Nursery Design Guide: Design the perfect nursery from start to finish.
Your baby’s nursery is far more than a place to nurse, change diapers and rock your baby to sleep. A well designed nursery will grow with your child and will be a place where memories are made and the next generation of your family is nurtured. Designing your nursery can be overwhelming, but this nursery design guide will simplify welcoming your new baby into your home with clear step by step instructions.
Keep an eye out for free printable checklists, worksheets and action plans to help you along your design adventure, throughout this post.
Nursery Design Guide, Step 1: Finding Inspiration & Setting Up A Registry
My favorite part in the nursery planning process is pouring over Pinterest for nursery inspiration!
Begin by creating your own Pinterest board to save your favorite ideas. This will help you get a feel for what you like, what you must have and what your final nursery can become.
My “Nursery Inspiration” board is a great place to start your search, but consider setting a timer for yourself because with so many beautiful images to look at, time will slip through your fingers.
Next, head on over to Baby List to set up a registry. Baby List is a great organizational tool and huge time saver because you can save items to your registry from any online store.
Nursery Design Guide, Step 2: Create Your Nursery Floor Plan
Whether you have several rooms dedicated to your baby or are carving space out of the corner of the master bedroom, creating a floor plan will lay the ground work for the rest of your design adventure.
Grab your tape measure and using grid paper, mark out your room to create a clear starting point. Be sure to mark out all windows, doors, closets, air vents, electrical outlets, ceiling fans and heaters.
It is also very helpful to make a note of ceiling and window heights.
Here is an example, filled out:
Printable grid paper can be downloaded here, by clicking this link.
Nursery Design Guide, Step 3: Consider the 3 Zones and Determine Your Needs
Once you have your nursery mapped out, consider how much space you are working with and your priorities for the room. The top 3 zones for the nursery include:
The Sleep Zone: Where your baby will sleep, this will include a crib or bassinet and mattress.
The Daily Living Zone: This is a place for changing diapers, dressing and nursing or feeding. Furniture found in this area can include a dresser, changing table (or a changing pad added to the top of a great dresser), a side table, a rocker or glider and ottoman, a hamper and a diaper pail.
The Relax + Play Zone: A place for tummy time, reading books together, snuggling or rocking your little one to sleep. Items in this area can include a book case, toy chest, storage bins, and play mats.
If you are working with limited space or need your nursery to double as an office or guest room, be sure to mark down any existing furniture and think about which zones are most important to you. Then decide which pieces of furniture are essential. Take advantage of vertical wall space and plan to add shelving to help increase space. No room for a dresser? Consider having a closet company install a solution, or keep an eye out for a small dresser that will fit in the closet.
Nursery Design Guide, Step 4: Create Your Budget
Wether you are planning the next million dollar nursery or you are working with a second hand budget, starting with an overall picture will guide you in finding the right pieces for your space and leave wiggle room for decor items later on.
Spending a bit more now to purchase a quality piece of furniture that can grow with your child will save money in the long run. Your baby will be a toddler before you know it! There are many options now for cribs that can be converted into toddler beds, and even settees down the road.
In addition to furniture, you will also need to consider costs for window treatments, lighting, artwork and decor. Can you paint and put everything together yourself, or will you need to hire help? Taxes and delivery fees can also be a surprise. Download my printable checklist and worksheets to make sure you don’t overlook anything!
Nursery Design Guide, Step 5: Choose A Design Seed Item
In the interior design world, a “Seed” item is a singular source for inspiration to help guide the whole project. It can be a piece of artwork, a swatch of fabric or wallpaper, a toy, a color palette, or even an adorable outfit you saw on Instagram. The key here is to choose something that you just can’t get out of your mind. Order your seed item first so you have it handy for the rest of the design process.
Nursery Design Guide, Step 6: Choose a Nursery Color Palette Like a Pro
Color psychology places a huge role in the nursery and is often overlooked. Imagine walking into a neon yellow room, then imagine walking into a soft, pale yellow room. Feel the difference? Your baby can too.
Save the bright color pops or sophisticated hues for smaller decor items, or accent areas. Do you want to keep colors consistent through out the house or are you ok with the nursery having a palette of it’s own? Light wall shades help to distribute light throughout the room and can make a small room appear larger.
Look through your Nursery inspiration Pinterest board and look for color schemes that you have found yourself pinning over and over again. Then, head on over to Design Seeds for more color palette inspiration. Keep your overall color scheme simple and try to maintain balance throughout the room.
Nursery Design Guide, Step 7: Choosing a Nursery Theme
Just like your color scheme, a simple theme is best but can be as broad or as specific as you like. What sorts of things are your family passionate about? Are you an english teacher or bookworm? Consider a literature themed nursery. Are you into Bach and Tchaikovsky? Consider a music theme. Need help picking the perfect theme? Search my blog for more nursery theme ideas.
Nursery Design Guide, Step 8: Choose & Order Nursery Furniture
Consider your layout and budget and select the pieces that are right for you. Once you know which pieces you’d like to have and their measurements, you can begin to arrange your room to find the best layout.
Ideally, the first unbroken wall you see when you enter the room, without windows or doors, should be the feature wall. This is where you’ll eventually place the crib. Be mindful of placing the crib directly under an air conditioning vent, heater, near electrical outlets or cords from window treatments. Once baby is big enough to start climbing, make sure that there aren’t other pieces too near, helping your little one to climb out of the crib.
If space allows many nurseries include:
Crib and mattress: Most standard sized cribs are about 56 inches wide by 32 inches deep. If you have your eye on a custom crib or a mini crib, get the dimensions from the manufacturer to see if it will work with your floor plan. Delivery can take up to 3 months so this should be the first big purchase on your list.
Changing table: Do you have room for a dedicated changing table or do you need to combine pieces to maximize space?
Dresser: Keeping it neutral and adding a changing pad to the top of a great dresser or buffet can save space and allow it to grow with your child. This option can also enable you to spend a bit more on a great piece without worrying about having to replace it as soon as potty training season arrives. Make sure to leave enough room for drawers and doors to open.
Rocking chair or glider and ottoman: Put your feet up and relax, you’ll be spending a lot of time here. Be sure to leave enough room around the chair for it to move freely.
Side table: Keep your drink, snack or book nearby while nursing.
Book case or other storage solutions: Adding bins and baskets to a book case can help disguise the not so pretty items in the nursery that you can’t live without!
Nursery Design Guide, Step 9: Choose Other Main Features
Choosing the right wall color is essential to tie the room together. Are you the accent wall type? if so one wall with a stunning wallpaper or mural could be your style. Are you renting and don’t want to re-paint when you move? Wall decals can personalize your space and are removable!
Choose a rug that compliments the remaining space in the nursery. Try layering a smaller rug over a larger rug for added visual interest.
Window treatments add another visual focus. Hanging curtains above the top of the windows can make ceilings appear taller. See my article on Why Every Nursery Should Have Blackout Curtains for more information.
Taking advantage of natural light during the day is best, but to find the areas that need more light, look for where the shadows fall. Strategically placed mirrors help to bounce light around the room as well. Don’t forget a nightlight! There will be many nights that you will be up soothing your little one and will need a bit of light to see what you are doing. Nothing wakes up a dozing baby faster than flipping on a bright overhead light!
Nursery Design Guide, Step 10: Installing Your Nursery & Finishing Touches
Finish up your nursery by painting, assembling and placing furniture and adding the last few touches. Etsy is fantastic for finding the perfect nursery wall art and decor items for styling shelves. It is also great for finding the softest, beautiful handmade textiles like crib sheets, blankets and pillows.
The only step left is to bring your new bundle of joy home!