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Trying to design a not-too-cutesy nursery was a tricky challenge for me; but in this post, I share some of my thoughts of a gender-neutral design that I think can grow with my kiddo and lend itself to pops of color layered in over time!
Gender Neutral (& Hopefully Somewhat Sophisticated) Nursery
Ever since I learned I was pregnant, I have been thinking about how to make my old office into the nursery. Today, I think I’ve finally figured out a few key elements for this neutral space, so I’m sharing all the details below, along with sources for everything and a few handmade elements you can look forward to with future DIYs. Let’s get started and break things down, shall we?
Fan | Curtains | Crib | Wood Panels | Rug | Mountain Wallpaper (inspo) | Abstract Art Print | Lamp | Dresser | Leaf Art Print | Rocking Chair | Macrame
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Mood boards are kind of great, and kind of frustrating at the same time. Just looking at this neat and tidy board, it gives me a sense of direction. I feel like it helps make the next few buying decisions a little easier because I can visualize what fits and what doesn’t. And with so much of my time being dedicated to learning what a new baby even needs in the first year… I’m basically taking a crash course from every YouTube video and blog post I can get my hands on!
Still though — looking at anything “neat and tidy” when you know I’m not at all like that in real life? Mmm-hmm. 🤣🤣🤣 This post is basically listing my good intentions with the room. Depending on how tired or how stressed I am before he’s born (or maybe just the wind hits me differently one day), all of this may become wishful thinking. Or Sisyphean. And then the nursery is just a room of half-painted walls and me sitting in the middle, crying louder than the baby. 😉
The good news is: I already ordered the crib and the curtains, so I’ll at least have that! As with most IKEA assemblies of years past, though, I kind of wish I could have a beer while staring at the picture instructions and wondering what to do with the extra screw I found in the box. 🍻 Does anyone else do that, or just me?
Oh… and did you go back and re-read that other paragraph? The one where I said “he”? If you’ve been wondering, now you know! Baby boy! As I mentioned in my baby announcement post, I wasn’t really keen on a “gender reveal” even though K and I both wanted to know the sex (we’re using he/him pronouns unless the kiddo informs us otherwise, but we do understand that sex & gender aren’t the same thing). I asked my sister to come up with something on our video call around 12 weeks, back in May (since we were doing everything via video chat and nixing lots of the in-person things because of Covid, it seemed like a way to include her in our secret before K and I told our parents).
Mood Board Breakdown
Anywho, back to the mood board! Let’s address it in pieces, starting with the color scheme.
My goal for the nursery was to keep it simple, relatively neutral, and cozy. I figure eventually, kids’ toys and all of his things will explode with color, and I am in no hurry! I like a neutral color palette, contrast through accessories, and wood (and wicker), so I went with that versus picking a “gender-neutral nursery theme” to try to keep things a little more like the rest of the house. I recently read that it’s actually a great idea to have high contrast (such as black and white cards) to help stimulate a baby’s vision and brain development, so that was music to my ears!
The majority of the room will be white walls (a little on the warm/creamy side) with gray doors that match the rest of the house (I started painting them in the nursery, go figure!). There will be a small accent wall treatment near the crib that I’m planning to paint in more of a camel/leather brown. I think it will look nice behind the paler wood of the crib. Warm neutrals will create a calming feel.
For this room, I’m deliberately shopping BIPOC-owned, women-owned, and shops that support causes I care about (some are all three). I debated if pointing it out was performative versus just doing the shopping, but I thought perhaps if saying so encourages a few more folks to take a look and possibly find some favorites, the better. My budget, as always, is small, but I know that I can still make an impact with my spending, especially on downloadable art prints. Several of the shops I’d like to list here are on temporary hiatus at the moment. I have a few neutral pieces that are still linked in the shopping widget above, so be sure to check them out.
As much as I’m not a fan (pun-intended) of ceiling fans aesthetically, they’re incredibly necessary for the upper floor of the house here in Georgia (which as of late has felt like an armpit and makes me look forward to the rest of summer with my own personal space heater wrapped around my stomach 🤣). I also read that fans may reduce the risk of SIDS, making them a good choice for a baby’s room. The one I’ve picked out has the ability to change color (cool white, soft white, etc.) and is dimmable AND in my price range, so even though I like the one in the guest bedroom more, this one is a much better fit for my wallet (I got the guest room one on a steep sale and the price has since gone up!).
A Washable Rug
This rug is fully washable in the washing machine, which I imagine will get quite a lot of use. I don’t hate the design or texture, but I wish I could go with something a little bolder, so I’m still looking at my options. Perhaps something vintage with shades of green?
