5 Design Principles for a Peaceful Nursery

Whether your design aesthetic is modern minimalist or shabby chic, it’s helpful to create a calm and peaceful retreat for your baby’s room. You’ll spend countless hours in there feeding, changing, playing with, and soothing your little one, so why not fashion a space that creates a smidge of sereneness for both of you?

We asked a panel of design experts to share their best tips for creating a nursery that soothes both baby and mamma alike—when the munchkin isn’t wailing like a siren, that is.


There’s a reason people often turn to soft pastels when decorating a nursery. Muted tones are best for soothing baby, and neutrals like whites and grays or soft shades of a single color are particularly calming, say Melisa Fluhr and Pam Ginocchio from Project Nursery, a site featuring DIY tips and advice to help parents design gorgeous rooms for their babies. When it comes to finding that one optimal hue, Pam says to follow your intuition. Each color has an underlying meaning—she says blue is serene, green is about health and renewal, yellow is warmth and hope, orange is inspiring and fun, pink is creativity and nourishment, purple is exploration, and light browns or beiges are nurturing. She warns to avoid red because it can be over-stimulating—save that for the playroom.


Choose furniture in lighter finishes and let the rest of the room be open so light can bounce around, say Melisa and Pam. Empty space is a must for serenity and also encourages baby’s exploration, explains Bailey Gaddis, author of Feng Shui Mommy: Creating Balance and Harmony for Blissful Pregnancy, Childhood and Motherhood. She recommends pushing the crib against a wall only if it’s directly behind the baby’s head, which can help promote energy circulation. She also suggests adding air-purifying plants to the room, like her favorite, the peace lily.


To soothe all of baby’s senses, layer soft textures like a sheepskin rug or knit throw, suggest Melisa and Pam. Then focus on warm lighting with a small table lamp using a low wattage bulb, says Neila Deen, Houzz Contributor and Founder of Urban Casa, an interior design service in NYC that helps city dwellers make the most of apartment living. Lisa Janvrin, who helps moms transform their Pinterest-like ideas into reality with the digital design service YouthfulNest, suggests using a task light near the glider and changing table that’s either motion censored or has an ambient setting to keep unnecessary bright light from disturbing a drowsy babe. The less overhead light, the better, suggests Bailey, who swears by a pink Himalayan salt crystal lamp for a nurturing presence. And always opt for natural light during the day, she adds.


Forget a gallery wall of pictures, which can be too busy and crowded. Melisa and Pam prefer large-format artwork instead, or suggest adding a mirror to give the room depth. Then add long natural fabric window panels to add some height as well. Neila suggests splurging for blackout drapes to make babies feel like they’re still in the womb. And Lisa reminds us that keeping things minimal doesn’t have to mean bare shelves and walls. She suggests grouping things together in a uniformed way rather than spreading them out organically to create structure.


Pretty storage bins and shelving compartments with doors are both good for storing toys and books, which could otherwise make a room feel too cluttered during downtime. Melisa and Pam also tout the benefits of using oft-forgotten closet space for storage. The idea is to have a home for every single item (learn more about whole-home organization). Neila suggests great storage will translate to a more organized and functional nursery, which in turn gives it a calm feeling. And that’s a feeling every mom could use a bit more of, after all.

Design by: YouthfulNest; Photo by Rich Alfonzo
Whitney Harris

Whitney C. Harris is a freelance writer living in Westchester, NY, with her husband and toddler daughter. Find her online.