Babies come with lots of things, lots of colors, and even a style that’s often a far cry from the one you’ve carefully curated over the “BC” (pre-childhood) years. But with careful planning and some clever design ideas, you can create a modern nursery that works for everyone.
There are so many nursery ideas out there for inspiration, but in a modern nursery, keeping things clean and simple is often the best.
Interior designer Ursula Wesseling at Room to bloom (opens in a new tab) would always include a beautiful, practical crib, generously sized dresser and flexible lighting when designing a modern nursery. “I love adding bright colors to a modern nursery with accents, such as wall art, decorative lighting, throw pillows, bedding,” she shares.
“We recommend starting with a neutral color base and then layering the color onto decor and furniture,” says Laura Williams, founder of The modern nursery (opens in a new tab). “It creates longevity in the design as your child grows and means you don’t have to paint anymore.” Simply change the accessories and update the furniture.
Modern Nursery Ideas
Do you have an idea for a child’s room? “Smart storage and avoiding bulky furniture is key to maximizing space,” Laura continues. “Simple tricks include wall storage to save floor space and multifunctional storage furniture, while trying a changing table that can turn into a dresser as your child grows.”
Contemporary can be kid-friendly in a modern nursery – keep it simple, add character with color, pattern or something a little quirky – like an oversized cuddly animal friend. Above all, have fun!
1. Keep it Monochromatic
With babies seeing black, white and shades of gray up to around four months, a monochrome nursery is sure to please both of you. Plus, it’s a surefire neutral nursery idea if you want to decorate before your baby arrives. Bring in lots of interesting shapes, like polka dot wallpaper, zigzag bedding, and a mobile. A cozy rug underfoot helps balance the monochromatic palette and adds cozy texture.
If you’re looking to add an accent color to a monochromatic nursery, try a bright yellow – it’s the perfect bright partner. You don’t have to go crazy with yellow either; just try a flash on bed linen, a yellow toy, a nightlight or even something as simple as a yellow picture frame.
2. Create zones within a nursery
Just as a modern home is flexible, so can a modern nursery. Think of how a nook for a child can be a place to sit and read, read alone, or even a play station. Storage, a chair or bench, and a rug can be used for all three variations.
Look for furniture on wheels, like an art station with room underneath for supplies, while pegboards allow for wall space to be accommodated. A modern nursery is all about creating a space that grows.
3. Opt for a mural
Inspire dreams with a large modern mural – a map is a great way to teach the world at large. Choose a fun nursery wall idea with facts or even animals and pair it with crisp white furniture like a simple crib and rocking chair.
Teepees are a fun addition to a modern nursery, providing an instant den (plus, they’re a quick way to store toys off the floor!). Add a few cushions and one becomes a great reading nook.
4. Add a pale gray to a crisp white
If you like all-white but find it too harsh for the nursery, introduce a pale dove-grey. Try a gender-neutral white-on-grey star wallpaper on a feature wall – the clean design against warm gray will add that softness you’ve been looking for. Hang a few favorite prints above the bed (just make sure they’re out of reach), while mini shelves break up the star design with minimal fuss.
Bring some zigzags to your gray and white nursery idea – this is a modern patten pattern that works with the stars without making the scheme look busy.
5. Bring a friend
In a modern nursery, you can go crazy with a statement piece – like a huge animal head (or even a head with a body!). This zebra sets the tone, that of fun and friends. Echo black and white stripes with lots of monochrome, while splashes of accented mustard take this nursery to the African plains.
If your nursery is in a period home with high ceilings, use color to lower the ceiling, making the space warm and cozy.
6. Provide plenty of storage
Keep the minimum number of toys outside, with the rest stored in a painted cupboard or chest of drawers. Large toy bags and boxes will also help keep the space from getting overwhelmed, while wall shelves allow you to create display pockets. And be smart when thinking about how to organize baby clothes – ensuring plenty of hidden storage too.
Choose a play kitchen that echoes your own modern design – and if you can’t find one, then the basic wooden kitchens are easy to fit, with chalk paint, marble effect adhesive vinyl and even metallic paint for taps and handles.
7. Wallpaper all the walls
Use a modern zigzag pattern in a soft hue to create a cozy yet contemporary nursery. Bring in lots of softer shapes, like a curved crib and a round rug, avoiding too many straight lines. Soft gray nursery ideas work as an accent color for this scheme, while pink rose could easily be replaced with a denim blue hue if you’re decorating for a little boy.
Feel free to hang artwork on wallpaper; the trick is to keep frames white or black, with a large frame.
8. Paint Your Own Feature
One for budding climbers and explorers! A mountain peak design is easy to paint yourself. Start by painting the wall in the lightest section, then hide the peaks when dry and paint a darker shade above.
Bring an extra dimension with an animal head hung directly on the wall. Choose a character that can echo the bed linens for a cohesive touch.
9. Keep Calm Scandi
Lots of textures, neutral colors and natural wood make this a modern Scandi nursery. Spice racks double as wall storage for books and small toys, while a photograph, simply framed, makes a simple yet striking statement. The lack of color makes it a soothing space for baby to grow in. “The soft, muted colors create a calm atmosphere, ideal for a child’s room as the room will initially be used primarily for sleeping and resting activities,” says Ursula Wesselingh, interior designer at Room to Bloom.
Choose natural linen for the sheets and upholstery, the casual ‘crumpled’ look is very Scandinavian, and who has time to iron when there’s cuddling to do with baby? Bring along some boho nursery ideas to soften the edges if you prefer a more eclectic look.
10. Choose retro lines
In a modern nursery, introduce a retro style to add character – here a curved crib in white and walnut looks great with a crisp mountain landscape that has been bordered with an outline. A favorite blanket in a retro weave adds a touch of softness, as does a cute wool pebble rug – just something baby can dip their toes into for their first steps.
A freestanding book box makes story time easier – and because it sits on legs, it enhances the feeling of space in this little nursery.
What’s the best way to decorate a nursery?
“Custom features and designs are great when it comes to nursery design,” says Justyna Korczynska, senior designer at Crown (opens in a new tab). ‘To add some fun, use masking tape to create simple stripes or checks, or for a more intricate design opt for a stencil. Children’s rooms have a license to be fun. The beauty of painting is that the pattern can be easily and inexpensively updated as the child grows.
How to fill an empty corner in a nursery?
“When designing, we like to divide a room into zones,” says Laura Williams, founder of The Modern Nursery. “A free corner can become a play area with modern play mats, toys and toy storage or a cozy reading corner with a teepee, pouf and bookshelves.”
“I love using plants to dress up a nursery – hanging plants from the ceiling or placing a tall plant on the floor. You can also fill a corner with a large stuffed animal – giraffes are very popular,” says Ursula Wesselingh, interior designer at Room to Bloom.
How can I make my child’s room more cozy?
“Experiment with textures,” says Laura. “We use textures, accessories and soft layers to create more comfortable pieces. Window treatments are also a simple way to make a nursery cozier. If you use blackout blinds, always use curtains to frame the window and add texture.