10 tips for designing a nursery

Cassie Pryce

Follow our top decorating tips on how to design a playful space for sleeping and playing that will suit your little one throughout their early years

1. Sleep tight

Decorating a nursery can be a challenge, as the design has to be able to transition over the next few years as your child grows from a new-born baby to a more active toddler. 

If splashing out on new furniture every couple of years isn’t an option, invest in a cot-come-bed that will suit your child for the foreseeable future. 

Some cots are built longer and wider than a traditional model so your baby can grow into them and come with removable sides that can be taken away when a cot is no longer required.

Tinyppl large padded play mat, £69; cheeky racoon cushion cover, £35, both White Black Grey

 

2. Safety first

The same way you would child-proof the rest of your house, the nursery is no different. All free-standing furniture should be fixed to the walls to stop it toppling over and avoid cabinets with glass doors that could smash. 

Window stops can be fixed to prevent windows opening more than a few inches and blinds with cords should be fitted with a safety device, too.

Tier-on-tier window shutters, from £166, California Shutters

3. Storage savvy

To keep the nursery organised and safe from loose hazards, incorporating storage into the design of the room is key. Under-cot storage is ideal for housing extra bedding and blankets, while storage trunks are a great option for hiding away toys. Just remember to buy a trunk with a spring-loaded hinge to stop the lid falling unexpectedly.

Individual boxes that can be slotted into a bookcase are a must-have for stashing away bits and bobs —opt for fabric-covered boxes to reduce the hazard of sharp edges.

 

4. Play time

As well as sleeping, your child will also use their nursery as a play space over the next few years. If you have hard floors, adding rugs will create a soft play area underfoot and help keep the space warm and cosy in winter. 

A small desk area or kids table and chairs is a great spot for colouring and will help to encourage creative learning. 

3 Sprouts storage box – peacock design, £18.95, Hurn & Hurn

5. Reading nook

If you have the space, creating a dedicated reading corner will make bedtime stories an extra-special time of day. Hang a canopy curtain to form a den and line the floor with cushions and blankets to make it a snug spot. 

Fairy lights will add a magical finishing touch and remember to keep a basket nearby to store their favourite books.

 

6. Black out

Ensure your nursery has thick lined curtains or a blackout blind to stop daylight creeping in when you want your child to be napping and to prevent them from waking up earlier than needed. 

Blackout linings can be added to most curtains or fixed to a curtain rail as a separate layer altogether, and lots of patterned and colourful blinds are available with a blackout lining addition so you won’t need to compromise on your interior style.

Winter branch with stars wall sticker, £32, Koko Kids

 

7. Off the wall

Wall stickers offer a non-permanent decorating solution if you want to get creative with your child’s space without wallpapering. 

Available in all sorts of fun designs, shapes and sizes, these easy-to-remove vinyl stickers can be changed as your child grows and you can even get personalised designs to include your child’s name or favourite nursery rhyme words.

 

8. Look up

As a young baby, your child will spend a lot of time looking up at the ceiling so don’t neglect this part of the room when designing the space. Hanging mobiles provide stimulation above a cot or play mat and are easy to remove when they get older. 

Painting or even wallpapering the ceiling will add another dimension to the space, particularly when using motifs such as stars or clouds that are fitting for this skyward part of the room.

Chantilly white nursery sleigh cot bed, £299, The Cotswold Company

9. Colour choices

Soothing colours such as pastels are well-suited to a nursery environment as they evoke a sense of calm and tranquillity for your child. 

If you want to keep the walls more neutral in a white, cream or grey shade, add colour through accessories, wall stickers and art work to stop the space from feeling stark and uninspiring. 

Fritids/Stuva cot with drawers, £170; Fritids/Stuva changing table with drawers, £125; Fritids/Stuva bookcase with drawers, £75; Lattjo low pile rug, £25, all IKEA

 

10. Light it up

Wherever possible, opt for dimmer switches for overhead lighting, so you can adjust the brightness for night feeds or before bedtime. 

A night light should create a soft, warm glow that should be soothing to your baby and avoid any light fittings with exposed filament bulbs as these can be harsh on your baby’s developing eyes.