It’s never too early to start getting the furniture together for your kids’ room. Designing a nursery may seem like a mammoth task, but it is also one area where you can let your creativity flow. However, keep in mind that you will be spending many late nights in this room so make it comfy! The nursery is your baby’s first home, and the space should boast an inviting, calming, and fun atmosphere full of wonder. But at the same time, it needs to focus on functionality and comfort for everything that will be using it. While the idea of decorating a nursery has seen a drastic change over the years to include theme, interactive furniture, bunk beds with slides and more; some elements like cribs and cabinets are a mainstay.
The evolution of designing a nursery
There was a time when expecting parents would create a nursery with a crib, changing table and rocker, but things have changed. Today you can incorporate safari animals, world maps on walls, butterflies or a favourite Disney character in your child’s nursery — but these days, instead of going wall-to-wall with themed decor, interior designers and parents are looking for practical, stylish options that will evolve as the children get older. “The essentials for a kid’s room would be the judicious usage of colours, innovative lighting, Bold patterns and most importantly combining functional elements to create a warm and secure space for the little ones,” Arpita Subbaiah, Head of Design at Carafina Interior Designers told LuxeBook.
Essential design elements
The idea of a nursery as a safe and inspiring space for the little ones — an enchanting room that is practically designed to be a dreamy but functional space to care for a newborn. It is also the primary space for kids to think, self-reflect, recharge their batteries, and grow wings to their dreams. According to a study by Stoecklin (1999), the building, interiors of the room, and its arrangements and selection of pieces of equipment have a profound impact on children’s behaviour. Hence some design elements play a pivotal role in creating a nursery. Natural light is key in creating a positive environment. A range of colours in the play area improves social, cognitive, and emotional development of children. Storage space and furniture that creates active learning are some of the most essential design elements.
One of the major nursery trends that can be incorporated into the space is rich hues reflecting the calmness and subtlety required for the user. Soft curves on wall designs or furniture reflect softness and add an element of elegance. Curated bright spaces with muted colour schemes and clean lines create a happy space along with functionality,” shared architect Aparna Kaushik. While buying new furniture for a kid’s room is very easy and simple, an attractive appearance is not the only requirement advantage of nursery furniture. It should be functional and safe. Therefore, when buying, you need to pay attention to the environmental friendliness of the material and the absence of protruding accessories, glass inserts and sharp corners.
Designing a nursery today has gone beyond just the realm of visual appeal alone. Today, nurseries are championing the marriage of playful design features free from extravagant detailing. Interior designers and furniture designers are using design in a pleasing, pragmatic and purposeful way to create stimulating and enriching learning spaces for children. Some include using custom-made furniture, wall graphics and other sensory and specialized components. Further, interior designers are also incorporating active spaces in rooms. Given the ban on sex determination in India, we do highly suggest opting for pastels and neutral colour tones while planning the room. From soft pastel colour schemes that harness a calming effect to the power to transition a bedroom for a toddler, innovations in spaces are plentiful. Nature-inspired themes have come into the limelight due to the pandemic. Aparna says, “Nature-inspired themes with earthy prints and colourways add character and creates an interaction with the outdoors.” Think natural wood-finish with muted combinations, botanical motifs and wall coverings.
Working on the interiors of the room can go a long way in the overall development of our child’s behavioural traits, academic performance, creative skills and cognitive abilities. It can even help mould the personality and individuality of the child. To make a room more interactive and learning-friendly adding features that are child friendly is key. Aparna suggests colour schemes, furniture items and interactive areas make rooms interesting and learning-friendly. “Accent walls that highlight a particular sport/learning walls/ prints also make the room interesting.”
Having said that, if you want to create a child’s room with longevity in mind, it’s best to leave the themed sets in the store and focus on practicality. Think of a crib that can be morphed into a bed, a dresser that can store items and a study table that can be used over years. But it doesn’t stop there, then comes the upholstery and fabric selections.” Tufted furniture, soft edges and corners, light furniture, and lots of soft furnishings are things one should use in a kid’s room,” said Aparna. Pointing out an interesting fact Romilla said that a nursery eventually needs to be turned into a kids/toddler’s room and for that reason, you shouldn’t clutter it too much initially. The room needs to grow with the baby as well.
Generally, nature and jungle-inspired trends, patterns like stripes, ginghams or teddy bear themes work the best, and are universal, according to Romilla Tewari. But colour palettes keep changing, she adds, saying that there is increasing use of wallpapers which helps to make the space more interesting. “Wallpapers become a central piece in a nursery, and you are using minimal furniture.”
White furniture is a key trend, Tewari points out. As we head into the future, many people are digging into their own family’s treasure of hand-me-downs or mining decades of yesteryear nostalgia, to decorate their nurseries. A slow-rising trend in recent years mixes opulent antiques with complementary modern pieces and the trend is called “grand millennial.” And as the world shifts its focus to sustainability, so do nurseries. Nursery designs are seeing an uptick in furniture and trappings made of recycled materials, cane, energy-efficient lighting solutions, and small-batch made linens, rugs, and toys. Further, cane furniture and woodwork are making a huge comeback. Whether it’s cane nursery furnishings or small nursery accessories, they’ll have a modern edgier look that will fit right into most nursery design styles with their rich texture and neutral colour.” Yet another interesting trend noted by Arpita Subbaiah, Head of Design at Carafina Interior Designers, is the use of optic fibre lights. These are embedded in the ceiling and include starry light nights to various constellations… “they bring magic and imagination to every kid’s bedroom.”