Wood Art Panels
I’ve just recently finished a smaller art project for one wall that was inspired by this mural wallpaper, but I’d also like to make a MASSIVE piece of dimensional wood art for one of the other walls, inspiration drawn from these KARVD wall panels. DIYing some neutral nursery decor is high on my priority list!
K and I made a recent trip to IKEA for the purpose of grabbing a crib they had on clearance. To our surprise, the line to get into the Atlanta location wound around the entire parking garage! We also didn’t see a lot of folks in line wearing masks, so it didn’t feel safe enough to stay and wait. As much as I hate paying high shipping costs ($49!), we realized we were saving enough with the crib to justify ordering it and paying the delivery fee. I upped the “while we’re at it” factor and ordered some green velvet curtains with the shipment, too.
Rocking Chair and Dresser
As of right now, these are both planned DIYs. If we don’t get to them in time, our backup plan is to order or try to find a Goodwill deal (on the dresser, at least). A low, wide dresser will double as a changing table until baby is too squirmy. I did some window shopping for a glider/rocker and didn’t find anything that I was crazy enough about to buy, so I may try to figure out if we can hack a chair that I like better. I’ve seen a few successful attempts online, so I think we may be able to pull it off (fingers crossed).
So, there ya go! A quick overview of what we’ve been working on. I’m looking forward to showing you the first few sneak peeks — which unlike most projects, I’ve got more than just wishful thinking to back up my plans! Things are painted, some artwork’s been made and hung, and I’m expecting deliveries this week and weekend!
Tell me, those of you who are parents: what moment made things seem “real” for you? I’ll include a few of those moments in my second trimester recap, but I’m curious if it was something like putting a crib together or feeling the baby kick!
So excited to see this come together. As soon as you said “he” I gasped and thought “WAIT WHAT? AHHHH!” As for things feeling “real,” I’ll be completely honest, it didn’t happen for me until OG was born. Pregnancy just felt like a thing that was happening to me but no real connection to “We’re going to be parents!” Parenthood is weird, man.
Honestly, this sounds like something I’d say too! I do feel like change is coming, but I suppose due to our isolation we also don’t feel the same way most would in this situation under normal circumstances, so it’s easy to pretend like it’s not happening or we have all the time in the world (but also, somehow, a ticking clock?!). I’ve had a few “this is happening” moments but I wonder if it will feel totally different when he’s ACTUALLY in my arms. Really looking forward to it!
So glad to see you are going with the least expensive IKEA crib. That thing is so great (even with the delivery fee) as it comes with the toddler bed conversion kit that other companies charge more extra than you are paying for the crib. My grandtwins have the next model up (white with end panels) which have after two years just been converted and should provide anothe year or two of solid service.
I made this comment when the link to the actual IKEA crib was not working for me. When it did work, I learned that you had not selected the lowest price IKEA crib, but let me just say that we bought one for a trip at a VRBO house, so any of your followers who would like to get the look for less can buy that with confidence. Or the one-step-up in white with solid end panels.
The link I left was for the Amazon version listing — using the widget functionality where it displays a small picture and links all the products together only works one way, and that sometimes limits the stores where the items are listed; Ikea’s unfortunately not on that list. But we DID buy the cheapest Ikea crib possible, so I’ll swap out the links in the description area on the post to make that clearer. I recommend buying from Ikea as opposed to the way I have to link for the widget to work, but that’s just one of those annoying things where there are markups on the Amazon version; it also means if they don’t have Ikea available to them, there’s another option.
Our first time we were told they likely wouldn’t survive, so it was mostly just terror until the twins were born.
This pair, it felt real when I realized we’d definitely need that minivan (I’m NEVER going back! I fit a 12’ long handrail for our basement steps in it today), and when we broke the gestation record from the first two!
Oh Katie, I’m so sorry that you went through that. I don’t know your heartbreak, but I’m very happy for you that you had your twins.
And I’ve heard AMAZING things about having a minivan! Weird, but a bunch of woodworkers have sworn up and down that they love them for supply runs and how they can fit full sheets of plywood. A vehicle that truly gets a bad rap!
For me, it didn’t become real until the night before I was induced. The first trimester plus was spent worrying if this one would be full-term or end in a miscarriage (I had already had one miscarriage). Then, as we started to relax, my grandmother passed away. We were extremely close, so it hit hard. I also had gestational diabetes and had a hard time controlling it. I did everything I was supposed to, but could not get it under control.
