10 Tips for Creating the Perfect Nursery

Whether you enjoy decorating or seek the expertise of someone else to do it, I think we can all agree that there’s something special about preparing a room for a newborn bundle of joy. The anticipation of bringing a tiny person home to their very own space — a gift from us to them — is what excites me the most about nursery design. That being said, I also know firsthand how completely overwhelming this process can be. I’m a far cry from an interior designer, but I feel like creating nurseries for my own kiddos has taught me a few valuable lessons. Well okay, 10 of them…

1. Find a place to start.  A quick search for “nursery design ideas” on Pinterest will surely make a newly pregnant woman’s head spin. As if there wasn’t enough nausea going on in the first trimester! So where do you start? I suggest finding one thing that you love. Whether it’s an accessory, a paint color, or a piece of furniture… if it gives you all those warm and fuzzy decorating feelings, then it’s probably a great starting point. For my son’s nursery, it was a stone cow head that made my heart skip a beat. (And yes, I fully understand how ridiculous that sounds.) Once I committed to Walter, as we call him, the nursery was on it’s way!

baby boy nursery mounted cow head

2. No themes necessary.  There are some fantastic nursery themes out there, but the truth is, a theme doesn’t have to be obvious. Some of my favorite nurseries are the ones that are the most subtle. A baby’s room can be designed around a color scheme, a time period, or just an overall look and feel. Therefore, don’t feel pressured to settle on something super specific that might hinder your creativity.

3. Function over fancy. When I started planning my daughter’s nursery three and a half years ago, I was determined to fill her crib with adorable accent pillows. They were precious, but where do you think they ended up when we moved our daughter into her crib? You guessed it — on the top shelf of her closet, never to be seen again. The lesson I learned: “function over fancy”… or both if you can swing it! I used pillows in the crib the second time around as well, only that time I made sure they would have a suitable future home. When the time came, I added the pillows to a reading nook in the corner, a cozy little space with low bookshelves where big sister could hang out while I fed her brother.

nursery reading nook

4. Comfort is key. While pregnant with my first, some seasoned moms gave me a piece of advice that I’m glad I took. They said “get a good chair–you’re going to spend a lot of time in it.” And boy were they right. A comfortable rocker is something I’ve definitely appreciated at 3 a.m. feedings and during long nights of rocking teething babies. One more comfy tip: add texture by using soft rugs, furs, and blankets in the nursery. A few of these accessories can make even the coldest room seem warm and cozy.

baby nursery glider

5. Make it personal. Maybe it’s a special picture, a favorite bible verse, or an illustration of your home state. Gallery walls are the perfect way to incorporate all of these meaningful things into one space. And the best part? There are no rules to creating a gallery wall! Put a Hank Williams poster next to a rooster plate and no one will question it…

Baby boy nursery gallery wall

6. Give new life to old pieces. I’m kind of an old lady at heart, which would explain why I adore treasure hunting at local thrift shops and antique stores. Some things that I’ve ended up with are ready to use, but others need a little TLC.  For my daughter’s room, we painted a 1990’s oak dresser white, added some new hardware, and voilà — it was transformed into a chic new piece of furniture for the price of paint and knobs (and my sweet dad’s time, of course)!

7. Do it yourself. Ever fall in love with something but have to break up with it after you see the price tag? Next time that happens, ask yourself: “could I make this?” I’m no seamstress, but I managed to sew $12 worth of pom pom trim to curtains that I already owned — and achieve the look of some far more expensive panels that I’d had my eye on. The moral of this story: give those DIY projects a try and you might just surprise yourself!

DIY pom pom trim curtains

8. Plan for the future.  While preparing for the arrival of my first, I could only picture her as a teeny-tiny newborn, so that’s who I designed the room for. I didn’t really think about the nursery becoming a “big girl room” one day, which meant that there was a lot I wanted to change as she started becoming more of a kid than a baby. So the second time around I decided to pick paint colors, furniture and accessories that I felt would grow with my son. (By the way, if he decides he doesn’t like the cow head when he’s 7, I will totally find a spot for it somewhere else in my house.)

9. Safety first. What does safety have to do with design? In a nursery, a lot. As you choose furniture, think about its sturdiness and how it can be attached to walls. When hanging pictures that might someday be within baby’s reach, save yourself the worry later on and go ahead and fasten them to the wall from the get-go.

10. Have fun! This final step is the most important of all. Planning for a baby’s arrival is an incredibly exciting time in your life and you deserve to enjoy it! Try to soak it all up and don’t let the nursery prep cause you unnecessary stress.  In the end, you can take comfort in knowing that no matter what paint color you choose or pictures you hang, your baby will love it.

sleeping baby nursery


Vanessa lives in Lenexa with her husband of 6 years, Chris, and their two sweet kiddos--Arden, 3, and Nash, 9 months. After 4 fun years in Houston, she is now enjoying being back in KC and getting to know her hometown all over again...this time as a mom. She loves old things, country music, cookie dough ice cream, and French bulldogs--especially the crazy one named Hazel that lives in her house. When she's not doing puzzles, pushing swings, or carrying a chubby baby on her hip, you can find her watching Fixer Upper reruns and trying to channel her inner Joanna Gaines. She thinks being a mom is by far the best job she's ever had--and not just because it allows her to drink extra caffeine and avoid pants with any kind of buttons. You can read more over at Vanessa's blog, Sunflower State of Mind