Five Tips: Designing a Neutral Nursery Grown-Ups Will Love Too

Lush texture, subtle pattern and an atypical color scheme take center stage in a Brentwood kids' space.

Five Tips: A Neutral Nursery Grown-Ups Will Love Too
Photography by Amy Bartlam

Grown-up coloring books, high-brow mobiles, handmade toys worthy of display. The line between design for children and adults is blurring more than ever, and that's good news for anyone decorating a nursery. For a Brentwood, California space, the design team of Marks & Bleue aimed to create a refuge that could be enjoyed by both the new parents and their little one, using a sophisticated range of neutrals, layers of cozy texture, and playful accessories with an eye toward high style.

Five Tips: Designing a Neutral Nursery Grown-Ups Will Love Too
Five Tips: Designing a Neutral Nursery Grown-Ups Will Love Too

"The starting point for the space was a dreamy Eskayel wallpaper," says designer Savannah Bleue. "It was the first element for the room that the expecting parents fell in love with, and it really set the tone." The paper's abstract watercolor pattern puts a high-brow twist on a favorite childhood activity—a subtle theme that pops up throughout the nursery. Covering just one wall with something spectacular, the designers also point out, is a savvy alternative to settling for cheaper, often inelegant decals.

Five Tips: Designing a Neutral Nursery Grown-Ups Will Love Too

The gender of the baby was a surprise and the homeowners weren't keen on using the typical neutral nursery yellow, so Bleue chose to focus on abundant texture, rather than bright colors. A Beni Ourain-style rug, a puckered coverlet on the daybed, and Moroccan wedding blanket-inspired throw pillow on the armchair add visual interest to the space. Carefully selected accessories, including a few standout animal accents and touches of color that steer clear of basic pink and blue, add life to the space. Keep reading for the designers' expert tips on creating a cool kids' space that doesn't skimp on style. 

5 Tips for Designing a Grown-Up Friendly Nursery

1. Choose a sophisticated palette. "Using both youthful and sophisticated colors creates a balance that appeals to all ages. We love robin's egg blue with forest green, or light gray with coral. Alternatively, select a more mature version of a juvenile color, such as a dusty rose over a bubblegum pink."

Five Tips: Designing a Neutral Nursery Grown-Ups Will Love Too

2. Create comfort for everyone. "While a plush rug and the perfect crib is never overlooked, the parents will be spending a great deal of time in the space and their comfort should also be considered. A daybed can be of great use, allowing a place to nap or a second seat if the chair is occupied. It also transitions very nicely as the baby’s first bed."

3. Incorporate a vintage piece or two. "Something with history can go a long way to offset all of the darling pieces in a nursery. It tones down the sweetness of the space and brings in a layer that is more appealing to adults."

Five Tips: Designing a Neutral Nursery Grown-Ups Will Love Too

4. Don't underestimate window treatments. "They instantly transform a space and give it a more refined look. Floor to ceiling curtains, even in a playful pattern, strike a nice balance between chic and playful."

5. Have an abundance of storage. "We love displaying charming books and toys in a nursery, but the number of toys tends to grow as the child does, and can make the space look cluttered and overwhelming. Incorporating ample storage—we are especially fond of lidded baskets—allows some of the ‘kid stuff’ to be hidden, but still within easy reach. "

Five Tips: Designing a Neutral Nursery Grown-Ups Will Love Too
Five Tips: Designing a Neutral Nursery Grown-Ups Will Love Too

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