However, in India using a neutral colour palette is a popular trend. There is a rising group of parents who don’t prefer to assign different colours based on the child’s gender, in which case, a neutral palette is a crowd favourite. “A colour palette with shades of teal, yellow, lavender, warm cappuccino and so on would amp up the aesthetics of the space, and strategic placement of warm and light tones would do the initial job of setting context to the room,” says Subbaiah.
But one design trend that seems to have stood the test of time are curves and arches. The trend is seeing a resurgence with a curved crib, rug, and/or oversized light fixture. Alongside a rounded crib and screen, polka dots in the bedding and circles in the mobile are curvy details to love. This break from traditional furniture shapes brings a modern feel to any baby room. And finally, it’s time to move over, minimalism. While there’s a charm about simple and serene spaces, busy-ness is a cute style to try for nurseries. Think print and pattern mixing, fun hanging details, and splashes of colour everywhere.
Mastering the right balance between fun and function is the key to any kids’ room. A nursery has to be strong and has enough space to accommodate toys. For this reason, it is necessary to meet the needs of kids and instead of buying new furniture every five years, choose one that can be used for multiple purposes, “Flexible storage, as well as the right seating options, are essential for a kid’s room,” says Romilla. Further, she says it’s essential to have open storage spaces to ensure kids can build their skills at a young age. Even wallpaper is an element that helps children’s communication develop. “Anything in a room needs to have a sensory or learning-outcome for a child,” feels Romilla.
But adding to the comfort of the room are carpets that not only baby-proof the room but also toy cars run best on parquet or laminate flooring. However, these should be woven, wicker, or dried carpetets. These options not only keep the child warm while playing but also creates a beautiful accent on the floor, not to mention the fact that it can be a great playmat.
Modular furniture and large locker spaces can further help declutter and organize your child’s nursery. Instead of buying low-quality bookcases with small shelves, drawers, invest in chairs, tables and beds that change size with a few simple movements. And on the brighter side: the simpler a separate element is designed, the more varied its use in the nursery. For instance, a table or stool in a moment turns into a house or a cave. Further, modular wooden sections of different sizes can be varnished or painted in any colour as the years go by.
And if we were to give a few warnings, we’d say steer clear of cartoon character trends because those change constantly. Use textiles or paintings instead of wallpaper. Another great idea is to use a blackboard as wall décor in your child’s room. Other alternate ways to incorporate this could be through a puzzle wall, activities spaces, safe wall climbings, and customised wallpapers to make the space fun and educative in its own way, says Arpita. She further says, “Colours have a profound impact on children’s development. Having bright colours such as orange, Green, Powder Blue, and yellow not only bring life to the space but can also improve concentration hence it’s best to avoid any mundane colours while conceptualising.” Romilla also agrees and says that while designing a nursery she likes to keep it joyful and playful. The tropical theme is also a trending theme she says.
Best materials for a kid’s nursery
Safety is always a priority before design when styling a kid’s room, says Romilla. The onus would be on the furniture that has soft and rounded edges right across the toom according to Arpita. You can usually find a lot of wooden furniture in a nursery along with MDF, plastic and rattan. While wooden furniture is beautiful, durable and environmentally friendly, it can also be costly. On the other hand, MDF furniture is durable and ensures easy maintenance of such furniture. Its price is quite high, but this is offset by good quality, strength and durability. If you want the furniture to add a youthful vibe opt for plastic. Plastic kid’s furniture is brightly coloured and lightweight. Hence, the child can easily rearrange them from place to place. However, it is not an eco-friendly choice. European manufacturers use expensive and harmless plastic for them. “Plastic is used a lot in a child’s room. But the trend is changing a lot and people are moving to wood and non-plastic goods. The plastic industry also has norms now so most plastic is BPA-free. In the future we will move to more natural materials,” shared Tewari.
When choosing upholstered furniture for a kid’s room, give preference to upholstery made from natural fabrics. The fabric should be pleasant to the touch and breathable. Tewari says, “Rounded and soft corners are important, and all furniture should be upholstered. The use of fabric/leatherite is essential for all furniture to babyproof the room.” And while adding colour is intrinsic to a kid’s room, she suggests using paints with zero VOC or water-based paints so there are fewer fumes in the child’s room. Natural woods are the best and any kind of polish should be done water-based.
But the materials to be used in a kid’s room can range from the of use laminates instead of PU paints; scratch-proof leatherites; scorch guard fabric or something that’s easy to dry clean. “A wardrobe finished in acrylics along with a fine usage of PU/DUCO furniture paint not only enhances the room’s look-and-feel but is also the safest option, making it childproof,” adds Arpita.
But the bottom line remains that some elements are key for every nursery. For Tewari, the crib is the most important for kids to sleep independently, “… a breathable mattress, changing tabletop with a chest of drawers, a rocking chair for feeding, a small hanging bookshelf, basket for toys, a closet organiser for children’s clothes is essential too. “I would say stay away from woollen rugs because they can collect dust and the child can be allergic, polyester or cotton ones are better,” advises Tewari. To make the room safer as kids start walking rugs should be skidproof, and stickers should be used to stick them to the floor. It all comes down to safety with utility.”
Nurseries are not so much about the theme/ design from the perspective of a child. The ultimate piece of advice by Tewari is to make the nursery a place that will convert into a toddler room really soon. A nursery décor that accommodates the fast changes in a child’s life and is versatile enough to be rearranged for it is a successful design at the end of the day.