and timelessness that my child could grow with throughout the years.
(Image Credit - My Little Northcott, featuring our 'Velvet Blush' lamp)
4 – LOOK FOR UNIQUE WAYS TO ADD PERSONAL TOUCHES FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY
Whilst having an individual space is important, it’s a space the whole family will spend a great deal of time, feeding, burping, settling & playing. Therefore when designing your little one’s room, it’s a great way to think about embracing elements that resemble the whole family. Finding ways to incorporate some “special items” that define you as a family, is a beautiful way to inject personality into the space, providing it with a heart warming vibe. Is there a song you sing, a saying you love that would look great hanging on the wall, images of a favourite family place you visited to instil the memories for your little one to grow up with & become new family traditions. Another personal touch is to purchase handmade pieces that have a story behind them, the knitted crochet blanket purchased from the lovely lady at the local market, or finding ways to incorporate touches from loved ones. We have a cushion that used to be my grandma’s & has become a hand me down heirloom piece, we also framed one of my mum’s bright & colourful tea towels & use it as wall art. Not to mention our lampshade that was designed and made by me after struggling to find one I liked & was the inspiration behind our business. Having pieces that have a connection to them, make the space extra special.
5 – THINK PRACTICAL
Here’s our top ‘practical considerations’ to top off the ultimate nursery;
Lighting – consider the lighting in the room, investing in some temporary block out blinds can be a great alternative to help create a dark sleep space for daytime naps & during the summer months. It’s also important to consider night lighting, installing a dimmer on any overhead lights & finding ways to provide a cosy soft warm glow for those overnight feeds;
Comfort – in those early days you’ll be spending a great deal of time sitting - nursing, holding & soothing, therefore it’s important to find a nice comfy chair, as well as good quality cushions to support your back and one for under your arm (ie. a nursing pillow) to make feeding time, as comfortable as possible for all. Another way to add a touch of comfort is through the addition of soft textures, blankets, throws, rugs to instantly soften the vibe of a room, as well as providing an extra layer of warmth on those chilly nights.
Organisation – designing a system up front to sort & store babies clothing is ideal, in order to keep up with baby’s never ending changing wardrobe. Getting organised up front with labels, designed compartments and also a method for storing outgrown items during the nesting phase, will ensure you don’t end up with piles of clothes in the spare room!
Setup – ensure your change station & nursing space is well equipped, plenty of storage baskets to ensure everything is at easy arms reach so as to avoid it turning into a juggling act if you are unprepared. The best thing we ever did was place a small table near the nursing chair, with all the essentials – including snacks because boy did I have the munchies over night!
Use of space – key to avoiding a cluttered room is to carefully consider your furniture, avoiding bulky pieces is ideal. We opted out of purchasing a designated change table. We simply popped a removable change pad on top of a set of drawers, it’s been a better use of space and has seen us well through 2 kids.
(Image Credit - My Little Northcott)
Whilst it can feel so overwhelming designing baby’s first nursery, it’s also a wonderful opportunity for you & your partner to bond over designing, creating, building and dreaming of the precious space you wish to raise your little bundle of joy. A gentle reminder that this space is as much about you as your baby, as you’ll be spending nearly as much time in it as your baby in those first few years. Therefore it’s important to ensure it reflects your taste and family as much as any of the latest “nursery trends” inspire. Try to make decorating this space a fun opportunity to release your creativity, play with sweet and whimsical elements & support some small Australian businesses along the way. But importantly be sure to enjoy the process in designing your baby's nursery, so as that it brings you all joy as an entire family in many different ways.
OUR FAVOURITE NURSERY "MUST HAVE" BRANDS
In sharing in the Australian community spirit, especially during this challenging time we thought we would take a moment to share some of our favourite small Australian loved brands, we’ve found along the way. Such a wonderful way to inject some Australian classic pieces into your nurseries today, whilst supporting a wonderful tribe of mum's & their families behind these beautiful brands.
(Image Credit - Once Upon A Forrest)
LET’S HEAR FROM OUR AUSTRALIAN MUM COMMUNITY
We asked the mums within our community to share their top tips to creating a nursery that’s practical, stylish and baby friendly, here is what they had to say;
“One way to look at designing a nursery, is to create zones. Sleeping – free from distractions, not too bright and away from heating/cooling or drafts that can impact sleep. Changing – easily accessible without overreaching, so you don’t have to ever leave baby unattended. Feeding – next to the nursing chair, think small table to sit a drink, lamp and snacks for mum with other useful items, a phone charger, a burp cloth all within easy arm reach.”
“We decided to choose furniture that was seen but not heard. That was classical in style and was neutral in colour. This allowed the more exciting pieces in the room to truly shine.”