After everything was said and done, we have a very healthy, extremely energetic and curious boy. I miss the baby days, but I also love that he is a bit older now too. I love getting to see things through his eyes, holidays take on a whole new meaning with him. And I love being able to share many things that I loved as a child with him.
I’m so sorry you had such a rough time getting him here, but thrilled for you that you have a healthy little guy! And I think K is similar in looking at the holidays in a new way. He has an old train set that he’s kept since childhood that he’s only just now getting excited about putting up for the baby (and one set runs around the tree, so I guess THAT’S a thing we do now, ha!).
Oh, and get ready for Legos everywhere when he is old enough! I have given up trying to keep them contained, we have three different containers and I still find random Lego pieces everywhere! :)
My dad bought my K a train set that he is not so anxiously waiting for when K is old enough to treat it nicely (which might be this Christmas since he is 7 now).
Oh man, I am actually really looking forward to Lego life! Both K and I are Lego fans; we have independently gone to a Lego event as a date and we’ve got the Saturn V rocket assembled in the guest room (I think it’s actually visible in some of my IG shares). I also bought K the Mustang earlier this year for us to put together. So, bring it on! <3
You’re plans are lovely. For me it felt real when bub was born because I just had no idea what I was doing or how this tiny person would fit in our lives. Turns out she fitted perfectly and although those early days were HARD I still look back on them with all the heart eyes
Aw, how sweet. The tiny factor is something I’m somewhat famililar with becuase of Stella (in that we always have a tiny living thing that we have to be mindful of), but I’m really looking forward to him getting here now! I have a feeling the adjustment is still going to be quite a shock to our lives but in a good way.
It started to feel real the first time I washed and hung up the baby clothes in the newly finished nursery. It really felt real when I had my baby in my arms finally. I feel like there are a thousand small moments where it will hit you suddenly throughout the pregnancy, but when they put my baby in my arms it hit me like ton of bricks. Now shes is a beautiful 2.5 year old with a brand new baby sister, and I still wonder how I got so lucky.
That’s so sweet, Kirstin! I feel like the first kicks was the first “holy crap, this thing is actually happening” for me. I am looking forward to those future moments!
Love the ideas! We managed to transform our guest room into the nug’s room fairly easily by adding one of those wall paper borders at chair rail height, and swapping out the light fixture. It was already painted in kid-friendly colors (yellow top half, blue bottom). The general theme of the room is naturey/outdoorsy – the wall paper has mountains on it, the light-fixture and semi-matching rug (over the gross carpeting) both have clouds. Most of the wall art we happened to have already – I left up the maps of our favorite Maine island, there are some ski posters, naturey artwork from friends, vintage animal alphabet cards my mom found. I sewed a set of roman shades from fabric that has a tree-bark like pattern. All of the furniture (crib, book case, rocker, dressers) were hand me overs, which totally fits the cobbled-together nature of our house anyway. I don’t think we did much planning for the space, but it happened to come together nicely. And, he pretty much only sleeps in there right now, so I am okay with it being a mishmash of things.
Oh, and sh*t got real the day ALL OF THE THINGS started arriving from our registry. I’m pretty certain everyone ordered on prime day last summer, so within a couple of days we must have received a dozen packages. Our mail guy and UPS guy both joked we were keeping them employed. We aren’t big stuff people, so all of these things arriving for a tiny human that hadn’t yet entered into our world was a bit much. But, he’s a cool little dude, and we couldn’t be happier. Even when he goes from hero to zero…
Aw, love the map idea! I have a few old ones that I could probably frame for this room!
Aww congratulations! I also didn’t know if I’d caught that “he” correctly and thank you for pointing it out. Some of the “real” kicked in when I realized I didn’t have indigestion, but that I was feeling kicks! And when they put the kiddos in my arms in the delivery room, I vividly remember the “oh hello! So nice to meet you this way! I’m your mom, your dad is over there, this might be an adventure I’m not prepared for, so please bear with us all.” I had twins and one of them I could feel kicks and movement and her head liked to jam into my ribs, while the other one was just sort of buried in there very well, so getting to meet her first and feel her kicks and little body, counting all 10 fingers, all 10 toes, and knowing she was mine was heart-exploding and terrifying all at the same time :D
Love the color combinations and I think they’ll give you lots of options to pivot according to everyone’s preferences, whether you go superheroes, dinosaurs, Dr. Seuss or whatever favorites you use for decorations down the line.
What a sweet story, Sydney! I definitely feel like his kicking is one of the only parts of pregnancy I’m really enjoying. The way he drums at times (I learned for the first time as a result that K and his dad also played the drums in younger years, neat!). It’s neat for him to pop up and start showing us he’s in there. :) And the way you greeted your littles makes so much sense; I’ll probably have a similar reaction like “please be patient with me, I know I’m in charge but I don’t feel like an adult so we’re goign to figure this out as we go.”
