Having a theme can be a great way to decorate your baby’s nursery, but choosing one that will take them through to that next stage isn’t always child’s play. Not sure where to start? Here are some top tips to inspire you
Words Sarah Giles
A quiet room close to your own bedroom is ideal for your nursery, so that you can reach it easily in the middle of the night. It needs adequate heating and ventilation and if the windows let in a lot of light, blackout blinds or curtain linings will help to keep the room dark and – in theory, at least – help your baby sleep for longer. When you hear the words ‘blackout blinds’, you might well imagine heavy black fabric totally unsuited to a pretty nursery, but think again! Hillarys, for example, who offer a full measure, make and fit service, have a lovely range of pretty blackout blinds that suit the bill perfectly. Apollo also have lovely options for blackout roller blinds and you’ll find hundreds of fabrics to choose from, with no trailing cords or chains which could be a danger to growing children. Their roller blinds are controlled by a one-touch operation, which is a bonus – you’ll have your hands full enough, without grappling with a tricky blind morning and night. You can also easily adjust the open position of the blinds to suit the amount of light you want to let in to the room.
The fun of planning
Decorating the nursery is what many mumsto- be are most excited about. It usually works best to follow the same style as in the rest of the house – traditional, contemporary or perhaps a mix of the two – and it helps to start with a mood board, collecting cuttings during your pregnancy from magazines of products and colours that you like. It will be tempting to stuff the room with all the gorgeous accessories and knick-knacks you’ll come across, but try to keep it simple and uncluttered to start with – baby paraphernalia increases at an alarming rate once the little one arrives, so allow space to accommodate it later.
Play it safe
Little Greene’s child-safe paints are ideal too and three of their finishes have been identified as the best choice for children’s rooms, furniture and even toys: Intelligent Matt Emulsion, Intelligent Eggshell and Absolute Matt Emulsion have all been certified under British Standard Toy Paint Regulations, (BS EN 71-3: 1995). This standard certifies the paints are free from toxic ingredients and so are safe for use in children’s rooms, even if your little ones develop a taste for chewing their toys or licking the walls! In addition to being safe to use, Little Greene’s Intelligent paints make practical sense too. Both the Intelligent Matt Emulsion and Intelligent Eggshell are designed to withstand the rigorous demands of everyday living and the extra wear and tear of family life. They are easy to apply, quick to dry and marks can be washed off with soapy water – easier on you and your wallet. The paints come in a wide palette of colours.
Choose a neutral background for the walls, and you’ll reduce the need to redecorate within the next few years. Add in some soft tones – pinks, pale blues, primrose yellow – as well. Above all, choose colours that are calming and soft – as much for your own sake as for the baby’s. “A lot of Crown matt or silk emulsion is ideal in a nursery because it has a Breatheasy formula that means it is 99% solvent free,” says Judy Smith, Crown’s Colour Expert. “Easyclean in particular is perfect because it is scrubbable and can be used on walls and ceilings as well as wood and metalwork, so you can blend in windows, skirtings and radiators. I think that clear midtones work really well in nurseries, like sky blue, lemon, soft orange and mint green, and if you choose colours of the same depth of tone, you can easily put three or four together. “To add some fun, use masking tape to create simple stripes or checks, or for a more complicated pattern go for a stencil. The beauty of paint is that the scheme can be easily and inexpensively updated as the child grows. It is also a great idea to paint inexpensive or second-hand furniture like cupboards and chest of drawers to make them colourful and unique – rub down, then use a wood primer before adding a topcoat of satin or gloss.”
From birth to beyond
Brightly coloured wall hangings will attract your baby’s attention far more than framed prints and you can use the nursery walls cleverly to create focal points for baby. Babies first respond to colour then to shape so choose clear, bright colours and strong patterns for mobiles, bunting and toys to attract their attention. Texture is important too – bear this in mind when choosing cot bedding. It’s really best to select furniture before you start decorating as it’s easier and cheaper to match paints, fabrics and wallpaper to your key furniture pieces than starting with colours and doing it the other way round. When you’re arranging furniture, be sure to position the cot away from windows, heaters, lights, wall decorations and cords and keep other furniture that your baby could climb onto as he or she gets older away from the cot too. If you have the space, it’s a good idea to arrange the room so that one side of the nursery is for sleeping, changing and dressing, the other for feeding and playing. For lighting, keep it soft – halogen lights (even dimmed) are often too bright – table lamps cast a more soothing light. Remember that you’ll need comfortable seating for yourself too: a traditional rocking chair for feeding is perfect. It may be hard to imagine now, but it won’t be long before the tiny baby you bring home from hospital is ready to move into a bed. The White Toddler Bed from Great Little Trading Company is ideal. Designed with a low height but high sides, it’s suitable for ages 18 months to five years.
Cover: Cot bumper, £45, sleeping pod, £35, cot bed quilt, £60, hooded towel and wash mitt set, £25, cot bed duvet cover and pillowcase set, £55, all from Laura Ashley. For more information, visit www.lauraashley.com
2. Costello ivory blackout roller blind from Hillarys. Prices start at £97 (61cm wide x 76cm deep) including measuring and fi tting. For more information, call 0800 916 6516 or visit www.hillarys.co.uk
3. Little Greene child safe paints: Xylophone: Citrine 71, Marigold 209, Obsidian Green 216, Mischief 13, Tropez Blue 204, Pale Lime 70, 2.5l, from £37 (Absolute Matt Emulsion). For your nearest stockist, call 020 7935 8844 or visit www.littlegreene.com
4. Walls painted in Stepping Stone, Honey Dip and Antique Cream (all £18.47 for 2.4ltr) by Crown Paints. For more information, visit www.crownpaint.co.uk
5. Alpine chair in Jane Churchill Scenic Thomas colour red/blue fabric, £1,059, cube footstool in Romo Linara colour Pool fabric, £149, both from Multiyork. For more information, visit www.multiyork.co.uk
6. White toddler bed, £145, from the Great Little Trading Company. For more information, visit www.gltc.co.uk