“Once you have decided on the layout, measure the space so when you go shopping for each item, you know the limitations. We learnt this one the hard way!”
“We found out we were having a girl, but we don’t believe in the existence of a “girly” colour. We decided to give her as many hues as we could up front and let her decide what she liked on her own.”
“We found in the beginning our nursery was our idea of a dream room, and as our little one got older, we were able to tweak it to reflect more of her personal taste & personality. Adding little touches along the way made it a fun project for us all to contribute towards”
“My biggest tip would be to always use a carpet/rug in baby’s room, as it is easy to clean. Babies have accidents—they are cute but not perfect!”
“The crib should be your investment piece in the room. You may be thinking this is a temporary item and not worth the expense, but many kids sleep in their cribs for three or more years. Also, if you’re planning to have more children, a sturdy crib can last through several kiddos.”
“You can make any light a night light, just buy some dim lights at the hardware store and transform your favourite lamp into décor for your babies’ room”
“We chose to decorate our little one’s nursery with some black & white travel images we had captured upon our travels together. As a way to make the space feel like ‘us’ as a family and what we wanted to instil into our son, a love for travel”
“We invested in a decent sized bassinet (some of them are so small)! It was on wheels which meant in those early days we could wheel it around the home. My little girl ended up being tiny, that she was in it for what felt like forever, the best valued product we invested in, especially in those early months”
“Whilst it’s nice to have a nursery full of lots of brand new pieces, don’t write off marketplace finds. Sometimes you can find a piece that is simply in need of a little bit of love to look brand new. We found a fabric nursing chair that we re-upholstered and has been the comfiest piece we own! As well as a provincial hard wood dresser that simply needed a change of handles & a spray paint, they just don’t make some of these classic sturdy designs like they used to, it adds so much character!”
“I recommend investing in quality, classic designed furniture that will be able to handle some wear and tear from a toddler & that will not date quickly”
“I love these days how it doesn’t have to be just the classic baby pink or blue, neutrals are the current on trend colour palette. Choosing earthy tones like clay, caramel, terracotta or sage, which are so warming and provide for versatile options.”
“We loved investing in some wall decals, it’s amazing how they can instantly transform a space! As your little one grows they can easily be removed & changed to reflect their latest taste, without having to repaint the pink that was initially chosen. It’s a mess free way to add a touch of style & bring a space to life easily & on a budget”
“I had longed for sheer curtains and I’m so glad we installed them before bubs arrived. They were a great way to filter soft natural day light during the day, providing for a calming environment & also a great screen to help with privacy.”
“My most used item was definitely my baby monitor. We did our research to find one that best suited our family’s needs and opted for one with video and sound which was great for us being able to move around the home & not having to worry about bubs constantly, especially as a first time mum”.
“Having a new baby in the house was the perfect opportunity for us to consider going green. So we designed an eco-friendly nursery, not only good for the planet but also for baby.”
“A hanging mobile is a wonderful way to stimulate your child’s mind while also adding an attractive feature to your nursery’s decor. One tip we recommend is creating a homemade mobile that your baby can use to practice seeing colour and movement. You can buy these of course, but making your own is a nice way to add a personal touch and a little extra love to the nursery. Hanging origami above the change table or crib is also a great way to keep bub entertained whilst changing the hundredth nappy of the day.”
“I love the 60-30-10 ratio formula 60% white, 30% soft grey and 10% accent colour. We opted for soft pastels – mint, baby pink, watercolour blue, yellow or mustard look amazing in a nursery.”
“We created a space within my little one’s room for a play gym, which without a doubt was bub’s frequent activity for the first few months of life. It kept her interested in “tummy time”. We threw a cute soft play mat underneath, which looks great and washes well for any spit ups or accidents that inevitably happen!”
“I would recommend baby proofing upfront. Whilst bubs may not be on the move yet, before you know it, you’ll have your very own toddler disaster zone.”
“I wanted to use my wallpaper to dictate the theme of the room. It’s been nice to slowly add things as my little grows and can respond to them. It feels more organic that way.”
“The best thing we ever did was add some greenery to the space, it changed the whole vibe of the room. An indoor fiddle leaf fig, completed the space perfectly”
“Choose neutrals and add playful pops of colour. A neutral base allows the objects to be the feature.”
“ We kept the sex of the baby a surprise & so were worried about how to decorate. Although we quickly learnt that designing a gender neutral room does not have to be dull. We kept the base neutral in a soft grey and have enjoyed adding touches of blue after bubs was born.”
We hope you enjoyed our latest piece & feel inspired in one way or two!
Good luck and happy nursery planning, for all the mums to be reading along.