What fun being able to plan, I think most of mine were “on the fly” so to speak so just went with whatever was possible and wherever we were living on the moment.One thought on the rocker, make sure it’s something you can get in and out of easily. You’d be surprised at how difficult it is to get up and down when your center of gravity is all out in front of you, or you’re holding a baby and need to get up quickly. Mind you, this is from a short person who had no waist to start with, lol!
I’m short too, so thanks for that great tip, Ruth! It’s one of my current objections to the chair I have now. It rocks a little but it’s too tall for me to make it work (K has no problem in it but I do). So that’s a great point and I’ll be on the lookout!
Love your mood board and, yes, kids toys bring in plenty of colors! In all honesty, “real” hit when I started labor. Up until a few days before, I worked outside the home full time, had just sold our home and moved into a rental while waiting for out of state house to be built.
That’s a LOT of change to adapt to in a short period of time! Wow!
For me, hearing the heartbeat was pretty much a wow moment. But holding your baby for the first time…..ah the feels. Be safe and always do what you feel is best. Don’t worry about what other people might think or say when it comes to health concerns erring on the side of safety is always the best choice. Distant hugs to all
Thanks Amy! <3
Commenting long after you posted this, because I just found your blog while looking for curb appeal ideas (found lots, am now inspired and really enjoy what you’re doing with your house!) and then read the nursery posts out of nostalgia. My kiddo is starting college this week, but I still remember how unreal pregnancy sometimes was. I didn’t really feel like a parent until the hospital *let me go home with the baby* YIKES! Without any instructions or anything, like they thought we knew what we were doing! And of course it turned out we did know or figured it out.
You got a ton of great advice already, including the excellent advice to *ignore advice* when it doesn’t fit you and your baby and doesn’t come from your doctors. I’d only add that you’re absolutely wise to keep your little one off the public internet. That’s one thing I’m glad we did from the beginning, because it meant no need to try cleaning up embarrassing things later before his middle school friends could find them. :-)
Congrats, hang in there, and thanks for the walk down nursery-planning memory lane.
Thanks Jane, and welcome to the blog! So glad you found some things you like here. :) And yeah, I know there are going to be a ton fo things we’ll have to learn by doing… it’s so intimidating right now! But as each day passes, I’m more and more excited to meet the little guy. Thanks for the advice!
I’ve read your blog for years now! I especially love that you’re also in the Atlanta area! What exciting news! I love your plans for the nursery. It is very elegant. Dark curtains are always a great idea. I do think you’ll want to take extra care when planning out the rocker. In my opinion, you’ll want something that has cushiony arms. I found a very small profile recliner at a thrift store that has been perfect for us. I liked that it was very comfy and didn’t have a permanent stool that was always in the way–but our nursery is really small. You’ll be spending a lot of time in this chair. If you do decide to build it, you may want to test “cradling” something and see where your arm falls on the chair so you can get the height just right. Our recliner happens to be perfect for resting my elbow while nursing. Just something to consider!
Also, I know you don’t want advice exactly, but I highly recommend Emily Oster’s books Crib Sheets and Expecting Better. She is an economist and her approach is very data driven as to which of the big topics around pregnancy and raising kids you should follow or not worry about. When it comes to something that’s so personal, it helps to start with the facts and go from there. Maybe those two books can help you avoid getting any advice, haha!
I also recommend listening to The Birth Hour podcast. It’s interviews of tons of moms about their birth stories. Regardless of the type of birth you want, it’s so helpful to listen to these empowering stories that basically tell you there is strength in EVERY birth story. I listened to it more and more as I got closer to having my kids.
Last, I think it felt real for me when I washed and put away all the tiny clothes. Something about folding and putting away the clothes got to me. For my husband, I think it felt real when the midwife handed him the baby, haha!
So excited to see what changes you make to your home after you have your little one! Home-Office turned disaster zone – DIY in a Day would be a great post!
Thanks so much for all the tips, Keiko! I’ll check those out asap! Gosh, it feels so close now that I’m in the third trimister! I have all these things on my to-do list and so little time!
I’m super late to this post, but am brainstorming nursery ideas now that it’s my turn! Do you happen to have a link still to this dresser on Wayfair? It just opens to the general site.
I try to keep links updated but if it’s linking to the homepage, it probably isn’t available anymore. This one is somewhat similar and currently available. Hope that helps!