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Perfect Miniatures

Creating a nursery that grows and lets grow

A nursery is a baby’s first room, the first space where she can feel at home, in her own element, as well as her first exposure to colors, textures and patterns. I call nurseries “perfect miniatures” because I believe that in every respect they should be as beautiful and practical as rooms designed for adults.

There are certain elements of design that you need to consider as you are getting ready to create your baby’s first room.

Space Planning and Furniture

Every nursery has several “must haves.” Among these are: a crib, changing table, dressing area with chest of drawers or armoire, side table and an arm chair. Try not to clutter a nursery - leave plenty of floor space empty for baby to crawl and explore. The changing table ideally should be close to the door so you can easily pop in and out of the room for diaper changing. It is the easiest if the changing and dressing areas are close to the crib. It is good to have all the cleansers, balms and clean diapers easily accessible - a shelf installed above the changing area is a good solution. Instead of choosing a changing table I tend to go for a dresser with a changing topper. When the diaper changing days are over, you can simply remove the topper and can use the top surface for display.


The crib is definitely the most important element of every nursery. When choosing a spot for it, make sure that is not too close to windows, radiators or AC vents. Make sure that a baby, who will be able to stand up in her crib sooner than you expect, can’t reach shades, pulls or draperies. Window coverings with cordless lift system are the only safe option. Every nursery can use a baby monitor so you can hear the little voice wherever you are. A smoke detector is a must in every bedroom but especially in a nursery. I prefer to use paint rather than wallpaper as a wall covering - it is easier to maintain or change if you want to alter the décor. When choosing paint make sure it is a baby-friendly no-VOC paint like Mythic Paint.

Style. Theme. Color.

After space planning and safety issues are tackled, it is time for the most exciting decision – what style should the nursery be? Should there be a theme? Should its décor complement the style of the rest of the house?

Some people still believe that girl’s room should be pink and boy’s has to be blue. What a cliché! Not only is gender stereotyping limiting, but some even believe it is harmful to kids’ development. Think outside the box. How about a nursery in robin’s egg blue, chocolate brown and beige? Or blue, green and white? How refreshing. Can a nursery be stylish? Yes! Original? You bet!

Think twice before choosing a theme, especially if it comes from a TV cartoon. Disney-inspired rooms are so over! Think of something more original. I love using a jungle animal or botanical theme. I know a child who could name 30 or so different kinds of birds by the time she was 2 – all because of the ornithological theme that was chosen for her room. How great is that?

You may also go very neutral, creating décor that will have a longer life span. Choose beautiful plaid, toile or stripes in your favorite colors – mix and coordinate just as you would for your own bedroom. Using a neutral background now will allow you to incorporate more style specific elements later when your child develops specific interests.


General lighting is very important in a nursery, and recessed lights are just about the best solution out there. Make sure dimmers are installed so you can regulate the intensity of light throughout the day. Ambient and task lighting is as important -- make sure there is a table lamp on a side table and that the changing and dressing areas are well lit – wall sconces are the best option. When installing lamps or plug-in sconces, make sure that baby can’t reach the cords or plugs.

Control the natural light by installing window shades with blackout lining to create a peaceful sleep environment during the day.


Hardwood floors are the best choice for a nursery. A cozy area rug in the middle of the room will complete the perfect background for her crawling and walking experience.


Some of my favorite accessories are customized lamp shades, picture frames and mobiles. Monogrammed bedding, rugs and throw pillows are nice touches as well.

Nurseries should be beautiful, functional and safe for you and your baby to enjoy a happy and peaceful time together. Decorating a nursery and creating this perfect little world for a baby can be one of the most exciting moments of parenthood. Have fun with it!

Olga AdlerOlga Adler is a fashion-loving and world-traveling interior designer. Known for her fondness for simple forms, love of color and unique accessories, she has won acclaim for her refreshing approach to classic design. She is the author of “Distinctive Interiors of Fairfield County” and recipient of 2010 Fairfield County “40 UNDER 40” award.

To contact Olga visit her website: www.olgaadlerinteriors.com or call 203-438-4743